The Independent Parent: We'd like to get married in the Caribbean with our children. Any ideas?
Saturday 17 July 2004
Q. My boyfriend and I are thinking of getting married later this year, perhaps at Christmas. It is the second time around for both of us and our five children have told us they want to be there.
Q. My boyfriend and I are thinking of getting married later this year, perhaps at Christmas. It is the second time around for both of us and our five children have told us they want to be there. We thought we'd make a holiday of it and are considering the Caribbean.
M Wilkinson and V Moore, via e-mail.
A. A good starting point is Getting Married Abroad: A Practical Guide to Overseas Weddings (Conran Octopus, £6.99). It is written by the people who run the website www.confetti.co.uk, which also offers advice about planning weddings, both in the UK and abroad.
The Caribbean offers that balmy picture-perfect wedding and honeymoon rolled into one. However, as most of these islands are in hurricane territory, you will need to consider the time of year carefully. The hurricane season generally runs from June to around November, although you might be lucky in October. The peak holiday season is mid-December to January, so you will usually pay a premium at this time.
Most of the main tour operators offer Caribbean wedding packages; try Thomson Holidays (0870 608 0169; www.thomson-holidays.com), British Airways Holidays (0870 243 3407; www.baholidays.com), Virgin Holidays (0870 990 8825; www.virginholidays.co.uk) and Kuoni (01306 747007; www.kuoni.co.uk). In addition, Travelpack (0870 121 2010; www.travelpack.co.uk) offers tailor-made weddings in Antigua, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Barbados.
Virgin Holidays offers nuptial holidays in Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, Jamaica, St Kitts, Nevis and the Grenadines, Grenada, Tobago, and the Bahamas. These range from room-only villas to all-inclusive resorts.
An alternative to a hotel wedding is the 17th-century Sunbury Plantation House on the west coast of Barbados. The basic wedding package costs £335.
Virgin Holidays also offers numerous accommodation options in Barbados. One of these is the Settlers Beach Villa Hotel. You might consider flying out on Christmas Day, which almost halves the cost, or during the October half-term week if you are willing to take a chance that the hurricanes have blown themselves out. There is availability for departures on 27 October. Seven nights would cost £5,138.
However, at this time of the year there is ever-diminishing availability for the standard two-bedroom villas so you may have to upgrade to a couple of superior two-bedroom villas. This will cost an extra £2,100 for the week. Both prices include return flights to Bridgetown on Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick or from Manchester on BMI, transfers, seven nights' self-catering accommodation in two apartments, use of the tennis club, and the wedding ceremony.
Alternatively, you could opt for an all-inclusive wedding in Antigua with Travelpack. Staying at the St James Club on the south-east coast of the island, you would have three rooms between the seven of you. The total cost from now until 20 December would be £5,749 for seven nights' all-inclusive accommodation, including return flights from London Heathrow with BWIA and transfers.
The hotel also has a children's club. There is currently availability for the week around October half-term. The wedding package costs £365.
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