The sun-warmed beaches, crystal clear waters and breathtaking sunsets of the Caribbean are naturally linked with intimate rendezvous. A few days in the islands send visiting couples back home with a tropical glow and glazed-over calm that lasts for days and days. Within the last few years, these romantic getaways have become more than just a few moments in paradise. In fact, they’ve turned into extended stays as couples discover that the islands can double as the perfect setting for a wedding that leads effortlessly into the honeymoon. Add to that the affordable prices–a Caribbean wedding can cost well under $1,000 (with a modest champagne and cake reception)–and you have a ceremony that will ring up to a fraction of the cost of a wedding in the States, which these days averages $20,000-$30,000 (including traditional elaborate dinner reception).
This year’s BLACK ENTERPRISE Caribbean Travel Guide will give you just a taste of romance in the islands, by putting the trend of “destination weddings” into perspective, spotlighting a few choice locations (both upscale and modest) and giving you the resources to help make your wedding or honeymoon–first or second–one to remember. So, sit back with a tall glass of cool rum punch and some steel band music to get you in the mood, me darlin’…and uncover what awaits you there.
What is it that’s sending African Americans to faraway islands to spend one of the most important days of their lives? Young couples appreciate the cost saving and convenience as they prepare to start their lives, and more mature couples find the low-key picturesque setting, minus the elaborate reception, just right for the renewing of vows and second marriages. Fewer guests are willing to travel overseas, eliminating the inevitable family feuds over the ever-growing guest list. But guests who do decide to make the trip can turn the journey into a once-in-a-lifetime vacation with family and friends.
Some brides and grooms just want a alternative to the traditional American wedding, and return to the splendor of their African and Caribbean roots. It’s a trend that has flourished in the ’90s, creating a market for wedding guides such as The Nubian Wedding Book: Words and Rituals to Celebrate and Plan an African-American Wedding by Ingrid Sturgis (Crown, $25) and Jumpin’ the Broom: The African American Wedding Planner (Henry Holt, $17.95) by Harriette Cole. There’s even a Web site for African American weddings at http://melanet.com/wedding/wed.html–a good at-a-glance resource for brides that answers questions, provides historical background, links to book excerpts and financial advice.
To reach that prospering African American market, The Buccaneer Hotel in St. Croix (800-255-3881), for example, is promoting a “Jump the Broom…in Paradise” ceremonial wedding package, complete with minister and Afrocentric touches, for $450. Other resorts may not have a similar “Afrocentric” option, but they will accommodate your needs. Just tell the wedding consultants hired by the hotel specifically what you want, and they’ll tailor the ceremony to fit your fantasy. It’s that easy. Besides, the competition on the islands is fierce,