Following years of postponed nuptials and restricted honeymoons, destination weddings are on the rise and, thanks to its relaxed atmosphere and breathtaking scenery, the Caribbean is popular among those proclaiming “I do”.
Beyond the beach
While a barefoot ceremony on the sandbanks of The Bahamas or Cayman Islands may first spring to mind when picturing a wedding in the Caribbean, there are plenty of alternative options for couples looking for something a bit different. These islands are also home to verdant rainforests, thundering waterfalls and volcanic peaks that will add a touch of drama to the wedding album.
Known as the nature island, Dominica has a rugged coastline complete with black sand beaches and hidden coves (perfect for a private ceremony) while adventurous couples can say their vows from Devil’s Bridge, Hell’s Gate or Shirley Heights in Antigua and Barbuda.
Historical sites such as Cottle Church on Nevis or the ruins of the Honen Dalim (the Jewish Synagogue) on St. Eustatius offer a more traditional service, and for cultural flare there’s the Spanish rhythms of Cuba, the French elegance of Saint Martin and Martinique or Dutch-speaking St. Maarten.
For something truly unique, couples can tie the knot at the UNESCO Brimstone Hill Fortress in St. Kitts, have a scuba dive ceremony in Saint Lucia or The Bahamas, wed on top of a Mayan temple in Belize or host an intimate wedding celebration at sea on board a classic West Indian sloop in Anguilla, with a sunset blessing at Little Bay.
Those seeking an intimate ceremony can exchange vows in Dominica’s Relais and Chateaux Secret Bay, with secluded beaches, a discreet service and gourmet fare.
Meanwhile, six-suite boutique property Tet Rouge in Saint Lucia gives couples the option to take over the entire resort for their special day. The resort has just launched a new Land and Sea package, which includes a private sunset cruise, a rainforest adventure hike to the En Bas Saut waterfall and a private dinner.
With 18 resorts across seven islands, wedding specialists Sandals offer seductive settings such as over-the water wedding chapels in Jamaica to the oceanview pavilion in the new Sandals Royal Curaçao.
Remember ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue’?
Well, Elegant Hotels in Barbados offers a wedding package add-on that pays tribute to the saying. The package includes a storied history of rum, with a private tasting at Colony Club’s Rum Vault as something old, a portrait painting class for something new, the chance to ‘borrow’ a luxury rental car to explore the island and a private catamaran sailing for something blue.
For a more traditional Caribbean setting, couples can marry inside the 300-year-old sugar mill at 18th-century Montpelier Plantation & Beach in Nevis.
Getting married in the Caribbean also provides the opportunity to honeymoon on a neighbouring island. From scuba diving in the Dominican Republic, sailing to Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island or dining under the stars in Montserrat, the Caribbean offers a place to create lasting memories.
Keen explorers will enjoy hopping between seemingly endless islands and cays in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and The Bahamas, while couples looking for privacy can enjoy the full glory of Saint Lucia’s Pitons from open-air ‘Sanctuaries’ at Jade Mountain.
Resorts often offer special packages with add-on experiences. The Romance the Senses Honeymoon Package at Palm Island Resort in St. Vincent and the Grenadines includes an excursion on a classic sailboat, a spa treatment for two and a dinner on the beach.
A luxurious stargazing experience at The Landings in Saint Lucia includes a private boat charter, complete with an on-board telescope and a specially-prepared picnic for two.
Complimentary wedding packages
Many resorts in the Caribbean offer wedding packages that include a wedding planner, registrar, marriage licence and all legal fees – and these are often complimentary for couples staying at the resort. For example, East Winds in Saint Lucia – which has 26 cottage style suites and an oceanfront beach house – includes a wedding package worth $1,500 when couples book a seven-night stay.
A decorated venue, bouquet and buttonhole, wedding cake and private champagne dinner are part of the package. Couples that stay for three nights or more at any Sandals resort qualify for a free wedding with an intimate ceremony and reception.
And Elegant Resorts offer free destination weddings with a seven-night stay, such as the Simply Elegant Package at Turtle Bay in Barbados which includes a signature cocktail on arrival, a personalised wedding website and gift registry. The brand has joined up with celebrity wedding planner Emma Corrie to add her unique touches.