Antigua: Ceremonies in Seclusion

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In Antigua, sometimes a wedding is just a bride, a groom and a wide, deserted stretch of sand to call one’s own.

Antigua is one of those off-the-beaten-path islands that many Americans don’t know about, a place visited primarily by high-end travelers hip to the latest in luxury resorts or who dock their private yachts in its ports for the chance to explore the island. That “under the radar” status lends Antigua’s many beaches—365 of them, locals boast, one for every day of the year—a certain sense of privacy, giving visitors the feeling that this place was made for them and only them.

So it’s no wonder that Antigua’s a hit with destination wedding couples who want to keep things intimate and personalized. Whether it’s a party with dozens of attendees or simply the bride and groom exchanging vows alone before an officiant, weddings here enjoy a sense of seclusion that’s hard to find back home.

lighthouse bay One of Antigua’s most secluded wedding destinations isn’t on Antigua at all—it’s on Barbuda, Antigua’s sister island known for its wildlife, its unspoiled pink sand beaches and its surrounding clear turquoise waters. With so little tourism development on the island, hotels here tend to be boutique properties ideal for hosting a small ceremony in complete privacy.

“The ambiance, the beauty, the seclusion and the romantic nature of the location itself is unmatched,” says Tim Harper, regional sales and marketing director for Lighthouse Bay, a 9-room boutique resort on Barbuda’s Low Bay. Couples who plan their weddings here, he says, “are not going to have to worry about lines or anything like that…. They can truly be by themselves and have whatever they want for their wedding. It’ll be as private as they want, with only close friends and relatives if they choose. And of course everything from a service standpoint is first rate.” Because the resort is so small, Harper emphasizes, wedding couples and their guests can enjoy the full attention of the resort staff, allowing couples to fully customize their ceremonies and receptions to their own unique tastes.

“If they want to stay in their room for days and have their meals delivered, we can do that,” he explains. “Whatever they want to do, it’s basically their choice. We provide just about any service anyone in the islands can provide. If they want to take a helicopter and fly in and out of the property, we can do that,” though most resort guests take a scheduled Winair charter flight from Antigua’s V.C. Bird International, then transfer by private boat to Low Bay, a ride of about a mile and a half, Harper says.

When it comes to the wedding itself, Harper explains, “It’s very personalized, very private. If someone wants a really private wedding, they can take the whole resort. That way they sort of take over the place.” Lighthouse Bay has all the wedding basics covered, too: “We can provide a minister of just about any faith here, because there are so many churches on the island. We provide breakfast in bed the morning after. We provide DVDs and photographs. We can provide custom wedding cakes, and flowers, and a location so guests can get married on the beach right in front of the water if they like.” The resort’s wedding packages start at $1,150, and include a personal wedding planner, wedding document preparation, an officiant, a valid marriage certificate, the beach location, bouquet and boutonniere, dinner for four after the ceremony, wedding cake, ten 5×7 photos in a keepsake album, a DVD video of the ceremony and breakfast in bed.

Lighthouse Bay’s wedding package includes only the basics, but Harper insists it’s just a jumping-off point for couples to plan additions and special requests for their special day. Many couples like to add local attractions to their pre- and post-nuptial festivities, for example. “We have the bird sanctuary tours, diving, and lobster fishing is also popular. But if they just want to be alone, they can do that here, too—we have 14 miles of beach, so there’s a very good chance that you can take a walk on the beach and walk for miles and never see another soul.