If you’re searching for a place to plan the ultimate beach wedding, look no further than Aruba. Located outside the hurricane belt in the southern Caribbean, Aruba actually has the most sunny days per year of any island in the Caribbean! Tie the knot barefoot on the sand or host an intimate ceremony off the beaten path in a secluded ocean cove or atop a rugged cliff side flanked by both the desert and the Caribbean Sea.
Here we’ll fill you in on everything you need to know to plan your dream destination wedding in Aruba, from the laws and customs to the best time to plan a wedding and the costs involved with doing so.
The best time to go: While the climate is ideal in Aruba year-round, to avoid the crowds we recommend planning your destination wedding in September or October when there are less visitors and flight prices and hotel rates are likely to drop.
The flight: Both Air Canada and WestJet offer weekly non-stop flights to Aruba’s Reina Beatrix International Airport from Toronto. This flight is roughly five hours. From elsewhere in Canada, the best bet is typically to fly via the United States with an American carrier.
The legal paperwork: For a legal wedding in Aruba you’ll need to make an appointment to have a civil ceremony at city hall. Book your desired date at least two months in advance and make sure you bring along a certificate of no impediment, birth certificates, passports (for the bride, groom and witnesses) and intention to marry forms (which can be obtained in Aruba). Canadian citizens also need a legalization of their birth certificates and single status reports by the consul of the Netherlands in Canada. If you’re hosting your celebration at a hotel or resort, the on-site wedding planning staff can help you coordinate all of this paperwork. Your wedding coordinator will typically ask that you fax, email or courier all necessary documentation to them at least a month before your wedding date.
The local customs: Carnival, a month-long celebration which takes place from early February through to the beginning of March each year, is Aruba’s main event. No matter what time of year you’re hosting your wedding in Aruba, we think a carnival-themed rehearsal dinner would be an amazing introduction to the island for your guests. Provide costumes, great music, food, drinks and encourage guests to let loose and enjoy the island spirit. Bolo preto, a traditional fruit cake, is also served at many local celebrations in Aruba and makes a nice wedding favour.
The budget: Intimate elopement packages at most of the island’s resorts typically start at about $1,500. A full celebration for 50 people on Renaissance Island’s Flamingo Beach with food, drinks, a DJ, photographer and decor will run you about $15,000.
The venue: For an ultra-luxe sky’s-the-limit celebration look to the new Ritz-Carlton, Aruba on Palm Beach (pictured above). From world-class cuisine to gorgeous decor, the wedding planning team at The Ritz are experts at making your wedding dreams a reality. Alternately, we also love the privacy of Renaissance Island’s Flamingo Beach — this secluded hideaway, accessible by water taxi, is the perfect place to party until the sun comes up. In fact, hip-hop producer Timbaland tied the knot on Renaissance Island back in 2008!