D Day 14.02.18
My engagement ring had made its way to a paradise island safely secured inside my soon-to-be fiancé’s Speedos. The rest of our boat party were busy snorkeling so the only witnesses to his romantic proposal were a sea turtle that regally waved its flipper before diving back into the reef, and an osprey that eyed us warily from a tall treetop. It was a magical moment and we both vowed that our wedding would also take place on a beach.
This romantic, if slightly indecent, proposal took place during a round-the-world trip to celebrate my partner’s 50th birthday. With meticulous planning, he’d picked up the engagement ring band in Sausalito, shortly after we had driven across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. He had then added the sparkliest of diamonds to the setting during our stay in Cairns, Queensland, setting the scene for my ring’s budgie-smuggling adventure on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
Fast-forward 14 years and somehow, we had still not got around to tying the knot. However, we had become experts on ‘beach’ weddings through being unintentional and uninvited guests during our travels around the world. Our most memorable experience took place on a beach in Mauritius. After a long flight, we’d secured our sunbeds at the water’s edge by some particularly attractive rocks. Minutes later we were roused from our drowsy slumbers by a wailing bagpipe announcing the arrival of the first wedding of the day. A small procession of kilted men and stiflingly overdressed women snaked and wobbled (high heels!) from the hotel to the wedding gazebo for a ceremony, followed by much dodging of waves to pose on the attractive but slippery rocks.
No sooner had bride number 1 dragged her bedraggled train back to the hotel, bride number 2 appeared, riding on a donkey and wedding number 3 entertained the entire beach with an over-dramatic ‘Go-Compare’ style opera singer. This ‘wedding conveyor belt’ took place almost daily and by the end of the fortnight we had a pretty clear idea of what worked and what didn’t. Keep it simple, wear cool clothing, flat shoes and if you’re going for a strapless number, sunbathing strap marks can ruin the effect. We also witnessed some thoughtless behaviour by other uninvited guests who took pleasure in photobombing the wedding shots, wearing revealing swimwear.
I started seriously investigating beach weddings last year and soon discovered it was not that simple. There are surprisingly few places where you can actually get married on a beach. Marrying abroad can require documents to be translated, verified and sent through several months in advance; being resident for x number of days before the ceremony; attending various government city offices in person before or after the wedding. Mauritius even requires a pregnancy test if marrying within 10 months of a divorce!
Much as I love DIY, I knew it was time to bring in the experts. I contacted Tropical Sky and spoke with the lovely Paula, who couldn’t have been more helpful. Having started with a virtually blank canvas of wanting to get married on a beach somewhere warm, we soon narrowed my choice to the Caribbean island of Tobago. Although it did not appear on Tropical Sky’s list of wedding venues, I had a vague recollection that the island was ideal for people who wanted the minimum amount of fuss. I also know that the island is great for a birdwatching and snorkelling honeymoon.
Paula quickly identified the perfect wedding venue. The Blue Waters Inn on the beautifully sheltered Batteaux Bay has a small private beach of golden powdery sand and is surrounded by rainforest. Our superior beachfront room would open straight onto the sand – ideal for my partner’s current mobility problems. We opted for the classic wedding package which includes the services of a minister or registrar, a floral bouquet and button hole, wedding cake, one bottle of sparkling wine and a private boat trip. There is also the option of a steel drum band for an additional fee.
Prior to the wedding, you also get a lovely box to transport your dress in the overhead lockers on the plane. However, our binoculars, my lap top and photography equipment will take priority for our carry-on luggage and I honestly can’t envisage wearing a dress so extravagant that it needs its own box! So the search is on for a simple wedding dress suitable for a Caribbean beach. Something cream colored with a slinky bias cut and strictly no train.
I had a very specific date in mind for our wedding and waited anxiously for confirmation, due to the time differences with Tobago. I was thrilled when Paula was able to confirm that we’d secured our first choice – 14th February – the perfect date for a pair of sloppy romantics, and no chance of us forgetting to celebrate our anniversary in years to come.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Tropical Sky Weddings & Vow Renewals