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Every couple¿s vision of a fairy tale is different. A prairie backdrop with grazing horses is a popular fairy-tale setting. (Photo by Connection Photography.)

Fantasizing about someday having a Cinderella wedding is as much about the fairy-tale dress, horse and carriage, and castle as it is about the prince. Not everyone dreams of a castle, though. There are just as many who fancy a tropical island, a rocky coast or a grand cathedral for their nuptials. The wonderful thing about fairy tales, of course, is that they are all about magic, and like all things magical, there are no limits.

Yet planning a dream wedding can be simple, too. It's all about how the bride and groom envision their dreams coming true on their big day. A general rule of thumb? Focus on two things: the bride's gown and location, location, location.

A princess bride
“What bride isn’t excited to step into 6 yards of ivory silk and see a vision of herself that she has long imagined?” wrote Beverly Hills event planner Mindy Weiss in “The Wedding Book: The Big Book for Your Big Day” (Workman Publishing, 2008, with co-author Lisbeth Levine). Choosing a wedding gown is part of the bride’s fantasy, and it can be an exciting, emotional experience. According to Weiss, “The dress is what transforms a young woman into a princess for a day — a metamorphosis heightened by royal accouterments such as a tiara and a train.” And while the perfect dress for one bride may be a ball gown, for another it’s a simple sheath. 

Dreamy destinations
Everyone’s idea of paradise is different — from a glass-bottomed chapel in Bali to a five-star castle hotel in Ireland — some couples are combining their bucket lists with their nuptials to create modern fairy tales.
“Couples come to me all the time looking to fulfill their dream of a fairy-tale wedding here,” said Marina McGee, conference and banqueting coordinator for Ashford Castle, a sprawling medieval hotel in County Mayo, Ireland. Set on 350 acres of countryside with plush gardens, a river and a lake, “it’s an incredibly romantic setting,” she said, noting its popularity for extravagant events such as weddings. Weddings are coordinated by the staff, who can also plan recreational activities such as horseback riding, fishing, clay pigeon shooting and golf upon request.

For others, Paris is the only place worth considering when it comes to a dream wedding location. Paris-based Kimberley Petyt of parisian events has planned her share of weddings in the “city of lights,” mostly for American couples looking to go all out. “A few years ago, I planned a wedding at the 11th century Basilique de Reims outside of Paris where King Louis IV, among other French royalty, are buried,” Petyt said.

After the religious ceremony, the newlyweds, Jessica Himanga and Donald D. Miller, two Americans living in Paris, rented out the entire Piper-Heidsieck Champagne cave for a glamorous candlelit dinner, followed by a midnight fireworks display on the estate grounds. “It was truly a fairy-tale wedding,” Petyt said.
For Kristen and Doug Sitter of Durango, Colo., a ghost mining town turned luxury resort in the Colorado Rockies was their wedding dream come true. Having taken romantic getaways to Dunton Hot Springs during their courtship, they had a special connection to what the bride described as a romantic and truly magical place. 

The couple, who rented the entire Rocky Mountain town for their celebration, married in a snow-topped open-air chapel last year in March surrounded by friends and family. “I’m from the south, so the winter wedding idea was completely different,” said Brewer, adding, “we always knew we wanted our wedding to be at Dunton Hot Springs as it was so incredibly special to us.” The wedding, planned by Mixed Green Event Design, was a mix of rustic elegance and sheer magic, right down to the couple’s sweet rumba dance.

A little compromise
A fairy-tale wedding doesn’t necessarily entail going overseas or over budget. “In Southern California, we have amazing resources and incredible location sites,” Weiss said. “With a healthy budget, almost any dream can become a reality.” But not everyone has deep pockets, so it’s important to be realistic. “Most brides and grooms out there don’t have a choice,” she added. “As long as the couple is willing to do the work and make a few compromises, a DIY wedding can be [just as] magical,” she said.
After all, the beauty of a fairy-tale wedding rests in the eyes of the beholder.

Jennifer Evans Gardner
Custom Publishing Writer