On land or by sea, options abound for wedding venues

OK, OK, you've heard it all, seen it all, when it comes to the ways people get to the synagogue on time. Brides and grooms on horseback. Skydiving couples. Wedding processions on the beach.

The kitsch is endless. But suppose you want something else, still within the bounds of logic, but something that is unique. The options are there. The only limits are your pocketbook, stamina or common sense.

Here are a few suggestions to consider:

*Take a hike

Hike to the wedding. Outdoor and wilderness locations abound. A national park, for instance, would combine breathtaking beauty and mutual passions if you and your future spouse are hikers, backpackers or campers.

Make a field trip to the site if you haven't been there before. It's one thing to fantasize about a wedding on the top of Mount Wittenberg in Point Reyes National Seashore, but quite another matter to plan a wedding you climb to. You must make at least one visit to nail down the details. Bring along someone who has arranged a wedding before so you can make realistic choices about the details for your wedding day.

Information provided by state or federal park agencies can help you visualize where you can hold the ceremony, such as at an overlook, and whether you'll want an outdoor dinner. Contact the ranger headquarters of the park you're interested in.

The Complete Guide to America's National Parks (available from the National Park Foundation, Washington, D.C) lists all national park areas and how to contact them. Find out what locations and times are available, and whether you'll need a permit. Concessionaires at Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon all have event planners and brochures outlining the options at nearby hotels and lodges. You can check out the availability of local wedding photographers, florists and bakeries while you're there.

Dress appropriately for the weather. And most importantly, make sure that your guests are physically able to join you on your wedding trek.

*Cruise control

Get married onboard a ship. Princess Cruises, for example, now has ships with onboard wedding services ranging from a chapel to catering — you can sail off into the sunset during the ceremony and have a cruise for your honeymoon.

Romance and cruising are virtually synonymous, industry officials say, and more than 60 percent of both frequent cruisers and first-timers view the experience as a romantic getaway. The cruise line's Grand Princess boasts a 36-seat chapel.

This can be a high-end way to get to your wedding. For example, the "Diamond" wedding package features candlelight and fresh flowers in the chapel, Dom Perignon champagne with two presentation glasses, a small wedding cake, an orchid bouquet and boutonniere, a 55-minute facial, shampoo and hairstyling for the bride, and traditional wedding music performed by a string quartet. The deluxe photo package includes a wedding album, multiple color enlargements, and copies of the video in an embossed case. The package price is over $2,000. However, there are less-expensive packages as well.

The Grand Princess' sister ships, Grand Princess 2 and Grand Princess 3, are both scheduled for operation in 2001. They will also have wedding chapels. For more information, call Princess Cruises at (800) 421-1700.

*Get it to go

For those seeking simplicity, or simply in a hurry, consider a drive-through wedding. Yes, there are places where you can tie the knot as easily as ordering a burger and fries at a fast-food establishment.

On the Las Vegas Strip, the Little White Chapel is almost 40 years old and busier than ever. Its owners installed the window to accommodate disabled couples. But news spread fast. Couples have pulled up to the window in their cars, convertibles and pickups, on roller skates, motorcycles and even on horseback. Fee for the drive-up ceremony is $25, plus the fee for the officiant. For more information, call the Little White Chapel at (800) 545-8111.