How to Plan a Destination Wedding in the US

There’s nowhere in the world quite like the United States. Mountains, deserts, snow-dappled forests, sunny beaches – it really does have it all.

And with the language barrier posing no problems, it’s no surprise that it’s such a popular choice for a destination wedding.

American wedding planner Jason Mitchell Kahn shares his advice on how to plan a wedding in the US of A.

This country is diverse in so many ways, so the options are truly unlimited for any couple wanting to wed here.

You can marry in classic ballrooms, historic churches, on city rooftops, desert estates, and even on top of a mountain.

“The cost, of course, varies greatly depending on location; and with the Supreme Court ruling in 2015, the rights of same-sex couples seeking marriage became legal in every state.”


Jason, who is predominantly based in New York, has recently started living part-time in California.

“Both are phenomenal places for the best of the best in terms of cutting-edge catering, top-notch service and brand new venues opening all the time.”


Who to Hire

“Being knowledgeable about variables like individual State labour laws can save money and stress.”


It’s always tempting to hire a wedding planner from the country you live in, but unless they have experienced planners in the US, will they really have the contacts and inside knowledge a US wedding planner has? It’s unlikely.

“There is tremendous value to the relationships we develop with local vendors” Jason says “in addition to the knowledge we have about the specific region of the wedding.

From individual State labour laws to how public transportation is affected on the weekends, being knowledgeable about variables like these that can really affect a wedding and can save money and stress.”

Is America Welcoming?

America has, like any other country, far more conservative areas which are less accepting of same-sex marriage than others – and you can’t always categorise by State.

“Technically they all are supposed to be accepting in regards to the legality of marriage” says Jason “but sadly we see discrimination in pockets all over the country. It’s difficult to qualify this on the State level.

“While New York City and the surrounding areas are extremely liberal and accepting, you can visit a more rural part of the state and witness extreme homophobia.

Similarly a State like Texas is known as a very conservative one, but cities like Austin and Houston have large gay and gay-friendly populations.”

Where to Marry

Of course, America is incredibly diverse as to what you can do with a wedding, but what area is the most, at least in terms of wedding types?

“In my view, California has the most diversity as to the types of places,” says Jason “and the ability to use most of them year-round, but it’s also one of our largest States.”

The costs

What you spend on your destination wedding in the US depends on your venue and what you want to include in your wedding and reception detailing.

“My job as a wedding planner is to learn each couple’s priorities” Jason says “and it’s what I would encourage anyone getting married to do.

For some, it’s the food, others the music, venue or date. I’m currently working with a furniture-obsessed groom, so for him, it’s having designer chairs.

“A couple needs to assess what’s most important to them.

When it comes to decor, I often think it’s better to prioritise lighting over flowers, as it has a bigger impact.

I think stationery is an easy place to save, as other than the couple getting married and maybe their parents, most guests dispose of their invitation and menus.”

Which State you marry in, can also affect your budget.

“This depends more on the city, but I’d say New York, California, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Texas and Colorado are the States with some of the most expensive events; but they all have very cost-effective areas, too.

“States that more commonly have less expensive weddings are Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia.”

Top 5 Wedding Themes In America

It’s often a good idea to pick a theme for your wedding; not only can it change the whole dynamic of your wedding, but it can make it easier to plan because you have a clear brief to work towards.

1. Vineyards

“The farm-to-table craze is not limited to food! So many wine-loving couples are gravitating towards vineyards for their sweeping landscapes and in-house varietals.”

Image Regale Winery, California

2. Gatsby Chic

“This time period is perfect for grooms or brides who want to wear a white dinner jacket while all other guests are in black-tie. It’s also perfect for glitter and glam.”

Image: by Ruff Media, Kaycee and Kim’s wedding, San Diego

3. Cocktail Style

“I am working with so many couples who hate the formality of a sit-down dinner or the stress of seating assignments.

This format is ideal for couples who want a more relaxed approach to food service.”

Image: 21 Club, New York

4. Rooftops

“For city folks who want a bit of nature, nothing is better suited to enjoy the outdoors while keeping your event private.

As an added bonus, you don’t have to pay a thing for a city skyline to be the background of your photos.”

Image: Skylark NYC, New York

5. Barns

“Nothing transports a city crowd more than a weekend in the country with mountains, mason jars and limited mobile reception.”

Image: Sylvanside Farm Barn, Virginia

Best Destination Wedding Venues

If you’re thinking about an American destination wedding, you’re going to need some insights from the experts.

Wedding planning aficionado, Jason Mitchell Kahn has insider knowledge of the best wedding venues in America, and although he is partial to his favourites, it’s these five incredible venues that truly get him excited. 

The Skylark, NYC

A slick New York cocktail lounge with a jaw-dropping view.

The Angel Orensanz, NYC

Built in 1849, this Gothic Revival synagogue in the Lower East Side of Manhattan is a show-stopping venue.

Cedar Lakes Estates, NY

If you’re looking for peace and tranquility, mountains and lakes, this exquisitely located New York wedding venue is perfect.

Frederick Loewe Estate, Palm Springs

A private estate with amazing views over Palm Springs and the most luxurious of spaces; the Frederick Loewe Estate is ideal for intimate weddings.

Smog Shoppe, Los Angeles

One-hundred percent solar-powered, Smog Shoppe features vertical gardens, vintage furnishings and 6,500 square foot of private event space.

About Jason

Jason Mitchell Kahn is well known within the wedding industry for good reason.

He has worked for many big names including Soho House New York, where he was the Events and Banquets Manager, and Shiraz Events, where he headed up wedding planning and co-ordination.

He now not only runs Jason Mitchell Kahn and Co, but is the in-house expert for Men’s Vows magazine.

He has a background in playwriting and uses this in his wedding planning approach to ensure each couple’s story shines through.

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