Southern Boating

Bahamas Weddings

The after "I Do" embrace. Photo: Sandals Resorts

An Affair to Remember: Cruise to your Destination Wedding in The Bahamas

Weddings are the stuff of dreams, a wonderful day filled with family and friends to help celebrate the start of your life with your one and only—but wedding planning is not typically as welcome as the grand celebration. If you have a ring on your finger (or plan to in the future) and want to choose the perfect place to make magical marriage memories, look no further than The Bahamas.

Less than 200 miles off the Florida coast, The Bahamas are home to some of the most sought-after cruising waters and soft, sandy beaches in the world—and for good reason. This dreamy locale sets the tone for romance and offers a number of unique, all-inclusive resort wedding packages for romance and ease when you say “I do.” Your bridal party and guests won’t hesitate to RSVP—after all, why wait until the honeymoon to share a luxurious, picturesque island getaway?

We’ve selected some of the most enchanting beachfront resorts offering all-inclusive, hassle-free, truly memorable wedding packages located on some of the most scenic Bahamian islands. And with marinas onsite or nearby, you and your guests can cruise to and from your special day.

Sandals Emerald Bay on Great Exuma Island has a wedding package wrapped up in a luxury vacation so grand, it’s called a “WeddingMoon.” With a six-night stay in any room category, your “beautiful beginnings” wedding package is free with an included wedding planner, signature cocktails, breakfast in bed, honeymoon dinner, and a reception for six—all with customizable upgrades. Sandals offers five other impeccably themed packages starting at $1,700 and includes special party packages for larger groups who have come to help you celebrate your WeddingMoon. You can also opt for unique Caribbean destination wedding packages for families, or “FamilyMoons.” Visit the website for more details on the wedding packages and marina information. sandals.com/weddingmoons

Dockage: Marina Emerald Bay; marinaemeraldbay.com

Grand Lucayan in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island offers three highly customizable wedding packages to deliver the ultimate in dream weddings as understated or lavish as desired. Renewal of Vows starts at $900, Romance with Elegance starts at $3,000 and Grand Experience starts at $7,000—all with a unique ceremony site, transportation, flowers, photography, cake, catering, and musicians. Contact Grand Lucayan’s professional wedding planner at weddings@grandlucayan.com or (855) 531-8870. grandlucayan.com/wedding

Dockage: Port Lucaya Marina; portlucayamarina.com

Abaco Beach Resort has four wedding packages—each with a wedding planner, photography, flowers, food, and drinks—all tailored to your desires. Tropical Affection starts at $1,565 and is simple yet classy, with a ceremony in the lush gardens or on the beachfront. Seaside Elegance starts at $1,845 and is breathtaking with its authentic seashells and sand theme. Hand in Hand, Toes in the Sand is the barefoot beach theme starting at $2,200 for a luxury wedding. Junkanoo Love starts at $3,540 and offers an exciting celebration bursting with color. Visit abacobeachresort.com/weddings for complete details to select the perfect package for your paradise wedding!

Dockage: Boat Harbour Marina; abacobeachresort.com/marina

Pelican Bay Hotel at Lucaya is a tropical oasis on Grand Bahama Island that boasts intimate weddings with only one event hosted per day and four specific wedding packages to choose from. Options include the $3,900 Beach Bliss with a ferry ride to a secluded island ceremony; the $2,925 Water’s Edge Wedding under a classic gazebo overlooking Bell Channel Bay; the $1,299 Renewed Romance to rekindle your flame; or the Bahamian Junkanoo Wedding with an authentic celebration to follow your vows. Contact Pelican Bay’s professional wedding planner, Marva Munroe, at (242) 373-9550 or weddings@pelicanbayhotel.com to discuss details for your ideal celebration. pelicanbayhotel.com

Dockage: Port Lucaya Marina; portlucayamarina.com

Stella Maris Resort offers a relaxing wedding escape to exchange vows on the breathtaking shores of Long Island without the stress or fuss of event planning. The resort’s complimentary wedding planner helps arrange your dream day, whether you opt for the Barefoot wedding package starting at $499; the At Ease wedding package starting at $1,100; the all-inclusive No Stress wedding & honeymoon week package starting at $4,095; or want to renew your vows with the Rekindle Your Love package starting at $799. stellamarisresort.com

Dockage: Stella Maris Marina; stellamarisresort.com/marina

Small Hope Bay Lodge on Andros Island provides simple oceanfront wedding ceremonies with a reception for up to 40 guests with every detail from the cake, videographer and photographer included. Choose from a multitude of ceremony venues including the glass room, pine grove, sandy shore, or even underwater—yes, there is a scuba-diving minister available with advance notice. Wedding packages start at $750 and can be arranged over the phone or via email. smallhope.com/weddinghoneymoons

Dockage: Andros Lighthouse Yacht Club & Marina; androslighthouse.com

Treasure Cay Beach, Marina & Golf Resort in the Abacos has an oceanfront beach wedding package that offers high value for its $650 base price. The tranquil island resort provides a relaxed atmosphere, and Treasure Cay Beach hosts more weddings than most venues in The Bahamas’ Out Islands. Choose from five resort locations—the beach gazebo, oceanfront arch, poolside waterfront, harbor view sundeck, or the honeymooner’s lake on Treasure Cay Golf Course. Contact wedding and romance coordinator Avis Miller at avis@treasurecay.com or (242) 365-8801. treasurecay.com

Dockage: Treasure Cay Marina; treasurecay.com/marina

Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island features spectacular Bahamian scenery and magnificent oceanfront views for a first-class, top-notch wedding experience. With 18 unique, breathtaking venues and 7 detailed wedding packages ranging from $1,950 to $25,000, Atlantis caters to each couple to provide celebrations that are nontraditional and casual, or elegant and formal. Recite your vows barefoot on a white sand beach or declare your love in an elegant ballroom—then commemorate your romantic day with a special photo shoot at locations across the resort with the enormous aquariums or rocky ocean ledges as backdrops. Contact Atlantis’ wedding specialists today at (888) 528-9758 to book your spot at this resort that pulls out all the stops for your ideal day. atlantis.com/groups/weddings.aspx

Dockage: Marina at Atlantis; atlantis.com/thingstodo/activities/marina.aspx

If the soft white beaches and warm turquoise waters aren’t enough to entice you to choose these islands for your dream destination wedding, The Bahamas is upping the ante even more. Couples worldwide are invited to enter a dream destination-wedding giveaway to take place January 16, 2015. “‘16 Weddings, 16 Islands, One Priceless Day’ will showcase The Islands of The Bahamas as the premier destination in the region of romance—weddings, honeymoons, vow renewals, and romantic escapes,” says Bahamas Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe. “The 16 islands represent a diverse collection of destinations with distinct characters, flavors and attributes.” In addition to being provided with airfare, accommodations and meals, the 16 winning couples’ dream weddings will also include the wedding rings, bridal gowns, tuxedos, wedding ceremonies, cakes, and receptions.

By Christine Carpenter, Southern Boating May 2014