The U.S. Virgin Islands are increasingly popular as a wedding venue. Each island boasts wedding consultants who work hand in glove with resort hotels, and take care of everything from airline tickets to flowers. Although there are some independent small consultants, we have found that the best deals are arranged by a specialist at one of the resort hotels. Our favorites include Vera Payne at Caneel Bay on St. John (tel. 340/776-6111), Luza Gutierrez at Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort on St. Thomas (tel. 800/FOR-LOVE [367-5683]), and Candy McGinley at the Buccaneer on St. Croix (tel. 800/255-3881 or 340/773-2100).
Marrying in the U.S. Virgin Islands
No blood tests or physical examinations are necessary, but there is a $50 license fee, a $50 notarized application, and an 8-day waiting period, which is sometimes waived, depending on circumstances. Civil ceremonies before a judge of the territorial court cost $200 each; religious ceremonies performed by clergy are equally valid. Fees and schedules for church weddings must be negotiated directly with the officiate. More information is available from the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, 1270 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 (tel. 800/372-USVI [372-8784] or 212/332-2222; www.usvitourism.vi). The guide Getting Married in the U.S. Virgin Islands is distributed by U.S.V.I. tourism offices; it gives information on all three islands, including wedding planners, places of worship, florists, and limousine services. It also provides a listing of island accommodations that offer in-house wedding services.
Couples can apply for a marriage license for St. Thomas or St. John by contacting the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands, P.O. Box 70, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. 00804 (tel. 340/774-0640). For weddings on St. Croix, contact the Territorial Court of the Virgin Islands, Family Division, P.O. Box 929, Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S.V.I. 00821 (tel. 340/773-1130).
Marrying in the British Virgin Islands
There's no requirement of island residency, but a couple must apply for a license at the attorney general's office, and stay in the B.V.I. for at least 3 days while the paperwork is processed. You'll need to present a passport or an original birth certificate and photo identification, plus certified proof of your single marital status, including any divorce or death certificates pertaining to former spouses. Two witnesses must accompany the couple. The license fee is $110. Local registrars will perform marriages, or you can choose your own officiate. For information and an application for a license, contact the Registrar's Office, P.O. Box 418, Road Town, Tortola, B.V.I. (tel. 284/494-3701 or 494-3492).
Commitment Ceremonies for Gay & Lesbian Travelers
When there's a request for a commitment ceremony on St. Croix, all eyes turn to the Palms at Pelican Cove, a former "gay but straight-friendly" resort which, under new owners, still thoughtfully maintains an open attitude among its diverse guests.
Ceremonies are usually performed at sunset, on a photogenic stretch of white-sand beach. From there, it's an easy walk to the bar and restaurant for after-ceremony celebrations. The Palms has access to three or four spiritualists/theologians, one of whom is a sea captain. The commitment ceremonies are not legally binding, and their legalities have not yet been tested in the courts.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.