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7 Tips from my own experience planning a Caribbean wedding

I work in digital advertising, but one of my biggest passions is travel. I currently live in Chelsea NY, but whenever I have a chance I'm on a plane to somewhere new!

Destination weddings have amazing reputations for being fun and intimate events. But when it comes to planning from afar, it can be a somewhat challenging process.

I'm currently planning my destination wedding in the Caribbean (Barbados, to be specific), and despite being very familiar with the country, I've learned a lot about the planning process. Here are a few tips to help other brides-to-be who want a wedding in paradise!

1. Every island is different

First, keep in mind that the Caribbean includes a set of diverse islands with different cultures and economies. I say this because not every island in the Caribbean is cheap. A wedding in the Dominican Republic or Jamaica will cost far less than one in Barbados on average which has a much stronger currency exchange rate.

2. Consider seasonality

Once you figure out your dream (and cost-efficient) country, make sure to research tourism and weather trends. Local holidays and events can cause both hotel and flight costs to increase. Also check out dates for prime hurricane season, as you'll want to avoid that time as well.

3. How to research venues

I first took a stab at finding venues by searching for top-rated wedding locations on TripAdvisor. I think this is a great place to start, but before you get your heart set on a place, email the resort and see how quickly they respond. My initial #1 pick took a week to get back to me on simple questions, and strong communication is key, especially when planning from afar! Many resorts do have experienced wedding planners to help coordinate, which is great. You can also directly start with an independent local wedding planner if you want something very unique, but it will be more expensive.

4. Capturing the moment

If you're having a tropical wedding, you most definitely want the perfect photographer to capture your big day. I found it easy to find local photographers by first searching for wedding pics on Instagram (specifically #barbadoswedding), and then doing further research on the photographers that I found. Most of the more professional ones will have online portfolios and offer a Skype consultation before the wedding to make sure they understand your vision.

5. Check out legal rules

Every country has slightly different legalities around marriage, so be sure to check them out here: http://marrycaribbean.com/caribbean-marriage-requirements.php

6. Get guests excited

Since your guests will be paying to travel for your wedding, get them excited by sending themed invites. Include information about the destination and plan to incorporate additional activities during the weekend, such as brunch or an island tour.

7. Consider a mini-moon or joint honeymoon

A great benefit of getting married on an island resort is the ability to extend the trip into your honeymoon. You'll usually get a free room and/or upgrade and be able to take advantage of other perks. I'm opting to do a mini-moon after for a few days and a full honeymoon a few months later to have a complete getaway.

I can provide many more pointers on marrying in Barbados, as I did my full research while planning. For all other Caribbean destination brides, good luck and enjoy!

Image: Greg Walters via Flickr
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