Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Destination Wedding Locations: Aruba, Jamaica, Caribbean

As we write this section, we're listening to some Jimmy Buffett music. We strongly recommend a dose of Buffett to get a good feel for the Caribbean. All those tourists covered with oil. That frozen concoction that helps me hang on. Searching for my lost shaker of salt. You get the idea. A destination wedding and honeymoon in the Caribbean could be just what the doctor ordered. But choose carefully.

First, understand that all islands are not created equal in the eyes of the Wedding Gods. Each of the islands has its own rules—some are minimal, others require you to be on the island for, say, forty days and forty nights before you can tie the knot. In this section, we review a selection of islands that are the easiest (and most attractive) sites for a wedding.

Second, the islands vary greatly in character and class. Some are seedy while others are charming. A few are warm and inviting, while others can be rather snobby. Before you chart your course for the Caribbean, do some research. Talk with others who have visited the destination. Get advice from a travel agent. Read those travel guide books (our personal favorite: The Fielding Guide to the Caribbean by Margaret Zellers. Her refreshingly candid comments are indispensable). What follows is a brief primer to what we think are the best places to get married in the Caribbean.

Best Time to Go
Everyone wants to escape the cold winter in the United States, so Caribbean rates are highest then. In the summer (roughly from mid-April to mid-December), you can save as much as 40 percent off the winter high-season prices. The best bargains: shoulder season rates in late April and again in November.

What's the weather like? What do you expect? Steady trade winds modify the climate, keeping it from getting too hot in the summer. The rainy season, usually in the fall, has quick and heavy showers that may occur late at night or early in the morning. Hence, they don't usually affect your plans. Hurricanes, on the other hand, are no fun at all. The hurricane season is June through November. While only a few storms may form a year, they're unpredictable and are prone to travel wherever they darn well please.

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