Elie Saab for summer weddings. Elie Saab
Summer and beach weddings go hand-in-hand. Finding a dress that is light enough to move in the breeze (but sufficiently sophisticated not to be mistaken for a nightgown) is key. It also helps to know where to begin…
NANTUCKET, MASSACHUSETTS Though the buildings are gently salt-weathered and lobster traps are ubiquitous decor, Nantucket beach weddings have a more formal feel than most barefoot nuptials. For families who’ve summered there for generations, wedding go-tos include Nantucket reds for the groomsmen, Lili Pulitzer for the ‘maids, and grandmother’s pearls for the bride.
The Dress: Crisp and clean as a Nantucket sunrise, this organza sheath from Lela Rose teases tradition with its plunging V-neck and generous bands of lace. (Photo: Dan Lecca)
The Gathering Spot: Traditional types wouldn’t dream of celebrating a special occasion anyplace but The White Elephant, Nantucket’s social hub. Weddings on the lawn or terrace come with harbor views; bridal couples can practically watch their guests walk from the ferry. (Photo: Courtesy The White Elephant)
LANAI, HAWAII Hawaiian wedding fantasies often begin with the bride wearing a tuberose haku (head lei), arriving via outrigger canoe. With spinner dolphins leaping on the horizon and a ukulele processional, the untouristy island of Lanai is the perfect spot for a surfer bride looking for tropical romance.
The Dress: As effortless as a wedding gown can be, Monique Lhuillier’s jeweled Chantilly lace slip dress requires no more than sun-kissed shoulders and a well-toned body. The nude lining keeps it legal. (Photo: Dan Lecca)
The Gathering Spot: There are only a handful of staying places on quiet Lanai, which has 3,000 residents on its 90,000 acres. Beach lovers head to the recently reopened Four Seasons Lanai, one of the state’s most sophisticated resorts, which basks on the shores of Hulopo’e Bay. (Photo: Courtesy Four Seasons Lanai)
ISLE OF PALMS, SOUTH CAROLINA When southern brides think “beach,” they often picture this Lowcountry island—a 30-minute drive from Charleston across the Intracoastal Waterway. The blend of surfboards, sweet tea and she crab soup lures old-money families and day-trippers; a pier for photos, tons of white sand for a beach ceremony, and natural aisles between the dunes make it beach wedding obvious.
The Dress: How a very modern belle would marry on the beach: in Mira Zwillinger’s light-as-air confection, with spring blossoms embroidered on a sheer illusion neckline. (Photo: Dan Lecca)
The Gathering Spot: Rambling over 1,600 acres, Wild Dunes has plenty to keep wedding guests busy for days: ocean kayaking, golf, a kids’ program, and honey magnolia massages in the spa. (Photo: Courtesy Wild Dunes)
MACINAC ISLAND, MICHIGAN A no-cars policy means tourists get around this Great Lakes getaway by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage. It’s an ordinance that keeps Mackinac (pronounced “mack-i-naw”) in the genteel grip of the 19th century, with a beyond-charming main street, dozens of fudge shops, and stellar sunsets over the Straits of Mackinac. Brides in search of old-fashioned romance need look no further.
The Dress: Remove the overskirt from this show-stopping Elie Saab classic and the fantastically formal gown becomes emphatically casual; embroidered guipure lace adds to the charm factor. (Photo: Courtesy of Elie Saab)
The Gathering Spot: Even more of an island landmark than British-built Ft. Mackinac, the utterly civilized Grand Hotel boasts the world’s longest front porch, a popular ceremony spot with views of the manicured gardens and waterfront. (Photo: Courtesy Grand Hotel)
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA The sexy stew of Art Deco architecture, Latin music, and pulsing clubs have earned this resort island a reputation for some of the country’s wildest nightlife. For couples who like their yoga on the beach, their swimsuits tiny, and their cocktails cutting-edge, it could be a marriage made in heaven.
The Dress: For the Miami Beach bride intent making a statement, Ines di Santo’s sweetheart mermaid gown with a dramatically low illusion back will turn heads coming and going. (Photo: Dan Lecca)
The Gathering Spot: Weddings bring on the drama at Miami Beach’s most fabulous hotel, the Fontainebleau. The landmark emerged from a billion-dollar renovation (that’s billion with nine zeros) with terraces, pool decks, lawns, balconies, and ballrooms to fit any fantasy, as long as it’s larger than life. (Photo: Courtesy Fontainebleau)
EAST HAMPTON, NEW YORK The summer playground for New York’s upper crust boasts stellar surfers’ beaches, superb people-watching, and some of the worst traffic on the planet. So weddings need to be carefully scripted: Choose a location loaded with restaurants, shops, and services—East Hampton comes to mind—arrive on Thursday, and stay put, spending the weekend sipping Long Island wine and getting rid of your tan lines.
The Dress: Vera Wang weds fairytale and fashion in a corset bodice that explodes into a cloud of a double-tiered ballgown skirt. (Photo: Courtesy Vera Wang)
The Gathering Spot: With just 19 themed guest accommodations, weddings at the funkily named c/o The Maidstone feels like artsy house parties. Keep the guest list to a few dozen (they specialize in intimate gatherings) and marry in the magazine-worthy garden. (Photo: Courtesy The Maidstone)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA In the land of perfect teeth and perfect weather, weddings take on a happy bohemian tone. Steel pan bands, tiki torches, food cart buffets, beer pairings, popcorn menus—name a wedding trend and it most likely started on the Pacific. Bridal musts: a spritz of saltwater in the hair, a wildflower bouquet, and a slip of a white dress. Done.
The Dress: Elizabeth Fillmore renders the simplest of silhouettes in exquisite Chantilly lace for a sweetly romantic halter gown with a shirred back and chiffon ties. (Photo: Courtesy Elizabeth Fillmore)
The Gathering Spot: The private island resort of Paradise Point is a quick drive from downtown San Diego, but its fire-pit-studded beach and Polynesian-accented bungalows feel like another planet. Wedding guests unpack and don’t leave the grounds all weekend. (Photo: Courtesy Paradise Point)
CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY Miles from the Jersey shore of reality TV fame, Cape May is one of the country’s oldest seaside resorts—the entire village is a National Historic Landmark—and has been catering to Philadelphia blue bloods since the 1800s. And yet… it’s Jersey! Weddings are as much about having a good time as they are about making the style blogs.
The Dress: A saucy skirt meets feminine details in this delightful fit-and-flare corded lace gown from Marchesa. Full-blown organza roses add a note of nostalgia to a summery frock that can stay up late. (Photo: Dan Lecca)
The Gathering Spot: Celebrating its 200th birthday this year, iconic Congress Hall is once again the grandest dame on the beach. Four presidents have summered in the massive resort; its wide beach, broad verandas, and sweeping lawn have starred in thousands of wedding albums. (Photo: Courtesy Congress Hall)