Weddings Traditions and Requirements in the Bahamas

Honor the Bahamas by integrating some island flare into your wedding

Nearly every culture thinks of a wedding ceremony in a different way, and through time hundreds of customs and traditions have spawned throughout the world. 

The Bahamian notion of what makes a wedding special is quite modern and Western, despite a few rituals that make Bahamian nuptials truly unique.  Some brides feel it is important to honor the island they are getting married on by including a few of these practices in their own weddings.  However you plan your own wedding, there are a few formalities required by law in order for you to tie the knot in the Bahamas.

Local Wedding Customs

Though wedding customs in the Bahamas vary based upon the religious denomination of the couple getting married, there are a few traditions that carry through them all.  You may find that incorporating some of these ideas into your Bahamian wedding brings an extra special element to your big day.

It was once customary for the bride and groom to take a horse and carriage to their ceremony, in order to make a grand entrance.  Ceremonies would often be held on the beach at sunset to take advantage of the picturesque setting, but avoid the mid-day sweltering hot sun.  A Junkanoo Rush-Out, in which musicians would parade through the ceremony wearing costumes with masks and instruments, was a unique way to liven up the solemn vows and celebrate the happy couple.


The reception of a Bahamas wedding is where the real party begins.  Live music, or tunes spun by an energetic DJ are the norm, and guests dance and party through the night.  An open bar features tropical cocktails comprised of rums, juices, and fruity liquors, and typical wedding fare includes rock lobster, deep fried conch, and other spicy seafood dishes.  Though there is not a cake that is considered to be the traditional type of wedding cake, coconut is commonly added to the batter or frosting of whatever cake the couple chooses.  After a night of dancing and dining in honor of the newlywed couple, wedding guests typically leave home with a party favor of some sort to remember the day.

Despite some of these traditions falling out of practice in recent years, you can still choose to plan a wedding that involves as many or as few of them that you like.  Romantics may want to consider the horse drawn carriage arrival to a sunset wedding, but the easiest way to incorporate these ideas is through the use of local food and flowers at the reception.   

Modern Requirements

Unlike some other locations in the Caribbean, those planning a wedding in the Bahamas may not apply for their marriage license through the mail. To obtain a marriage license in the Bahamas, both the bride and the groom must have been in the Bahamas for at least 24 hours, and appear together at the Office of the Registrar General.  The office is located in the Rodney Bain Building on Parliament and Shirley Street in Nassau, Paradise Island.  The office is open between the hours of 9:20 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on public holidays when the office is closed.  If you are getting married on one of the Out Islands, you may visit the local Commissioner's Office to file for your marriage license. 

A marriage license will cost $100(USD), and the bride and groom must issue the following items to the Registrar General:

  • Certificate of Divorce with raised seal if either party has been divorced.
  • Original of certified copy of the Death Certificate of a deceased spouse if either party has been widowed.
  • Notarized declaration that each party has never been married, if this is so.  The notarization must occur in the Bahamas.  The couple may also swear this fact before the U.S. Consul at the American Embassy in Nassau and receive authorization for $55(USD).
  • Valid passport.
  • Evidence of the couple's date of arrival.

As soon as you have obtained your marriage license you are free to get married at any time within 90 days of the issue date; weddings may be performed any day of the week in the Bahamas.  Note that you may not bring your own officiant to the Islands of the Bahamas.  Though someone from outside the islands may help with the ceremony, a Bahamian resident must perform the ceremony.  If you are Roman Catholic and plan to get married in the Catholic Church, you must receive instruction from your local Catholic Church over a period of six weeks.  Your priest should communicate with the Chancery in the Bahamas at PO Box N-8187, Nassau, The Bahamas. 

Whether you decide to borrow from the Bahamas when you plan your dream wedding, or create an entirely new wedding concept, your big day can be whatever you want it to be.  One thing is for sure, a destination wedding thrown in the Bahamas will be filled with memories you and the one you love will fondly look back on for years to come.


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