Destination weddings

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 June, 2004, 12:00am

Jagmandir Palace, Lake Pichola, Rajasthan

For the ultimate romantic fantasy wedding, how could you top the palace that inspired Mughal Emperor Shahjahan to build the Taj Mahal, an enduring monument to his great love for his wife? (Well, short of getting married at the Taj Mahal, were such a thing allowed.) Jagmandir is like a perfect gemstone, glittering at the centre of a mirror-smooth lake. It simply drips with history, having been built by the Maharana Karan Singh in the early 1600s. The maharana built it as his personal pleasure palace, somewhere to try out the kama sutra with his bevy of wives. Shahjahan later took refuge there during turbulent times and was so struck by its sweeping, gorgeous lines and intricate details that he was seized with a passion to build a lasting monument of his own. Bollywood star Raveena Tondon tied the knot there with her businessman beau in February, sparking a rush among the Indian smart set to hold their own nuptials there (

Taj Exotica Hotel, Bentota Beach, Sri Lanka

This could be an exotic wedding with just a frisson of danger, given that the truce between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers is looking shakier by the day. Still, Bentota Beach is as far from the trouble spots as you can be without leaving the island, nestled beneath an honour guard of soaring palms in Sri Lanka's southwest. Imagine getting hitched in full traditional Sinhalese regalia on a golden sand beach, accompanied by the gentle hiss of the surf and the exuberant output of authentic singers and dancers. And when you finally say the Sri Lankan equivalent of 'I do', the entire beach will know about it, thanks to the ceremonial blowing of the conch shell that signals the end of a traditional Poruwa ceremony. The hotel will even throw in a complimentary Ayurvedic massage to sooth away those pre-wedding nerves (

Bali, Indonesia

Bali is fast re-emerging from its post-bombing blues and there are few places more exotic to have your dream wedding than on this lush and ancient island. There are myriad gorgeous hotels and resorts, but why not go a step further? Pledge your troth in a genuine Balinese royal palace and give your friends and family something to talk about for years to come. You'll be surrounded by willowy dancers wrapped in vibrant shades of silk and batik, and be borne through the streets on a teak sedan chair. After a traditional Balinese blessing in the inner sanctum of your chosen palace, adjourn outside for a slap-up feast. If a Bali wedding was good enough for Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall, not to mention Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson, maybe one will be right for you too (

Luttrellstown Castle, near Dublin, Ireland (pictured)

The most famous couple of the past five years - David Beckham and Victoria 'Posh Spice' Adams - were married there in 1999, and lots of would-be Poshes and Becks have followed in their glittering wake. This gorgeous 15th-century castle on a 225-hectare estate guarantees absolute privacy and reverberates with the secret histories of its past owners, who include Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, a baron who supported the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, 18th-century bookseller Luke White, the Guinness family and now the Primwest Group. Queen Victoria was a guest in 1849 and 1900 and other distinguished visitors include the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks, Ronald Reagan, Paul Newman and rock band REM (

Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, Big Island, Hawaii

Get more bang for your nuptial buck with a wedding on the foothills of one of the world's most active volcanoes. Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley tied the knot there, but don't let that deter you. The hotel's Chinese-German-Hawaiian wedding planner, local legend Pinkie Crowe, will do everything in her power to make your special day one to remember. What could be more romantic than lapping surf, a lovely beach, lush jungle ... and the crater's intestinal, sulphurous rumblings? And there's always the chance that when you ask your loved one 'did the Earth move for you' they'll say yes - and mean it (

Thala Beach Lodge, Port Douglas, Australia

The far north of Australia is a hostile place - home to crocodiles, sharks, spiders, deadly jellyfish, the world's most venomous snake and assorted other creepy-crawly nasties. But it also boasts some of the most pristine countryside and beaches on Earth. Go green with a wedding in a World Heritage-listed rainforest, then (assuming it's not jellyfish season, from November to May) frolic like sea otters in gin-clear waters. Here, doe-eyed songbird Natalie Imbruglia wed Daniel Johns, the frontman of Aussie Nirvana-wannabes Silverchair. So if you can't decide what kind of wedding cake you want, run up and down the beach singing, 'I'm already torn ...' (