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3 Factors to Take into Account When Planning a Private Island Wedding

May 11, 2023 | The Aerial, BVI

Saying “I do” on your very own private island is just about one of the most romantic things anyone can imagine. With a little research and planning, you could soon be gazing into your beloved’s eyes as the sunlight reflects off the turquoise waters and palm trees sway gently in the breeze. 

So, which factors should you keep in mind when planning a wedding on your very own private island? Let’s find out.

1. When?

Picking out a wedding date can be challenging even if you’re tying the knot in your hometown. However, for destination weddings, there are some very specific factors to take into consideration when choosing a date.

  • Weather. Do you want to get married under clear blue skies or romantically moody overcast skies? Many private islands in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, South Pacific, and off the coast of Africa experience the most sunny days in winter and cloudier, more humid days in summer. If you decide to wed in the rainy season, consider holding the wedding ceremony under a nuptial pavilion or in a sheltered events space.
  • When are your guests available? For gala weddings, prioritize the dates that most of your guests would be available to travel. Scheduling your private island wedding for winter break, spring break, summer vacation, or even a long weekend will ensure that the maximum number of guests can attend. For small, intimate weddings that involve your immediate family and friends, your guests might be more willing to be flexible with their travel dates.
  • When is the private island available? Private islands are often popular destinations for singles, couples, and family groups during the peak tourist season, meaning that they may have greater availability for private bookings in the shoulder seasons and low season. Before deciding on a date, find out when your chosen destination is available for a complete island buy-out by inquiring with the island’s reservations team.
wedding on private Island in Caribbean

2. Where?

Private islands are typically bursting with natural beauty, complete with tree-lined white sand beaches, coral reefs, and an abundance of flora and fauna. In many cases, deciding where to exchange vows will be a matter of proximity, legal requirements, or the size of your guest list. In other cases, the amenities and activities available on the island will play an influential role in the decision of where to wed.

Proximity to Home

When inviting family and friends to share in your special day, it makes sense to prioritize private islands that are located fairly close to home. For North Americans, it would make sense to choose a destination like Little Palm Island off the coastline of the Florida Keys or the Virgin Islands (BVI or USVI) in the Caribbean. For residents of Asia, a private island like Velaa Private Island (Maldives) in the Indian Ocean or Song Saa Private Island off the coast of Cambodia might be a more practical choice.

private islands wedding aerial view


Private islands come in all shapes and sizes, with islets and cays that can host groups of 20 or 30 people and larger islands that can fit 200 guests or more. When choosing a location for your special day, think about accommodation options for your chosen number of guests.

For small wedding parties, a luxury wellness retreat or private island resort with villas or cabañas styled “island chic” makes for a relaxed and intimate experience. For very large groups, you might go for a private island with a luxury hotel.

Getting There

From a practical standpoint, you’ll need to think about how you and your guests will get to the island, islet, or cay from the mainland or main island airport. To reach a secluded tropical island, you will usually need to take a ferry or charter boat. Other private islands are accessible by private jet or are connected to a larger island via a bridge or a narrow isthmus that you can cross on foot or by car.

Amenities and Activities

Each private island has a different range of amenities and activities on offer. While you’re guaranteed a private beach when you book an entire island, you’ll find that some islands offer things like world-class fly fishing, incredible water-based adventures, holistic spa treatments, or a personalized mix of relaxation and adventure activities.

Some private islands also offer all-inclusive wedding packages that include everything you’re likely to need. Others may be able to tailor a package that’s customized to your exact preferences. Whatever kind of wedding you have in mind, make sure that the destination offers the features that you need to make your dreams come true.

Services and Amenities

  • Hair styling and makeup
  • Floral arrangements and bouquets
  • Catering for the wedding reception
  • A private chef for meals during your stay
  • Spa treatments, including a couple’s massage for the wedding day or when you’re on your honeymoon
  • Concierge service
  • Laundry service
  • Internet and/or telephone connectivity


  • Equipment for beach games
  • Water sports equipment (for snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, etc.)
  • Vehicle and boat rentals
  • Horseback riding
  • Hiking and bird watching
  • Creative activities and workshops

Legal Requirements

While every private island has a human owner, it is also owned politically by a larger nation, which means that you and your guests will need passports (and possibly visas) to enter unless that island is part of a country of which you are a citizen.

To get married on a private island, you’ll also need a marriage license. There are two main options for couples planning their dream wedding abroad:

  1. Have a civil ceremony at home and the public ceremony at your destination. This is the simplest option as far as paperwork is concerned. However, your official wedding date will be the date of the civil marriage rather than the date of the island wedding.
  2. Obtain a local marriage license where you plan to wed and register the marriage when you get back home. Many islands issue marriage licenses (permission to wed) and marriage certificates (after the ceremony) to foreigners who are planning an island wedding.

If you have a private island wedding in the British Virgin Islands, for example, you can obtain a marriage license from the Registrar-General’s Office. You can also get an apostille for your marriage certificate to authenticate it (if required by your country) before you leave. The turnaround time for a BVI marriage license is 1-2 days and you’ll need to take undamaged originals of the following documents:

  • A valid passport
  • Previous marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Divorce decree (if applicable)
  • Death certificate (if applicable)
  • Affidavits as proof of identity (if applicable)
  • Original birth certificate and a valid driver’s license (not required but recommended)

In addition, you will need two witnesses when applying for a marriage license. These can be the same witnesses that you have at the wedding ceremony or different witnesses of legal age.

couple walking down steps during wedding

3. What Style of Wedding?

You’ve found an idyllic setting for your big day and selected your dates. Now you can think about the style of wedding that you’d find meaningful, satisfying, and fun. While the sky really is the limit, these are a few popular styles and themes to consider:

  • A casual beach barbecue wedding
  • A nautical wedding held on a yacht or cruise ship
  • A cultural wedding featuring local music, dance styles, customs, and cuisine
  • An eco-wedding featuring materials from the island (think native flower bouquets and seashell ring holders), farm-to-table cuisine, and washable or compostable table settings
infinity pool view at Caribbean luxury resort

A Private Island Wedding Can Be An Unforgettable Experience

No matter which location you ultimately choose, planning a wedding on one of the world’s many beautiful islands is a decision that you won’t regret. Private islands—both near and far—offer barefoot luxury, stunning views, and an intimate setting for your first few days as husband and wife.

When researching destinations for your special day, be sure to ask your loved ones about their budgets and availability, and look for a destination with activities that your guests will love. Ultimately, having those closest to you present as you take the most exciting step of your life will make those stunning island sunsets that much more beautiful.

Related reading: How to Plan a Honeymoon on a Private Island