Over the past few years, there’s been a real increase in the number of couples choosing to hold their wedding abroad and combine it with a luxury honeymoon. For those couples who want a standout destination honeymoon, the attraction of combining the wedding with that honeymoon is clear.
But when you’re planning a wedding, there’s so much to consider, it can be difficult to choose between the destinations on offer. We’ve chosen four of our most popular destinations for overseas weddings and pulled out some of their wedding-related highlights, along with a few tips on the legal side of things. This article is no substitute for your own research and we’d recommend you use a travel agent who specialises in luxury holidays and weddings overseas, but hopefully our tips will help you to get started and maybe provide some suggestions you might not have thought of before.
This has been our most popular wedding destination for a number of years. The island has a real French flavour due to its historical past as a French colony and although today English is the official language, many residents will still also speak French Patois. The island has a very laid back and low-key character, making it ideal for quieter, more intimate weddings.
There are a number of beautiful locations available to hold your wedding ceremony, including the typical flower-festooned gazebo on a white sand beach or one of St. Lucia’s beautiful botanical gardens. However, those interested in more unusual wedding locations might consider holding their ceremony high up in the island’s Piton Mountains; it’s perfectly possible.
On the legal side of things, St. Lucia makes it pretty easy for the non-resident. You can apply for a marriage licence on arrival, and you can get married three days after arriving on the island in theory. However, in practice it’s best to get your application to the Attorney General four days before you plan to hold the ceremony. In line with most of the destinations listed here, you’ll need to bring your original documents with you, including your passport, plus a Decree Absolute if either of you have been divorced, (and a death certificate if either of you have been widowed – but this can be a copy).
Ever-popular for luxury overseas weddings, as it is with honeymooners, Barbados caters well for non-residents who want to get married here. The culture is relaxed and informal, offering nightlife as well as more peaceful locations so there’s something for everyone.
The island’s British colonial past is very much in evidence and you can choose to hold your wedding in a colonial plantation house standing in fields of sugar cane for a touch of ‘Gone with the Wind’ glamour. Alternative locations include a historic church dating back to the 1600s or even an abandoned sugar mill.
Brides and grooms-to-be can apply for their marriage licence in person at the Ministry of Home Affairs in Bridgetown, taking with them their passports or birth certificates (originals only). Similarly to St. Lucia, if either party has been married previously, the Decree Absolute or death certificate is required as evidence before the licence can be granted.
Mauritius provides the full range of stunning white sand beaches where couples can get married next to the sparkling Indian Ocean, but if you’ve always dreamed of getting hitched below the ocean instead, Mauritius is for you, offering licensed submersibles for a wedding with a difference. Like Barbados, Mauritius has a number of stunning colonial style houses available for wedding hire, and can also host weddings in an Indian temple (led by a Pundit), or in an ancient cathedral.
To hold a civil wedding here, the bride and groom need to provide a copy of the first six pages of their passports, along with their birth certificate and, if relevant, a Decree Absolute (or death certificate). Unusually, Mauritius requires an extra level of documentation if the bride-to-be has been divorced in the last 10 months: a Mauritian doctor’s certificate of non-pregnancy (which must be provided to the Registrar four weeks before the planned wedding date).
Antigua has a slightly more sporty nature than some other Caribbean islands, with a strong love of horse racing and cricket demonstrated by many of its citizens. It’s also had a long association with the British Navy, serving as a strategic base for Horatio Nelson’s campaign during the Napoleonic Wars. This strong sailing heritage has continued so that today Antigua is the sailing capital of the Caribbean, with the renowned Antigua Sailing Week (held in May) drawing large numbers of yachts annually.
With such a strong focus on sailing, it’s no surprise that Antigua is easily able to cater for couples who would like to tie the knot on their own chartered yacht. But you don’t have to sail to appreciate Antigua and the island’s many hotels will host weddings beneath flower-decked gazebos in their gardens or you can choose to hold your ceremony on one of the island’s 365 beaches. Religious ceremonies can of course be held in one of Antigua’s beautiful historic churches.
Antigua makes it easy for the visitor to hold their wedding on the island, with a ‘no wait’ policy in place. Brides and grooms-to-be need to bring their original passports (and Decree Absolute or copy of death certificate if relevant), and complete an application in person at the Ministry of Justice. Those looking to hold a religious wedding ceremony may need extra permission or possibly pre-nuptial consultations with their chosen pastor, and will need to check this before finalising arrangements.
Our quick review of these four popular wedding destinations is by no means a substitute for your own research, but we hope we’ve provided some ideas and inspiration and maybe suggested a few ideas you hadn’t considered before. Above all, your wedding, whether it’s in the UK or overseas, is a highly personal choice and it’s important to make sure you choose a location that will really reflect the personalities and character of you both as a couple.
Mags Longstaff is Commercial Director at Tropical Sky.