Of all the sandy spots on planet Earth, I have to say that the Caribbean is the king of beach destinations. It’s a kaleidoscope of cultures and colors. It’s brimming with wildlife and natural beauty. And every island is a treasure trove of picture-perfect wedding venues.
So, if you’re dreaming of a tropical, relaxing wedding weekend, the Caribbean is a wonderful option – especially for couples traveling from the East Coast, where flights are relatively short.
I’ve had the pleasure of photographing weddings on several Caribbean islands, and I’ve seen some stunning resorts. Here are some of my favorite venues and a few of my top tips for your own destination wedding.
Jamaica – Half Moon Resort
White sand beaches, a rich collection of cultural attractions, mouthwatering food, and a population of people who are as vibrant as the island makes Jamaica an ideal wedding destination.
I highly recommend Half Moon Resort, Jamaica’s highest-rated resort and recently named the Caribbean Hotel of the Year. The resort has plenty to enjoy on Montego Bay, including two miles of private beach, a luxurious spa center, decadent dining, golf, and tennis courts. There’s even an equestrian center!
Alongside all of the amenities, you’ll find gorgeous spaces for your wedding ceremony and reception. Beach gazebos, tree-strewn patios, spacious lawns, intimate villas, and grand rooms – whatever you have in mind, there’s a venue to suit your style and accommodate your guest count.
One of the cool things about Half Moon Resort is that they’re also open to helping you make the most of your celebration. Start your wedding weekend with a welcome cocktail party or a rehearsal dinner that ends with a beach bonfire dance. Treat your wedding party to a mixology class, a spa day, or a sunset cruise.
Virgin Islands – The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas
The Ritz-Carlton name is associated with luxury. Place it in a paradise setting, and you have a winning combination. This ideal wedding venue is for couples looking for a modern island vibe. Think cool and neutral tones, woodgrain desks, and contemporary appliances.
Ceremony and reception spaces range from the Great Bay Ballroom, which can seat up to 150 guests, to the more intimate Windward Room and Terrace, which seats up to 30 guests. And there’s everything in between, from beachfront locations to poolside patios.
Between wedding activities, take a moment to savor your experience in the cabana-lined infinity pool just for adults. Give your music requests to the pool DJ during the day and listen to live music by starlight in the evening.
San Juan, Puerto Rico – Hotel El Convento
Hotel El Convento is the kind of place that leaves you enchanted. Its citrus yellow façade pops like a jewel against the cerulean sea. Black-and-white tiled floors, arched doorways, mahogany beamed ceilings, and Spanish-era furniture and artwork lend incredible elegance and old-world charm to this historic 17th-century building.
As for wedding venues, each space expresses Puerto Rico’s beauty. The Salon Campeche has marble floors, stained glass windows, and a 50-foot vaulted ceiling. The Salon Paoli is decorated in warm island colors. The Oller Salon has a gorgeous artistic Spanish backdrop. And the Martorell honors women of faith and literature in the Spanish language.
When you’re not savoring every square inch of Hotel El Convento, take time to meander down the cobbled streets of San Juan, catch a sailboat tour, and sip rum across the bay.
Dominican Republic – Amanera
Amanera is an infusion of modern aesthetics and island flair set among a dramatic jungle landscape overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Across this 2,000-acre property, guests enjoy luxury accommodations, privacy, natural wonders, and creature comforts.
Stay in one of the 25 casitas, some with private pools and outdoor showers. The resort even has its own private beach and mountain with hiking trails that lead to picture-worthy picnic spots.
There are also gorgeous places for wedding celebrations. Indoor and outdoor venues cater to formal and casual events, and there’s always a breathtaking view. The Main Pavilion is a beautiful example of Amanera’s versatility. The flow between the indoor and outdoor spaces makes it an ideal space for cocktail hour and the reception. And alongside the dining area, there’s an open-air bar, cigar lounge, and library.
One of the resort’s most magical ceremony sites is the Lawn at Hole 14. Amanera’s Playa Grande Golf & Ocean Club Course features some of the most oceanfront holes of any course in the western hemisphere! And the 14th hole is where couples exchange vows beside the almond tree overlooking the sea. Swoon!
The Bahamas – Baha Mar
Lavish but low-key, the Baha Mar epitomizes the Bahamian vibe. Forbes Travel describes it as a resort that “…seduces with a whisper to those who prize subtle elegance over glitz and glam.”
Inside, you’ll find British-inspired décor alongside local artisan pieces. One-bedroom suites come with butler service (they’ll mix you a cocktail and draw you an evening bath!). And there’s a luxurious spa where you can enjoy tea from local plants.
Outside, you’ll find a wildlife sanctuary (book a tour and do yoga with flamingos!), a world-class golf course, and a pristine beach where you’re welcome to say I do.
Here we have another Bahamian beauty – a restored fort that dates back to the 1700s! Once a place that entertained pirates, the Club now entertains couples and their guests.
Old Fort Bay provides an intimate place to gather your best people for a weekend celebration. Start with a beachside welcome party under the thatch-covered Sand Bar. And invite guests to lounge on the beach or near the pool during downtime.
On wedding day, the Great Lawn makes for a beautiful ceremony space. And the Treetop Terrace is a stunning location for cocktail hour. You’ll have majestic views of the bay and perfect opportunities for golden hour photos.
The Club also has a private beach with the cleanest white sand I’ve ever seen. It makes for really pretty photos!
Tips to Prepare for Your Destination Wedding Photos
If having a wedding planner and photography is important to you, make sure you book your photographer with ample time to spare. It will benefit you because we can work with your planner to build a photo timeline. And we need that extra time to do things, since tasks may take longer due to the wedding being overseas.
Also, keep in mind that not all resorts and venues have full-service wedding planners on-site. But those who don’t will likely be able to recommend local planners.
Consider the weather and time of year you’re hosting your wedding. We’ll be able to get great photos no matter what, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a plan B in place and I can help you with that. Fortunately, it’s like summer in the Caribbean all year long. But there’s always a chance of rain, and hurricane season is no joke!
And then there’s the humidity to think about. The heat and humidity are real factors! And although a tropical breeze is a beautiful thing, it can also be frustrating when your hair whips your face. If you’re having a beach wedding, I recommend putting your hair up to avoid stressing over fussy tresses.
Plan a super fun welcome party! It’s a great way to welcome your guests and start the celebration in your chosen destination. It also sets the tone for the weekend and really gets the party started.
Take your shoes off and relax! Literally! Let go of the serious stuff, and soak in the island vibes! You’re getting married in paradise, which is a great way to start the next chapter of your life together.
Whether you’re tying the knot in the Caribbean or have another destination in mind, my camera (and passport) is ready! Contact me, and let’s talk travel.