From underwater weddings to ceremonies at sea, St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John offer dozens of memorable and intimate settings for couples considering island nuptials. The U.S. Virgin Islands boasts an abundance of experienced wedding planners who stand ready to turn vision into memorable reality, wherever the setting.
“Because the islands operate under U.S. laws, language and currency, it is surprisingly easy to get married here,” says Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson Doty. “But, beyond that, we remain quintessentially Caribbean. The settings are varied and exquisite, including lush botanical gardens, historic churches, stunning overlooks and palm-fringed beaches.”
Listed in the U.S. Virgin Islands “Wedding & Honeymoon Guide,” the island’s well-connected wedding planners are the key to coordinating a unique and memorable wedding celebration. These experienced planners call on trusted contacts to coordinate strikingly original ceremonies, including nuptials on a private island reached only by helicopter or seaplane, seaside ceremonies on horseback, scuba weddings complete with a natural underwater chapel or weddings while parasailing.
As one of the most popular ways to wed is aboard a private yacht, there are more than a dozen yacht brokers who specialize in weddings at sea. Whether for just a few hours or a week-long celebration, private yachts afford the ultimate privacy and personalized service. Surrounded by the crystal-blue waters of the Caribbean, weddings at sea typically include the services of the captain and crew, as well as a gourmet chef.
In addition, many couples take their cue from the islands’ rich and colorful history to incorporate authentic music and traditions into their ceremonies. One such custom, “Jumping the Broom,” is a centuries-old wedding ritual with African origins that signifies the joining of two families. Other customs include traditional steel drum music and “Black Cake,” a rum-cured cake that is given to wedding guests as a parting favor. Some visiting couples add island flavor by incorporating a traditional wedding feast into their celebration with a regionally-inspired menu: stewed mutton, conch in butter sauce, king fish in Creole sauce and pigeon peas and rice.
Known for its exceptional diving, St. Croix offers one of the most unique ways to tie the knot. Adventurous couples can literally “take the plunge” in an underwater ceremony complete with scuba gear at the Hotel Caravelle. In fact, St. Croix holds the world record for the largest underwater wedding: an event that drew more than 100 certified divers as guests. For those who prefer to begin their life together on land, other St. Croix settings include 19th-century churches and a lush botanical garden.
Exquisite natural beauty takes center stage in ceremonies on St. John, the smallest of the islands, where wedding settings include pristine beaches, waterfront gazebos, island chapels and tropical villas. The island, two-thirds of which is undeveloped, is an extraordinary choice for nature lovers who will find the 11,560-acre Virgin Islands National Park an incomparable setting featuring 800 varieties of plants and 160 species of birds.
On St. Thomas, settings can take on the island’s more cosmopolitan atmosphere, including the bustling backdrop of Charlotte Amalie harbor. Forty beautiful beaches, including heart-shaped Magens Bay, voted one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world by National Geographic, ensure there’s no shortage of shoreline for seaside nuptials. For those spellbound by local legend, the medieval-style Skytsborg, better known as Blackbeard’s Castle, adds a touch of the 17th-century lore to the wedding day.
Wedding Party Particulars
Our “Wedding & Honeymoon Guide” details everything brides and grooms need to know to plan a memorable experience. The guide is available at www.visitusvi.com/download_brochures, at any U.S. Virgin Islands tourist office and by calling (800) 372-USVI. The brochure is an invaluable resource, providing contact information for dozens of experienced wedding planners, picturesque places of worship, wonderful florists, photographers, transportation services and yacht brokers.
To apply for a wedding license, both parties must visit the Superior Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands together; applications may be downloaded at www.visitusvi.com. After the Court receives a completed and authorized application, there is a required eight-day waiting period. If either party is divorced, he or she must have a certified copy of the divorce decree or a notarized affidavit stating when the divorce was granted. Additionally, couples should specify whether the marriage will be performed by a Judge in the Court or by a member of the clergy. The combined marriage application fee and license fee is $200. Civil ceremonies before a Judge of the Superior Court cost an additional $400 and an appointment is required.
For more information about the United States Virgin Islands, call 800-372-USVI (8784) or go towww.visitusvi.com. When traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens enjoy all the conveniences of domestic travel—including on-line check-in—making travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands easier than ever. As a United States Territory, travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require a passport from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens. Follow us on Twitter (@USVITourism) and become a fan on Facebook (www.facebook.com/VisitUSVI).