Caribbean Wedding Traditions and Customs

Each country is different, but there are some wedding requirements and traditions that can be found throughout the Caribbean

Throughout the world, weddings mean different things to different people in different cultures. This is as true in the Caribbean as it is anywhere else.

African, European, and American cultures have blended together to create the common Caribbean wedding, and each country in the Caribbean has specific traditions they adhere to. You may find that these time-honored traditions appeal to you, and want to incorporate them into your own wedding, or you may just find it an interesting read. There are a few rules you must abide by, however, if you plan to get married in the Caribbean.

Local Wedding Customs

Because the cultures present in Caribbean countries vary from place to place, their wedding traditions do the same. Still, there are a few customs that seem to carry throughout many, if not all, of the Caribbean nations.

Over-all, weddings of today tend to be modern affairs, designed to accent each individual couple's desires, but the traditional still holds weight in some arenas. A few examples include the following:

  • The parade to the ceremony. This is when the bride and groom walk hand-in-hand through the streets of their village to the wedding site, as villagers line the streets. Watchers call out comments about the couples appearance, wishes them well, or showers them with gifts.
  • There is typically no best man.
  • The reception is a lively event filled with loud music, dancing, toasts, food, and gifts, that tends to go all night.
  • Food served at the reception is usually fresh fish and produce, sweets, and curried meat. Fruit drinks and rum punches are the common beverages.
  • The cake is a black cake, which is a spiced fruit cake soaked in rum.

While each country has further traditions of their own, these suggestions make for a great jumping off point if you wish to incorporate the Caribbean into your wedding festivities.

Modern Requirements

As with traditions, legal requirements for obtaining a marriage license will vary from country to country. Still, regardless of where you choose to be married in the Caribbean, there is some paperwork that you will be required to submit to the government. These include:

  • Certified copies of the bride and groom's birth certificates.
  • 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.
  • Photocopy of photo identification for each party.
  • Notarized copies of English translations for any documents that are not originally worded in English.

Some countries, such as Puerto Rico require blood work and physicals, while others, like Bermuda, insists upon publishing your request to be married in the local paper to ensure that no islanders have objections to your union. Some places require you to apply for your license in person, while others will allow you to mail your application in advance. Many, but not all, have residency requirements ranging from 24 hours to one month, and some countries have more strict rules when it comes to hosting a religious ceremony. It is important that you research the requirements of the country you plan to marry in as early as possible.

A destination wedding in the Caribbean will be a joyous occasion, whether you choose to enhance your big day with island customs or create your own traditions. Just ensure that you have fulfilled the legal requirements set forth by the country you intend to marry on, and your wedding is sure to go off without a hitch.

 

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