Tying the Knot in Vieques? We‘ve got it all!

Take gorgeous backdrops, uncrowded beaches and a laid back vibe and you have Vieques, a romantic getaway without comparison.  But when that romance becomes something more life-changing, it’s time to say “I Do”, and that romantic getaway becomes your wedding memories for a lifetime.  Vieques has become one of the hottest wedding destinations in the Caribbean, offering a checklist of amenities many couples want for their special day.  We’ve put together a collection of info and experiences that will get you started on your way down the aisle, or beach, or boat, or, well, it’s all up to you!  The possibilities are as plentiful as the island is gorgeous.  Grab your partner and let’s have a wedding!

Location

Puerto Rico is easily accessed by much of the world and all of the United States. South Americans and Europeans regularly visit here, and flights to San Juan from the East and West Coast of America are frequent. Plus, you can travel on your driver’s license from most of the States. (Check with your State’s requirements) Plan a night or two in San Juan on the way to or from Vieques to add to the adventure.

Vibe

While a stress free wedding may sound like an oxymoron, it is possible when you’re surrounded by breathtaking beaches and crystal-blue waters. People are laid back and friendly. Why wouldn’t they be? It’s a tropical paradise. Your wedding planner and vendors have a charismatic flair that can only be found on an island, and their plan for you is a stress-free experience. “Vieques is a very different destination than Puerto Rico or anywhere else. It is untouched, pristine and very calming. It is like going back in time and the guests love that. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself.” Chezelle, owner of CD Weddings

Beaches

Say “I Do” right there with your toes in the sand. The biggest decision most folks have is which beach. The selection is amazing, with each beach providing a unique version of the marriage of sand and sea. White sand, black sand, powdery, lightly grainy; waves, no waves; remote and nearby. At certain times of the year you might be the only two on your beach. Not all beaches allow commercial activity of any kind and some beaches require a permit. It is important to work with a wedding planner if you want a beach wedding.

Weather

With year-round sunshine and average temperatures of 80 degrees Vieques celebrates the outdoors. Beach, poolside and veranda weddings are the preferred choice of most couples and there are plenty of choices. Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques, says almost all of her couples want an outdoor or beach wedding. She offers reassurance regarding the weather. “We can’t control the weather, and rain in the Caribbean is totally unpredictable. But most of the time it’s a passing shower. There is always a Plan B for beach weddings.

Venues

What’s your dream? Beach wedding or beachside villa, a lush rainforest setting, next to a lighthouse or historical oceanside church, bohemian style guesthouse, bluffs overlooking the ocean? Vieques has the venue to accommodate your wildest dreams. Get married on a sailboat, ride in on horseback or paddleboards, the options to be creative are endless.

Price

Vieques has venues and styles to fit almost any destination wedding budget. Some people plan it as a family reunion, wedding and honeymoon all in one package. Souad and Stephanie married at the W in October of last year. “We scoured New York City, upstate New York, and California, and nothing spoke to us – or fit the budget. Surprisingly, we were able to have a wedding here with 60 guests that fit our budget and our needs.”

LGBT Community

Vieques has the reputation of being the most gay-friendly island in the Caribbean. Bernadette Coveney-Smith, a Boston-based wedding planner, said, “The island already had a reputation as being open and gay-friendly. It’s on the mental short list of places safe to travel.” Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26th landmark decision that held bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced that Puerto Rico would be in full compliance with the ruling within 15 days. Same-sex marriage in every municipality of Puerto Rico, including Vieques, is now legal. Vieques has truly and proudly become a wedding destination for all! The paper work and requirements are exactly the same for all couples.

Not enough reasons to tie the knot here? Okay, how about some unique experiences only available on Vieques.

Imagine a trip to the brightest bioluminescent bay on the planet the night before or after your wedding ceremony. Can you imagine a more beautiful way to connect to nature and one another? The bioluminescent bay has always been a popular spot to propose, and many couples have returned to Vieques to fulfill their promise.

Another growing trend in ceremonies is the mixing of sand. Vieques has a very unique black sand beach and many couples choose to mix the white and black sand symbolizing the blending of their lives.

Things to consider ahead of time

Managing expectations

If you are used to all-inclusive resorts, stretch limos, last minute shopping sprees, or a hip-happening and plentiful nightlife, Vieques may not be the island for you. Visit the island and/or ask a lot of questions if you have particular requirements.  Or, if you’re fussy.  (Let’s be honest.) It’s okay. Many wedding couples are. It’s your big day. So find out ahead of time what works. “As soon as a couple asks me for information about our all-inclusive resorts I know the couple hasn’t been to Vieques or done enough research to make a decision about having a destination wedding here yet.” -Sandy Malone, Weddings in Vieques

Great Story: One couple hired me to plan their wedding, sight unseen, and arrived to do a venue tour to choose the right spot for their wedding. After two days of touring every villa on the island, they chose a house and told me it was PERFECT, but that the bride absolutely hated chickens and I had to make sure she didn’t see any “loose poultry” during their entire wedding weekend. They ended up getting married at a country club in Charleston, South Carolina. Vieques is not for everyone. It’s for special couples who truly appreciate it for exactly what it is.
-Sandy Malone, Weddings in Vieques

Advance planning

Things move slowly here. The old “island time” is why you’ll relax after you’re here, but before that, think ahead. Remember, we are an island off of an island. Not everything will ship here and things need to be ordered in advance. Planning a year ahead, not uncommon for any wedding anywhere, will help to ensure that you get the venue and vendors you want. If your wedding is during high season (Nov-April) you will need to book accommodations at least 6 months ahead, rental cars and transportation services even sooner. There are only so many cars on the island.

Time of year

High season begins after Thanksgiving, sprinkling more visitors and activity through the holidays, then solidifying in January all the way to April. May through August has traditionally slowed, but recent years has found the island just as busy through the summer months. Hurricane season technically starts June 30th and runs through October 30th, but (fingers crossed) Vieques tends not to see storm activity till the beginning of September. Mother Nature is in charge so it’s a roll of the dice. September and October bring some business shut-downs as local owners take their vacations.

Ceremony Officiant

Your officiant needs to be licensed in Puerto Rico. If you have an officiant family member or friend, minister, justice, etc, whom you’d like to have in the ceremony they must work with a licensed officiant here.

Paperwork

There is just as much misinformation on the internet about the requirements for getting married in Puerto Rico as there is correct information. Requirements change all the time so it is very important to work with a planner. They can inform you of the proper documents to bring with you, and when you arrive, help you carry out filing the paperwork correctly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About The Author

Kelly Thompson
editor • publisher • designer

Kelly’s background in graphic design and photography led her to creative jobs all over the U.S., Australia and Europe. She moved to Vieques in 2003 and started publishing the Vieques Insider magazine in 2014 allowing her to share her love of the island through photos and stories.

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