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Caribbean Island DestinationsMay 10, 2010 By: Staff Travel Agent
The Caribbean beach has different islands for every client
While many couples dream of a Caribbean wedding or honeymoon, as a travel agent it is up to you to help them decide which island would be right for them. Each island has its unique culture and attractions and, perhaps most importantly for couples looking to tie the knot, its set of regulations for getting married.
Here is a rundown of what some of the top Caribbean destinations offer—and what your clients need to know to get married there.
Anguilla, surrounded by luminous turquoise seas, is the place for the perfect beach wedding. A tiny flat island just 16 miles long and three miles wide, with some of the whitest shimmering sand in the Caribbean, Anguilla is also a watersports lover’s paradise. (Its pristine reefs and wrecks provide fantastic diving and snorkeling opportunities.)
Despite its small size, the standard of hotels and restaurants is exceptionally high, with most larger resorts offering wedding packages. The best time to visit and get married is December through March, when temperatures average 79?F.
Wedding requirements: Visitors from America, Europe and any country that are allowed entry without special permission only need be in the country for two working days before the ceremony. Documents required for a “special” marriage license are: proof of citizenship such as a valid passport or birth certificate and driver’s license. Proof of divorce or death certificate is required if it’s not a first marriage.
If one partner resides in Anguilla for at least 15 days before the date of marriage, the cost of the license is $40. If the stay is shorter, the cost of the license is $284 due to stamp duty. Two witnesses are required.
Whether your clients choose to tie the knot on the beach, during a private sunset cruise, or at a lush tropical garden, getting married in Aruba is a wonderful way to add exotic romance to their wedding day. There are many properties on the island with complete banquet facilities for the reception, and many of Aruba’s fine restaurants offer elegant private rooms for special occasions. Afterwards, couples can enjoy their honeymoon here, taking advantage of the island’s breathtaking vistas and secluded hideaways to celebrate. Many of Aruba’s best resorts and hotels offer all-inclusive honeymoon packages, and the island itself is perfect for newlyweds.
Wedding requirements: For a civil service, the couple must provide from their country of citizenship an “apostille” report proof that they are both single and eligible to marry. Each person must submit their birth certificate with a raised seal. In addition, couples must hold valid passports and submit with their application, copies of the pages showing all relevant details. Copies of the passport pages of their witnesses must also be submitted (if a couple does not have any witnesses, the resort will provide them at an additional fee). All documents are to be faxed for review to the office of Civil Registry and then submitted by courier (i.e., FedEx) at least a month prior to the wedding date.
All civil ceremonies must take place before the church wedding, either in the U.S. or in Aruba. Civil ceremonies are conducted inside the City Hall (Bureau Burgerlijke Stand) in Oranjestad and are performed Wednesdays through Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Bottom Bay Beach, Barbados
The clear sky, powdery white sand and crystal-blue water make the ideal setting for your clients’ big day. It’s the reason A-list celebrities like Mariah Carey, Cindy Crawford, Deion Sanders and even Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin chose the Bahamas as the place to start their new lives. The islands of the Bahamas are perfect for your last hurrah with the guys or girls, the wedding itself and the honeymoon. What’s more, the Bahamas is just a short plane ride from Florida!
With 700 islands, newlywed couples can go island-hopping and experience it all—relax on secluded beaches, explore underwater caves, go shopping for handmade crafts and swim with dolphins.
Wedding requirements: The couple must be in the Bahamas while applying for the marriage license. Couples may apply a day after their arrival and can be married once their license is approved—it usually takes one day. Both parties must produce a valid passport, birth certificate and photo ID. The couples must also produce evidence of the date of their arrival. The Bahamas Immigration Card or entry stamp in your passport will suffice. No blood test is necessary. The fee for the license is $100; certified copies of a marriage certificate are $20.
Marriage licenses are issued at the office of the Registrar General in Nassau. This office is open to the public Mondays through Fridays between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Barbados has a wide range of accommodations, from elegant resorts to intimate guesthouses. Dining in the country is a feast for all senses, from folk recipes for Flying Fish (a culinary “national treasure”), to gastronomic experiences that rival the world’s finest. Diverse sightseeing options include an array of natural attractions, abundant sporting choices, world-class shopping and lively nightlife. As the natives are fond of saying, “Life didn’t begin in Barbados, it was just perfected here.”
Wedding requirements: There is no required waiting period or minimum length of stay to be married in Barbados. The application for a marriage license must be made by both parties, in person, at the office of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Valid passports or original, certified copies of birth certificates are required. Where necessary, all documents not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. If neither party is a citizen or resident of Barbados, there is a fee of $74 cash and a $12 stamp.
Secluded and utterly unique, yet just a short flight from the U.S., Bermuda offers a great depth of experiences. With no neon signs, limited cars, and strict environmental laws, its ambiance has a purity rarely found anywhere in the world. With beautiful locations and few legal formalities, it’s no wonder that Modern Bride magazine rates it as one of the top 10 wedding destinations in the world.
Wedding requirements: Couples must fill up and file with the Bermuda Government’s Registrar General a Notice of Intended Marriage form. It is wise to do this four weeks prior to the wedding. The form must be accompanied with a fee of $210, plus $21 for the marriage certificate. The payment can be made through cashier’s check or bank draft (Bermuda or U.S. dollars) payable to the accountant general, Hamilton, Bermuda. Copies of final divorce decrees must accompany this form where applicable. No blood tests or health certificates are required.
What makes a Cayman Islands wedding so unique isn’t just the poetic and perfect experience it affords the bride and groom—but the memories their guests share with them. Imagine a champagne bridal luncheon set on a deck overlooking the surreally blue sea. And how about a deep-sea fishing expedition or golf outing to the groom and his guys, or a rehearsal “dinner at sea” with their nearest and dearest?
Visitors will find an impressive array of luxury resorts, cozy beach bungalows and private villas or condos to choose from. Add to this the pampering spas they’ll find on each of the three islands, world-class dining options, a safe, family-friendly environment and the chance to partake in some of the Caribbean’s best activities and attractions and you have the ingredients of a once-in-a-lifetime experience your guests won’t forget.
Wedding requirements: There is no waiting period to get married in the Cayman Islands. Couples must arrange for a marriage officer and a Non-Resident Marriage License. Arrangements with the marriage officer should be made prior to filing of the application for the marriage license. Marriage licenses can be obtained on the day of application. Couples must produce a Cayman Islands International Immigration Department Pink Slip showing proof of entry. Cruise passengers may present their ship boarding passes to prove they are legally in port. Valid passports or original or certified copies of birth certificates along with photo identification are required. Two witnesses must be present at the ceremony. Fee: $200.
While the Dominican Republic has garnered a reputation of a budget-friendly mecca for all-inclusives, the island has stepped up its luxury offerings in recent years, particularly in the resort area of Punta Cana. Here, every resort has extensive wedding packages and romantic offerings for honeymooners—and most at a great value for the dollar.
Wedding requirements: There is no waiting period and no blood test; two witnesses are required. U.S. citizens need to write to the American Consulate in Santo Domingo requesting permission to marry. Required documents include passport, original birth certificate, and a “single status” affidavit in Spanish for each party. Fees range from $60-$100 depending upon the judge. Most hotels have wedding coordinators onsite but be warned, they require paperwork at least 15 days in advance to prepare for the wedding. Couples will be given a document after the ceremony as proof the wedding has solemnized. Then they need to request a marriage certificate—valid all over the world—from the local Justice of the Peace.
Grenada’s wide selection of hotels and inns ranges from the exciting and glamorous to the tranquil and intimate—something to suit every bride and groom. Many of the island’s best establishments have wedding and honeymoon packages that are custom-fitted to the couple’s every wish and desire. There is no need to worry about the hassles of intricate arrangements, as most weddings and honeymoon packages are designed specifically to make the experience relaxing and carefree. With many properties close to the beautiful horseshoe-shaped harbor of St. George’s, Grenada’s capital city, surrounded by gorgeous white sand beaches and set against the lush tropical rainforest, it is impossible not to find the sensual pleasures that couples deserve.
As a goodwill gesture, many hotels and inns on Grenada offer newlyweds a complimentary room upgrade, along with a basket of the island’s famed tropical fruits. A complimentary champagne breakfast is also typically provided.
Wedding requirements: Couples must have been in Grenada for at least three days prior to their wedding (including weekends and public holidays). Application for a marriage license should be made in person at the prime minister’s office after the necessary stamp duty and license fees are paid at the Treasury office. This process takes about two days. Couples should have valid passports and birth certificates. No blood tests are required. The license fee is $10 and stamp is $15.
Jamaica’s beautiful beaches, lush tropical foliage, warm weather and a wide range of accommodations make it the perfect setting for both your wedding and honeymoon. In fact, Jamaica-based Sandals Resorts has trademarked the word “Weddingmoons” for that reason. Jamaica’s wedding locations include beaches, gardens, mountains, countryside, rivers, gazebos and fascinating waterfalls. Resorts in Kingston, Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and South Coast provide the best of services and locations.
Wedding requirements: Visitors can be married 24 hours after arriving in Jamaica provided prior application has been made for a marriage license. To apply for the license, call the ministry of national security at 1-876-906-4908 or visit its office. The license costs $75-$80. A certified copy of the parties’ birth certificates, which includes father’s name, is required.
Honeymooners and wedding couples can explore opulent hotels, delightful restaurants and sizzling clubs in Puerto Rico’s Condado and San Juan metro areas. They can visit the old city in the morning and mix with the crowds in the cosmopolitan part of San Juan at night.
Luxury resorts and small Caribbean boutiques east of Puerto Rico are refreshingly unique in the way they bring comfort to body and soul. The east coast and small islands that run parallel— Culebra and Vieques— let visitors experience the simplicity and casual, subtle privacy of the Caribbean surroundings.
Adventurous couples will fall for Porta del Sol with its natural beaches, biking, deep-sea fishing, golf, horseback riding, kayaking, scuba, windsurfing and surfing. And for the more “cultural” couples, the “Magical Charm of Porta Caribe,” the coffee haciendas and Don Q rum distillery are attractions that reflect Puerto Rican soul.
Wedding requirements: Marriage license papers must be requested in writing via the registrar’s office in Puerto Rico. Both the bride and groom must appear in person at the time of applying for the papers. Prepare in advance as the time needed to complete the license requirements is around two months. Blood tests are required, although a test conducted on the U.S. mainland within 10 days of the ceremony will suffice. A doctor in Puerto Rico must sign the license after conducting an examination of the bride and groom. There are no fees for the license and private ceremony and hotel fees average from $150-$350.
The natural, tropical beauty of this island seems to have been specially created for romantics. Palm-fringed beaches, elegant old plantation houses, hypnotic steel-band music and the tantalizing aroma of the cuisine combine to make weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries popular on St. Lucia. Wonderful climate and friendly islanders add to the occasion of your wedding.
Wedding requirements: Couples need to stay on the island for two days before the wedding, and then a local solicitor is required to apply for a license on their behalf at least two working days before the wedding date. Most tour operators make all the arrangements. Couples will need passports and birth certificates.
From the historical ‘Ole Time Tobago wedding procession, traditional nuptials to an underwater exchange of vows, the islands have the ambiance for a dream wedding. The country also boasts picturesque waterfalls, beautiful rainforests and the grounds of an 18th-century fort, where couples can hold their ceremony, besides a cathedral or mosque on the island of Trinidad.
Wedding requirements: Three days’ residence in the country must be established (starting from the date of arrival). Both parties must visit the registrar general’s office within 24 hours before the intended time of marriage to make a statutory declaration and pay fees. Required documents include proof of residence (passport and airline tickets) and identification of applicants (passport). The license costs $51, payable in cash or postage stamps available at the General Post Office.
Weddings here are celebrations, with church bells ringing, champagne on ice, decorated vehicles honking, music and dancing. But they can also be small and intimate, in a garden of tropical foliage, or in a sailboat on the tranquil turquoise waters with a view of the beaches and rolling hills and the breakers on the barrier reef. The traditional church wedding is the most popular in Turks and Caicos, though, and the island has places of worship of most faiths.
Wedding requirements: To get married in Turks and Caicos, there is a waiting period of 24 hours. The marriage must be solemnized by a registrar of marriage officer (usually the registrar general for special licenses) who is entitled to payment for reasonable travel expenses if the ceremony is at a place other than his usual place of business. License fee is $50. Only original documents should be presented. Marriage licenses may take two to three days to be processed.
Starwood Hotels, which has resorts throughout the Caribbean (including Aruba, the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and the Virgin Islands), has now began a program where couples can let their wedding pay for the honeymoon—couples can earn a Starpoint for every $1 contracted for their wedding, up to 100,000 Starpoints. These are awarded at the signing of the contract, so they can plan their honeymoon right away. Offer is valid for weddings reserved by December 31.
The Malliouhana Hotel & Spa
At Sandals, couples can choose from exclusive Sandals Weddings by Martha Stewart, six themed weddings that are fully realized visions by the nation’s leading style trendsetter. Each can be completely customized by a bride with a variety of options and choices to make her wedding uniquely her own. Every Sandals wedding includes: personal wedding consultant; marriage officiant; certified copy of marriage license; picturesque wedding location; beautiful reception setting; hors d’oeuvres for bridal party; sparkling wine for bridal party; wedding gift from resort; and preparation of documentation.
At Our Lucaya in Grand Bahama, wedding packages begin at $1,500 but there are no limits depending on your clients’ desires and budget. From airport transfers, wedding planners and onsite stylists to live music, videography and a personalized website, Our Lucaya does it all.
The Malliouhana Hotel & Spa in Anguilla can provide couples with weddings on Meads Bay beach, the bluff overlooking Turtle Cove and many other locations around the luxurious property. All venues come with the choice of a luxury beach tent, an elaborate Indian tent or a floral wedding arch. Packages include the lavish Say I Do five-night stay in a Junior Suite and dinner at The Restaurant; the Only Us package, including a three-night stay in an Ocean View Double Room; and the Simply Wedding that involves a simple, unpretentious celebration with a bottle of champagne.
The Radisson Aruba sits on the island’s most pristine beach, the hub of Aruba’s new shopping, dining and entertainment center. A favorite among honeymooners, the resort has four-diamond dining and an award-winning spa—and serves as the lush backdrop for destination weddings, too. The Radisson Aruba has more than 24,000 square feet of outdoor venue options, and its beach and lawns are popular for holding ceremonies, receptions and dinners.
At the all-inclusive Sunset Resorts in Jamaica—with properties in Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios—couples are welcome for weddings both intimate and grand. The new Bliss in Paradise wedding package is priced at $700 and includes all the trimmings—from paperwork to the ceremony to all the amenities of a beach or garden wedding. For an extra cost, the ceremony can be taped, spa services and packages added, and a private reception held, and have a Jamaican steel or reggae band perform. A wedding album, an upgrade to a suite, a private sunset cruise and much more are available at a premium. Renewal of vows, special honeymoons and anniversary extras are also possible.
The all-inclusive Breezes resorts (with locations in Jamaica, Curacao, the Bahamas, Panama and Brazil) will provide its Dream Weddings by Breezes at no charge to the bride and groom. Couples can also have the wedding of their wildest dreams created by specialists. These include Sweet Dream Weddings by Breezes ($799) and Sunset Dream Weddings by Breezes ($1,299). Honeymoons and anniversary celebrations are also available in all three categories: Dream Weddings & Anniversaries by Breezes at no additional charge; Sweet Dream Honeymoons & Anniversaries by Breezes ($499); and Sunset Dream Honeymoons & Anniversaries by Breezes ($999).