Weddings at sea or by the beach in the Bahamas
|Alexander von Humboldt|
|Compass Point Beach Resort|
Our last day on the Bahamas started early as we went to the harbour for a sail on a tall ship, the Alexander von Humboldt. This 100-year-old ship recently arrived in its new home, Freeport, ready to start providing weddings with a difference. Originally based in Germany, the ship now takes guests on 2 hour sailing trips and makes a wonderfully unique ceremony location. Just imagine exchanging vows on deck (or at the prow, a la Kate & Leo), either in dock or while sailing the ocean? During our sail the crew clambered up and down the rigging without fear, and the higher they went, the more we were pleased that the sea was calm that day! With less and less of these tall ships in existence, having this kind of experience is becoming a rare occurrence, so it's well worth considering a wedding here, especially if you're dreaming of a romantic nautical ceremony.
Grand Bahama is one of the larger islands in the Bahamas and is covered with foliage. Pine trees cover the island and on the flight over we could see the white sand beach which runs along the whole of the south coast, lapped by the sea which covers the coral reefs off shore. This island was where one of the 16 couples, Mary and Jim, had an underwater wedding, exchanging vows at the bottom of the sea while a dolphin joined in. When the sea is an average 26c in May and you can see for miles, then an underwater ceremony becomes a definite possibility.
Our exploration of Grand Bahama continued with a visit to the Junkanoo Beach Club on one of those white sand beaches. Its dock is a beautiful location for a wedding, as the sun sets over the ocean to the right of the dock so if you time it right you could hold the ceremony (before 6pm as is the law in the Bahamas) and then have a couple of hours of photos on the beach before taking the sunset shots.
Our final destination on Grand Bahama was the Garden of the Groves, a tropical garden with 4 wedding options, including an air-conditioned chapel if required. Many couples choose to marry here, either in one of their open-air gazebos or at the Labyrinth, a really unusual ceremony location. Exchanging vows outdoors is something which can't currently be done at home, so European couples can marry here with their guests gathered around them and be sure that their ceremony will be totally different to any of their friends' !
A short flight back to Nassau to catch the London flight left us with a couple of hours to kill, so dinner at the gorgeous Compass Point Beach Resort seemed a perfect way to end a lovely week. Overlooking the ocean, this resort has brightly coloured chalet-style accommodation on the beach. Eating a delicious meal while watching the sun set over the ocean while a gentle breeze took the edge of the temperatures was a fantastic way to wait for the flight home. This resort also offers weddings, either on the beach by the hotel or on the pretty thatched dock.
The 16 couples who won this competition each had a unique wedding ceremony on the island they chose. And for us, seeing so much of the Bahamas in such a short amount of time just whets the appetite to see even more of this beautiful country. The outer islands are quieter and more secluded, but as each has its own unique style it's well worth taking the time to explore them and truly have the wedding and honeymoon of a lifetime!
The 16 couples got married on:
GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND – Mary Gleeson and James Potter of Whitfield, Dover held their wedding ceremony on the ocean floor with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in attendance at their “ENCHANTED ENCOUNTER” themed wedding and honeymooned at the Grand Lucayan resort.
This island is the fifth largest island in the Bahamas and is only 56 miles from Florida. It is surrounded by shallow coral reefs which make it ideal for diving and snorkelling.
ACKLINS - Louise Murfin and Steven Bennett of Huddersfield, Yorkshire said ‘I do’ in a “GOLDEN GROVE ROMANCE ” themed wedding on a secluded powdery white sand beach with the sun shining overhead. They honeymooned at Ivel’s intimate guest house.
Acklins island is good for fishing and has a lighthouse on the southwest tip which was built in 1867 and used to be used as a lookout by pirates.
ANDROS – Helena Hewett and Jonathan Briley of London took the plunge with their “LOVE IN THE DEEP BLUE SEA” themed wedding at the island’s most famous Blue Hole, Captain Bill’s Blue Hole and later honeymooned at Kamalame Cay.
This is the largest Bahamian island and the least explored. It has the highest concentration of blue holes (underwater cave systems) in the world and is very popular with divers and snorkellers who come to swim the world's third largest barrier reef.
BIMINI- Karén Minns and Kane Nelson from Leeds held their “LOST IN YOUR EMBRACE” underwater themed wedding where Hemingway wrote “Island in the Stream” saying ‘I do’ beneath an bridal arch and honeymooning at Bimini Bay Resort.
These islands are closest to the USA and has a colourful past. It was home to pirates, rum-runners, ship-wreckers and even Ernest Hemmingway and Martin Luther King. These days visitors are attracted by its pristine beauty and marine life.
CAT ISLAND - Joanna Wicenciak and Peter Dennis of Scunthorpe, had a “Top of the World” themed wedding at the The Hermitage, a medieval-style chapel located at the highest point on Cat Island, Mt Alvernia. The couple honeymooned at Fernandez Bay Village, Cat Island.
With 60 miles of beaches on this island, you'll be spoilt for choice for sunbathing. White powder sands on the west coast or pink sands on the east, the choice is yours! It also has the highest point in the Bahamas, Mount Alvernia.
SAN SALVADOR - Teresa Maria Gilarranz Pena and Tarik Demnati of London retraced the steps of Christopher Columbus when they said ‘I do’ in their “LANDFALL ELEGANCE” wedding theme at the historic spot where Columbus is said to have first landed in the New World, using the white-stone cross at San Salvador’s Landfall Monument, as their altar. They honeymooned at Riding Rock Resort and Marina.
Christopher Columbus discovered the new world here on 12 October 1492 and named it Holy Savior. You can see where he landed (all three choices are marked!).
THE ABACOS - Carla Nevill and Daniel Coote of Baldock, Hertfordshire celebrated their “LIGHT UP MY LIFE” theme wedding against the backdrop of an iconic candy-striped Elbow Cay lighthouse. One of the last two manually operated kerosene lighthouses in the islands of the Bahamas. The couple stayed in the honeymoon cottage at the Firefly Sunset Resort in Hope Town.
Descendants of Loyalists from the American War of Independance still live here, and the islands are also home to six environmentally protected areas for wildlife. It is also known as the sailing capital of the world.
MAYAGUANA – Claire Wilcox and James Williams of York, said ‘I do’ in their “MONUMENTAL LOVE” themed wedding at the historic monument commemorating the landing of the first rocket that took colour photos of Earth in 1959. On the only island in the Bahamas still bearing the name given to it by its earliest inhabitants. The couple spent their honeymoon at the Baycaner Beach Resort.
One of the few islands retaining its original name, this island is the least visited island in the Bahamas due to its isolated location - perfect for getting away from it all!
CROOKED ISLAND - Felicity Carpenter and Andrew Webb from Amesbury, Salisbury had their “SEASHELL BEAUTY” themed wedding walking up an aisle decked with local seashells on a pristine white sand beach to a gazebo on the waterfront, at Tranquillity on the Bay Resort, where they also stayed for their honeymoon.
This is one of the most pristine and underdeveloped islands, and is home to miles of coral reef, amazing scenery and wildlife.
THE BERRY ISLANDS - Jade Chin and Mikhail Tokarczyk of London, celebrated their “NAUTICAL LOVE KNOT” ceremony on a beautiful catamaran surrounded by stunning turquoise ocean teaming with marlin and tuna. The couple stayed in the stylish boutique hotel CarriEarl for their honeymoon.
These 30 islands are an unspoilt beauty and boast dozens of uninhabited cayes and seculuded beaches.
THE EXUMAS - Grazina Zaveckaite and Ruslanas Nekipelovas of Edinburgh celebrated their “SEASIDE SERENADE” theme wedding in a garden gazebo, with fuchsia roses and magenta orchids, pink paper lanterns, pretty butterflies, Bahamian iguana and pigs with an amazing views of the pristine waters surrounding the island. The couple stayed at Sandals Emerald Bay Resort.
This island chain stretches for 120 miles and boasts hidden coves, sheltered bays and picturesque harbours. It is also home to the first marine park in the Caribbean.
LONG ISLAND - Sarah Wassell and Colin Beechey of Blackpool, held their “TROPICAL DREAM” wedding on the world famous soft white sand beach at the Stella Maris Resort where they also honeymooned.
80 miles long, this isle is long and thin, with powdery beaches on the west coast tempering the rocky cliffs on the east.
ELEUTHERA - Jill Barthram and Philip Jones from London dipped their toes in the sand on one of the most historic islands in the Bahamas, following in the footsteps of Mariah Carey . They held their “BAREFOOT LOVERS BLISS” ceremony on the secluded beach at Sky Beach Club, the venue for their honeymoon as well.
The first British settlers in the Bahamas landed here from Bermuda in 1648, and the island was eventually named Eluthera after the Greek word for freedom.
HARBOUR ISLAND - Laura James and Richard Baker of Fareham, Hampshire held their “PINK SAND PARADISE” themed wedding on this quaint island known for its pink sand backdrop. The couple also honeymooned on the island at the private Watercolour cottage.
Pink sands and the playground of the rich and famous, this island is a glamorous setting for any wedding.
NASSAU - Clair Gordon and Jason Harris of Rhyl, North Wales experienced the exuberant Junkanoo dancers in colourful costumes, masks, vibrant decor, music ‘rush out’ to celebrate their “COLOUR ME WITH LOVE” themed wedding in capital city and most famous destination in the Bahamas. They then honeymooned at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort, on Cable Beach.
The captial city has plenty of upscale hotels and resorts along its pretty coastline which make ideal wedding locations.
PARADISE ISLAND - Adele Freeman and John Applin of Balby, Doncaster exchanged vows with glamour and style at the Augustinian cloister (One & Only Ocean Club) under an elegantly draped four-post arbour, surrounded by decorative clusters of antique roses, crystals, and pearl-accented sand in their “ROYAL BLISS” themed wedding. They then honeymooned at Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island.
Just off the coast of New Providence, this island is home to the large Atlantis resort, and used to be a private estate owned by a Swedish entrepreneur.
See wedding providers in the Bahamas here.