Brides and grooms to be who love to explore new destinations have lots of options when planning their wedding day. One possibility is a wedding at sea on a cruise ship or a ceremony at shoreside.
Another way to go is to plan a wedding at a romantic destination in the Caribbean or Mexico. Nearly all of these venues have cruise ports nearby, making it easy for the newlyweds to sail away on a honeymoon, or guests to add a vacation to the end of the festivities.
Here's our list of Top 10 Weddings Venues in the Caribbean and Mexico:
This all-suite hideaway is pure Saint Lucia: a private beach on the northwest coast of the island, an infinity pool with a waterfall, sea and sunset views from guest rooms, and natural materials — wood, stone, bamboo — used in exteriors and interiors. The smallest suites (Sunset Junior) measure 620 square feet, and all guest accommodations have Wi-Fi, contemporary baths and balconies or patios with teak tables and chairs. Most have a daybed and whirlpool, too. The Balinese-style Water’s Edge Cottages boast hammocks, an outdoor rain shower and private plunge pools. The library/music room is called Whispers.
Calabash Cove has a terrific spa, fitness center, kayaks and snorkeling gear (there’s a reef near the beach), live entertainment, an Asian-influenced restaurant on a terrace, and a swim-up pool bar/restaurant. Behind the resort lies Saint Lucia, one of the world's most beautiful islands.
Although Calabash Cove can and does host larger weddings, the typical wedding party numbers six to 10, as befits a resort with this sense of intimacy and romance. Naturally, there is a full-time wedding coordinator. The average cost of a wedding is about $1,500; many guests keep that tab down by opting for the all-inclusive plan.
Sunset Oceanview Junior Suites start at $310 a night for two adults with breakfast; Swim-Up Junior Suites abutting an infinity pool start at $348, and Water’s Edge Cottages, $519. Add about $230 per day for the all-inclusive plan. If you have a larger wedding party, you can buy out the entire resort: up to 52 guests, all-inclusive.
For more info: Contact a Cruiseable travel advocate if you're considering a wedding event; we'll save your group money, help with the travel arrangements and serve as your consultant. See our St. Lucia travel guide. For photos of the venue: calabashcove.com
Westin St. John Resort
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
A wedding at the Westin St. John Resort serves various categories of people: Invitees who lack passports can still attend, nature lovers (snorkelers, hikers, kayakers, etc.) in the wedding party can explore an unusually well-preserved island, children can attend the Westin Kids Club, and people who just want to hang out at a beach resort can do just that. In fact, they can hang out at a better resort than they would have two years ago, because the Westin, a Starwood property, has recently completed a $50 million renovation of its 96 guest rooms and public spaces.
There are two restaurants, including a beach bar and grill, plus a shop that sells takeout sandwiches, pastries, etc., and nearby Cruz Bay offers yet more options. The spa features massages under a canopy by the sea as well as in the spa itself. Water aerobics, Vinyasa yoga, Pilates and aerobic classes are complimentary. The resort also offers parking for guests — a good thing, because this island was made for exploring — and complimentary non-motorized water sports and tennis, with two courts lit until 8 pm. The children’s programs feature evening sessions until 10 pm (from $60, including dinner) that are handy for guests attending bachelor/bachelorette parties.
Ceremonies usually take place in a tented sort of gazebo area near the water. Although couples can go there by themselves to get married, the typical wedding party at this resort numbers 20-30, and the cost ranges from about $7,000 to $12,000. Rooms, dispersed in small buildings, all have a balcony or patio, refrigerator, and Westin’s Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Bath. Rates start at $328 per night.
Grace Bay Club
Turks & Caicos
Unlike resorts whose buildings stretch back from a small beach, this one has plenty of beach because it was a pioneer on the island of Providenciales on Turks & Caicos. Thus, all those rooms with ocean views. Grace Bay Club also excels at hosting both adults-only and family weddings, because its three sections include both an adults-only hotel and the family-friendly (and renovated) Villas and The Estate.
The food service is exemplary, as evidenced by Grace Bay Club’s waterfront Infiniti Restaurant; other choices include a foodie-driven pop-up restaurant. Anani Spa offers state-of-the-art wellness/beauty treatments and fitness equipment. Grace Bay also has complimentary non-motorized water sports and Kids Town activities, plus a premium Very Important Kids program.
Wedding parties number anywhere from two to 120, and the choice of venues — the beach, one of the restaurants, a pool, the lawn, a catamaran — might tempt people to wed three or four times. (Renewal-of-vows ceremonies are popular here, too.) Instead of promoting pre-packaged weddings, Grace Bay Club is big on customizing a package for each couple. It also uses one of the best photography studios in the Turks and Caicos.
The adults-only Junior Suites in the hotel measure 1,080 square feet, with kitchenettes (the concierge can stock refrigerators in advance) and Wi-Fi and iPod docking. One- and two-bedroom hotel units are available, too. Families in the wedding party and/or babymoon couples can get a one-bedroom suite in the Villa section with full kitchen and 1 1/2 baths from $612 per night. Rates include breakfasts.
For more info: Contact a Cruiseable travel advocate if you're considering a wedding event; we'll serve as your consultant — at no cost to you. See our Turks & Caicos travel guide. For photos of the venue: gracebayclub.
Avila Beach Hotel
Think arts hotel, but on a beach — a beach near the UNESCO World Heritage site that is Willemstad, capital of Curaçao. Think history, too: The main building, built around 1790, was a governor’s residence; the Octagon building, now a museum, was home to Simon Bolivar’s sisters; and one family has run this 150-room gem for decades.
Weddings and commitment ceremonies take place at the beach and in the Octagon Museum, and couples can arrive on The Big Day in a 1926 Rolls Royce Landaulet convertible. Each wedding is so customized, and sizes vary so dramatically, that there is no “typical” wedding, but you should figure on the venue, welcome drinks, toast, dinner and three-hour open bar costing about $100 per person.
Avila Beach Hotel offers a fine-dining restaurant, a bar/restaurant with live jazz, a breakfast cafe and three bars, including one in a grounded schooner. The Wellness Centre has TechnoGym gear, the spa employs Asian techniques, and the mansion hosts classical music concerts. Rooms sport contemporary decor and start at $199 per night for a La Belle Alliance Deluxe room; a newly renovated room in the Oceanfront Blues Wing, which extends out over the water, starts at $249; Octagon Deluxe room, $249.
Hamilton Princess & Beach Club
Bermuda isn't in the Caribbean, of course, but your wedding party guests won't care. The typical wedding party at Fairmont's Hamilton Princess numbers well north of 30 attendees. Bermuda’s convenient location and this resort’s facilities are great for events in which multiple guests from the Eastern Seaboard are making brief back-and-forth trips. It takes less than 2 1/2 hours to reach Bermuda from New York's JFK, and even less time from Washington, D.C.'s DCA and Charlotte, N.C.'s CLT.
As Bermuda’s only luxury urban resort, the “Pink Palace” offers easy access to Hamilton’s historic buildings, shops, museums and other fine things. The 200-plus recently renovated guest rooms make newlyweds happy to just stay in their rooms, and the views of the sea from the open-air 1609 Bar and Restaurant are breathtaking. Then there’s the spa, the fitness center, a grand and sprawling infinity pool, and a concierge who books tee times for Riddell’s Bay Golf and Country Club, one of the best courses in North America.
A team of professionals customizes every wedding, so settings vary to match: outdoor terraces, a ballroom, a quintessential pink beach, the marina, a hilltop, etc. In addition to renovating rooms and public spaces, the Hamilton Princess has brought on culinary star Marcus Samuelsson as consulting chef, and he is developing a “Samuelsson Experience” featuring his dishes at banquets. Prices are not for the faint-hearted. The typical wedding, if there is such a thing, costs $25,000 or more. Rooms start at $749 per night.
For more info: Contact a Cruiseable travel advocate if you're considering a wedding event. See our Bermuda and Hamilton travel guides. For photos of the venue: thehamiltonprincess.com or fairmont.com/hamilton-bermuda
Barceló Grand Faro Los Cabos
San José del Cabo, Baja California, Mexico
Located seafront on the stunning Sea of Cortez, the 350-room Barcelo Grand Faro Los Cabos oozes romance, and couples will love the fact that those gorgeous sea views can frame their nuptials as the property offers its sea-facing terraces — the Star Terrace or the Moon Terrace — as wedding venues. Of course, couples can also opt for a Beach Ceremony as long as you don’t mind some sand between your toes. We love the wedding package names, which run the gamut from Blueberry Dream, Mint Breeze and Chocolate Sensation to Tangerine Sunset, and those varied names mean lots of assorted inclusions and a range of package prices. The Coconut Paradise package includes all the expected basics and is complimentary when 25 room nights are booked, while the Chocolate Sensation is $9,990 — think fireworks, personalized dessert, Champagne breakfast in bed the next morning, beach bonfire rehearsal party — and includes 20 guests. Room rates start at $239 per night.
For more info: Contact a Cruiseable travel advocate if you're considering a wedding event. For photos of the venue: barcelo.com
Fiesta Americana Mérida
Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico
For a different and more economical type of Mexican destination wedding, consider a ceremony in the White City: Merida, three hours west of Cancun. Here, the Fiesta Americana Merida offers a colonial vibe and 16 different venues as well as an array of wedding packages. Couples can opt for the Wedding Dinner package that accommodates 100 or 200 minimum guests (you can make it as intimate or as grand as you wish); it includes special rates on guest bedrooms. The Gala Dinner package adds the Nuptial suite for the bride and groom with a bottle of sparkling wine and continental breakfast, as well as one night in the Junior Suite with a buffet breakfast included, for the first wedding anniversary. There’s also the Wedding Once in a Lifetime Event in the Morning, which also includes the Nuptial suite; and there’s even a Romantic Dinner for Two for couples who want to celebrate in private. Room rates start at $91 per night; call for wedding package rates.
For more info: Contact a Cruiseable travel advocate if you're considering a wedding event. For photos of the venue: fiestamericana.com.
Hacienda Puerta Campeche
Campeche, Yucatan, Mexico
The 17th century Hacienda Puerta Campeche, a Luxury Collection Hotel from Starwood in Campeche in Mexico's Yucatan, offers its guests 15 guest rooms and suites to choose from, and they all come with picturesque views of the gardens and pools. Occupying the original buildings, the guest rooms have all been restored and are decorated with dark wooden beds and furniture, preserving the colonial ambiance. In keeping with properties that showcase the local community, the property’s amenities are made by the artisans of the Fundacion de Haciendas del Mundo Maya. Couples can tie the knot on the rooftop lounge, offering views over the historical center — ideal for cocktail-style parties that hold up to 140 people. A good option for small celebrations is the onsite restaurant that features “Campechana” cuisine, international cuisine using local ingredients and seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. After your gathering is over, consider excursions to Mayan ruins as well. Room rates start at $225 per night.
For more info: Contact a Cruiseable travel advocate if you're considering a wedding event. For photos of the venue: puertacampeche.com.
Iberostar Playa Paraíso
Riviera Maya, Mexico
The Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf & Spa Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico, is an favored wedding destination for those looking for a venue off the beaten track. The complex is home to five all-inclusive Iberostar hotels, from the affordable Iberostar Paraiso del Mar and Iberostar Paraiso Beach to the upscale, family-friendly Iberostar Paraiso Lindo and Iberostar Paraiso Maya, as well as the luxurious, adults-only Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso. The complex boasts a spectacular beachfront and an impressive range of wedding and vacation amenities. Along with an onsite golf course, the complex features a 32,000-square-foot spa, shopping area, merry-go-round, nightclub, food court, air-conditioned Catholic chapel and more.
Iberostar performs only one wedding per day per hotel, and couples are able to customize their wedding because the resort offers all sorts of extras — live music, decoration, flowers — so couples can build the wedding celebration they dream of. The resort complex has several wedding venues, including beachside, in a gazebo surrounded by gardens, in the chapel, or in a Mexican plaza. The hotel there accommodates wedding groups of all sizes, including up to 200-plus, and packages range from the Star Wedding ($999 for 10 people) to the Gold Star Wedding ($2,799 for 20 people). Room rates start at $247 per night.
Royal Hideaway Playacar
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
10The four-diamond, adults-only Royal Hideaway Playacar in beach-friendly Playa del Carmen features 200 Mexican-style rooms with ocean and garden views. The resort hosts only one wedding per day, and couples have an array of wedding packages to choose from. You can have a semi-private affair in a restaurant for up to 16 people, or opt for the Infinite Bliss package, ideal for up to 20 guests. Beyond the basics, it includes a 45-minute session with a Mexican trio during the post-ceremony celebration and an album with 36 photos delivered within 48 hours. The hotel can offer a private setting for any wedding. Room rates start at $260 per night.
Recommend magazine originally contributed to this roundup. Updated June 2017.