Weddings Traditions and Requirements in the USVI

Knowing the requirements of the differing Virgin Islands may help you to choose upon which island you would like to wed

Whether you choose to get married in the United States or British Virgin Islands, there is a legal process that must be followed.  While residency requirements differ, the documents that must be submitted in order to gain a marriage license are similar. 

Whether you have to wait a few days on the islands before your big day or not, just the thought of marrying in the Caribbean can inspire a desire to host a wedding with an island theme, or at the very least incorporate some island traditions into your ceremony.  If this is true of you, there are a number of ways to make your big day feel more tropical.

Local Wedding Customs

Though there are no wedding traditions of note in either the British or U.S. Virgin Islands, there are a number of things couples can do to honor the islands on their big day.  Couples may choose to borrow ideas from Great Britain and the United States, which are  quite similar and what most couples already imagine when they think of a wedding ceremony.

Another option is to incorporate Caribbean traditions into their big day.  One notable Caribbean tradition is the parade to the ceremony.  During the parade, the bride and the groom will walk to the ceremony site, hand-in-hand, as people gather in the streets, cat-calling, commenting on their appearances, and wishing them well.  In some countries villagers will also throw gifts into the streets.  One tradition that remains true throughout nearly every Caribbean country is the use of a black cake –- which is a spiced fruit cake soaked in rum -- as the wedding cake.

If strictly focusing on the Virgin Islands is important to you, try integrating yellow elder or yellow trumpet flowers (the islands national flowers) into your bouquet or boutonnière.  The easiest, and most common way to honor the islands is by serving local food at your reception, such as fruit-based soups, johnny cakes, and freshly caught seafood.    

Modern Requirements

U.S. Virgin Islands

There is no residency requirement for obtaining a marriage license in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but you will have to apply for the license eight days before you arrival on the island.  To do so, mail the following documents to the courthouse on St. Thomas, along with a money order for $100(USD):

  • Completed marriage license application form.
  • Court certified copy of divorce certificate (if applicable).
  • Court certified copy of death certificate (if applicable). 
  • A letter to the court that includes information about your arrival date, wedding date, name of your officiant, and departure date.

Make sure you call the courthouse to ensure that they have received your documents.  When you arrive in the U.S. Virgin Islands, you must pick up your marriage license in person before you wedding day.  The document will not be released to you without proper photo identification.

British Virgin Islands

Unlike the U.S. Virgin Islands, there is a waiting period before you may legally wed.  Upon your arrival on the islands, head to the Attorney General's office on Tortola.  You may apply for a marriage license there by submitting the following documents, along with  $110 in British Virgin Island postage stamps:

  • Passport.
  • Divorce certificate (if applicable).
  • Death certificate (if applicable).

It will generally take three days for the Attorney General's office to approve your license, at which time you are free to marry whenever you choose.

Whichever island you choose to get married on, and whatever steps you have to take, a wedding in the Virgin Islands is such a treat that it is worth any hurdles you have to jump. 


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