If you have been looking at the romantic images of some magical Caribbean beach weddings, you will already understand how truly lovely the experience can be. What images cannot really express though are the many unique and special events that can be woven into your perfect wedding – before and after the ceremony itself.
Whether you are a very small party who wish for the intimacy and serenity of a ceremony at sunset on your own private beach or a large group who are keen on the Caribbean destination wedding party of a lifetime, there is something for absolutely everyone.
So, how do you work out where is best for you? I’ve set out some useful information here that might help you narrow your sphere of investigation as you try to locate the island destination weddings spot of your dream.
Why get married in the Caribbean?
What’s brilliant about any of the Caribbean beach weddings is that you can embrace the whole white dress and veil theme under a floral bower overlooking the ocean or opt for a more informal barefooted, bohemian vibe and dress in a way that celebrates the joy you both take in being slightly less conventional and left of centre. There are no rules here. You get to choose how your day looks and feels.
It’s also an opportunity to bring together friends and family for a meaningful vacation where your wedding is the climax of a joyful and fun holiday.
Is a Caribbean wedding valid back home?
First of all, let’s cover the basics. If you marry in the Caribbean will your marriage be legally recognised back home? I won’t name and shame, but a rather famous rock star got married on a tropical island back in the 1990s. It transpired that in some sort of legal loophole the wedding wasn’t recognised by European / US courts. A neat strategy if you are (a) a cynical (b) miser who hopes to hold onto his cash in the event of a split.
Well, rest assured, if you are heading to the Caribbean to be hitched regardless of whether you front one of the biggest rock bands in the world, your wedding is most likely completely legal … provided you complete the necessary paperwork according to local laws.
Most of the island destinations have a requirement that one or both of the parties to be married need to be ‘resident’ for a prescribed period of time in order to obtain a marriage license.
Here is a quick list of residency requirements for some of the main destinations in the Caribbean. NOTE: Laws and regulations do change from time to time, so please always do due diligence to ensure you are fully aware of all that is needed.
- St Martin – Dutch Side – There is no residency requirement but permission must be obtained in advance by writing to the Lt Governor’s office.
- British Virgin Islands – Three-day lead time during which you apply for the License.
- St Barths – Either the bride or groom will need to show a residency of at least 1 month prior to the wedding.
- Antigua and Barbuda – No residency requirement.
- Dominica – ideal for elopement. Either the bride or groom must be on the island a mere 2 days before tying the knot.
- St Martin – French Side – the bride or groom must be resident for at least 6 months before the proposed date of marriage.
- St Lucia – four-day residency requirement.
- Barbados – no residency requirement but the couple must apply in person for the license on Barbados.
- St Vincent and the Grenadines – it takes 3 days to process the license and there is a one-day residency rule.
- Grenada – it takes 3 days to process the licence with no residency rule.
- Jamaica – persons must be in the country for at least 24 hours before getting married.
- St Kitts and Nevis – there’s a 2 day lead time to obtain a license.
- Turks and Caicos – 3 days of residency required to apply for a license.
What about a Church or Synagogue Wedding?
If you are of religious persuasion and feel that a wedding doesn’t seem complete without being blessed in some hallowed church or temple, you will be delighted to know that there are so many gorgeous churches and synagogues to be found across the Caribbean. Ever since Columbus arrived brandishing his Christian flag and settlers from other religious denominations arrived, churches and a few synagogues have popped up across the islands.
Of course, it’s important to understand what the rules are surrounding permissions within any given faith. This is where local knowledge becomes vital. Look no further than Exceptional Villas who, with their amazing concierge teams and partnering with local wedding planners, can best advise you on what is possible.
Red Tape and Paperwork / What you Need?
Well, it varies according to each territory.
- Proof of citizenship – passports and birth certificates always useful. Some documents may need to be translated into a language approved by the Caribbean island.
- Any paperwork that shows that you are legally divorced or widowed.
- In some cases, blood tests.
- Payment of fees to the government bureau issuing the license.
This list is not exhaustive, but it gives you a flavour of some of the bureaucracy surrounding a wedding in the Caribbean. It’s certainly very doable but my advice is plan ahead, gather all of your paperwork so that your happy event isn’t snagged by some silly formality.
What Island is Best for you?
Draw up a wish-list of what you want for your wedding: a big party, small group? Adults only, family-friendly? Exclusive and Private or Exclusive but within a Resort? The age profile of you and your guests and their specific needs? What activities do you want to build into your wedding vacation experience? Golf, sailing, fishing, snorkelling, luxurious spa treats etc.
Once you have your ‘shopping list’ of key ingredients, simply call Exceptional Villas. Our experienced team will be able to shortlist the perfect islands, villas or resorts that can deliver all – and more – of your deal-breakers wishes.
To get you excited about what we can offer you, take a look at a very short selection of some of the loveliest properties that can deliver the Caribbean wedding destination of your dreams:
Ideal for Big (or small) Groups
If you are looking for that traditional style wedding where guests sit for a decadent 8-course feast under a star-filled sky or perhaps a sophisticated cocktail party or casual barbecue for a large party, look no further than some of these best Caribbean wedding resorts and villas.