If you have your heart set on a beach wedding and are not lucky enough to live in a coastal state, it is most likely that there is some sort of sand surrounded body of water nearby. A lake can be just as beautiful and seem almost as vast as the ocean. The picture above, for example, is compliments of the Lake House Inn on Lake Erie, Ohio. Consider renting a lake house to combine lodging and venue costs. This way you can have your ceremony overlooking the water and then invite guests to your outdoor reception at the lake house. This would work best if your wedding was small and you enjoyed a casual atmosphere. A bonfire and s'mores on the beach would be the perfect ending to your day!
State Parks are another great place to find beautiful locations for weddings. Some even offer wedding packages that include lodging and photographers. If you are a nature lover this would be the venue for you! If you and your guests are adventurous, one unique idea is to invite them to spend a few nights camping, canoeing, and exploring the park. Finish the mini-adventure with a beautiful ceremony and a big bash to follow! Even the fussiest bride could make this work by finding local salons and designating dressing areas ahead of time. The National Park Service can help you find your state's parks.
Other options for a not-so-distant destination wedding are local bed and breakfasts, small wineries, local farms, and favorite local landmarks or historic sites. Some of these places may not advertise their space for weddings, but remember that it never hurts to ask! They may say no, but they may also be pleasantly surprised and grateful for the business.
Finding a closer destination site may also make the ceremony that much more special. It may already be a place that is close to your heart. Also it will be that much easier to revisit on your anniversary!