Budgeting for a Wedding in Jamaica

Make your Jamaica wedding planning stress free by starting early and taking lots of notes

A destination wedding speaks to the idea of getting away from it all; running away to an exotic location to celebrate with the one you love; romance.  Choosing Jamaica as your wedding location allows you to experience all of that and more.  After making the decision to say "I do" in Jamaica, it is time to begin planning your big day. 

What is the biggest secret to achieving a great  Jamaican wedding? The key is to begin your planning process as quickly as possible.  A good system of time management should be developed because it allows you to save time when researching choices, making reservations, and coping with any complications that may arise. Beginning early also gives you time to take advantage of any possible deals that could become available.

Hired Help

Many couples who are planning a Jamaican wedding find that the most significant obstacle is making the arrangements from afar.  This is why so many couples hire a wedding or event planner to do what they do best - make the planning of your wedding as stress free and simple as possible. You can hire someone local, someone in Jamaica, or choose to buy a resort wedding package.

If you choose to hire a wedding planner local to you, make sure he or she has previous experience planning a Caribbean wedding and references available. Connections in the area and  knowledge of the local language and customs will help guarantee that your experience is exactly what you want and expect.  Remember, if you want your wedding planner to be on site the day of your wedding, be prepared to to pay for her airfare and hotel stay.

You may discover that choosing an event planner in Jamaica is a great option if you're looking for someone on the island to be your eyes and ears. This person will be able to handle every detail of your wedding, and most importantly analyze venues and vendors in person.

Wedding Planners in Jamaica
Name Phone Number
A Tropical Weddings 876-407-6767
A Wedding Day Away 862-250-0949
BJs Bridal Fantasies 876-974-6798
Caribbean Dream Wedding Plus LTD 876-403-0137
Destination Weddings in Jamaica 914-709-0457 866-MAISOUI
Helen G Event Planning and Design 876-541-7772 718-880-4067
Negril Weddings 876-957-0392
Tropical Weddings Jamaica 876-407-6767

Wedding packages offered by local resorts are most common and often the most reliable. Accommodations, venue, officiant, catering, adornments, and more are usually included in one flat rate. Read our guide to Jamaica Wedding Locations and Venues for more information on resort weddings.

How to Plan a Jamaican Wedding Yourself

Preparing a wedding in Jamaica may seem stressful but many find it a fun challenge and have successfully achieved their dream event. Stay prepared, write lists, and keep notes of every phone call and transaction you make.

Step One: Structure Your Budget

Developing a sensible budget is essential to any successful wedding. On average, couples in the United States spend between $20,000 and $30,000 on their big day, while a destination wedding in Jamaica can cost you as little as $2,000.  Numerous major resorts and hotels have wedding planning services that can prepare your big event down to the very last detail, and charge a single set fee for the entire package. If you decide to arrange the entire wedding yourself, consider the expenses you may encounter.

Estimated Jamaican Wedding Costs
Item Expected Cost
Marriage License $80(USD)
Officiant $50 to $250(USD)
Photography $500 to $3000(USD)
Flowers $300 to $1500(USD)
Decorations $300 to $1500(USD)
Venue $0 to $1000(USD)
Food $25 to $50(USD) per person
Lodging $100+(USD) per night

The chart above merely addresses wedding basics, and estimates are based upon average costs of the individual items. Consider other fundamentals such as the bride's gown, the groom's tuxedo, and the wedding rings. Overall, wedding costs will change drastically depending on which items you decide are the most important.  You need to stay within a reasonable budget that is based upon your financial situation.  List items commonly associated with a wedding from maximum value to lowest value and allocate a price estimate to each item.

Items ranked in order of importance will allow you to see exactly where you may be willing to trim back and where you aren't willing to compromise.

Step Two:  Select a Theme

By this point you will have determined what style of wedding you would like to host, and the type of venue you would like to have it in. Options typically include a traditional wedding wedding in a church or historic landmark, an outdoor ceremony in a garden, on a beach, or another beautiful setting, or at sea on a chartered yacht.  Making this selection will quickly trim down your list of potential vendors. Consult our guide to Jamaica Wedding Locations and Venues for for more information about the types of weddings available in Jamaica.

Step Three: Do Your Research

Every location, vendor, resort, decoration, and method of transportation should be evaluated. Contact companies for price estimates and inform them that you are arranging your nuptials from abroad, and that they should expect mainly long distance phone calls and e-mail communications.  When you  contract with vendors sight unseen, ask for references from those who have previously used their services.

Also give consideration to the time of year in which you wish to get married, and the type of events that may occur during that time. If you want you and your guest to have a party environment, getting married in Jamaica during Carnival, for example, may be just the ticket. However, if you would rather have an intimate, discreet event, you should make other arrangements. Additionally, the weather can have a significant impact on your wedding experience, especially if you are looking to host an outdoor celebration.

Don't forget to look into what is required of you to get married in Jamaica.  Jamaica is unique among the Caribbean islands, because couples have the option of mailing their documents to the island ahead of time in order to secure their marriage license.  After a marriage license has been granted, the couple must be on the island for 24 hours, and then they can legally wed. 

While you are doing your research, take the time to learn about local wedding customs and traditions.  You may find that incorporating local dishes like ackee and codfish into your reception is a fun way to honor the island on your wedding day.  Another simple way to do this is by using the national flower of Jamaica in your bouquet or boutonnière.  Jamaica's national flower is the lignum vitae, a dainty, blue (almost purple) bloom.  For more information on Jamaican wedding customs, read our guide to Jamaica Wedding Requirements and Traditions.

Step Four: Book Your Vendors

The vendors you select will essentially make or break your wedding event.  When you make your final decisions and book your vendors, explain precisely what you are looking for, and the dates you have chosen. Get all of your price quotes in writing (Have them send you a quote through the post office, by e-mail, or by fax). Keep duplicates of everything including invoices of all items that are included  the price. Some businesses require a deposit. Do not send anyone payments until you have received a paper statement; protect yourself from any possible misunderstandings.

Step Five: Take Care of At Home Projects

Many couples wish to bring a bit of personal flair to their Jamaica wedding event. If you are creating or purchasing any of your wedding decorations at home, there is no better time than now to start working on this project. This may also be the time to  purchase the wedding dress and/or make arrangements to rent a tuxedo. List everything you plan on taking care of at home, and the estimated  time it will take you to accomplish it.

Step Six: Follow Up

Although you may think your arrangements are finalized, it is still important to talk to your vendors  periodically to review their progress, or to discuss any changes that need to be made. Don't worry about calling too often; they are working for you, and you are paying them to provide these services.

Listed below are a few additional tips that will assist you in planning your Jamaica wedding.

  • Consider the weather. If you are planning a wedding at an outdoor venue, make alternative arrangements in case of stormy conditions.  Typical weather conditions for that time of year should be considered when choosing your wedding attire. If you plan to marry on the beach in the middle of a hot afternoon, plan accordingly.
  • Send wedding supplies ahead of time. If you are bringing any wedding items with you from home, consider shipping them ahead to your resort or venue so that you can avoid airport hassles and restrictions.  Be sure to arrange for insurance on these items in case they are lost or damaged during shipment.

As your wedding day approaches, all your hard work and effort will finally begin to pay off. As everything falls into place, you can relax and prepare to enjoy the most memorable day of your life - your wedding in Jamaica.


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