Beyond the Beach: Caribbean Weddings that Go the Distance
By Melanie Reffes
There are weddings and then there are really great weddings and although getting married in the Caribbean is reliably great, getting creative beyond a sunset ceremony on the beach comes with pretty good odds that you’ll never forget your anniversary. Check out our suggestions and say I Do at a sugar plantation, on an antique sugar train or under the waves in scuba gear.
Take the Plunge in Saint Lucia
Couples who are certified divers are making a splash at Jade Mountain and its sister resort Anse Chastanet. The formal ceremony takes place at the water’s edge and then to make it uber-cool, vows are repeated underwater using slates and sign language. For those preferring to say their vows above sea level, the twin resorts offer packages that include a sunset cruise, spa treatments and embroidered linens for the wedding night.
For a more intimate ‘happy-ever-after’, suites come with expansive views of the Piton peaks, infinity pools illuminated by flickering candles and Jacuzzis with mood lighting. www.ansechastanet.com www.jademountain.com
United in the US Virgins
For couples who covet Caribbean history, there is no finer spot for a wedding than at the Annaberg Plantation in St. John where sugar and rum was made in the 1700’s. Protected by the Virgin Islands National Park, Annaberg – named for the Danish owner’s daughter – are the most intact sugar plantation ruins in the Virgin Islands with tours led by park rangers.
A scenic spot for a wedding, the top pick for couples is at the windmill that stands 38-feet high. Ceremonies are best either early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid both the heat and the crowds as the plantation is a popular tourist spot. Down the hill from Annaberg is Leinster Bay, picture-perfect for après-wedding beachcombing. www.visitusvi.com
Tie the Knot in Tobago
Steeped in local lore, when a couple kisses beneath the magical pool of water called the Nylon Pool, a lifetime of happiness together is guaranteed. While we can’t guarantee that, we can guarantee that getting married next to the magical pool near the Buccoo Reef; the largest brain coral reef in the world is a Tobago wedding to remember. The aptly named Blue Waters Inn in the charming seaside town of Speyside is romance-central with packages for wedding parties and ceremonies toes-in-the-surf, on the private jetty at sunset, in the bay or at the magical pool. www.bluewatersinn.com. Upping the ante, an Island Girl catamaran cruise to toast the newlyweds keeps the theme. http://caribya.com/tobago/island.girl.catamaran/
Better in The Bahamas
Wet and wild nuptials are a dream come true for couples stoked to go the extra nautical mile. Partnering with Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas, The Island Preacha; the most famous wedding officiant in The Bahamas, is game for a ceremony just about anywhere in Nassau and Paradise Island including under the waves, on a shipwreck or cavorting with the sharks. “I perform weddings on beaches, secluded islands, underwater, at gardens, and churches,” says Matthew Sweeting, non-denominational preacher and owner, Island Preacha, “whatever your preference, this is one island boy who is flexible.” To make it legal, couples write ‘I Do’ on a waterproof slate which they take home as a keepsake and seal the deal with an underwater smooch in the company of schools of colorful tropical fish. Interesting to note, couples are required to make it legal before the sun sets. www.islandpreacha.com https://stuartcove.com
All aboard in Saint Kitts
For the young-at-heart, getting married on a sugar train is poetry for romantic sweeties. On the last railway in the West Indies, couples tie the knot as the train hugs the northeast coastline passing wave-crashed shores, emerald-hued mountain tops like Mount Liamuiga with a volcanic cone that measures 1,156 meters, former cane plantations, abandoned windmills, St. Paul’s Village; home of St. Kitts Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas and historic sites like Brimstone Hill Fortress, built by the British to protect the sugar island. In operation during the early 1920’s to deliver sugar cane from the fields to the mill in Basseterre, today the train is fun for tourists and a unique locale for couples to tie the knot. Double-decked with an upper open–air observation platform for unobstructed 360 degree views of the island, the lower level parlour with six–foot vaulted windows is air conditioned for couples who may be in formal wedding attire. For couples honeymooning on the island or who may have tied the knot on the beach or in a seaside resort, 3-hour tours on board the train include rum punch, frozen daiquiris and a delightful musical soundtrack provided by the St. Kitts Railway Choir with their repertoire of Caribbean folk songs and hymns. www.stkittsscenicrailway.com
For couples looking for awesome bragging rights when they get home, Eagle Beach in Aruba is the place to be for the Caribbean’s largest vow renewal celebration. For the second year, lovebirds from around the globe will gather on the beach on August 22 to renew their vows in the company of friends and family. With twinkling lights and tropical décor, couples are toasted with a glass of bubbly, Dutch snacks and bands serenading the lovebirds on the beach. “Aruba continues to provide world-renowned romance and memorable experiences for couples looking to refresh their love in paradise,” said Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, CEO, Aruba Tourism Authority. Vacation packages for the beach blowout are offered at a dozen hotels and resorts including Amsterdam Manor Beach, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, Divi Aruba Phoenix, Divi Dutch Village, Hyatt Regency Aruba and The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba. www.visitaruba.com