Destination Wedding FAQ from Ask Marsha-Ann and Sunny Says
Let our experts answer the destination wedding questions you’ve been seeking the answers to!
Congratulations! You’ve just gotten engaged and you and your fiancée have decided to have a destination wedding. Now, the questions start forming in your mind; What’s the first thing you do? How many people should you invite? What do I need to get married in the Caribbean? Put your mind at ease, our resident destination wedding expert, Marsha-Ann has teamed up with wedding blogger, Sunny to put together a detailed destination wedding FAQ post to answer all of your questions and concerns.
Q: How should someone pick where to have a destination wedding?
Marsha-Ann: It may seem like a really tough question but the first way to make this easier is to narrow down your choices. Sure, every Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts location you’ve seen is stunning! The key is to look at your options of accommodations, local attractions, and wedding locations and then narrow them down based on what’s more important to you. Discuss with each other elements of your destination you definitely want and other elements you can live without.
For example, are you determined to have a wedding directly on the beach with your toes in the sand or would you like a view of the beach from a gorgeous gazebo overlooking the water? If you’ve always dreamed of a beach wedding then looking for a resort with an expansive beach is what you want to focus on. If not, then you can find a lovely compromise with resorts that have designated wedding garden locations and a more intimate feel.
Q: What documents do I need to get married in the Caribbean?
Marsha-Ann: Couples will find that some of the documentation requirements will vary by island so here is an outline of all the documents you need to get married on all of the islands Sandals and Beaches Resorts are located on. Please note that Residency Requirement means the number of hours you must be on the island before you can legally be married.
- Notarized copies of the bride and groom’s state-issued birth certificates (card not accepted).
- Notarized copy of a divorce decree final judgment with the court’s stamp and judge’s signature (for Bride and Groom if applicable).
- Notarized copy of spouse’s death certificate and related marriage certificate (if applicable).
- Notarized copy of legal adoption papers or legal name change (if applicable).
- Notarized affidavit of spinster-ship and bachelorhood, with raised seal must be dated within 90 day prior to wedding date, if applicable. (For Turks & Caicos only.)
- Notarized copy of legal translation of all documents to English along with original documents in original language (if applicable).
- Notarized copy of passport or driver’s license. (Turks & Caicos only.)
- All original and court certified documents must be hand-carried. (Turks & Caicos only.)
- Residency Requirement: 48 hours.
- Country issued Passports or State issued birth certificates of the bride and groom.
- All pages of divorce decree final judgment with court’s stamp and judge’s signature (for Bride and Groom if applicable).
- If applicable, spouse’s state issued death certificate and related marriage certificate.
- Legal adoption papers and legal name change document (if applicable).
- Legal translation of all documents to English (if applicable).
- Residency Requirement: 48 Hours (Jamaica, Antigua and the Bahamas). St Lucia: 72 hours.
- Original state issued birth certificate or passport.
- All pages of all court certified final divorce decrees, if applicable.
- State issued death certificates with related marriage certificates, if applicable.
- Legal name change or legal adoption documents if applicable
- Sworn affidavit (or letter from a clergy man, Lawyer, Registry or Notary Public; must be on letterhead with applicable notarization stamps, seals, etc.) attesting that neither party has not been previously married.
- Residency Requirement: 72 Hours.
To make this rather boring part of the process really easy on you, we generally ask that your documents are submitted to us at least 60 days prior to your arrival date (so you can have time to plan the fun stuff). However, in the event that you have a wedding booking date within a shorter time frame than 60 days, we will be more than happy to review your date preferences. These are all issues that any couple can review with our expert pre-travel wedding team.
Q: Are there certain things that someone should look for in a location? Especially above and beyond the obvious?
Marsha- Ann: What you may want to consider is the nature of you and your fiancé. Are you and your fiancé a quieter couple with a need for ultimate privacy and seclusion? Resorts like Sandals Whitehouse on the southern coast of Jamaica and Sandals Emerald Bay on Great Exuma, The Bahamas, offer miles and miles of private beach front with plenty of spots for a private tucked away ceremony. Sandals Royal Plantation and Sandals Grande Riviera both in Jamaica, offer almost an exclusive level of privacy on many of their beach wedding locations.
Are you both looking for a more social, good time where the party never stops and you can dance the night away? Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal Caribbean, both in the Montego Bay region of Jamaica, offer a more upbeat vibe, not to mention wedding gazebos set off on individual piers so it feels like you’re actually getting married directly on the water. If you want to test out a brand new location with room features that have never been seen before, like Sky Pools and in-room, stone bottom soaking tubs, then you’ll want to try Sandals La Source Grenada.
I suggest taking an evening at leisure, where you and your fiancé can pour some wine and browse through all the breathtaking photos of each and every beach-front, garden or wedding gazebo available to you. Imagine yourself walking down a rose petal aisle on the sand at all of the resorts; it will help you make your decision-making much easier!
C: How many people should you invite?
Sunny Says: You can invite as many people as you think your venue can hold comfortably. Start with your closest family and friends and expand on your list from there. Invite who you genuinely would like to attend your wedding. Remember, your guests will also have to travel and make hotel arrangements so you will want to book as a group with the destination of your choice for the best rates and inclusions.
While a lot of people think that having a destination wedding may mean having fewer guests than initially invited, under no circumstances should you use this as a reason to invite people you would rather not attend for the sake of not hurting anyone’s feelings. Never over or under estimate how much your guests are willing to spend to attend your destination wedding. It is quite possible to end up with 150 “yes” invites while you really only intended to have 50! Also, do not consider not inviting someone because of what you assume their financial status will be like. Invite who you want to come to your wedding and be prepared for a “yes” or a “no”.
D: What’s the etiquette about who you invite? Do you still have to invite everyone at your bridal shower if you’re having a destination wedding?
Sunny Says: Technically no, not everyone at your bridal shower has to be invited to your wedding. It’s not as personal as say your bachelorette party that happens very closely to the day of your wedding. Destination wedding require a different finesse when it comes to your guests. You always have to take into consideration that some people will simply not be able to attend the actual wedding because of the location. This doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t want to be involved in anything concerning your wedding.
I advise sharing your wedding guest list with whoever will be planning your wedding shower. Even if those people RSVP “no” to the wedding and they express an interest in attending but are simply unable to but would love to come to any wedding events, invite them. Destination weddings are fairly intimate with close family and friends, you should be able to get away with inviting co-workers, etc. who may not have been invited to the wedding.
E: What should you include in any hotel-room gift bags?
Sunny Says: Chances are your guests will be visiting the location you’ve chosen for the first time. A “welcome to the island” brochure would be lovely, with little facts about the destination and local candies or treats from the local fare. We once had a couple that got married in Jamaica give each of their guests some socks knit with the colors of the Jamaican flag. You should also include a schedule of events, with times and locations of important events like the rehearsal dinner and whatever on-resort schedule of events you receive. You can also get a bit creative and add a bottle of water, a pre-wedding favor like monogrammed sun glasses or fans and whatever fun novelty items you can think of.
You may want to stay away from adding your personal contacts on any forms like your room number or your personal number, just in case you and your fiancé want some down time. Ask your maid-of-honor if she’ll handle any last minute wedding questions your guests may have.
F: What kind of dress/shoes should brides wear?
Marsha-Ann: Brides should definitely look to explore the options of having your ceremony and reception in the beautiful settings of either the lush gardens or a sandy beach. Of course you can also enjoy the best of both worlds – ceremony by the beach with reception nestled in the gardens or vice versa. You will need shoes that you can wear comfortably in both elements.
I suggest that for your ceremony, if you desire to have a little height, wedges would certainly work well for that. A sturdy yet cute wedge heel will allow you to navigate comfortably on sand or on grass without sinking, while still being fashionable. I also suggest that you use an aisle runner which will allow you to float & gloat in your preferred shoe for the ceremony.
You can surely, kick those wedges off and go low with a pair of gorgeous looking sandals for your reception and photography session. There are tons of amazing jazzy sandals options that are bedazzled with crystals and various accessories to complement your (potential) tea-length wedding gown.
Speaking of Tea Length Gowns, if I had to pick my favorite wedding gown design for destination weddings, it would have to be those. They’re technically defined as a style of dress that falls anywhere between the bottoms of the calves to the ankles and were made very popular by 1950’s icon Audrey Hepburn. Besides being extremely versatile (you can dress them down to be cute or dress them up to be classic retro-chic a là Betty Draper) they’re very destination wedding friendly. Beach brides will definitely appreciate the shorter hem and garden brides … well everyone will see your cute blue heels!
G: What kind of hair/makeup should you consider?
Sunny Says: I’m crazy over loose, wavy hair for brides during the summer season. It just seems so fitting with a beach wedding! A simple and easy way to achieve and effortless wavy look is to braid your hair in a few different sections and press the braids with a hair straightener. Luckily for brides at Sandals Resorts, we offer professional stylist from Red Lane Spa at their beck and call to help them achieve any flawless look they desire. For brides who may need to make an adjustment to the Caribbean heat, a loose chignon or high bun always adds a bit of chic to your look.
As for make-up, a fresh face with a pop of color is always a clean yet stunning look for weddings. You don’t want to overdo it on the make up during an outdoor wedding. Add small touches of light color to your eyes with a nude lip during the day and go dramatic at night by adding simple black liner with a bold, red lip. To your guests, it will look like you got a fresh new face for your reception! Entrust your maid-of-honor with a small bag that has the few make-up items you need to transform your look. Don’t forget to keep blotting paper on you to take away any shine before you take your wedding photos.
H: Are there any kinds of bouquets that work best for destination weddings?
Marsha-Ann: The same lovely flowers that you would have at a wedding nearer to home you can have at your destination wedding! Your wedding expert will know to keep your flowers cool before and on the day of your wedding to keep them as fresh as possible.
You can definitely use your location as inspiration and piece together local flowers to make your bouquet an island delight! We’re really fond of Birds of Paradise, Ginger Lilies and Pincushions for a summer inspired wedding bouquet.
I: Is there anything you should/shouldn’t be doing before the big day? I.e., laying in the sun, forgetting bug spray, using greasy sunscreen
Sunny Says: While you definitely want to avoid the big “No-No’s” like cutting your hair, over doing the sun or drastic skin procedures there are some things you should avoid the “morning of” as well!
Don’t Have that Large Coffee. While a hot double latte sounds like a great idea first thing in the morning … don’t! Wedding day jitters plus a double dose of caffeine equals a really shaky bride.
Don’t drink too much. I know I know… it’s time to celebrate; however you still have a wedding to get through. A drunken bride is not a pretty bride and slurred vows won’t be something you want to see on your wedding video later. Save the champagne toasts for the reception (and the honeymoon).
Don’t Tan in the Can. Fake tan is especially a “no-no” for beach brides who will be taking vows underneath a Caribbean sun and may risk a little perspiration (and a brand new tan streak down the front of their white dress). If you’re bent on having a bit of a tan, try and get some sun in small safe doses in the months leading up to your nuptials or hit up a tanning salon. A light dust of make-up bronzer may be all it takes to give you a hint of color.
Don’t make drastic last minute changes. Pass on making any extreme last minute decisions period. Don’t wake up the morning of and decide to try that new tight curled hairstyle J-Lo had on American Idol two nights ago. Sometimes the desire to change your mind is just pre-wedding jitters or “performance anxiety”. Will everyone love my hair? What if my make-up looks too plain? Stop! Remember your wedding is not a show!
Don’t stress about it! This one may be easier said than done but avoiding pre-ceremonial stress may be as simple as turning your cell phone off. If the thought of no cellphone gives you separation anxiety jitters, then hand it over to your maid of honor to screen your calls and answer on your behalf. The morning of is not the time to stress over tiny little details. We’re sure all the bows on your favor box ribbons will be tied with a double knot instead of one and all your chocolates will be the same flavor. Your guests will not pack up and leave if you’re running a few minutes late and no one will notice their steak came with Idaho potatoes instead of Irish potatoes! Do you want to know a secret? You’re the only one who knows how everything is “supposed to go”! No one will know that your shoes were supposed to be eggshell instead of ivory if you don’t tell them.
The best advice but I can offer to any bride the morning of her wedding is to stay relaxed and think of your fiancé’s face the moment he sees you walking down the aisle. Everything else pales in comparison!
If you have a question about a destination wedding or about your upcoming wedding, here’s how to ask our wedding experts:
- Send your question to us at email@example.com. (A photo is not necessary – unless you want to brag about your new engagement ring)!
- Tweet your question to Marsha-Ann at @Marshaannb or WeddingMoons at @WeddingMoons using #AskMarshaAnn or #SunnySays
- Check sandalsweddingblog.com every Monday to see your question answered by the Director of Romance, Marsha-Ann or wedding blogger, Sunny.
It’s as easy at that! Whether it’s a question about color palette choices, venue suggestions or wedding tips and ideas; Marsha-Ann and Sunny have you covered!