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Guide to an Amazing Caribbean Beach Wedding

Updated on July 30, 2014

Getting Married on the Beach in the Caribbean is an Exotic Way to Tie the Knot

Having a destination wedding in the Caribbean on a beautiful island can be a really fun and a relatively easy way to get married. Beach weddings are exotic, beautiful and are a special way to deviate from the typical ceremony. Determining both whether a destination wedding is right for you as well as deciding which island and hotel to get married at are the hardest parts. After that it's pretty smooth sailing, particularly if you know to beware of certain pitfalls.

Photo © melissamio - all rights reserved

Is a Destination Wedding Right for you? - Consider a potentially reduced attendance by having a beach island wedding

I am personally a big fan of destination weddings. I always wanted a barefoot beach wedding and I wouldn't change a thing about my wedding. It was the most fun I've ever had in my life and planning it was as stress free as you can get. Instead of torturing myself up to the day like many brides end up doing, the entire process from start to finish was just plain fun. However there are several potential problems that you should be aware of before you decide whether a destination wedding is right for you.

The biggest potential problem is family and attendance. Unless your family and friends are all well off then you will have a smaller attendance if you do a destination wedding. The further you go the less people will come. If you have a large family that's all concentrated in one area they may be upset if you plan something that will be expensive for them to travel to and that's far from home. In my particular case my husband and I don't have a lot of family. Plus none of them lived in our same state so they would have had to travel regardless. I figured at least they could travel somewhere fun and we could all have a big family vacation together.

If you have older people in your family like Grandparents they may also be unwilling or unable to travel. All of my old people had already passed so that wasn't an issue for me. Had I been lucky enough to still have some of them around I would have wanted to be sure they could have attended.

If you have a destination wedding it's most likely going to be a smaller event. We even had to pay for a couple of our more important guests to come who couldn't afford to otherwise. It's just something to keep in mind.

Photo © melissamio - all rights reserved

"Just Married" Flip Flops Stamp Your Message in the Sand!

These flip flops are great for the honeymoon after the beach wedding. They're cute and the fun "Just Married" stamp in the sand will let everyone know of your newlywed status.

An Element of Control: Weather and your outdoor beach Wedding

Obviously as much as you might like you can't control the elements. This means you need to take into account the time of year and where you'd like to go as far as destinations. It might not be smart to get married during hurricane season on an island. However even if you select an island that is known for it's great weather and during a safe season the weather can affect your wedding. Consider will it be too hot in the afternoon or get too cold in the evening?

The wind is what got me. There wasn't any until my ceremony started and then it decided it was the perfect time to go nuts. As I stood there with my hair getting tossed and twisted into knots I wondered whose brilliant idea a beach wedding was. (It was mine...) When I first saw my wedding pictures I was really disappointed because none of them are the perfect wedding pictures I've seen in most other people's albums. My hair was messed up in pretty much all of them. Yet with time I've come to love my pictures because I know its all part of my experience and that's what I choose. I think it adds to the story. But if you want the picture perfect wedding- a wedding in the elements might not be the best choice for you.

Photo © melissamio - all rights reserved

Caribbean Beach Wedding Favors

These beach wedding favors will be a special treat for your guests who flew all this way to share in your special day.

How to Pick an Island for your Caribbean Wedding

island-destination
island-destination

Once you've decided if a Caribbean wedding is right for you, the biggest decision you'll have to make is which island you would like to get married on. There are several considerations to look at:

All Inclusive Option

Which Island's do not currently offer all inclusive hotel options?

1. Anguilla

2. Bermuda

3. Cayman Islands

4. Dominica

5. St. Kitts and Nevis

Most other islands have at least one choice. The islands with the most all inclusive choices would be Aruba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and St. Lucia. This may not be important to you but it can be an important factor for some people so that they can tell their guests exactly what their trip is going to cost them including food and some activities.

Cost

There are several costs to factor in. What is the cost of airfare? Tip: Some airlines will give you a group discount for you and your guests. What is the hotel cost? Cost of activities? Cost of food and shopping?

The following islands are known to be some of the more affordable:

1. Dominican Republic

2. Cuba

3. Jamaica

4. Aruba

5. Puerto Rico

6. St. Kitts

These are a few of the more expensive:

1. Turks & Caicos

2. Anguilla

3. St. Barts

4. St. Lucia

5. Dominica

Passports

There are several reasons you might not want to have to get a passport. They can be expensive and it can take awhile to receive it so if you'll need several months notice to give any guests who don't already have a passport time to get one. Additionally some people are uncomfortable traveling anywhere with children that's not a US territory.

Which Island's don't require you to have a passport?

1. Puerto Rico

2. The US Virgin Islands: St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix

Photo © melissamio - all rights reserved

Things to do in the Caribbean

Once you narrow down a couple of islands it's important to look at what each one offers and what's most important to you. If good beaches are high on your list the US Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Turks & Caicos have some of the best. If great food is a must Anguilla, St. Barthélemy, and Barbados shine in particular. If many in your party enjoy golf then Barbados, Dominican Republic and Jamaica would be great choices. Bonaire, Curacao, and Grand Cayman are perfect if you enjoy snorkeling. Really take time to research and find what makes the most sense for you and your guests.

Photo © melissamio - all rights reserved

Can you guess which island I was married on? - Hint: The picture featured below is from my wedding trip

island-destination
island-destination

Photo © melissamio - all rights reserved

Can you guess where I was married?

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Wedding Dress Advice for Beach Ceremonies

Beach Wedding Garter Sets

These beach themed garter belts feature a beautiful sea shell which is so appropriate for a romantic beach wedding.

How to Pick a Hotel for your Caribbean Wedding

Important factors to consider in choosing a hotel for your wedding include:

1. The cost of the stay for your guests. Will the hotel offer a reasonable group rate? Do they offer an all-inclusive option and is that something important to you?

2. Availability. Can they reserve enough rooms to cover all of your guests? Do they have a minimum requirement of guests and can you fulfill that requirement?

3. The cost to you for the wedding ceremony

4. The choices of locations at the hotel for the venue and will they guarantee that you get the spot you select. Some hotels will not make any guarantee in regard to where on their property you'll be married which could spell big trouble on your wedding day

5. The quality and responsiveness of the hotel's wedding planner. If you make an initial inquiry and it takes days for them to respond to you it's probably not going to be a seamless experience. You need to feel comfortable with your planner and have trust in them

6. The selection that they have to offer as far as cakes, food, bands, etc. As silly as it is part of my I chose the hotel I did was because I fell in love with their sea shell cake

Photo © melissamio - all rights reserved

Which is your favorite Caribbean Island?

island-marriage
island-marriage

Photo © melissamio - all rights reserved

Which island would you like to get married on?

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"Meet" with your wedding planner

Since you'll be planning your wedding from afar your meetings will most likely consist of a Skype conversation or detailed emails. It can be rather bizarre choosing food without tasting it, a band without hearing it, flowers arrangements without seeing them. Yet it's part of what makes a destination wedding so easy. I pretty much selected everything off a list and hoped for the best. The planner provided by the hotel was great and I completely trusted her. We loved everything and couldn't have liked it more if we had selected everything personally. I loved my cake, our flowers were beautiful, the food was a large Caribbean buffet under a cabana on the beach where they also cooked fresh meats before the guests. Our greatest surprise was the band. They were absolutely phenomenal.

Photo © melissamio - all rights reserved

Things not to overlook for your Caribbean wedding

Learn from my island wedding mistakes

There are several things in retrospect that we could have done or planned a little better. So learn from my mistakes and don't forget these things.

1. Wear Sunscreen and lots of it. We made it through the week and then the morning of the wedding my soon to be husband forgot sunscreen and ended getting a sunglass tan across his face. He then had to wear his glasses throughout the wedding to try to hide the silly line!

2. Plan in advance appointments like getting your nails or hair done. I was accustomed to how in the US you can walk in for a nail appointment pretty much anytime. I waited until the day before the wedding because I didn't want my nails to get dinged up. I was horrified to find out that the nail person was gone from hotel spa on that day and that there was really no where else to go. My wedding planner managed to get me in the evening of my wedding at a woman's house where she does the local's nails out of her garage. It was a weird but cool experience; I got very lucky. So plan ahead and don't make any assumptions.

3. Do a make-up trial run. My planner booked a make-up artist and I never asked about doing a trial run. When the wedding day came I thought my make-up was a little over-done but the lady was so nice I didn't want to say anything. How someone likes their make-up done is so subjective. Had I done a trial run in advance of the day I could have had a result I was happier with on the day of the wedding.

Photo © melissamio - all rights reserved

barefoot-beach-sandals
barefoot-beach-sandals

Barefoot Beach Sandals

My beach wedding vision definitely involved being barefoot. Yet I still wanted to dress up my feet so they looked special. Barefoot sandals are a wonderful way to do that. They are so pretty and it's so comfortable to be able to walk in the sand and not have to wear uncomfortable shoes all day.

Photo © melissamio - all rights reserved

Would you ever consider a destination or Caribbean wedding?

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    • profile image

      Alex 2 years ago

      We had a fantastic hodialy at Beachside during early September. The house was equipped with everything we needed a real home from home and was spotlessly clean. The location was perfect, being right on the beach but also a short walk to shops, cafes and a pub. The footbridge across the River Adur to Shoreham town is currently being replaced, but there is a regular shuttle bus in service. Thanks, Rae we can't wait to go back! lablos

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Our daughter was married in St. Thomas, we had a wonderful time there :)

    • NoProblemmo profile image

      NoProblemmo 3 years ago

      Of course! It looks like a perfect place for weddings. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 3 years ago

      I didn't think about having a destination wedding when I got married. I think I would have chosen to have one if I had read this article first!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      What a wonderful way to get married. I enjoyed reading about your personal experiences.

    • mrsclaus411 profile image

      mrsclaus411 4 years ago

      A Caribbean wedding sounds absolutely wonderful.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      Wow! Caribbean wedding looks like a fairy tale to me. Wish you a happy ever after:)

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 4 years ago

      A barefoot wedding sounds really nice! This page keeps jumping up and down, it's really difficult to leave a comment.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      Absolutely beautiful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Oh my goodness, Melissa. Wow, that looks like the dream come true wedding on the beach. What a "blessing" to visit your lens. Wee, wee! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Sounds like your wedding was a terrific experience. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Sounds like a great idea to get married on the beach!

    • Keepingscore profile image

      Keepingscore 5 years ago

      Nice lens, even better as it's a story with an obvious personal angle. I have a wedding relatated lens I wanting to surround with other wedding related lenses using the sidebar widgets. I would like to feature this lens if that's okay with you, my lens isn't quite as upbeat as yours so I'm needing some quality happy stuff around it. Let me know if it's okay to use it, thanks.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @Keepingscore: Thank you! You're more than welcome to use. Is it your lens regarding pre-nups? I can link yours to mine too if you're okay with that.

    • Alex Cortes profile image

      Alex Cortes 5 years ago

      Nice lens! My cousin was married in Aruba and it was absolutely beautiful. It was a smaller party (you're right, it was difficult for many guests to travel there), but one of the most memorable occasions we've been to. Highly recommend a destination wedding.

    • profile image

      jennyb85 5 years ago

      Even though you told me little tid-bits while you were planning your destination wedding, I was still able to take so much away from this lens. I've always wanted a destination beach wedding but not being able to plan/sample every little thing has always made me nervous; but your lens really showed how much easier and more enjoyable it can be to have all the heavy-lifting of the planning done for you, so this just cemented my desire to have a destination wedding in lieu of having to do every little thing myself. Especially since I remember how at ease you were during the ceremony & reception since the wedding planner was taking care of everything!