As Prince Harry today officially announced his engagement to actress Meghan Markle, couples will be looking to the pair for inspiration whilst planning their own Winter engagements and Spring weddings. The great news is that couples don’t need to be royalty to enjoy a similar experience, with this round up of the top proposal and wedding locations, fit for a prince and princess.
Those planning to whisk their loved one away to North America this Christmas, should considering forgoing classic destinations like New York in favour of Meghan Markle’s former hometown of Toronto. Ontario’s capital city has no shortage of iconic backdrops and unique locations to make popping that all important question even more memorable.
For a truly romantic scene, lovers should consider going (carefully) down on one knee on the temporary ice rink at the famed Nathan Phillips Square which resides in front of City Hall. The rink illuminates with sparkly holiday lights and the now iconic Toronto sign offers the perfect Instagrammable shot.
For a proposal with a difference, the Toronto Light Festival (19 January to 11 March 2018) transforms the picturesque Distillery District neighbourhood into one of the largest open-air galleries in North America, lighting up the long winter nights with distinctive works from local and international light artists.
In the Spring, Toronto offers the perfect backdrop for a wedding. Literally. One of the most popular locations for nuptials is the Toronto Islands. With eight venue options – from yacht clubs to outdoor ceremonies – this archipelago provides a stunning vista of the entire Toronto cityscape.
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
No stranger to royalty – having hosted generations of royalty with visitors including King George VI and HRH The Prince of Wales, Charles – the Tower Suites at Warwick Castle offer the ultimate proposal venue.
Located in the 14th century Caesar’s Tower, the two suites each sit on a private floor, with an opulent bedchamber complete with four-poster bed and ensuite. In winter, a stay in the Tower Suites will make the couple feel like a true King and Queen of the Castle as during the evening, it will be only yourselves and your discreet concierge and porter on site, making this a unique private experience in which to pop the question.
An overnight stay includes champagne on arrival, private concierge and porter service (who can help with proposal arrangements if you would like some tips), a private Castle Tour by one of the resident History Team specialists, breakfast served in your Suite or the State Room, two-day priority car parking and two days access to the Castle’s attractions (including the stunning Birds of Prey show) as well as 64 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, shaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, one of the nation’s greatest landscape gardeners.
The Castle is located within easy reach of London and Birmingham by rail, and is just off junction 15 of the M40. Warwick Castle’s Tower Suites start from £550 per room per night. To book, visit www.warwick-castle.com
Live the life of a royal couple, relaxing at a country mansion on a couple’s retreat from Spabreaks.com. The five-star Ashdown Park Hotel, tucked away in the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, offers a Proposal spa package, the ultimate in romance. Budding princes can park their helicopters on the helipad, and whisk their intended off for a night in a luxurious master suite, where a bouquet of fresh flowers will be waiting.
The couple will enjoy full access to the property’s intimate spa and leisure facilities, plus a 25 minute treatment each. Once truly relaxed, they will enjoy champagne and canapés in the drawing room, before taking a seat in the private dining room for an evening meal, finishing with a champagne toast. The following morning, breakfast will be served in bed.
Spabreaks.com offers the Proposal Package at the Ashdown Park Hotel from £550 per couple. www.spabreaks.com / 0800 043 6600
bmi is the perfect airline of choice for royalty thanks to its very own private jet! Couples (and their entourage) can fly in style aboard the spacious Embraer jets from their choice of any UK airport. With a fly time of approximately four hours, the spectacular cities of Europe are amongst the destinations available.
On-board the flight, passengers will enjoy a bespoke drink and dining service and can even decorate the aircraft with their own personal livery.
bmi’s private jet can be hired from £15,000 per day and can carry up to 48 passengers.
Borthwick Castle, Scotland
This truly remarkable ancient Keep has had its share of high profile guests over the years, including Mary Queen of Scots who once resided there. Six hundred years on, Borthwick Castle remains one of the best-preserved Keeps in Scotland having recently undergone a complete refurbishment. It is available for exclusive use as a luxurious ‘home away from home retreat’ and the ideal setting, with its roaring log fireplaces and opulent interiors, for a romantic winter proposal.
Ideal for weddings too, the property can accommodate up to 85 day guests over three grand reception rooms and offers 12 magnificent bedchambers complete with hand-crafted four-poster beds and ensuite bathrooms. Its secluded location in the heart of the Scottish countryside, but easily accessible given its position just 12 miles from Edinburgh city centre, allows guests to immerse themselves in Scotland’s rich heritage and stunning scenery.
Huntsham Court, Devon
Quite literally built for a Bride as a wedding gift 150 years ago, Huntsham Court is a grand 35-bedroom Devonshire Manor House, nestled in a discreet countryside location. Available for exclusive hire, the house is ideal for a wedding or celebration at any time of year. Couples can choose a religious ceremony at the picturesque eight bell church located at the entrance to Huntsham Court or enjoy a delightful spring time civil ceremony in the gardens under the fully licensed Victorian Arbour. Should the weather take a turn for the worst, couples can select a number of locations within the house including the majestic Great Hall with its grand fireplace; the Library or the Yellow Room which opens out onto the outdoor terrace and croquet lawn.
The house can accommodate up to 130 day guests and 82 overnight guests in individually styled bedroom suites.
Couples seeking an exclusive off the beaten track setting for an engagement or wedding should look no further than SJ Villas, specialists in luxury private holiday homes for exclusive hire, worldwide. The company has a number of unique properties in desirable locations across the globe and offers a personalised service with optional concierge, ensuring that each couple is expertly paired with their ideal property.
For something truly exceptional, couples can hire their own private Tuscan hilltop hamlet in San Casciano dei Bagni, Italy, which comes complete with five individually decorated private houses, two apartments, a church, gardens, a theatre and Michelin starred restaurant.
The Fighine Hilltop Private Estate, which centres around an 11th Century Castillo, can accommodate up to 34 guests in total and has been recently renovated by world-class designers David Mlinaric and Hugh Henry.
With its white sandy beaches and azure blue waters, the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla provides a dreamy backdrop for a romantic engagement or a paradise beach wedding. Opening its doors on 1 January 2018, couples can be amongst the first to tie the knot at the new five-star Quintessence Resort.
The luxury boutique property, located on the island’s Long Bay, features nine suites and villas. Ten years in the making, the hotel is built in the style of a grand beachside mansion and is lavishly adorned with luxe furnishings including Swedish Hastens mattresses, four-poster beds, antiques and a fine collection of Haitian Art. Each suite and villa is individually designed with striking features including vaulted cedar ceilings and floor to ceiling glass doors and windows.
Hotel facilities include an infinity pool, yoga pavilion, spa, 24-hour butler service, tennis courts, fitness centre, massages, Jacuzzi, billiard room and a life-size chess board. There are two bars plus fine dining in the onsite Q Restaurant, presided over by French chef Dominique Thevenet.
The property is available on an exclusive hire basis for weddings and celebrations with prices starting from £490 per person, per night for a Suite, including breakfast.
Everyone loves the outdoors and even Royalty can enjoy a spot of glamping thanks to a number of sites that offer luxury accommodation that could easily rival a boutique hotel.
Domaine Mejan in France would be the perfect for a romantic retreat to pop the question. The luxury, contemporary lodges range in size from the cosy two-person Microlodges to more spacious four-person Lodges.
Both have ensuite facilities and private decked verandas. Each unit is kitted out with all visitors could need for a stay including both indoor and outdoor furniture and candles for creating a relaxing atmosphere. The Microlodges also feature a unique outdoor private shower!
A one-night break costs from £114 in the Microlodge. While there book in for the massage and beauty treatments or take up a yoga or pilates class, or simply relax by the pool on the private terrace.
Champagne breakfasts can be ordered and delivered to each lodge, as can evening catering. When away from the site, there are lovely galleries, museums, cafes and shops to explore in the local villages.