Annapolis named best 'under-the-radar' destination wedding location

Annapolis, you hopeful romantic, you.

This month, the website Pop Sugar declared the city the best place to have an "under-the-radar" destination wedding. Barcelona, Spain, New Orleans, Marrakesh, Morocco and Iceland rounded out the top 5 list of the "most creative places where couples are getting hitched this year." According to a recent survey from The Knot, a wedding magazine, about 20 percent of U.S. couples had destination weddings in 2016.

The website described Annapolis as a "nautical bride's dream, with sailboats as far as the eye can see, waterfront restaurants and spectacular vistas of the Chesapeake Bay." The article also noted how the city's cobblestone streets, flower gardens and historic homes make for a great wedding backdrop.

Mike Busada, of Mike B Photography in Lothian, described Annapolis in the article as a "cross between San Diego and Nantucket."

"You could even throw an after-party at a pub or restaurant within walking distance of your reception," he said.

When it comes to venues, Pop Sugar recommended the Annapolis Maritime Museum, the William Paca House and Gardens and the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club. This isn't the first time the beach club has received national recognition. The venue was chosen by the "Today" show viewers in 2005 as the best place to get married in the area when the show decided to throw a wedding for a local couple.

Connie Del Signore, president and CEO of Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County, said she was not surprised to see Annapolis top the list. The organization created WeddingsinAnnapolis.com a couple years ago to handle the amount of questions that were coming in about planning a wedding in the city.

The website gives advice on wedding themes Annapolis offers — think historical appeal, Chesapeake waterfront, country chic and modern flair — as well as tips on venues, suppliers, spots for rehearsal dinners and activities for guests to do.

Del Signore didn't have numbers as to how many weddings are held in Annapolis each year or how many people come into the city to attend one. But she's found it's difficult to book events during the summer because hotels and yachts are booked almost every weekend for weddings.

She's believes Annapolis is a popular location for destination weddings because it's easy for guests to travel to, especially those who live in the mid-Atlantic region. Since the city is between Washington and Baltimore, the three major airports make the location accessible for guests to fly into, especially for international weddings.

The Anne Arundel County Circuit Court has served as a popular place for local residents who are interested in a low-key wedding. Since the mid 90s, about 40,000 weddings have been officiated at the courthouse.

The Annapolis Wedding Chapel, another simpler alternative, conducts about 200 weddings every year, said Loveta Wilen, owner and wedding officiant. Many of her clients come from the East Cost and are looking for a small, romantic and friendly place to get married that doesn't cost a fortune.

So why, to her, is Annapolis the best city to get married?

"Oh my god, you have so much," she said. "Oh jeez, do you have an hour?"

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