A country wedding with hand-drawn place cards and wildflowers in mason jars is charming. But for couples thinking more Downton Abbey than Little House on the Prairie, “country” implies something very different.
These six extraordinary resorts combine pristine locations with deep wine lists and service that makes you feel as though you own the place. Locations like these call for bridal dresses just as unforgettable, such as this parade of feather-light Marchesa gowns perfect for the most regal rural wedding—every silhouette is distinct but braided together with romantic floral details.
Wheatleigh: Lenox, Mass.
Italian architecture, Tiffany windows, gardens laid out by Frederick Law Olmstead, and the best dining room in Massachusetts have earned Wheatleigh every award the hospitality industry dishes out. You’d have to scour the grand hotels of the continent for a more hospitable staff.
Formal and elegant, Carolina Herrera’s Mikado ballgown sports the surprise of a beaded bandeau, a bit of sparkle that suits Wheatleigh’s updated refinement.
Primland: Meadows of Dan, Va.
Middle-of-nowhere doesn’t begin to describe the Blue Ridge Mountain location of Primland, a rustic-chic sporting resort. Unless you arrive by helicopter—which some guests do—the nearest viable airport is 90 minutes away. On the plus side, there’s plenty of space for golfers, ATVers, clay shooters, and the hawks that circle in the valley below.
For sheer contrast, pair Primland’s 12,000 acres of raw natural beauty with the masterful minimalism of this Marc Zunino gown featuring sheer sleeves and back, a simple corset, and a blush silk-chiffon skirt.
The Resort at Paws Up: Greenough, Mont.
The “glamping” movement could be traced back to The Resort a Paws Up, a working Big Sky cattle ranch where luxury tents come with private chefs and butlers. The Bull Barn is the go-to wedding site, where the upper level—formerly a hay loft—can accommodate up to 200 of your nearest and dearest for a farm-to-table feast.
As effortless as the flowing Blackfoot River, this sleeveless Sachin & Babi A-line frock is liberally embellished with hand-embroidered bouquets and borders.
The Point: Saranac Lake, N.Y.
At the end of the 19th century, the nation’s wealthiest families summered in elaborate Great Camps in the Adirondack Mountains. At The Point, originally a Rockefeller compound, weddings take over the whole place. Commandeer a fleet of mahogany boats, stage a croquet tournament, hold a wine tasting in the Great Hall, and keep the music going until dawn.
An estate this storied calls for a gown as aristocratic as this embroidered tulle Victor & Rolf creation, with a bodice and upper skirt completed covered in hand-cut fabric flowers and crystal stones.
Meadowood: St. Helena, Calif.
Tucked away in a quiet corner of the Napa Valley, Meadowood is a never-never-land where redwood groves meet azalea gardens and the lawns get a daily manicure. Classic country-club looks and cozy guest cottages belie the fact that its dining room earned three Michelin stars.
The graceful floral embroidery and gentle tone of Monique Lhuillier’s tulle gown are a beautiful complement to Napa Valley’s golden sunlight.
The Little Nell: Aspen, Colo.
Thank its Aspen Skiing Company owners for the Nell’s unique access to some of town’s most spectacular wedding locations. While the boutique property is a favorite of the Hollywood crowd, couples not into people-watching take the gondola up to the 11,200-foot wedding deck, with front-row views of the Elk Mountain Range.
A wedding in celeb-centric Aspen calls for a touch of drama, such as this Yolan Cris ensemble pairing a fringed tea-length lace cape with a matching frock for texture-on-texture delight.
A marketing executive currently living in Arizona, Sally Kilbridge spent 20+ years as an editor at Brides Magazine. She indulges her love of travel and romance on her website, a definitive guide to destination weddings.