The Complete Guide to Planning a Destination Wedding in Jamaica

Your wedding guests will love the relaxing nature of this Caribbean destination.
Couple on beach for Jamaica destination wedding.
Alixandra Gould Photography
Location: Grand Palladium Resort & Spa in Lucea, Jamaica
Jamie Spain - The Knot Contributor.
Jamie Spain
Jamie Spain - The Knot Contributor.
Jamie Spain
The Knot Contributor
  • Jamie contributes wedding content to The Knot on a variety of topics.
  • You can also find her work at Good Housekeeping, BuzzFeed, and People.
  • Jamie holds a master's degree and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University.
Updated Mar 21, 2024

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Sunset beach weddings aren't only possible in movies, especially if you decide to throw a destination wedding in Jamaica. From Montego Bay to Negril, a Jamaica wedding can have a natural backdrop to write home about. The island country is home to some of the most beautiful Caribbean views with its sandy beaches and clear waters.

Couples may want to arrange an excursion to Seven Mile Beach or stay in an all-inclusive luxury resort. There's a reason why Jamaica is considered one of the best Caribbean islands for a destination wedding. Most guests fall in love with the tropical island almost immediately upon arrival.

However, the best destination weddings aren't all about soft sands and stunning vistas. Before you actually land in Jamaica, you'll need to get serious about planning the legal aspects of a wedding and general arrangements. As with most destination weddings, couples should turn to seasoned professionals on the island, especially when planning from a distance seems like an insurmountable task. We spoke to Nyika Taylor, an experienced wedding planner who leads Design VUs by Nyika in Kingston, Jamaica. The answers to your burning Caribbean destination wedding questions are below.

Newlyweds chat with a local vendor and try on souvenirs in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Alison Wright / Getty Images

Why Couples and Guests Love Jamaica Weddings

The better question may be, what's not to like about Jamaica? The friendly atmosphere, tropical topography, mix of fun nightlife and relaxing beach ambiance are the perfect combination for your big day. Most couples may want to turn the wedding into an extended getaway. Guests will enjoy spending their time eating delicious Caribbean dishes, snorkeling, swimming, and engaging in other island activities. The island also comes with adventure and a fun nightlife scene.

Pro tip: Invite a destination wedding travel expert to join your vendor team. Browse travel agents near you on The Knot Marketplace for Jamaica wedding expertise, group hotel blocks, flight arrangements and more.

The Best Places to Get Married in Jamaica

While you certainly can't go wrong when planning a destination wedding in Jamaica, some places are more popular than others due to their gorgeous views, exciting environments and full-service wedding offerings. Whether you're looking for a relaxed beachfront wedding or a glitzy resort event that will have guests talking for years to come, planning your perfect Jamaican wedding starts with picking your location and resort of choice. To narrow down your choices, here are a few of Taylor's favorite locations that she recommends to couples who are looking to celebrate their love in Jamaica.

Montego Bay

The nightlife, natural beauty and adventurous activities available set Montego Bay apart from your average island city. Not to mention, the location is close to the airport and home to one of Sandals Resorts' best-known properties. (An alternative is the quieter South Coast location where bungalows and villas abound.) Montego Bay is where most couples go for a spectacular, high-end resort wedding that has wedding guests partying all night long. Views from most beach resorts look like something out of a postcard, and visitors get their fill of island relaxation on the beautiful blue beach. Plus, it's home to some legendary nightlife and resorts that feature everything from private beach gazebos to world-class food.

Ocho Rios

The port town of Ocho Rios is home to not only luxurious beach views but rivers and waterfalls as well. Surrounded by lush vegetation, wonderful tours and opportunities for adventure, there's plenty to do in Ocho Rios. Don't forget to make the trip to the Dunn's River Falls and parks while you're there. Of course, you'll want to pick a resort that lets you wake up each morning admiring the landscape, and as Taylor explains, "many of these properties have an ocean view."

Find your kind of venue

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The sun rises over a fishing boat in the calm waters near Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica.
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Enjoy the one-of-a-kind Seven Mile Beach in Negril where you'll be wondering if you really have to go back home or if you could just stay here for the rest of your life. Aside from the simply gorgeous beaches, "the resorts here are really breathtaking," Taylor says. The sunsets you'll catch at this Western resort city will be like none you've ever seen before, and you'll certainly have no shortage of wonderful venues and chic hideaways to choose from.

Pro tip: As you consider Jamaica wedding locations, don't forget about your newlywed vacation. Plan an amazing Jamaica honeymoon, too, with our complete guide.

The Top Jamaica Destination Wedding Resorts

Ready to jet off to Jamaica to tie the knot? You'll need a place to do so. The island country is full of resorts with stunning settings for nuptials and a reception (and maybe even honeymoon) to follow. Packages and attentive planners can help couples navigate the local vendor scene, making planning as easy as a Caribbean Sea breeze.

Royalton Negril, An Autograph Collection

Set on a sun-kissed white sand beach, a destination wedding at Royalton Negril is akin to saying "I do" in paradise. Couples can choose from numerous settings for their nuptials, including one right on Main Beach, where the crystal-clear waters stretch as far as the eye can see. Multiple packages provide an array of perks, from boutonniere and bouquets to one to two-tier cakes. Each package comes with a personal planner and onsite coordinator and the potential for late check-out and room upgrades for the couple, based on availability.

Half Moon

Another popular luxury resort, Half Moon, has rooms with patios, balconies and minibars, so the party (and vistas) don't end with a couple's exit. Weddings in these parts can run the gamut from an intimate elopement to multi-day affairs full of deep sea fishing, wellness days, rum tasting and sunset cruises in a catamaran. Packages cover small crowds (including parties of two) to up to 30 of your nearest and dearest. Some packages include planners, and all include set-up, officiants and cake. Those opting for an elopement will have witnesses.

Sandals Ochi

Sandals Ochi is an upscale adults-only resort designed for couples that offers romance at every turn. Bountiful gardens full of colorful tropical plants juxtapose just perfectly with soft, sandy shores, providing numerous backdrops for photos and quiet moments for to-be-weds. An over-the-water chapel makes for a unique spot to commit to doing life together. Packages include elopements and grand affairs that will reserve 70 rooms for the couple and their loved ones. No matter how big, planning assistance and photos are included in each.

Pro tip: Once you've decided on your Jamaica wedding venue, send out destination wedding save-the-dates with important info so your guest can book the time off and start thinking about travel plans.

Jamaica Wedding Legal Requirements

The waters in Jamaica truly glisten. However, navigating the waters of ensuring your marriage is legal can be murkier. You'll want to understand your options to dot every I and cross every T on your way to making your love officially official. The below guide will help make the process clearer.

Legal Weddings vs. Symbolic Weddings

Those interested in holding a destination wedding have the option to either host a legal or symbolic wedding. While legal weddings require you to get all of your paperwork in order, symbolic weddings help you save on fees and time. Many couples opt to legally marry in the US. They then hold a personal real wedding, which includes a symbolic ceremony and party for friends and family on the tropical island. Even destination wedding planners tend to recommend that their clients host a symbolic wedding to save on legal issues.

However, if you're set on making everything 100% legal in Jamaica, it's possible. Just be prepared to do your research, pay a few extra fees, and spend some time ironing out all of the details before you pop the sparkling wine and party all night to reggae.

Required Legal Documents

According to Taylor, those interested in legally tying the knot in Jamaica need to bring along a few legal documents. Both parties will need to present their birth certificates with your fathers' names on each. Couples are also required to show their photo IDs such as a passport or driver's license, occupations, address, age, marital status and legal divorce papers or death certificates if either was previously married or widowed. Unlike some other countries, Jamaica does not require a blood test.

Legal Marriage Timeline

Since some of the legal legwork needs to be done on the ground, Taylor recommends you work with a trustworthy wedding planner who can help you through this process. About two weeks before your wedding, you'll need to reach out to the Registrar General's Department with all required documents. You'll need to be in Jamaica for at least 24 hours before the ceremony, and once you process your marriage license, you'll receive two copies of it in the mail within four to six weeks.

Jamaica Marriage License Cost

If you're planning on making your wedding legal in Jamaica, you'll pay a few additional fees. First, couples should expect to pay application fees, as well as officiant and ceremony fees. They'll also need to mail their certificates to the US. Taylor notes that the estimated fees for your marriage license are around $70 USD, and fees for your officiant will be close to $100 USD, plus travel, depending on where you're holding your ceremony. If you need anything translated, it may cost extra. If, however, you work with a planner, resort or specific properties, most will offer a wedding coordinator to help work through fees and documentation to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch.

A gul flies over a marina of colorful boat on the Black River in Jamaica.
KKulikov / Shutterstock

Jamaica Wedding Planning Tips

Once you've decided to hold either a legal or symbolic wedding, you can move on to the fun stuff: planning. Before selecting wedding attire or a specific hair and makeup artist, here are a few tips about Jamaica's weather, its top venues and budget expectations, all to throw your dream wedding. "You'll be sure to be wowed," says Taylor.

How to Get to Jamaica

There are three international airports in Jamaica: Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, and the Ian Fleming International Airport in Ocho Rios. Roundtrip flights to Jamaica will cost a few hundred dollars, and take around four to five hours from most major US cities, which makes it a great location for a fairly-close destination wedding. Upon arrival, the best way to get around is by taxi, car service or by rental car.

Jamaica Weather

The gorgeous, year-round tropical weather means no matter the month you choose to go, you'll have a great time. Jamaica's wet seasons are from May to June, and September to November. While these off-seasons may be great for your budget, prepare for the weather to possibly rain on your parade. Taylor suggests couples invest in renting a tent if they're set on hosting an outdoor wedding. The weather can always surprise you, and when it comes to getting married on a tropical island, it's better to be prepared than rained out.

Choosing your Jamaica Wedding Venue and Vendors

There's nowhere in Jamaica that would disappoint. With its beautiful tropical atmosphere and friendly vendors, you'll have almost too many gorgeous wedding venues to choose from. Taylor urges couples look into local vendors and services when picking out options for their special day. "You don't have to go with a big-name company to get what you're looking for," she says.

What sets Jamaica apart from other equally gorgeous Caribbean islands is the "warmth and passion that the wedding planners have," she says. These local professionals care about their craft and will make your special day one-of-a-kind. The best part? Jamaican wedding planners like to have an "element of surprise." Expect to know about 90-95% of what is planned for your special day. The extra 5% is something to look forward to that will make your wedding that much more memorable.

A couple swim near their hotel in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Alison Wright / Getty Images

Jamaica Wedding Cost & Budgeting Tips

"Budgeting depends on the overall look and feel that the client wants," Taylor explains. No matter your budget, you'll be able to have a gorgeous wedding at any price point. Weddings in Jamaica, in general, will cost less than their counterparts in the US, but keep in mind, prices can stack up at luxury and all-inclusive resorts.

The safe route is exploring wedding packages offered through resorts and hotels, which will free up some planning time and offer a straightforward budgeting option. Be transparent with your coordinator and planning team about your restrictions. They will move mountains (which are abundant in Jamaica) to ensure your dream destination wedding becomes a reality.

Pro tip: Set up a free destination wedding website on The Knot with all the event details including your Jamaica wedding itinerary, things to do, guest travel information, RSVPs and more.

BethAnn Mayer contributed to this article.

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