Marrying in the Caribbean: Destination Wedding Q&A
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Planning your destination wedding from the mainland isn't as difficult as you might think. Often it's as easy as making a few calls and sending a few emails. Many resorts now include the services of an experienced and knowledgeable wedding coordinator, and there are many more available for hire throughout the islands. If you want to go at it alone without the help of a coordinator, be prepared for extensive research, preliminary trips (hey, there are worse things!), and perhaps some timing snafus.
Q. How do we know which area to choose?A. There are many ways to choose the ideal destination for your wedding, whether you're looking for someplace close and cheap, a lush terrain, lots of activities, or do-not-disturb seclusion. For a full breakdown of each area's unique charm, click here . But to get you started, here's a breakdown of five particularly wedding-worthy Caribbean islands.
If you're looking for luxury resorts alive with local flavor on white sand beaches, check out Aruba.
Q. Are we responsible for our guests' expenses?A. Most couples that go the destination-wedding route do not have the means to pay all of their guests' ways, but if you do, it's a wonderful gesture and of course they will appreciate it. Airfare to the Caribbean can be expensive, but food and lodging often offer great bargains. That said, guests are committing themselves more financially and time-wise than they would for a wedding closer to home -- they're probably treating this as a vacation. This is one type of wedding you will need to plan further in advance if you're inviting lots of guests, save-the-date cards are crucial. Whatever you do, make sure that you provide lots of economical options for your guests.
Q. We want to incorporate a little Caribbean culture without having a theme wedding. Any ideas?A. Be creative by adding accents local to that particular region -- anything from a native flower to regional drink. Here are a few ideas.
If you're marrying in...
Q. Are there any must-dos that we should advise our guests of?A. Since the Caribbean offers so many choices of activities – snorkeling, horseback riding, hiking and beaching -- it's probably a good idea to provide each guest with an up-to-date travel guide for the area. Act as their hosts and see that they are kept entertained, which shouldn't be too difficult. Hotel concierges are great resources for itinerary ideas. Encourage your guests to participate, but don't be demanding. Realize that they'll probably want to spend at least some time just hanging out in their air-conditioned rooms.
Q. Are there any local drinks or culinary specialties that we should know about and incorporate?A. Concierges and travel books are a great resource for these types of things. Check the Internet for a web site for your specific town or area -- they'll often clue you in to local specialties you won't want to miss. Consider serving Pina Coladas at your Puerto Rican fiesta, Goombay Smash at you Bahamian bash, or Rum Punch at your Jamaican soiree.
Destination Weddings in Puerto Rico
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Why Here?Beautiful Puerto Rico has so much to see and do that couples will be tempted to spend their honeymoon here, too. This U.S. territory offers a nice blend of relaxation and cultural and historic sights (your non beach-going guests will appreciate the options).
What to Know
Necessary documents: As of August 2010, non-resident couples who wed in Puerto Rico need to provide:
Destination Weddings in the US Virgin Islands
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Why Here?The U.S. Virgin Islands are some of the most lovely and hassle-free places to have a Caribbean destination wedding. The U.S. dollar is the official currency, so there's no problem with exchanging money or fluctuating currency, and the air routes are some of the most competitive, which means that airfare is reasonable.
What to Know
Necessary documents: Driver's licenses or passports; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable); letter accompanying application for marriage stating date of visit, length of stay, and preferred wedding date if having ceremony performed by a judge
Note: Application must be received at least 2 weeks prior to the wedding and couples must pay a $50 license fee. No blood tests are required.
For More Info: USVI Division of Tourism (800) 372-8784; Territorial Court, St. Thomas and St. John, (340) 774-6680; Territorial Court, St. Croix, (340) 778-9750; or usvitourism.vi
Crystal Vandegrift is a wedding photographer covering Virginia, D.C. NC and Maryland.