Marrying in the Virgin Islands

Marrying in the Virgin Islands
Marrying in the Virgin Islands – photo courtesy of Angela Rutherford

The perfect way to start a marriage … marrying in the American paradise! A ceremony at sunset on the beach, or in an outdoor gazebo, or in a lovely chapel, or right at the Territorial Court — it all can be easily arranged.

Nowadays, being a Virgin bride calls for two willing hearts, a bit of planning, and minimal paperwork. Throw in some understanding in-laws and an on-island pro to help pull everything together, and you’ve got a wedding made in paradise.

The U.S. Virgin Islands require no marriage blood tests. American couples need only fill out a two-page form, pay a $50 license fee, and observe an eight-day posting period. It can be done through a local wedding planner, thus eliminating an on-island waiting period. To ensure that everything runs smoothly, start planning a minimum of two months ahead, or even sooner if you’re thinking big.

One of the easiest places to exchange vows is at your hotel. No strangers to matrimonial mania — nearly 4,000 visiting couples a year say “I do” in the USVI. Cool-headed resort consultants can process all the paperwork and arrange everything from an intimate barefoot ceremony to a big Caribbean bash.

If you’re watching your budget or want some extra flexibility, look into the islands’ army of independent planners. Many offer bare-bones packages for as little as $400.

These planners share access to a staggering variety of ceremony and reception locales, including St. Thomas’ historic Blackbeard’s Castle, Estate St. Peter Greathouse Botanical Garden, and heart-shaped Magens Bay Beach. The wedding wizards can also go as wild as your imagination: they can plan an underwater party on a submarine, or drop you by helicopter on isolated Hans Lollik for a ceremony and champagne toast. They’ll set you up on a private yacht or arrange a dinner dance at a sprawling hilltop villa. Before you sign on, check that your consultant is in good standing with the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (809-774-3130). Compare prices, and make sure the chemistry is right.

Your local USVI tourism office offers a free “Getting Married in the United States Virgin Islands” kit which includes a license application and guidelines, plus a detailed list of consultants vendors, and houses of worship. Call 1-800-USVI-INFO for the office nearest you.