If you like the idea of marrying in the Caribbean but want to be sure to avoid the crowds, consider having your wedding on the sleepy, unpretentious island of St. Kitts Located in the British West Indies, and flanked by both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, this narrow, 23-mile-long island has managed to keep a low profile. Book your wedding at a resort there and you'll get an event with a distinctly Caribbean flair from quiet beaches to rum punch, glorious hibiscus blossoms and melodious steel-pan bands and not a tour bus in sight.
The St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Beach Casino stands out as one of your best bets on the island for a lovely wedding by the sea. The 636-room resort's well-maintained beach offers soft, golden sand, enough space for a party of 200 and impressive views of the island's dark, foliage-covered mountains. For your beachfront ceremony, the hotel's wedding coordinator can arrange for tiki torches, a floral arch and a bridal path lined with conch shells for you to promenade down in style.
Most couples have their reception by the resort's two picturesque pools, an area that can accommodate up to 120 people. There, you and your guests can dine beneath the stars on conch fritters with ginger remoulade, fish chowder and plantain-and-lemon-crusted grouper—a true West Indian feast. For more information visit stkittsmarriott.com.
If you're planning a more intimate celebration, check out The Golden Lemon Inn and Villas, a quiet property situated on a narrow, secluded beach, where small, relaxed weddings are the specialty. Originally a French manor house when it was built in the 17th century, this 26-room retreat is decorated with handsome antiques. Exchange vows in front of up to 50 guests in an open, airy parlor with gleaming white-tile floors. If you're having 10 or fewer guests, consider holding the ceremony on the deck of your private villa, near your own plunge pool. Afterward, in the resort's dining room, enjoy a dinner of West Indian dishes, such as pumpkin soup and sautéed veal with lemon, and a coconut-topped wedding cake. For more information visit goldenlemon.com.
While beaches are popular wedding sites, many inland resorts and plantation-style inns, with their gardens and rchards, make lovely venues, too. Our favorite: Ottley's Plantation Inn. One glimpse of its emerald-green lawns, towering palm trees and tropical flowers may be enough to tempt you away from thoughts of a ceremony on the sand.
Situated on a hill 500 feet above sea level, this genteel 24-room resort is surrounded by sugarcane fields and offers panoramic views of the distant ocean. There are many places to wed, from an intimate rock garden shaded by mango trees (it can host 20 guests) to a sprawling croquet lawn that shimmers when struck by late-afternoon sunlight (it can host up to 200 guests).
For the reception, start with cocktails inside the Great Room of the Victorian-style main house, and then move on to a tented reception on the front lawn or simply head down to the inn's Royal Palm restaurant—this canopied, poolside dining room can accommodate 150 guests. Either way, make sure your wedding menu includes a fish entrée—a favorite is the pan-seared parrot fish served with a passion fruit beurre blanc. And keep your eyes on the trees during your reception: You may get a glimpse of the hotel's shyest guests, a family of friendly monkeys. For more information visit ottleys.com.
To marry on St. Kitts, the bride and groom must be in the country for two full business days before the ceremony. For the marriage license, which costs $80 (and is often included in hotel wedding packages), both parties must present two forms of valid identification (such as a passport, driver's license or birth certificate) and appropriate divorce decree/death certificate documents, if applicable. The license is valid for three months. All ceremonies must take place between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. For more information, contact the island's Ministry of Foreign Affairs at 869-465-2521.