The Complete Guide For A Magical Beach Elopement Ceremony In The Caribbean


There’s so much to think about when planning a wedding! That list often includes things like the location, the number of guests, wedding day attire, and maybe even the possibility of a beach elopement!

If you already had a beach elopement wedding in mind, you could make your dream a reality with a bit of planning. Since beach elopements, and elopements in general, typically mean fewer guests, more spontaneity, and possibly less spending, we’ll take a leap of faith and say it's quite likely that a beach elopement could work out well for you.

Sandals Royal Bahamian Wedding Couple Beach

Curious about where to begin? Read on for details on the best locations in the Caribbean for an intimate destination wedding ceremony on the beach, what you’ll need to make things official (documents, permits, etc.), and how to plan your intimate ceremony. By the end of this post, you could be as convinced as we are that a beach elopement is what you’ve been waiting for all your life!

Expert tip: Learn more about what eloping is and whether or not it’s right for you with this handy guide!


The most beautiful beach elopement locations in the Caribbean

The Caribbean is home to many beautiful islands. That means lots of great possible locations for the perfect beach elopement ceremony. Here are some of the most romantic islands of this region. Let's see which one calls your name the loudest!

Jamaica

Of all the islands in the Caribbean, Jamaica is one of the best choices for weddings, whether it be traditional ceremonies, micro-weddings, or elopements. All the beautiful natural attributes of this island exude romance, and there are incredible all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica that you and your love can enjoy during your escape to this simply phenomenal island.

Beach Wedding Detail Over the Water Chapel

In Jamaica, couples can enjoy exploring lush rainforests together, lounging on white sandy beaches, and even dipping into refreshing waterfalls. Your elopement ceremony can even be set up against the backdrop of one of these beautiful natural attractions, which will be something special that you and your spouse-to-be will remember for the rest of your lives. Plus, the weather is almost always amazing, so you’ll get to bask in the warmth of this island no matter when you choose to go to Jamaica.

For couples who want to elope, another benefit of choosing Jamaica will be its proximity to the U.S. It’ll only take a 1.5-hour flight to get to Jamaica from Miami, 4 hours from New York City, and 5.5 hours from Los Angeles, which makes it easy for the engaged couple to get there, as well as any family members or close friends they’ve invited.

Expert tip: Looking for things to do in Jamaica? If so, visiting Dunn’s River Falls should definitely be included on your list, as well as these amazing things to do in Montego Bay.


Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia is a great place to hold an elopement ceremony for many reasons. For starters, it is considered one of the most romantic destinations in the Caribbean, earning the title of Honeymoon Destination of the Year multiple times. Couples from around the world love this island for its beauty, mystery, and luxurious all-inclusive resorts in Saint Lucia, created with romance in mind.

Sandals Grande St Lucian Oceanfront Wedding

Saint Lucia is simply beautiful, and couples who choose to elope to this island will find some of the Caribbean’s most spectacular backdrops, opportunities for adventure, including climbing the world-famous Pitons, and lots of gorgeous beaches. The weather in Saint Lucia is warm and welcoming year-round, making it easier to plan a wedding that’ll go off without a hitch.

Expert tip: After exchanging vows on this island, make room in your vacation schedule to try some of the best snorkeling in Saint Lucia. Or you can visit the Sulphur Springs where you’ll find natural hot springs and mud baths for perfect relaxation.


The Bahamas

A beach elopement in the Caribbean doesn’t get much better than The Bahamas. Made up of a sprinkling of islands and cays, people from all over the world flock year-round to get a taste of The Bahamas’ idyllic beaches, which rank among the best in the world. Some excellent all-inclusive resorts in The Bahamas can be found on these white-sand shores as well.

Beach Wedding Detail Just Married Sign Couple

In The Bahamas, couples will have plenty of location options for a beach elopement wedding, as there are many beaches spread throughout the islands. Some of these include Cable Beach, Cabbage Beach, and more intimate strands like Pink Sands Beach, and the private beach at Sandals Emerald Bay in Great Exuma.

When considering which of the Bahamian islands you’d like to exchange vows on, your options include New Providence where the capital city, Nassau, can be found, the Exumas, Bimini, and Grand Bahama. These options are just about a 1-hour flight from Miami, Florida in the U.S. There are even more remote islands in The Bahamas, such as Eleuthera, San Salvador, and Long Island, that are spectacularly beautiful, and will help add that special something to your Caribbean elopement ceremony.

Expert tip: Still deciding where to stay in The Bahamas? Your decision should depend on whether you’ll be staying for a short trip (in which case Nassau and Grand Bahama will be great options) or a longer trip where you’ll get the rare opportunity to explore some of the rugged and beautiful ‘Out Islands’, which include the Abacos, The Berry Islands, and others.


Turks & Caicos

Turks & Caicos is a dream destination for a beach wedding and works just as well for couples looking for the ideal location for a beach elopement. The appeal of the tropical archipelago known as the Turks & Caicos Islands, which is made up of 40 different islands and cays, is the beaches, the beautiful weather, and the endless opportunities to find adventure.

Turks Caicos Wedding

In terms of the beaches, many of the ones that you’ll find in Turks & Caicos are breathtakingly beautiful, including Grace Bay Beach. Snorkeling, water sports, sunbathing, and dining are great activities to take part in on this beach, particularly if you and your love choose to spend your time at one of the all-inclusive resorts located in the Grace Bay area.

Overall, couples will find lots to love about the Turks & Caicos Islands during their elopement vacation, and there will be lots for guests to do if you decide to invite anyone else to participate in your big day!


What you need for a beach elopement ceremony in the Caribbean

An elopement may sound like a ‘drop everything and go’ sort of wedding style, but the truth is, it’ll still take some planning for your beach elopement ceremony to run smoothly. In particular, there are some very important things you’ll need to bring along if you wish to get legally married in the Caribbean. We’ve compiled a handy list of them below:

What documents are needed to elope in the Caribbean?

While exact requirements can vary from island to island, this is a general list of all the documents needed for a legal wedding ceremony in the Caribbean:

  • Your original birth certificates.
  • Government-issued photo ID from your country of residence (eg. your passports).
  • Proof of divorce (if one of you has been previously married).
  • A permit to get married on the beach (only if your desired beach requires it).

Obtaining a marriage license for your Caribbean elopement

Couples will need a marriage license to tie the knot in the Caribbean. It is important to note that you may have to start the application before you travel to ensure your documents will be ready before your wedding. Often, you can get your marriage license sorted in a day or so once you get to the island. It is important to confirm the processing time and plan properly, so you’ll have your marriage license well ahead of your ceremony.

Marriage license fees

Fees for a marriage license can vary depending on your wedding destination. The cost can range from $15-$300 USD. In some cases, this price includes a certified copy of your marriage certificate.


Tips for a successful beach elopement wedding ceremony

Deciding to have an elopement wedding is one thing, planning one is something else altogether. Here are some helpful tips for planning a successful beach elopement ceremony in the Caribbean:

  • Find the best time to have your beach ceremony. If you’ll be staying at a resort, ask the staff when the beach is least crowded, and plan according to their advice.
  • Keep cool by selecting clothing with lighter fabrics for the bride’s dress and groom's suit, so you don’t get overheated.
  • Heels getting stuck in the sand will not be a good feeling. Opt for wedges or sandals instead.
  • Things can get pretty windy out on the beach, so consider wearing an updo to preserve your hairstyle.
  • Make plans for photography and videography well in advance so you don’t have to scramble around on the beach trying to find someone to do what a professional should.
  • If you’re having an outdoor wedding, don’t forget to apply sunscreen! This comes in handy during the ceremony, and also for your wedding day photoshoot.
  • Test your sound system (yup, you may need one) ahead of time, especially if you’ve invited a few guests. This helps you to avoid your voices being drowned out by the natural sounds of the beach.
  • Like any outdoor wedding, you’ll want to ensure you have a rain plan for your beach elopement ceremony, even in a sunny destination like the Caribbean.


Elopement planning and how it’s different from regular wedding planning

Elopement weddings are different from traditional and micro-weddings in a few significant ways. If you’re still trying to decide which of these wedding styles is best for you, you should learn about the key features that set them apart:

Less guests = less planning

Not everyone dreams about a wedding that includes practically everyone they’ve ever met in their entire life. Many people are usually quite satisfied with inviting fewer guests to witness their nuptials. Elopement beach weddings are a perfect way to keep your guest list short!

Sandals Grenada Wedding Couple Rocks

The main difference between traditional weddings and elopements is the number of guests involved in each. Standard weddings can have 50 guests or tons more, elopements usually involve 20 guests or less. With fewer people on the list to take care of, couples going the elopement route can concentrate more on planning out the basics — things like ensuring they have all the necessary documents and permits they need, as well as an officiant, witnesses, and the perfect wedding day wear.

With the hefty guest list that is commonly seen with traditional weddings, the focus is shifted away from the couple in love to accommodating their guests. Things like accessibility, food, seating, shade, welcome packages, the reception, and hotel accommodations, if you’ll be having a destination wedding, take center stage instead of the bride and groom. Fewer guests will of course equate to less planning, which can help keep the stresses associated with wedding planning at a minimum.

You have an excuse to dress lighter

For beach elopements, comfort is going to be just as important as style. This is the number one reason that many people, brides in particular, tend to look for slightly less formal attire for beach wedding events as compared to traditional wedding ceremonies.

Sandals Montego Bay Wedding Pool Underwater

Elopement beach weddings are already less formal than the average wedding, so many couples have probably already considered outfits that are more understated for their wedding day look. Even so, this doesn’t mean brides need to completely throw their inner fashionista out the window, or that grooms must miss the chance to put their most dapper foot forward.

Brides can absolutely still wear something white, something flowy, and even something with a bit of flash. Just ensure that whatever you choose won’t have you feeling too hot in the warm weather. Brides can consider midi or mini dresses out on the beach, as opposed to more ornate and longer styles. Grooms can definitely skip the tux and opt for a suit made out of a light and breathable material, like linen. The best part of turning things down a few notches in the fashion department for your beach wedding ceremony will be the money saved!

Expert tip: With more casual weddings like those in a beach setting, you can cut down your expenses even more by excluding the bouquet and boutonniere! If you still want these items as a part of your ceremony, consider adding more tropical blooms to the mix.


Vows can be more private and intimate

Not every couple wants to exchange personal vows in front of a crowd of people, as can be the case in a traditional wedding. With an elopement wedding, couples are free to exchange vows in a more intimate way or choose if they want to exchange their own vows at all. If you’re both looking forward to writing your own vows, you’re likely to be more comfortable reading them without a crowd of spectators.

Sandals Beach Wedding Vows

As part of an elopement wedding, couples can choose to exchange their vows privately or in the presence of their officiant and the few guests (if any) that they choose to invite. The most common recommendation for personal vows is that they should be kept as short as possible, around 2-3 minutes.

Elopements are budget-friendly!

Elopement weddings tend to cost less, particularly because they’re usually smaller than traditional weddings. With the average wedding in the U.S. costing somewhere in the region of $25,000- $35,000 USD, many couples choose to go the elopement route, which still tends to cost less even with the cost of travel, accommodation, and the ceremony itself.

budget elopement wedding

Photo credit: nutcd32/Shutterstock.com

As elopement weddings also tend to be more low-key, couples also find themselves spending less on their wedding day attire. Aside from the above-mentioned costs, the only other thing couples really must shell out additional cash for will be the documents and permits, and those are usually only a couple of hundred dollars.

Overall, the cost of your wedding will largely depend on the wedding venue and the number of people you invite. An elopement wedding allows you to save money as these factors can be better managed to keep costs down.

Expert tip: To save as much as possible on your elopement wedding, it is important to choose the right date. If you choose a busy date, you’re less likely to be able to bargain or get a discount. If you go for a less popular wedding date, your money is likely to stretch a bit more.


You can combine your wedding and honeymoon

The beauty of having your beach elopement wedding at a picturesque Caribbean venue is it can double as a honeymoon destination. You can take all the time you need to celebrate with your guests and each other without worrying about being late for a flight. After you’ve concluded your intimate ceremony, you won’t have to go far to start the perfect romantic getaway as newlyweds. Consider staying at an all-inclusive spa resort in the Caribbean where you can jump from wedding excitement straight into total relaxation and pampering. Then, your luxurious accommodations will be waiting for you just a short walk away!

Expert tip: The best things in life are free! All-inclusive resorts like Sandals make planning your beach elopement and honeymoon a breeze by offering free weddings complete with a wedding planner who’ll guide you through the destination wedding experience. Then on your honeymoon, you can enjoy unlimited gourmet dining at up to 16 restaurants per resort, unlimited land and water sports, and suites designed with romance in mind.


Do something extraordinary: Start planning your Caribbean beach elopement today!

There are so many benefits to choosing a Caribbean beach elopement over a traditional wedding. The warm, sandy beaches of the Caribbean create the perfect backdrop for the fairytale wedding of your dreams. All eyes will be on the bride and groom as they exchange their vows in one of the most romantic locations in the world. Your wedding is the start of your beautiful journey together, so why not make it magical with a Caribbean beach elopement?

Beach Wedding Detail Happily Ever After Sign Couple

Sandals all-inclusive resort has elopement packages that can help couples achieve the stress-free beach elopement of their dreams. These packages typically include elopement photographers, officiants, elopement planning, and more, all at a competitive cost. You’ll also have plenty of Sandals Resorts and locations to choose from including stunning beachside spots which can be the perfect place to say, “I do”.

You can have the wedding you’ve always envisioned. Get inspired and get planning!

Expert tip: If you’re ready to start planning your beach elopement, but not sure where to start, we’ve got your back! This ultimate elopement checklist will guide you through the process so you can have the amazing beach elopement you envision.

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Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Born on the tropical island that is Saint Lucia affords a never-ending source of inspiration. In the past 13 years, Kylie loved to work with various newspapers, magazines and blogs in the Caribbean.