Our Wedding week in Barbados
As you’ll know if you’ve been following my previous updates when I was counting down to the wedding a few months ago, we decided to get married in beautiful Barbados in the Caribbean. It was a big ask for friends and family to travel such a long way to celebrate with us, so we wanted to make sure we gave everyone something back. So we planned a few different group activities throughout the week, which was lovely as we had a lot more time to spend with the people we cared about than you usually get at a wedding that only lasts for a day. This also follows widely-accepted destination wedding etiquette, so if you’re planning to do something similar, here’s the rundown of our week.
Saturday – arrived in Barbados
We landed in Barbados at around 3pm in the afternoon local time, which was good for us adjusting to the new time zone. As a treat, we also flew first class with BA so we felt very well fed, watered and refreshed! There was a slight issue at the airport when our pre-arranged taxi transfer didn’t show up but we managed to get a local taxi to take us to the villa. We then spent the rest of the day exploring our gorgeous villa and unpacking before dinner. We only had our family staying in the villa with us and our friends were all staying in various hotels nearby.
Sunday – hair and makeup trials
On Sunday, our wedding planner, Lisa from Island Bliss Weddings had booked my hair trial and makeup trials for me, my Mum and John’s Mum. This worked really well as all the boys were able to go off and do what they wanted whilst we were having our pampering sesh. If you are having a destination wedding (or a non-destination wedding!) I would highly recommend hair and makeup trials before the actual day. It may seem expensive but is so worth it – remember you’re going to have to look at these photos for the rest of your life! My hair trial was the most useful because it gave my hair stylist chance to give me advice about what to do with my hair for the couple of days before the wedding (i.e. not wash it) to help the style hold.
Monday – getting the marriage licence and villa BBQ
During the day on Monday we had to sort out all our wedding admin to make sure that we were legally able to get married – very important for a destination wedding! Barbados doesn’t have a minimum stay requirement like some other places so you should definitely check this if you’re having a destination wedding. Our wedding planner drove us down to the Ministry of Home Affairs where we were granted our licence once they had seen our passports and birth certificates. When we got back to the villa, our wedding planner had then arranged meetings with the minister who presided over our ceremony and the DJ to go over our music choices.
This was also the first day we hosted a group activity. We invited all our friends who weren’t staying at the villa with us to come over for a BBQ in the evening. We went to the supermarket to buy a load of booze in and our wedding planner had arranged for the same caterers who were doing the wedding to also cater our BBQ. The food was delicious and we’d recommended that our guests bring swimwear so we all went for a swim in the pool later on in the evening. This worked really well as an icebreaker so all our guests had met before the actual wedding itself.
Tuesday – the Wedding
I’m going to do a separate post specifically about the Wedding Day in January when I have more time to sit down and do it justice! But what I’ll say now is make sure your day is fully blocked out for wedding preparation. I had to start getting ready at 12pm on the dot for our wedding which was at 4:3opm! And try to enjoy every minute. I got very stressed in the morning for various reasons but enjoyed it once it got going. My wedding planner, Lisa was absolutely crucial in making sure the day went according to plan and for always providing words of wisdom to keep both me and John going. Always trust your wedding planner – and if you have any problems, let them know because it’s their job to sort it and they will definitely have seen whatever the problem is before!
Wednesday – recovery day (and it rained!)
We hadn’t actually had that much to drink at the Wedding but it was exhausting nonetheless. It also happened to absolutely tip it down the day after, but I don’t think this was actually too much of an issue because most of our family spent the day drifting in and out of consciousness. If you’re planning a destination wedding, plan this rest day in as an essential part of the week. It also meant that John and I were able to go out for lunch, just the two of us as newlyweds without ruining any other plans. We had a delicious lunch at The Tides and they even brought us a sparkler with our dessert to celebrate!
Thursday – lunchtime catamaran cruise
Another excursion we really wanted to do with our guests was a catamaran cruise. There are quite a few companies that offer this in Barbados and we went with El Tigre Cruises. They offer a range of different options including both private and shared cruises as well as sunset or day cruises. We chose the 5 hour private cruise for our group and we had an amazing day. As it had rained so much the day before we were a little concerned that the cruise wouldn’t go ahead but they called up to confirm in the morning and everything carried on as planned. El Tigre had arranged a bus transfer from our villa to the port in Bridgetown, which was complimentary as part of our booking. The weather still wasn’t great but that didn’t dampen our spirits! The crew were absolutely fantastic and our cruise included two snorkelling stops: one to swim with the beautiful turtles that live around the island and one to visit some shipwrecks. We then stopped in a cove for a delicious Bajan buffet lunch before heading back to Bridgetown. And of course, the rum punch was free flowing throughout the day!
Friday – touring the island on our own
It’s safe to say that we were pretty exhausted by the time we got to the end of the week. Lovely as it is to spend time with family and friends, we had crammed a lot into this week and were very keen to get away from the wedding madness and explore some of the island. It’s really common for people to travel to places like Barbados, stay in an all-inclusive hotel and never leave (and sometimes this is exactly what you need – it’s basically what we did on our honeymoon!), but I do like to try and get out to explore a little bit. This day was the only day that felt like a normal holiday day for us. We got in our hire car and headed straight up to the north of the island. North Point is where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean Sea and it was absolutely stunning. Another attraction in this part of the island is Animal Flower Cave but we couldn’t go in because the waves were too big and the cave was closed.
After a pleasant stroll along the cliff tops, we drove to a restaurant nearby for lunch and cocktails before heading to Cove Bay, another scenic spot on the east coast. It turned out this was not actually that accessible and involved driving across some fields to reach the viewpoint and we had a slight diversion when we saw another car stranded in the mud after all the rain. After a good half an hour trying to help them in the blistering heat (not sure how we always get into situations where we have to push cars in extremes of weather?!) we admitted defeat, took a few photos and went straight back to the villa to cool down.
Saturday – started our honeymoon
The day finally arrived! It was time to start our honeymoon. And we were certainly ready for it! We spent the morning packing and settling our villa bill and tips before heading to the airport at around midday. We checked in promptly for our flight to Saint Lucia and successfully adjusted the weight of our carry-on bags (top tip: if you’re flying with Liat in the Caribbean, they’re super hot on your cabin bag weight for suitcases but don’t weigh handbags). The flight to Saint Lucia was delayed by about an hour and then the flight was only 40 minutes direct from Barbados.
Our wedding week was a complete whirlwind but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was fantastic to be able to spend a lot more time with our guests than at a traditional large wedding, both because of the tiny size (there were 18 of us altogether) and because we were able to plan in some group activities away from the main ceremony and reception. It was exactly what we wanted and we were able to create amazing and unique memories with our friends and family.