Rosheda Stephenson is a lifestyle writer who writes extensively on beauty and travel to the Caribbean and North America.
How to Plan a Caribbean Wedding
You’ve planned your dream wedding in a Caribbean destination, and it’s going to be glorious.
Whether you choose a beachside wedding or a tropical garden paradise, you’ll be in the setting you want and with the people you love. But without proper preparation, this fantasy could get derailed.
As a travel writer based in the Caribbean, I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of brides delaying their destination weddings because, although they packed the right clothing and their sunscreen, they forgot an important document needed for their wedding to be legal, or some other equally urgent item.
If you are having a destination wedding, avoid delays and headaches by making sure you pack these five urgent things you’ll need for your Caribbean destination wedding.
1. The Correct Formal Documents For Your Marriage License
You don’t get married to not be married.
Now that sounds crazy when you first read it. But hear me out. I’ve heard enough stories of people getting married in a foreign destination, then finding out the wedding isn’t considered legal once they return to the U.S to know that going through the motions of a wedding in a foreign country doesn’t mean you are legally married.
In almost every story, the problem has been not having the correct formal documents. Because different countries have different requirements, it’s crucial that you scrutinize the requirements for getting a marriage license with a fine tooth comb and make sure you pack these documents.
For example, with only birth certificates for both bride and groom, prior divorce papers if applicable, passports, a letter from the wedding officiant, and the airline tickets you both traveled on, you can get a marriage license the same day you arrive in Barbados. But in Bermuda, you’ll also need a document called a Notice of Intended Marriage, which has to be filed two weeks before your arrival.
If you are using a local wedding planner who doesn’t speak English fluently, ensure that you clearly understand what the documents are and how they must be formalized. Once you know what you need, download a wedding planning app like Wedding Wire’s Wedding Planner.
Wedding Planner is a free app that makes it easy to keep track of everything you need to remember to pack for your Caribbean destination wedding. But it will also come in handy for keeping track of many of the other tasks you have to complete before the big day.
And do remember to pack all important documents in your carry-on so that if your luggage gets delayed, you still have them to start the application process as soon as you arrive.
2. Written Guarantees of What You’ve Paid For
Many islands in the Caribbean have well-developed destination wedding industries that should make your destination wedding go smoothly when the day arrives. Jamaica, for instance, is popular for the practice of all-inclusive resorts offering wedding packages that come with everything included for one flat fee. A wedding coordinator and everything from decor to catering will come in your package.
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If you choose to do an off-resort wedding independently, you will need to negotiate everything a package would include.
And that’s where the issues can come in.
Things get lost in translation, or overbooked vendors may genuinely forget what they promised. To make sure your wedding is everything you envisioned, be sure to pack paper copies of your contracts and email correspondents so that there is no confusion when you get to your destination.
3. A Sturdy Carrying Case For the Wedding Dress
In my experience, no bride forgets her dress. But what happens often is that the dress gets damaged from incorrect packaging.
You have your dream dress worth hundreds or thousands of dollars and that image in your mind of exactly how you’ll look when you walk down the aisle. Then you make one mistake--you pack a dress worth thousands into a suitcase that’s going to be pulled and thrown by many hands over and over. If you’re lucky, the dress will come out unscathed, but why depend on luck when your big day is on the line?
I took part in a wedding recently and used a high-quality garment carrier. The length is perfect for carrying a long dress wrinkle-free. And it's wide enough for a more intricate dress with beading or other decorations that make them need more room. It was also lightweight enough that I could easily carry it with my carry-on luggage.
You can check out the garment carrier here on amazon.
4. Important Medications/First Aid Items
If you are like most of us, you keep your important medications in a bathroom cabinet where it’s locked out of sight until you’re ready to take them. That’s alright in your day-to-day life. But if you’re traveling, this can pose a problem.
The biggest problem is that out of sight, out of mind phenomena. If your medicine isn’t in sight on the day you pack, you can easily forget it. Or, as often happens, you may totally remember to pack the medicine but take out the bottle so you can take a dose and then forget to repack it.
One easy solution that will make it impossible to leave your medicines is to pack a few tablets in a labeled bottle that is exclusively for your trip. That way, you have two sets of medicine--one for your bathroom cabinet and one that is packed away in your suitcase that you will not need to remove before your trip.
Labeled travel medicine bottles are perfect for that. They are airtight tops and have labels so that, god forbid, if you have a medical emergency on your trip, the doctor can easily tell what medicines you take and at what dosages.
Get these handy travel-friendly medicine bottles here on Amazon before your trip, and remember to pack them in your carry-on luggage.
Also, remember to pack your brand of sunscreen, antacids, and other over-the-counter drugs that you use. The brands you like are not always readily available in the Caribbean.
5. Humidity Protectant For Your Hair
Many packing lists for Caribbean destination weddings neglect to mention how much the humidity on the islands can affect makeup and hair. Many brides complain about how humidity ruined their photos by giving them poofy hair or runny makeup. While you can’t control the humidity, you can give yourself the best chance of having photos you will be proud to look back on by hiring a makeup artist and hairstylist to keep you flawless throughout the day.
If you plan on doing your own hair and makeup, it’s a good idea to carry a good brand of humidity protectant. And as always, remember to put some of the protectants in travel-sized bottles so you can have some in your carry-on luggage.
Getting married in the Caribbean is a dream come true for many brides, and with a little preparation, it can be every bit as perfect as you envisioned. This list of important things you need to pack should make that dream wedding a reality.