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Tips on getting married in St Thomas & The other islands


stuscott

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Disclosure: I will start off by saying that I'm a wedding officiant on St Thomas but this is just meant to be helpful to all of the brides out there.

 

1. Transportation - Taxi costs add up QUICK! Wedding planners do not make anything typically on transportation since it is a fixed rate with the governement. www.***** has the rate sheet. Try to have your ceremony at your reception site if you are having a meal on island.

 

2. Attire - Try to inform your guests to dress comfortably for the heat, but dressy enough since this is a VERY important day. Maybe khaki pants and a nice short sleeve dress shirt, depending on the feel you are going for. Midday sun can be brutal! I've seen too many weddings ruined with bridesmaids in massive polyester prom type gowns sweating to death, and I've actually seen someone faint. It never looks good in photos.

 

3. Handkerchief - Have the groom put a soft cotton rag in his pocket. You would be surprised how much you will need this to pat on your face to keep the "glisten" away, better for the photos. The groom will need it for the sweat.

 

4. Weather - NEVER EVER EVER look at the forecast. You will go crazy. Every forecast from ever day since the beginning of time down here says Hi 88 Low 78 Partly sunny partly cloudy and 50% chance of rain. When you look on Yahoo for weather it looks horrible. Well it rains here every day somewhere on the island for at least a few minutes.

 

5. Wedding Packages - Always remember you are the customer, and it is your special day. If you want something unique and special go find it, and don't settle for a poor wedding planner or get stuck in a cookie cutter package. I've done a wedding for a cruise ship couple on a deserted island for $800 including, officiant, flowers, champagne, and boat. Plus they got a full day of snorkeling and cruising the islands. There are so many great local spots that an outside wedding planner SHOULD be able to coordinate for you rather than having them take you to a resort beach where they get a kickback or Magens and wait in line at the virtual revolving door of wedding there, although it is a stunning location on slower boat days. I had 2 weddings on a 6 cruise ship day and both weddings I brought them to 2 different deserted beaches.

 

6. Music - Music is a great touch and can set the mood for the ceremony. If you are having multiple guests a steel pan drummer adds just the perfect touch of island feel, provided they fit in your budget. Or pick out a song that is special to you, and have it played on CD. Those little extra touches can make that special day feel even more special.

 

7. Photos - I work with MANY photographers, and I would have to say my one piece of advice is that if there is a particular picture you want ask for it. If you opened In Style magazine and saw a great wedding photo, ask your photog to get it for you. SOME of the photogs here are so geared towards your turn em and burn em wedding planners that most of the their photos are basic and cookie cutter. Although if you ask they will unleash their creativity. Its just that that they have to take the safe route since they are just meeting you for the first time. Also go with a photog that give you the digital negatives since you can easily upload them to a website and crop, resize, etc. and have professional prints made, rather than paying the exorbitant photogs printing prices.

 

8. Hydration - try to supply water bottles at the ceremony, or make sure everyone has a chance to stop for water, because an hour on taxis, plus an hour at the ceremony in the hot sun can really dehydrate.

 

9. Ceremony Wording - My area of expertise. Some brides don't care whatsoever about the wording, but if you do and want something personal ask for your minister's contact information so you can contact them directly. Many times cruisehip brides never talk to their minister except when they say hello and goodbye at the site, so you get a nice ceremony but not personal. I actually love talking to my brides when I can, so I can add personal touches, even though its more work, but it makes that wedding day even more special. From inside jokes, to how you met, to frequent sayings, etc.

 

10. Flowers - Ok now this is a personal opinion. There are some excellent florists on island, but keep in mind they can be pricey, starting at $65 for a simple boquet. The key is that you might not get exactly what you are looking for because the shipment that arrived was wilted, held up in customs, etc. If you don't care then tell them that and sometimes you get a good discount for taking a conglomeration, if thats a word, of whatever she couldn't sell the day before, and you end up with a much nicer boquet for less money. IF you do really care what they look like, silk flowers are not a bad idea. The look great in the photos, and since you can't bring flesh flowers back with you on the boat, this is a good alternative. Keep in mind these flowers are going to last you about 1 hour maybe 2 hours if you have a lot of photos. Just my opinion, and trying to save money.

 

11. Planning things yourself - Many brides I deal with feel a little out of control and left out of the wedding process since wedding planners typically don't allow you to plan things on your own. If you want to plan some things to save the 20% markup DO IT! www.viphonebook.com There are so many other resources out there that you could easily do this yourself, and you should find a wedding planner that works with you to help you save money. That way you save money, get more involved in your own wedding, and then pass of the stuff you don't want to handle to your coordinator.

 

12. Don't settle - People always say we are on island time. Well personally I think thats an excuse for being way too busy, or just being lazy. This is one of the most important days in your life you should get answers when you need them, and your wedding planner shouldn't say "Who are you again?" Don't let island time be an excuse for poor performance, and don't be afraid to switch wedding planners. I have had a bride call me on a Tuesday for wedding THAT Saturday because her wedding planner messed up and completely forgot about her. No problem. We got the marriage license taken care of, the courthouse waived the 8 days since her wedding planner never sent it in, we got a steel pan drummer, a ceremony site on a deserted beach, a cake, aisle decorations, transportation for 40 people, and a private reception location for the whole group. So it can be done, although this last minute is not recommended.

 

13. Relax - Ok I know this is hypocrisy since I just said don't settle. I guess this is just to make you feel better. Your mood sets the tone of the entire wedding for your guests. Don't sweat the small stuff. If you are happy with your coordinator and everything has been going smoothly it will go smoothly. Weddings are big business on the island, and unless you are a wedding planner with a contract with cruise ships, you have to do a superb job since word of mouth is what you live and die by.

 

14. Marriage License - I get this question alot. We are in the United States Virgin Islands so getting married here is like getting married anywhere on the mainland. Its just as legal. Here are the forms you need and the instructions http://www.usviservices.com/marriagelicense.htm. The fee is $100 to the courthouse and make sure you do not abbreviate anything including States. The only catch is that you both have to appear at the courthouse in person, which takes 15 min, to pick up the license. So if you do not want to see your soon to be hubby until the ceremony this can be tricky. Although one solution is to go there afterwards and sign the papers as you pick them up.

 

I hope this helps everyone!

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Just TRIPLE check your officiant is ok with this. The officiants that are booked through the wedding lines sometimes don't do this because they get paid a reduced amount so to drive to two locations might cost more, or they might not be comfortble with this. Its just something I offer to brides that are in a time crunch but I'm sure some of the officiants will do this as well, just make sure beforehand.

 

Either way you will have a great wedding. The setting is absolutely perfect

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