Say "I Do" on the Beach
Beachside Set Up for Ceremony

Everybody in Antigua knows who Beverly King is. They will tell you that this tall lady has “married” at least one couple from each country of the world here, part of Antigua and Barbuda in the Leeward Islands. Mrs King, a native Antiguan, has been organizing weddings at Jolly Beach Resort and Spa for more than 20 years and she has a lot to tell us about wedding planning.

The Caribbean islands are one of the top destinations for this kind of ceremony, and most of the resorts offer special wedding packages and discounts for couples who are interested in tying the knot on a beautiful beach with only their closest friends and family members present.
 

Who’s Interested in a Destination Wedding?

First of all, let’s talk statistics. Destination weddings have seen their numbers increase year over year by more than 20% since 2008, which means that more and more couples from around the world have decided to forego or substitute their traditional wedding reception for a trip in a beautiful and often exotic spot.  This trend applies to first marriages as well as second and third marriages, with children included.
 
Jolly Beach Resort is the most popular accommodation on Antigua for families with kids but, at the same time, it’s probably the favorite resort for locals, who come either to get married or for the famous New Year’s fireworks show. Beverly King told us that most of her brides and grooms come from the UK (circa 45%), followed by Americans (circa 25%), with about the same number of locals and other Caribbean islanders, and about 5% Italians.
 

How to Plan your Destination Wedding

The bride and groom usually book the chosen resort for an average of six days and nights to allow for preparation, while their guests spend approximately 3 days for all the celebrations.
 
Regarding the best time of year to get married, at least at Jolly Beach, Mrs. King recommends the months of February to April. She reminds couples that this is a quieter and nicer season in the Caribbean. If you can avoid travel over the major holidays and school breaks, it’s easier for the couple and their guests to plan and enjoy a very special ceremony at any resort, and less expensive to book flights and rooms.
 
One thing Mrs. King was adamant about during our chat is that couples should be sure their wedding will be legal. Ceremonies performed at the Jolly Beach Resort and Spa are perfectly legal because in the last few years, the Antiguan government has worked to ease the paperwork for foreigners. It is now possible for a couple to get married – literally – within 24 hours of their arrival.
 
St. Barth, a frequent getaway for both the rich and famous since its days as a Rockefeller family hangout, recently began offering legal marriage licenses without a residency requirement.  This gives well-heeled travelers another option for a tropical destination wedding with style and sophistication, in a friendly and laid back environment.
 

How Caribbean Resorts Cater to Brides and Grooms

If in the past getting married on a tropical island meant months of pre-planning, nowadays it takes only as much time and energy — or less if you book a wedding package — to get married at a resort as in our hometown. These packages often include the services of a wedding planner, special rooms and meals, flowers and a cake, spa treatments or special activities, and an all-inclusive price. 

As they would at home, resort-based wedding planners like Mrs. King meet the bride and groom several months before the actual wedding date.  For a destination wedding, it’s usually a “virtual” meeting, with information and requests exchanged by email until the couple finally arrives on location. To Mrs. King, it’s important to get to know each couple, to understand their expectations and their desires, and to share her tips so they can avoid the most common mistakes (see end of this article for “Beverly’s best Do and Don’t” list).
 
Besides in-house wedding planners, many resorts have special wedding packages which usually include almost everything to make your most important day perfect. The waterfront Jolly Beach stages outdoor weddings on Antigua’s mile-long Caribbean coast and its capacity of 900 makes it easy to reserve blocks of rooms for family and guests. 

Resort facilities like a spa are becoming more and more popular, especially among wedding guests and honeymooners.  Double rooms for couples treatments, a full service hair and nail salon and a quiet location on the far side of the property (away from the kid’s playhouse and the main pool where most of the junior activities take place) make the Jolly Beach Spa especially romantic for a bride and groom.
 
All-inclusive pricing is another benefit of a resort destination wedding. Jolly Beach, for example, offers four different solutions suited to every pocketbook and taste, and will accommodate adults, relatives and children of any age in the celebration. People can choose from the simple Dream Package to the added “touch” and expertise of local artist Mark Brown to design their special day.
 

Making a Renewal of Vows or 2nd Marriage Extra Special

While chatting with this very nice lady, we discovered that other kinds of ceremonies are becoming more and more popular. Mrs. King says that these days, she sees more second weddings with step children and, moreover, the renewal of vows for older couples, who want to have the entire family present.
 
Even if these events are simpler with fewer people included, a resort wedding planner will do a wonderful job in creating a new memory and adding a special flavor to these occasions. Mrs. King reminds us how important this is, because “If it’s her ‘second time’, the bride tends to be more selective and have higher expectations, sometimes losing part of the excitement in the process.”
 

Beverly King’s Top Do’s and Don’ts Before You Say “I Do”

We concluded our chat with Beverly reciting her list of “Do’s and Don’ts” for newleyweds:
 

  • Book your wedding date and reservation early. You want to have all the time to plan your day exactly as you want it.
  • Tell your guests and wedding party to wear lightweight clothes. You’re getting married on the beach!
  • Stay away from a long veil and a big train, again, you’re getting married on the beach, in the sand and they are prone to get in your way!
  • Write your own vows and personalize your ceremony.
  • Check all the documents you will need prior your arrival (remember to have them translated into English if they aren’t already).
  • Lastly, beware of high heels on the sand!

 

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