Not Just a Destination Wedding

By Jennifer Smith

Millions of vacationers each year stop in at the beautiful Caribbean islands. A few days of fun in the sun may seem like the ultimate indulgence, but more and more frequently, visitors are arriving with an agenda all their own. Weddings and honeymoons have always been a popular activity for couples visiting the Caribbean, but these days themed weddings put a new spin on an old favorite.

Many islands in the region have plenty to offer lovebirds who hope to create their dream nuptials or post-party escape. Incredible scenery and balmy breezes make the perfect backdrop for a tropical ceremony, allowing travelers to make their special day into something truly memorable.

Of course, there are also a few ways to make a one-of-a-kind wedding by incorporating some distinctly Caribbean aspects.

One fun option that many travelers may not have considered is to add a bit of the local culture to their own ceremony. Though Caribbean wedding traditions are largely Christian, the islands have a history of blending cultural influences, much the same way they have created the fabulous foods and sizzling beats for which the region is known.

African and European traditions fused with traces of native rituals in the tropics. These rituals can be combined into your wedding to give it a hint of culture, whether it’s set on the seaside or in a beautifully decorated ballroom.

– Dress like a local: The new wedding attire the bride and groom show tends to be handmade. Outfits here are designed to help them look their best, and store-bought dresses are uncommon.

– Consider a long walk down the aisle: Many Caribbean islands include the tradition of the happy couple walking through the town from their respective homes to the church, whose bells are ringing out news of the occasion. The purpose of this is to show off their new wedding attire.

– Pare down the party: In many island traditions, there is no inclusion of a best man or groom’s men. Instead the groom waits while the bride’s father, and sometimes mother as well, escort her to the altar. A maid or matron of honor position does exist, though she is called “the chief.”

– Try tropical toasts: Rum is the liquor of choice throughout the region, and this sugar-based alcohol is often included in punches for the toast. A cake heavily laced with rum and rum-soaked fruits is also common at weddings in the Caribbean.

– Feast on local cuisine: Every island in the Caribbean has its own specialties, whether it’s the jerk marinades of Jamaica or the Latin flare of Puerto Rico, you’ll find something unique in each location. Of course, seafood is easy to find and hard to resist on nearly every island.

Other traditions may be unique to individual islands. On Bermuda, for example, the wedding cake is topped not by miniature figures but by a tree! Newlyweds plant this tree when they return home, its healthy growth considered an indication of a successful marriage.

Another interesting tradition involves gifts of money granted to the bride and groom at the reception. Different islands include this differently: In Cuba, a particular dance has the bride changing partners around the room, during which time they each present her with money to help with honeymoon expenses; in Puerto Rico, a doll dressed like the bride is given money by the wedding guests.

Though some of these items might not work for your wedding, taking on a few Caribbean traditions may be the perfect way to add a little flair to your ceremony. In fact, these traditions can help you plan an unusual wedding, no matter whether you hold it in the heart of the Caribbean or in your own backyard.

About the Author:  Jennifer Smith writes for Bermuda-Guide.info, StMartin-Guide.info, and other Segisys travel Web sites. © 2005, Interactive Internet Websites, Inc. Article may only be reprinted if it is not modified in any way, and if all links remain live.