Situated southeast of the furthest tip of Florida, in the blue Caribbean waters of the West Indies, this archipelagic nation of over 700 isles and cays is beloved by travelers and locals alike for its white and pink sand beaches, tropical sunshine, and warm hospitality. While all of those factors absolutely make for a dream vacation, they’re even better reasons to book your destination wedding. Seriously, who doesn’t want to exchange vows with the ocean breeze in their hair, then jump right into a honeymoon?
“A Bahamas wedding is unique in that it provides a mix of experiences, from swimming with the pigs in the Exumas to the casinos, nightlife, and new restaurants of the capital, Nassau,” says event planner Marva Monroe, who has been putting on weddings in the Caribbean nation for over two decades. “But the one common thing is the water. The color varies based on the island, but the backdrop is always fabulous.”
Meet the Expert
Marva Monroe is the owner and lead planner of Chic Bahamas Weddings & Events. She is a former member of the famed French gastronomy society Chaines de Rotisseurs and has received multiple awards from the Bahamian Ministry of Tourism for her work in events.
If this sounds like perfect fodder for the beach wedding you’ve been dreaming about since the moment you got engaged, then you’ve come to the right place. Read on for everything you need to know to start planning your Bahamas wedding, including—most importantly!—the best Bahamas destination wedding venues and the best season to book ’em.
Cost of a Bahamas Destination Wedding
“The spectrum is wide, and will depend on the island as well as the resort,” says Monroe. With her clients, she typically sees $20,000 to $25,000 for a micro-wedding and $35,000 to $50,000 for a guest count that hits around 50 people. More luxury experiences can be had for $200,000 to $250,000.
The Best Time for a Bahamas Wedding
“I personally love the spring and fall, because the humidity has not kicked in,” says Monroe. “Winter is also a good time because the climate is cooler, but that’s peak season for visitors. Room rates are going to be at their highest—especially in March.”
The rainy season is May through October, but there will not be constant monsoon-type rains—just occasional showers. Meaning: As long as you’re flexible with start time and willing to wait a few minutes for the skies to clear up, you won’t have to forgo your wish of an outdoor ceremony.
Planning Tips for a Bahamas Wedding
Avoid the Holidays
“Christmas is really big for us, as is New Year’s,” says Monroe. “Some resorts won’t even take destination weddings over this peak season.” Along with the risk of overcrowding at your chosen hotel, it’s also worth noting that, you may encounter surcharges for holding your celebration on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Eve at the resorts that do allow them. If you want to avoid the extra headache and expense, it’s better to opt for a time other than the end of the year—especially because some local businesses may also be closed during the holidays.
Plan for Your Marriage License
Luckily, the waiting period for a marriage license to become valid in the Bahamas is only 24 hours, so you will be able to legally wed shortly after receiving it. At your appointment with the Registrar General’s office, you’ll also need to prove that you’ve been in the Bahamas for at least 24 hours, which you can do by presenting your Immigration Card. If you’ve been married previously, you’ll need to present a certified copy of your divorce decree or death certificate of your former spouse. Plan ahead and pack the right documents, and it’ll be smooth sailing towards your marriage certificate—which, yes, is fully legally recognized in the U.S. once it is certified by an Apostille.
Prepare Your Backups
As mentioned above, your wedding day may include a bit of precipitation if you marry during the rainy season. Work with your planner or resort coordinator well in advance to have alternate areas prepped in case inclement weather prevents you from holding certain parts of the wedding, such as your ceremony or cocktail hour, without cover. If these options are baked into your plan from the beginning, they won’t even feel like backups!
Now, on to the fun part: Where to wed! Keep reading for some of our favorite Bahamas destination wedding venues.
The current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. As the situation remains fluid, we’ll be sharing tips and stories from industry experts to give you of-the-moment advice and help you navigate wedding planning today. For the most up-to-date guidelines and latest on travel restrictions and requirements, check the CDC and U.S. Department of State websites.
Rosewood Baha Mar, New Providence
Situated on Naussau’s Cable Beach, this newly opened resort features all the trappings of luxury you’d expect from a Rosewood property: posh residential-style suites, a tri-level cabana pool, delectable French cuisine at the celebrity chef-led Café Boulud, and access to the many wonderful amenities of Baha Mar, including tennis and golf courses. Event facilities include the almost 5,000-square foot Grand Salon ballroom, which can accommodate up to 300 guests, as well as many outdoor spaces fit for ceremonies, cocktail hour, and even your post-wedding brunch. Ahead of the big day, make time for pampering at the spa, and know you won’t have to look far for hair and makeup services. Rosewood’s on-site salon will take care of everything—even brow and lash tinting.
Ocean View Club, Harbour Island
Three miles long and half a mile wide, sleepy Harbour Island still feels like a secret—albeit, by now, a rather well-known one—among Instagram influencers and celebs such as Gabrielle Union and Kerry Washington. At the family-run Ocean View Club, the eclectically stylish mix of accommodations includes “tent cottages” and “beach shacks,” along with seven private rooms and suites. (Don’t let the humble monikers fool you, though—each dwelling exudes utterly IG-worthy boho island vibes.) Tented weddings happen directly on the sand, where the minimal decor of palm fronds and wicker chairs and chargers works to set a relaxed mood come dinner, which may feature a menu of rum BBQ baby back ribs or grilled grouper with tomato saffron coulis. To really wow your guests, book The Other Side, a high-design glamping site under the same ownership that’s situated across the water, for your welcome dinner or after-party. While events at Ocean View, which is situated on Pink Sand Beach, have an 11 p.m. curfew, the more secluded locale of The Other Side means you can party until dawn.
The Cove, Eleuthera
“Serene, and elegant, The Cove should be on everybody’s list when deciding where to marry in the Bahamas,” says Monroe. “The executive chef is so talented, the service is very friendly, and the oceanfront villas”—some equipped with their own kitchens and lap pools!—“are absolutely beautiful.” Event spaces at the sleekly minimal resort are rich in variety—choose to celebrate on the pool deck, on a grassy lawn, cliffside, or directly on the beach—but the biggest boon is the privacy. Nestled between two coves on the Caribbean side of North Eleuthera, the resort locale will make you feel as though you and your guests are the only revelers in the world. “You’re behind a gate amidst absolutely lush tropical foliage, ensconced in this most secluded setting,” says Monroe. Does it get any more magical than that?
Coral Sands, Harbour Island
Want to share your Bahamas wedding with a larger group? This eight-acre oceanfront resort can accommodate a reception of up to 150 at Beach Bar, its semi-covered deck restaurant where the delectable ocean-to-table dinner options might include coconut-crusted mahi-mahi or pan-seared grouper. Decor around the rest of the resort skews light, breezy, and beachy, with the two cottages (Sea Oats and Beach House) being totally worth the wedding night splurge for the extra lounge space and spa-like bathrooms. Bringing the kids along for the ride? The game room is a great place to pass the time when they need a break from the sun, and the resort can also arrange babysitting. And yes, there is a pool: a 55-foot infinity pool with a second-level soaking spot, to be exact.
French Leave Resort, Eleuthera
Marriott loyalists, you’ll be happy to know that this beloved Governor’s Harbour resort is an Autograph Collection property, so you can put those points to good use. Those who aren’t enticed by the brand name will love the thoughtfully-appointed villas—which come with in-room iPads for concierge requests and a golf cart to explore the surroundings—almost as much as the views. “It sits on the most stunning bay, and you get gorgeous sunsets,” says Monroe. Have your ceremony on the deck, the pink sand beach, or the gazebo area, then get ready to sip Bahama Mamas and Goombay Smashes while you dine on a marina-inspired menu of fresh-caught seafood. Good to know: With just 12 bungalows, this destination is best for small weddings and micro-celebrations.
Staniel Cay Yacht Club, Staniel Cay
Situated in the Exuma Cays in the central Bahamas, Staniel Cay is a wonderful option for those looking to host a more secluded affair. (Less popular with tourists and with a minimal full-time residential population, it’ll almost feel like you're marrying on your own private island.) Added bonus: unlike many other islands, there are direct flights from Florida! At Staniel Cay Yacht Club, you and your guests will stay in pastel-colored bungalows with balconies situated right on the edge of the water, enjoy dinner and dancing in the clubhouse bar and dining room, and can pose for portraits—or even jet off for your own adventures—at the on-site boat marina. Beyond the water, lush scenery abounds: “Expect colorful bougainvillea everywhere you turn!” says Monroe, who also notes that swimming with the nearby wild pigs is an absolute must for those visiting.
The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort, Paradise Island
When it comes to weddings, Monroe says the draw at this Nassau-adjacent resort is not the beach, but the multi-level Versailles-inspired gardens and the 12th-century open-air Augustinian cloister, which make for a truly breathtaking ceremony backdrop. (NFL pro JJ Watt and soccer star Kealia Ohai certainly thought so—they wed at The Ocean Club in 2020.) Originally opened in 1962, the 35-acre manor exudes Hollywood glamour—James Bond flick Casino Royale even filmed here—and, when you’re not prepping for your wedding in the Balinese-style spa villas, you’ll lounge at one of three pools (the Versailles is adults-only) or sip cocktails in the open-air courtyard. Michelin-starred celeb chef Jean-George Vongerichten created the French-Asian menu at onsite restaurant Dune, and, if you want room for all your bridesmaids to prep together ahead of your ceremony, book the beautifully appointed villa, which comes with an enclosed courtyard and plunge pool.
Bahama House, Harbour Island
Though luxury hospitality outfit Eleven Experiences is perhaps best known for rustic lodges in far-flung corners of Iceland, Colorado, and Patagonia, their Bahama House property is the ideal destination for couples looking for a low-key wedding surrounded by a small group—the property sleeps 26, but allows for parties as large as 50—followed by an unforgettable adventure-oriented buddymoon. Exchange vows along the freshwater pool, toast to the ceremony in the fully-stocked rum bar, then settle in for an action-packed few days of deep-sea fishing, kite surfing, scuba diving, and more. (Your dedicated experience manager will help you plan the perfect itinerary.) Those more concerned with stylish accommodations won’t be disappointed: Beyond the cotton candy pink exterior, the 11 rooms are laced with vintage rattan furniture, grasscloth wallpaper, and beautiful pops of pattern.
Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, New Providence
If your wedding mantra is “go big or go home,” go with the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar. This Nassau mega-resort offers a bounty of indoor and outdoor venues, with the largest ballroom accommodating 1,800. (The private waterside chapel, pictured at left, can sit 175 for ceremonies.) Come dinner, unique add-ons include a ceviche and conch station and roasted grouper carved to order, and you can choose to serve the main meal plated, family-style, or buffet style. The families on your invite list will appreciate the hotel’s suites with multiple rooms as well as access to the adjacent waterpark, where they can tire out the kiddos with waterslides, a surf simulator, and a 500,000-gallon wave pool.
The Island House, New Providence
Want the amenities of a resort, without actually booking a resort? Opt for this boutique hotel and event venue, which sits on the western edge of Nassau in Old Fort Bay. The Island House is home to 30 rooms and suites (expect serene neutral interiors, with pops of energizing blue), a private pool and beach access, multiple food & beverge options ranging from Southeast Asian to Italian, and, to top it all off, a posh movie cinema kitted out with buttery leather chairs and ottomans. Cocktail hour is best done on the pool terrace, which places guests in the heart of the action, and the event spaces are surprisingly expansive, with the largest option—a combo of the outdoor events lawn and terrace—seating up to 400. If you’re worried that some guests won’t be able to sleep on property, don’t be: There are plenty of additional hotel options a short taxi ride away.
The Exuma Outpost, Little Exuma
“There’s an array of contemporary villas in Little Exuma where you can book personal chefs and mixologists in private settings,” says Monroe. One of her faves: The Exuma Outpost, a multi-unit rental with over 4,000 square feet of living space, sleeping room for 12, and an open-concept chef’s kitchen that can feed several more. There’s also a free-standing pergola along the pool that’s flanked by outdoor fireplaces, which is practically begging to play host to an intimate dinner alfresco after you exchange vows on the beach cove located steps outside the house. Per the listing, the #couplegoals that are Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel have booked the villa more than once. If that doesn’t seem like a good omen for your nuptials, then we don’t know what is.