You're dreaming of tropical plants fluttering in the Caribbean breeze while entering the state of matrimony with a backdrop of turquoise water. Whether a casual ceremony on the sand or a stately affair at Rose Hall, planning a Jamaica wedding includes getting a license, finding the perfect venue and minding Mother Nature.
Getting the happy couple, wedding party and guests in and out of Jamaica is a snap for U.S. citizens. No entry visa is required for Americans who want to stay less than six months. If you have guests coming from other countries, check the list at the Jamaican consulate to determine whether a visa is needed and whether it can be obtained at a port of entry or is required before landing. Here you can also find the latest visa requirements relating to health, security and financial means.
License to Wed
According to the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, your marriage in Jamaica is recognized in the United States and no blood tests are required beforehand. You must, however, arrive in the country at least a day before you say your vows. Licenses can be obtained on your own through the Registrar General or with the help of your wedding planner or venue. Apply at least two weeks before the wedding, and be prepared to submit your birth certificate, photo ID such as your passport, any divorce papers or death certificate of former spouses and information on the bride's and groom's occupations. Once you pay the marriage license fees and submit necessary documents, take your vows and submit the license signed by the officiant to the Registrar General to get your official marriage certificate. This can be done online.
Take caution if you're planning a Jamaica wedding between the beginning of June and the end of November. This is Atlantic hurricane season, and you and your guests may have to change plans quickly if a storm wells up around your nuptials. Check with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center to get the outlook and updates on hurricane season. Don't expect Jamaica's limited emergency infrastructure to be able to support you and your wedding party in the event of a hurricane. Ask your venue and hotel about their hurricane policies, including how they deal with reservations and stranded guests in the event of a storm wreaking havoc on wedding plans. If you must get married during hurricane season, gift yourself a travel insurance policy.
Now that you have a date nailed down and the ball rolling on your necessary documents, it's time to pick a venue. Going by U.S. State Department cautions on crime in Jamaica, pick a resort for its security instead of gravitating toward an isolated location. Plan your ceremony and reception times so that guests won't have to wander between locations after dark. The Jamaican Embassy in Washington provides a list of marriage officiants located in beach wedding spots such as Negril, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and Kingston. Potential venues for wedding ceremonies include everything from historic churches to luxurious hotels and right at the water's edge. Most resorts offer inclusive packages that give you choices on locations and honeymoon details, with planners who can whip up a gourmet menu and make sure every flower is in place for the big day.