When destination weddings come to mind, most couples think about heading somewhere warm and sunny. If you’re in the United States, going to an island in the Caribbean can offer exactly what you envision. With lush greenery, gorgeous waterside views, and an array of venues, heading to a tropical environment is perfect for both you and your guests. Many will build a vacation around your Caribbean wedding day, and the islands are also a fabulous place to honeymoon. So, if this sounds like your perfect big day, here are the best Caribbean wedding destinations to consider.
Of course, when you are planning a Caribbean destination wedding, it’s good to know how far you need to travel. The islands are located in the Caribbean Sea, south of Florida and northwest of South America. Their proximity to the United States makes it easy for traveling, as flights are relatively inexpensive. Heading to this area also minimizes jet lag, as many islands are on Eastern Standard Time. The weather is also gorgeous year-round, which is why many couples flock to the islands for their big day.
As with any destination wedding, heading to a different location requires a bit of forethought. Of course, you need to brief your guests on your plans, but you will most likely make arrangements for your big day from afar. Here are a few things to consider when booking Caribbean destination weddings:
If you have your eyes on a particular resort for your honeymoon, consider it for your big day. All-inclusive resorts typically provide services—think food, lodging, and amenities—for one price. Many also treat their weddings the same way. Since you may not be visiting your destination wedding site before your special day, booking an all-inclusive resort is helpful. These locations are used to hosting events and have a whole staff to orchestrate your big day, from planning and florals, to music and reception catering. If you are not using an all-inclusive resort, be sure to book a wedding planner that can help you from afar.
Because the Caribbean islands are such a hotspot for travelers, be sure to book your venue and hotel block early. Reserving space for your event, plus enough lodging for your guests is crucial to having a flawless destination wedding. Additionally, communicate your plans via a save the date or wedding website well in advance. Doing so ensures that your guests can get off from work and make travel plans around your wedding date.
Save the dates will cover information, such as the who, what, and where of your wedding. However, your guests will have several questions—many of which you should answer in a FAQ section on your wedding website. Brief them on topics, such as the weather and hotel blocks, in an easy-to-find section on your site. You can also include suggestions of activities, places to eat, and unique attractions in the area. That way, essential information can be at their fingertips whether they are at home or already on the island.
Although the region of the Caribbean Islands may not seem large, there are many islands; however, not all of them are suitable for destination weddings. Some are quintessential hotspots for events, and others are lesser-known, yet still gorgeous enough to consider for your big day. No matter which location you choose, each one has a uniqueness that will add to the beauty of your wedding.
Those that crave an unspoiled location will love Anguilla. Unlike many other Caribbean islands, it doesn’t have multiple casinos, large-scale hotels, and cruise ports. As a result, you can have a bit of privacy, while enjoying authentic island life on your big day (and honeymoon, too).
If you’re concerned about hurricanes, Aruba is ideal, as it’s beyond the normal pathway of severe weather. This Caribbean Island is one of the safest, and couples can also choose from all-inclusive resorts or posh hotels.
With over 300 beaches, Antigua is the perfect spot for those wishing to wed in a secluded location by the ocean. This Caribbean Island also has a great variety of non-beach venue options, including historic sites, yacht clubs, and rainforests.
The Bahamas consists of several islands, therefore, you can choose between a more populated location or a remote, white sand beach for your Caribbean Island destination wedding. It’s also an easy flight to Miami, which is a massive plus for guests.
Those who love traditional Caribbean music should plan a wedding in Barbados, which is filled with island history. Beyond resorts, there are also many creative venue options, such as estate homes, gardens, chapels, beaches, and boats.
Indicated by its name, the Cayman Islands is a collection of islets. Multiple islands give couples several options for the style of destination wedding they want. From beaches—the notable Seven Mile Beach is there—to more urban settings, the Cayman Islands has it all.
Although not one of the most popular islands in the Caribbean, Curacao is still a gorgeous place for an island wedding. There are many coral reefs in the sea, which creates various inlets for private ceremonies and fabulous honeymoons.
As one of the larger islands, the Dominican Republic has a wide variety of venue options. So, get married on a golf course or head to the mountains to say, “I do.” It’s also one of the most economical places for planning a Caribbean destination wedding.
Grenada has black and white sand beaches so that couples can take their pick. There are also unspoiled areas and all-inclusive luxury resorts, depending on what you’re looking for. Grenada is nicknamed The Spice Isle, so add their exported flavors into your catering menu.
One of the most popular Caribbean Islands for destination weddings and honeymoons, Jamaica has venues to match any couple’s taste. Book an all-inclusive resort, or go all out and rent a private villa for the week.
Perhaps the most expensive and exclusive island in the Caribbean, St. Barts attracts celebrities and affluent yacht owners from around the globe. Be a part of the jet-setting elite by hosting your destination wedding in style on this luxe island getaway.
If you and your partner love adventure, St. Lucia fits the bill nicely. Of course, you can get married in the mountains and go zip lining on your honeymoon; however, more quintessential beachside resort weddings are also popular.
This duo in the Caribbean is steeped in history and beauty. St. Kitts has many sugar plantations that have turned into venues, and nearby Nevis has botanical gardens that host weddings. If you want to marry by the sea, many beaches are available.
Trinidad and Tobago are perfect for couples who want a resort vibe when considering Caribbean wedding destinations. Many all-inclusive resorts offer well-curated wedding packages to make it simple to plan from far away. The area also focuses on eco-tourism, ideal for those who crave a sustainable wedding day.
The collection of the islands in the Turks and Caicos are unparalleled, as they offer stunning white sand beaches coupled with transparent, aqua-blue water. Fly to a remote island to have an intimate wedding and rent a villa for the week. Another option is to get married on the mainland.
The Caribbean islands have a flair all their own. Incorporating a few island earmarks into your day can give your destination wedding a genuine island feel. Here are some favorite ways to include Caribbean heritage into your special day:
Even if your favorite music doesn’t include island songs, chances are that your live musician can give a Caribbean twist to your ceremony music. Of course, your guests can dance the night away to reggae tunes, and you can also hire a traditional Caribbean band for authenticity.
Greet your guests with a cocktail infused with island-made rum to set the tone. Have your chef create traditional Caribbean dishes with island flavors and spices into your menu. Don’t forget about your bar and cake, as you can have tropically-inspired desserts and beverages, too.
When it comes to your destination wedding favors, give your guests a bit of the island to take home. Tiny bottles of locally made spirits or vials of spices are perfect. You could also research local artisans on your island of choice and have them make unique gifts for your guests.
One fabulous thing about the islands is that everything always seems to be lush and blooming. So, take advantage of the unique flowers and plants that the Caribbean has, and include them in your bouquets, centerpieces, and ceremony backdrop.
Planning a destination wedding can be fun, but it’s also a lot of work to do from afar. First, of course, hire a qualified wedding planner, or make sure that your venue has one, but get all of your advice at Zola. Whether you’re just starting and need a complete checklist for your destination wedding, or you simply need save the date etiquette, consult Zola first. Couples can find all of the planning essentials through Zola’s articles on expert advice.