How many of us have dreamt of a romantic exchange of wedding vows on an isolated beach with dazzling white sands and a balmy breeze? Or in the midst of a lush tropical forest with a cascading waterfall forming the spectacular backdrop to the wedding ceremony? Today, this dream is not that difficult to translate into reality!
The fascinating islands of the Caribbean have long been a favorite wedding destination among the rich and famous, right from Hollywood divas like Renee Zellweger and Liv Tyler to the sports stars like Tiger Woods. But if you thought that a fantasy wedding at an exotic Caribbean location was the privilege of celebrities, think again.
The island of St. Lucia
Tear-drop shaped St. Lucia has escaped the fanfare and hype showered on its fellow Caribbean islands including Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, or the Bahamas. This, along with its paradisiacal landscapes and vistas, is one of St. Lucia’s biggest assets. With shimmering lagoons, turquoise waters, teeming reefs, historic forts, and sprawling plantations, it’s no wonder this isle has repeatedly been recognized as the top wedding and honeymoon destination in the Caribbean by the World Travel Awards.
St. Lucia is, in all sense of the term, a romantic destination and is fast becoming the preferred locale for destination weddings among couples from across the globe. This tiny island offers you an array of wedding locales to choose from. One can opt for a casual ceremony on one of Marigot Bay’s secluded beaches and hidden coves; a nature wedding set against the backdrop of the island’s most photographed landmark - the towering volcanic peaks of the Pitons; or an exotic affair in a tropical garden such as the Mamiku Gardens, complete with endemic flora, cascades and rock pools.
History and culture
For those who appreciate a little romance with history and culture, the island’s several estate homes and plantation ruins, remnants of St. Lucia’s turbulent colonial past, make for delightful venues. To the north of the island, the Pigeon Island National landmark is peppered with historical treasures including the ruins of Fort Rodney, which make it a memorable wedding setting. Weddings can also be arranged in luxurious private villas such as the romantic La Paloma or the hilltop retreat of Cap Pavilion.
Other unusual ways to celebrate a wedding is to have a ceremony aboard a yacht or a cruise, or even underwater! Truly, when it comes to weddings in the Caribbean, your imagination is the limit!
Organizing the wedding
Organizing a wedding in the Caribbean can easily be done through one of the hotels and resorts. They offer tailor-made packages; some include services of the hotel’s wedding planner and also take care of the extras such as musicians, decorations, and photography. Most of the island’s upscale resorts also have their own scenic environs, including private gardens and beaches, which are great for hosting weddings. Among the most distinguished of these is the Anse Chastanet Resort that offers an intimate wedding experience at some fabulous venues including a coral reef. However, it is the chain of Sandals Hotels that are rechristened “the wedding hotels” for obvious reasons. Of the various Sandals properties across St. Lucia, the luxury Sandals Halycon on Choc Bay is especially known for its wedding packages.
Taking care of the nitty-gritty
While the ultimate Caribbean wedding may seem a fairly simple affair, there is more to all the glitter and romance. A wedding ceremony still requires adequate planning, and legalities need to be taken care of. Unlike some of the other Caribbean islands, St. Lucia has no residency policy and couples can choose to get married on the day of their arrival on the island. All couples need to furnish some documents including birth certificates, passports, divorce papers if any, deed poll in case of name change, and parents’ notarized consent if under 18 years. These papers should be in English or have an authentic English translation. It takes about 1 to 2 days to obtain the marriage license and couples will have to pay a separate registrar fee as well.
There are a host of wedding planners in St. Lucia who can help plan and orchestrate every detail of the wedding, right from arranging the transportation, accommodation, dealing with the legalities and documentation, to booking the wedding and reception locales. They even help produce witnesses for your wedding. Among the established wedding planners are A Wedding in St. Lucia and Tropic Isle Weddings.
Apart from being an exotic wedding destination, St. Lucia also offers ample opportunities for a visitor. While you are waiting for your marriage license, why not head to the capital town of Castries, home to colorful local markets and charming gingerbread houses, or to the picturesque fishing town of Soufrière, the island headquarter during French rule? And while excellent diving and snorkeling awaits the more adventurous at the Coral Reef Gardens and the Key Hole Pinnacles, those looking for a relaxing time can sunbathe at one of St. Lucia’s many beaches, visit a historic plantation, or enjoy delicious Creole cuisine at one of the island’s beachfront restaurants.
If romance is on your mind and exotic is what you are looking for, then you have more than one reason to head for the unspoiled Caribbean island of St. Lucia. This is indeed just the kind of place everlasting memories are made of.
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