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Here's what to know to get married in The Caribbean

Marrying in the Caribbean: An Overview for Destination Weddings in the Carribbean

Why Here?

If you've ever dreamed of getting married on the beach, barefoot at sunset with a steel drum band playing in the background -- you've found your destination.

What to Know

  • Whether you choose to get married in the Bahamas or Barbados, each Caribbean island has its own distinct personality. If old world charm is what you're after, try a historic hotel in the center of Old San Juan. If you prefer the secluded romance of a quiet island -- investigate some of the less-traveled spots on St. Baarts or Grenada.
  • When choosing your date, avoid hurricane season -- the period between June 1 and November 30 (unless your island is below the hurricane belt, as Aruba is).
  • Plan early if you want to wed over a long weekend.

Marriage Requirements

Each island has its own set of legal requirements, so check with your specific island's tourism board, or hire a local wedding planner who can guide you through all the red tape. The U.S. Virgin islands and Puerto Rico tend to be the most hassle-free.

U.S. Virgin Islands
Residency requirement: None
Necessary documents: Driver's licenses or passports; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable); letter accompanying application for marriage stating date of visit, length of stay, and preferred wedding date if having ceremony performed by a judge
Note: Application must be received at least 2 weeks prior to wedding.

For more info: USVI Division of Tourism (800) 372-8784; Territorial Court, ST. Thomas and St. John, (340) 774-6680; Territorial Court, St. Croix, (340) 778-9750; or www.usvitourism.vi

Puerto Rico
Residency requirement: None for U.S. citizens
Necessary documents: Driver's licenses or passports; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable); health certificate from a resident practitioner in Puerto Rico
Note: Two witnesses over the age of 21 must be present and blood tests are required, although a test conducted in the U.S. mainland within 10 days of the ceremony will suffice. A doctor in Puerto Rico must sign the license.

St. Maarten
Residency requirement: 10 days
Necessary documents: Passports; original, "apostillized" birth certificate and two photo IDs; if applicable, "apostillized" proof of divorce or death of former spouse/s; names of parents, maiden names of mother, place and dates of birth
Note: Requests must be made 14 days in advance. You must be at least 21 years of age to marry in St. Maarten and divorced women may not marry until 306 days have passed since getting their divorce finalized. The French side of the island, St. Martin, has prohibitive residency requirements.

For more info: Office of Civil Registry, (011) 5995-22457

Jamaica
Residency requirement: 24 hours
Necessary documents: Certified copies of birth certificates that include father's name; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable)
Note: Application must be made 48 hours in advance of trip by calling the Ministry of National Security at (876) 906-4908

For more info: Jamaica Tourist Board, (800) 233-4582, or JamaicaTravel.com

British Virgin Islands
Residency requirement: None
Necessary documents: Passports or certified birth certificate; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable)
Note: Publishing bans may be necessary for church weddings. Make plans with appropriate clergy.

For more info: BVI Registrar's Office, (284) 494-3701 ext. 5001/2/3; BVI Tourist Board, (800) 835-8530; bviwelcome.com

Cayman Islands
Residency requirement: None
Necessary documents: Passports; birth certificates; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable); return or ongoing tickets; proofs of entry (Cayman Islands International Immigration Department pink slips or cruise-ship boarding passes); letter from authorized officiating marriage officer

For more info: Cayman Islands Government Information Services, (345) 949-7900, or caymanislands.ky

The Islands of the Bahamas
Residency requirement: 24 hours
Necessary documents: Passports; birth certificates; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable); declaration certifying both parties are unmarried U.S. citizens, sworn before a U.S. Consul at the American Embassy in Nassau; a marriage license from the Commissioner's Office on other islands; proof of arrival in the Islands of the Bahamas.
Note: Both parties must apply in person.

For more info: Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, (888)- Nuptial, or bahamas.com

Barbados
Residency requirement: None
Necessary documents: Passports or certified birth certificates; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable); letter from officiant performing service
Note: Both parties must apply in person at the Ministry of Home Affairs in Cheapside, Bridgetown.

For more info: Ministry of Home Affairs, (246) 228-8950, or www.barbados.org/weddings.htm

Bermuda
Residency requirement: None
Necessary documents: Passports and a "Notice of Intended Marriage" form from Bermuda's Registrar General's Office. The form is available by phone request or at www.bermudatourism.com. Fill it out and mail it along with a cashier's check or bank draft made payable to the Accountant General, Hamilton, Bermuda, in the amount of US$210 back to the Registrar General. Your license will be valid for three months and can be picked up at the Registrar's office by you or a designated person.
Note: "Notice of Intended Marriage" must be filed 2 weeks before the wedding.

For more info: Bermuda's Registrar General office, (441) 297-7709 or -7707; the Bermuda Department of Tourism office near you; or www.bermudatourism.com

Photo: Courtesy of The Bermuda Department of Tourism

See More: Destination Weddings