What could be a better backdrop for a dream wedding than Cayman’s powdery sands and turquoise waters? Whether you’re imagining a barefoot beach ceremony, traditional church service or lavish reception at a five-star resort (or maybe all three!), our island’s reputation for outstanding hospitality really rises to the occasion to ensure couples enjoy their perfect Big Day.

It’s easy to get swept up in the exciting flurry of canape tastings, dress or suit fittings and vow writing. But before the celebrations begin there are some practical considerations to keep in mind. Here are a few key pointers about the nitty-gritty, for getting hitched in Cayman without, well, a hitch…

Timing is everything

Photo: Jenna Leigh photography

“Once the date is set, the most important thing to lock in is the wedding vendors. As we live on a beautiful, small island, we have a limited amount of the best photographers, catering companies and so forth, who will get booked up quickly,” explains JoAnne Brown, CEO of Celebrations Ltd.

For a local wedding, six to 12 months in advance is recommended; for a large destination wedding, 12-18 months. Sarah Dyer, wedding and event planner at Save the Date says: “This is the ideal, to secure your chosen vendors. A cruise ship wedding, elopement or small group wedding can be organized much quicker, in a matter of weeks.”

The official bit

The dress, flowers and playlist may be some of the more fun aspects of wedding planning, but first thing’s first: Sort out your paperwork to make sure everything is done legally. The processes for getting married in the Cayman Islands vary depending on whether you are a resident or a visitor to the island, but in both cases couples must secure the services of a licensed marriage officer. There are more than 90 to choose from in the Cayman Islands – mostly ministers of religion, along with three civil registrars of marriage.

Photo: Jenna Leigh photography

For a local wedding, banns of marriage must be published by the minister seven days in advance of the wedding, and some churches also require the couple to take wedding counselling. This also applies if one party is a resident and the other a visitor. You will have a preliminary interview with your wedding celebrant, and take along your passports and proof of your immigration status (e.g. work permit, residency certificate, etc.).

Overseas weddings require a special marriage license and paperwork – which the wedding celebrant can assist with – and submit this for the license to be granted. You can find more about this on the local government website.

Getting real

“Some couples do underestimate the cost of things,” Sarah says, “so having a realistic budget at the start of the process and a mindset that you may have to expand on this is the best position to be in.” While Pinterest is a great platform for gathering inspiration, it can be unrealistic –use it as a guide only.

JoAnne recommends open communication about what both bride and groom envision for their special day, discussing what elements they do not want to sacrifice such as the dream dress or photographer. “If couples are unsure of where to start it is always ideal to obtain wedding estimate prices based on destinations and venues to help them narrow down costings.”

Picking a date

Remember: according to liquor licensing laws, no live/outdoor music is allowed on the island on Sundays. That means for a Saturday wedding reception your band or DJ must wrap up by midnight. All ceremonies must take place between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Dressing the part

There aren’t any retailers of traditional wedding dresses on-island. Instead, you’ll need to travel somewhere like the U.S. to purchase your dream gown and bring it back to Cayman, or buy online and have it delivered here. Whichever option works for you, factor the 22 percent duty tax into your wedding budget.

Leave it to the experts?

Enlisting the services of a local wedding planner can help take the pressure off and ensure no aspect is accidentally overlooked. This is naturally a very popular choice for overseas couples heading to Cayman for a destination wedding, but equally many residents welcome the expert guidance.

For more details on marrying in Cayman see www.gov.ky.