Weddings Traditions and Requirements in Barbados

Traditional wedding customs meet modern legal requirements

A bride dressed in a pristine white dress, her head hidden from view under a lace veil, takes her father's arm, and begins walking down the church aisle to her future husband as the wedding march plays.

This is the image that appears in most peoples minds when asked to describe a wedding, and your Barbados wedding can certainly be just that.  It can also take a completely different route, and become any type of event you want it to be.  Whatever type of wedding you choose to host, consider using some of Barbados wedding traditions to make your big day all the more special.  Just make sure you've applied for your marriage license before hand so the whole ordeal is legal.

Local Wedding Customs

Wedding traditions on Barbados are not so localized that including any one of them into your own big day would feel forced or out of place.

Begin with the ceremony.  Regardless of which type of service you have, an important tradition in Barbados involves the newly married couple signing all of the legal documents with the officiant before the wedding guests.  Though it is not technically a tradition, a great way to honor Barbados during your ceremony is by carrying a bouquet of the island's national flower, the Pride of Barbados.


As guests head to the reception, consider having a band of local musicians playing popular island music.  The food you serve should be regional fare, such as freshly harvested seafood, fruits, and vegetables.  Don't forget to offer guests flying fish, which is present at most Barbados weddings.  Your cake should be a spiced fruit cake soaked in rum, as is traditional throughout much of the Caribbean.  As your guests are leaving, offer them a favor of sugared almonds in gift bags tied in a ribbon of your wedding colors to incorporate one final Barbados custom into your big day.

Modern Requirements

Couples wishing to obtain a marriage license should bring the following documents to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Bridgetown:

  • Certified copies of Divorce Certificate if one or more parties has been divorced.
  • Certified copies of Death Certificate if one of the parties is a widow or widower.
  • Certified copies of adoption certificates that reflect any name changes.
  • Valid passport or photo identification.
  • Return or ongoing plane ticket.
  • Notarized copies of English translations for any documents that are not originally worded in English.

Couples who are having a religious, rather than civil, ceremony will have to file a few more pieces of paperwork.  Anglicans will need to turn in baptism certificates and a letter from their pastor or minister proving that marriage counseling has been completed.  Roman Catholics will need to go the extra mile and present the following to the Ministry of Home Affairs:

  • Baptismal certificates.
  • Statement of freedom to marry.
  • Dispensation from the Bishop of the Diocese in the event of a mixed marriage.
  • Testimonial records from the Bishop.
  • Record of confirmation.

Couples may apply for a license Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.; the office is not open on weekends or holidays.  Couples will be expected to pay $113(USD). 

In Barbados there is no residency requirement and no waiting period.  This means you could essentially get off your plane, file for your license, and get married that very day.  You should be able to pick up your final marriage certificate one week after your officiant files his paperwork with the Ministry of Home Affairs, or you can make arrangements to have it mailed to you.

Whether you're hosting a religious ceremony, a wedding that includes Barbados traditions, or something somewhere in between, your destination wedding will be complimented, if not enhanced by just being on the island of Barbados.  Simply apply for your marriage license when you arrive on the island, and you can be married within the hour!


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