following information includes extensive, very detailed information on getting married in Belize and Ambergris Caye. It is written by Conch Creative, a fabulous photography team here on Ambergris Caye. The photographs accompanying the text are also by Conch Creative.
We’ve photographed hundreds of weddings and events here on Ambergris Caye and so we are often asked for advice and guidance by couples planning to have their dream of a lifetime, destination wedding here. Below are some of the more frequent questions and our answers.
I’ve never been to Belize. What is the best way to plan a wedding there?
Start by choosing your location. Not all resorts cater for all sizes of weddings. Some do not host weddings at all, so you’ll need to do your research carefully before setting your heart on a particular location.
You will find that many resorts do offer wedding packages. Those that do will be able to help you with every detail from selecting flowers, to organising your reception. Ambergris Caye is a location dedicated to service, so you’ll find that each resort will be extremely helpful to ensure that your wedding experience is fabulous. As the type of properties vary so widely, you need to make sure you know exactly what amenities you are looking for.
Not all resorts have beaches but have sea walls instead. Other things to consider in terms of amenities are whether you’ll want a pool or an onsite restaurant and bar. Some resorts are larger and cater to bigger events and families, which may also mean less privacy on the day. Others are much more private and intimate but do not welcome large weddings or young children. With so many choices, your challenge will be in selecting exactly where you want to get married.
For a small island, Ambergris Caye has an amazing choice of locations. There is the fun but busy heart of San Pedro Town, which has a choice of older and characterful beautiful hotels on the beach as well as high end luxury resorts. These are great choices for couples who are sociable, want to get to know the locals, spend time in town, trying lots of different local food and enjoying the colour of the culture. There are some world class restaurants in San Pedro Town and if you want nightlife, this is where you’ll find it.
Up to a few miles south of town are a number of quite gorgeous and well established resorts with top notch amenities as well as access to shops and local restaurants. These are close enough to get to town easily, while far enough out for the beaches to be more peaceful. Many people who live and work on Ambergris Caye are based in this area, so it is a great place to meet locals and explore. As you travel further south, you’ll find that there are some newer resorts and properties that provide beautiful locations with stunning views.
Just north of town is a stretch of beach that reaches to the bridge with a lot of great bars and lovely, affordable accommodation. This area is known as Boca del Rio and is one of the most popular tourist hang outs as it’s just a stone’s throw from town and a super fun area.
North of the bridge, you’ll find a wide range of fabulous resorts and villas along a truly tropical coastline. The further you get from the bridge, the more isolated it becomes. You can walk for miles along the most northern coast, bar hopping and enjoying the natural surroundings. For couples who want a real tropical getaway experience and are not really interested in town, but just want to decompress and enjoy the view, heading north may be the way to go.
If a resort isn’t for you, a private home or villa might be a great alternative. While management companies and owners of private villas may be more than willing to assist you with your wedding plans, they may not be able to give you the sort of support and service that resorts and wedding planners can offer.
A good wedding planner will work with a variety of properties and can help you customise your wedding to suit your unique needs. Wedding planners on Ambergris Caye can be incredibly helpful to those who want to do something unusual or, who want to be able to hand over the less exciting parts of organising a wedding to a professional. There are a number of wedding planners who work on Ambergris Caye. Contact them and find out who you warm to as you are trusting them with the most important day of your lives.
It’s advisable to work with someone who lives locally to make sure you get the best possible service. The best wedding planners will give you advice and guidance on recommended vendors, but will give you a choice so that you can find the best match for your own personal tastes.
Do I have to organise everything in advance or can I arrive and find the flowers and cake that I like when I get there?
While Ambergris Caye has great shops and services, important events like weddings definitely need to have the details planned in advance. If you leave it to the last moment, you will have a very limited choices, unnecessary stress and you may be disappointed as on an island, not everything is available all the time. ‘Winging’ it is not recommended for the best wedding experience on Ambergris Caye. The best wedding photographers locally take bookings up to a year in advance, so this is definitely something you’ll want to organise early.
So, I’m dreaming of a sunset wedding overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Is this a popular choice?
Ambergris Caye faces to the east along its Caribbean coast, so we get incredible sunrises over the sea. The sun sets to the west of Ambergris Caye over the lagoon. While it isn’t possible to have a real sunset wedding on the beach on Ambergris Caye, some couples opt to marry on a catamaran, for the sunset experience, on a private sandbar on the west side of the island, or on a private island or property facing west. A wedding planner can help you with these alternative venues.
What should I wear for my wedding on Ambergris Caye?
It is usually hot and you are getting married on a beach in tropical sunshine, so make sure you are comfortable. Layers of artificial fabrics can become very sticky, heavy and sweaty. Being able to walk, sit and (hopefully) breathe comfortably in your dress are essential if you really want to enjoy your day. For men, comfort is very important but so is making an effort to look your best on such an important day. No matter how tempting it is to wear shorts and go casual, if your bride is making sure she looks gorgeous for you, then you return the favour. Some men worry about sweat and opt to wear a t shirt or vest under their wedding shirt. Don’t. It always shows and never looks good.
Colour always adds a great deal to wedding photographs and generally looks fantastic. Belts, ties, hair pieces, hats and shoes can all make any wedding look spectacular if careful care is taken in their selection. While Belize is a barefoot wedding destination, many brides love to bring a pair of high heels with them for photographs and fun. So be creative with your accessories. Your wedding will be more personal and memorable if you are.
A couple of pointers from our own experiences include: Make sure you avoid sunburn. Sunburn will show in your photos, even if they are edited. Tan lines do not look great with a wedding gown and a groom with a red nose and raccoon eyes may not think he looks so cute in his wedding photos. Apply sunscreen liberally! Also, make sure your rings fit before the ceremony. Often the heat and humidity can cause mild swelling. So to avoid embarrassment during the ceremony, a little hand lotion may smooth the way.
How about hair and makeup?
Beach weddings can be breezy and humid, so hair can be a real challenge. If you have long hair and you are concerned about the wind, you may wish to consider an up do. Photos of you with hair flying across your face may not be the sort of wedding images you were hoping for. Local hair dressers and make-up artists have a great deal of experience dealing with our weather. They will be able to advise you on the best style. We’ve seen many brides bring along someone to do their hair, spending hours before the ceremony curling and creating a gorgeous hairstyle, only to watch it fall after 5 minutes in the open air. Hair accessories, such as tiaras, bridal hats and fascinators look wonderful and veils add some serious drama and fun. Even if you don’t wear them for the ceremony, they can really add so much to photographs.
With respect to your make up, we suggest that you keep it simple and light and you won’t regret it.
Make sure you meet your hair dresser and make-up artist before the ceremony and that you are absolutely happy with the style that has been agreed upon. Having to have your hair re done minutes before the ceremony is not the best way to start your wedding day.
What sort of decor looks good in wedding photos?
Colour is always better. If you have chairs with white covers, consider using a sash of colour on them as they look so much better that way. Petals, table arrangements, handmade details and cute props always make a wedding more personal and unique. This is a once in a lifetime experience so make it memorable. None of this needs to be expensive as long as you’re creative or have some creative friends you can rope in to help.
Something that is also very important to consider if you are planning evening activities is lighting. It gets dark very quickly after the sun goes down on Ambergris Caye. Your cocktail party might be held in the dark unless you have good lighting. Excellent lighting can make a huge difference to both the ambience of the party as well as your photographs. Talk to your resort or planner about lighting as some will have specialist lighting available for events.
What is the best time and location for weddings?
Most weddings on Ambergris Caye are held in the late afternoon for a very good reason. Remember that we said it is hot – well it is. Not only that, but until about 3:00pm – 3.30pm the sun high in the sky and extremely unflattering. Mid-day or morning weddings are not recommended. The sun goes down very early here and once it does it gets dark quickly so make sure to leave enough time for family and group photography as well as your own personal photography after the ceremony.
Most resorts will have favourite locations on their beach for ceremonies, so do discuss this with them. Beaches in Belize are public and so it is possible to arrange a wedding anywhere along the beach. If you want something different, just ask. You’d be amazed at how flexible and helpful everyone will be. You can have your wedding on a sand bar, in the water, under the water, on a secluded beach or island, on a Maya temple, at the zoo, waterfall, on a boat or even in a helicopter.
When choosing your location, think about what is in the background for photographs. If it’s a beach ceremony, make sure that the property management will ensure that the beach is raked and cleaned before the ceremony. Ask about adjoining properties. Are they maintained? Will there be construction going on?
If you will be staying at the property where you are having your ceremony in the days leading up to the event, it’s a good idea to go to the exact spot you’re planning to have the ceremony at the same time of day and have a trial run. This will give you an idea of whether or not you may be blinded by the sun or uncomfortable in any other way. If you are thinking of a ceremony on a dock or any confined area, discuss this with your photographer and/or videographer as they’ll need room to manoeuvre and may not be able to give you the sort of coverage you were hoping for.
Why should I find a photographer in Belize instead of bringing my own?
Belize is an absolutely stunning country that inspires some incredibly talented photographers. That’s why you can find world class wedding photography on Ambergris Caye. You will benefit from a local photographer’s intimate knowledge of locations, natural lighting and scenery. This is very important with regards to the quality of your images as photographers not familiar with the tropical sunshine find it extremely challenging. Using a local photographer also means that you don’t have to apply for special permits so that they can work legally in Belize. It certainly wouldn’t be worth taking the risk of having your photographer turned back or deported.
How do I choose a good photographer on Ambergris Caye?
There are many things your planner can do on your behalf, but it is essential that you do your own research on your wedding photographer as you’ll need to form a personal relationship with them. Wedding photography is a very intimate service and so you should communicate with them directly. Your wedding photos are going to be a record of one of your most important life experiences. Once the decorations are taken down, the drinks are drunk and the cake is eaten, your photos will be the investment that will last the longest.
The first thing to do is to look at their website portfolio. If you love some of the images you see, make sure that their work is consistently good by looking at further photos on their Facebook page and blog. The two most important things that matter when choosing your wedding photographer are: 1.That you absolutely love their work and their style of photography. 2. That you feel comfortable with them and trust them to give you the most enjoyable experience on the day and create photographs that will last you a lifetime.
You might be saying ‘but we can’t afford the photographer we really like’. You’re not saving money if your wedding photos end up in a drawer. Twenty fantastic images are much preferable to a hundred average ones, so invest in quality with the photographer you want rather than quantity with a photographer you’ve settled for.
What about videography?
There are excellent videography services on Ambergris Caye. Look at their websites and view samples of their work. Expect the same level of personal service and care that you would from your photographer. Make sure you have decided what your priority is in terms of photography and videography and what is more important to you. Discuss this with your videographer and photographer. The last thing you want is your wedding photographs to include a video camera and tripod in every shot – or alternatively your video to mostly show the back of the photographer’s head. It is essential that the videographer and photographer work well together, communicate and cooperate.
And what about food and music? What is available locally?
The great news is that there are many wonderful restaurants, chefs and caterers on Ambergris Caye and they can cater to almost all tastes. Whether you are using a resort restaurant or using an independent caterer, be completely up-front about everything you expect so that there are no surprises on the day or tricky last minute changes.
Ambergris Caye is an island and Belize is a young and developing country. Not everything is available on short notice here and availabilities change from time to time. Your caterer will be best placed to advise you on the freshest and most seasonal menu items to include. Don’t be afraid to ask if you want something different or unusual. There are some excellent bakers, who create beautiful and delicious wedding cakes too. They can create cakes as simple or fabulous as you like.
Talented local musicians and DJs to provide for just about all tastes on Ambergris Caye. Let them know what you really like and the sort of atmosphere you are hoping to create. They are the people who will really get the party started and keep it going.
Do think about where you plan to have them situated if they will be playing directly before and after the ceremony. A single guitarist or saxophonist may well add a romantic touch to your wedding photos, but a pile of amplifiers and wires may not.
Do we need to have a plan B in case of bad weather?
Of course, it seems sensible to have a back-up plan. Many resorts have nice indoor or covered areas in case of bad weather, but try not to worry. Tropical rains are normally intermittent, and we haven’t yet seen a wedding ourselves that had to be cancelled due to bad weather.
Ask your resort or wedding planner how they would deal with a really bad weather event. Be sure that they can accommodate change, if necessary. If you are having a lavish event, with many guests, you may wish to consider wedding insurance. Of course, if you are a bit more relaxed, you might find that a wedding in a tropical rain storm is the most romantic experience ever.
And finally, on that note, Belize is definitely suited to the more relaxed and laid back traveller. Be conscious that time keeping can be somewhat chilled out and that not everyone in Belize checks their email daily. Belize helps people to unwind and if you go with the flow, you’ll have a brilliant experience. Of course, this is exactly what makes Belize such a favourite destination wedding location. ‘No shirt, no shoes, no problem’ is the motto for Ambergris Caye. Why not enjoy a wedding instead of stressing about it? Get married in Belize!
Tipping – Everyone who works hard on your wedding day to make sure that you have a wonderful experience will appreciate a tip for good service.