-AS SEEN IN BRIDAL GUIDE MAGAZINE-
A destination wedding in the balmy Caribbean may sound like the ultimate fantasy, but what if we said you could do it for free? It may sound too good to be true, but at these five dreamy resorts, the basic wedding package is gratis if you meet certain reservation requirements. From a gazebo in the Grenadines to a sugar-sand beach in the Bahamas, here’s where to walk down the aisle without having to open your wallet.
Blue Waters Resort & Spa Antigua
Posh enough for Prince Harry (he stayed here during his 2016 official tour of the Caribbean) but reasonable enough to host weddings for free, the photogenic Blue Waters Resort & Spa has been racking up the high-fives from chic guests for almost 60 years. The Blue Waters Wedding Package provides the essentials: coordinator, cake, champs and more. Beach vows are an option, but the oceanfront gazebo (décor included) is the hands-down favorite ceremony spot, thanks to its secluded location — set at the end of a jetty and hugged by the Caribbean Sea. Take photos in the lush gardens or by the ruins of an old sugar mill. With all the money you’re saving on the big event, splurge on a memorable group outing. The on-site activity desk is happy to arrange a sunset sail or a lobster-lunch cruise. If your crew is more into R&R, set yourselves up at one of several pools, including beachfront, family, and no-kids-allowed.
The Details: The basic Blue Waters Wedding Package, available through Dec. 21, 2019, is free with stays of seven nights or more in a deluxe beachfront room or higher (room rates for deluxe beachfront rooms start at $520 per night. All-inclusive meal plans are available).
Welcome glasses of champagne at check-in set a celebratory tone at this stunning 379-room all-inclusive, converted to adults-only (and completely renovated) in 2017. The star of the show here is mile-long Cabbage Beach, a postcard-worthy milieu of white sand set against endless aquamarine water. All weddings take place on the beach (weather permitting), and you won’t pay a dime for services like an on-site planner, ceremony décor, a bouquet and boutonniere, music, a cake, and a semi-private dinner for up to eight guests at one of the property’s three signature specialty restaurants. (We love the traditional Steakhouse; the innovative fusion outpost is also fun.) With planning kept to a minimum, you and your fiancé will be free to bliss out in hammocks or belly up to the swim-up bar – dangerously sweet Bahama Mama cocktails in hand. If you’re feeling a tad adventurous, wander over to the sprawling Atlantis next door (Riu guests may purchase day passes to the pink-hued resort’s huge water park; don’t miss a glimpse of the impressive aquarium). Or gather the gang for an Instagram-ready aqua wildlife encounter at nearby Blue Lagoon Island, dolphin kisses included.
The Details: The Free Wedding Package is available when booking any room category; no minimum number of rooms is required (room rates start at $190 per person, per night and are all-inclusive).
With more than 2,000 coconut palm trees, this adults-only, private-island resort of just 43 guest accommodations on the southern tip of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines archipelago is aptly named. Wed among the island’s lush flora and fauna with the Elite Wedding Package: A heartfelt ceremony for six that comes with a bouquet and boutonniere, a decorated ceremony site (beach gazebo or breezy canopy), a one-tier cake, and a bottle of sparkling wine. After you’ve made it official, pose with George, the obliging resident iguana.
The free package requires a stay of at least two weeks, so you’ll have plenty of time to play romantic castaways and explore the 135-acre island, with its three hiking trails and five bleach-white beaches. Daytime is all about snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding in the crystalline water, while after dark, nightly entertainment ranges from steel-pan performers, to beach bonfires, to crab races. Don’t miss a sailing trip to the nearby uninhabited Tobago Cays, where you can swim with sea turtles and claim your own beach à la Captain Jack Sparrow (parts of The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise were filmed here).
The Details: The Elite Wedding Package is free for couples staying 13 nights or more in a beachfront category or higher (room rates start at $333 per person, per night and are all-inclusive).
After being gutted by Hurricane Irma in 2017, this popular 416-room resort reopened in February 2019 with a completely new look and storm-resistant building technology. What hasn’t changed: The signature Oasis pool, excellent restaurant and bar offerings, and a white wedding gazebo with box-seat views of the glistening ocean. Instagram fun bonus: Tying the knot here comes with the chance to get a wedding-day selfie set against a jumbo jet landing at the often-snapped Maho Beach.
The Details: Book at least 50 room nights for your guests, and score the Marry Me for Free Package, which includes a coordinator, a cake, a three-course reception dinner, a private open bar, and more. Reserving 100-room nights sweetens the deal — think a complimentary cocktail hour (room rates start at $132 per person, per night and are all-inclusive).