Since the beginning of the millennium, especially with the democratization of air travel, many brides and grooms have preferred that their friends and families accompany them on a crazy adventure rather than offering them gifts. Some couples will take you into their dream of the desert, others to castles at the end of the world, still others to abandoned ruins. Depending on whether their favorite hobby is scuba diving, skiing, horseback riding or visiting exotic locales, the entourage is often invited to an event related to these shared passions. To go a little more classic, and to stay within the realm of possibilities, Pulse has chosen to take you to some of the most exclusive destinations of recent seasons.

Castle life in Italy and Spain

Castello d’Odescalchi-Orsini, Rome

What better than the Eternal City to celebrate a vow of eternity? 40 minutes from Rome lies the Castello d’Odescalchi-Orsini, a fortress whose origins date back to the 10th century. It was in 1330 that a Castrum Pali was mentioned for the first time, property of the monastery of San Saba and subsequently entrusted to the Orsini family. During its early years, the castle had many owners Francesco Orsini, Pope Alexander VI (Borgia), Felice Della Rovere Orsini, Popes Paul III and Sixtus V, and Cardinals Flavio Orsini and Virginio Orsini.

In 1780, the castle was bought by the Odescalchi family who remain its owners to this day. The new generation opens it to the public to keep it alive and finance its maintenance. At the top of a hill, with its crenellated turrets, its lawns and its promise of an out-of-this-world sunset, the castle gives free rein to the most romantic of stories.

Castel de Sant Marsal, Barcelona

Originally, the Castel de Saint Marsal was a square building with a central courtyard, a tower and a Gothic chapel surrounded by moats. In 1895, the Arròspide family commissioned Cayetano Buïgas – the architect who designed the monument to Christopher Columbus in Barcelona – to adapt the building so that it could be used as a second home. He did this while respecting the original structure, but covered the building with fantastic decorations inspired by Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

In the Church of Sant Marçal, the Gothic door and the keystones embedded in the façade are still preserved, as is the base of the outer enclosure that surrounded the castle, as well as part of the moat. The restoration of the castle, which offers a real journey through time, was, from the 1990s, entrusted to many experts and master craftsmen. The prestigious Spanish landscape designer Don Luis González Camino was asked to redesign the gardens. The result is breathtaking. A Catalan version of a medieval fantasy.

A Saharan adventure

The Sheltering Sky: Adounia, Morocco

Above all, you will have to really want to do this, and find sufficiently motivated guests to follow you to where you’ve decided to tie the knot. Leave at 9 a.m. from Marrakech and journey four hours by road in a Toyota Land Cruiser to Ait Ben Haddou, and another four hours into the middle of the desert after an hour’s stop, and Camp Adounia awaits you for the night. If you wish to skip part of the ride, there are flights from Marrakech to Ouarzazate that will let you cut the journey down by 4 hours. In any case, awaiting you is a unique and adventurous venue, in the heart of nature but with the comfort of home, the fine canvas of a tent all that separates you from the night sky, the universe and the murmur of the sand and wind. In this pristine landscape, a catering staff will cook fantastic Moroccan cuisine while you listen to the ancient drumming of the Berbers that will touch your soul in a way you’ll never forget. The best time to try the outstanding experience of Camp Adounia is from late fall to early spring.

Go (even more) bananas in Lebanon

The silk factory in Damour

Damour silk factory is a breathtaking, abandoned structure set amid banana plantations a stone’s throw from the coast by Damour and a few miles south from Beirut Airport. Once the thriving center of the Chouf region in the 19th century, Damour was home to twelve large silk manufacturing companies and its plain was then planted with mulberry bushes in which silkworms were bred. Nowadays best known for its sandy and rocky beaches (Iris, Oceana and Lazy B. among others), Damour has much more to offer, if you take a short drive into the city’s banana plantations.

At some point, in the middle of a pocket of jungle, you will find an abandoned, abbey-shaped structure overlooking the coast. This is the Damour silk factory or “Kerkhane”, one of the last five witnesses to the industry the seaside town was home to and that used to produce the best silk in the world. This forsaken place, literally a wreck, but still with a very real sense of its past, is awkward and unusual, but is surrounded by dreamy beaches and nightlife spots. A guaranteed change of scenery, it’s not too far away from home, whether you come from Lebanon or the wider MENA region.