Weddings: I had a free ceremony by the ocean in Jamaica – and it saved me £7,000

Nicholas Murphy

The words ‘free’ and ‘wedding’ don’t normally belong in the same sentence, but one bride has explained how she saved thousands of pounds by combining her wedding and she honeymoon in Jamaica – and you can too.

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Hannah and Lewis were one of many couples who were due to wed in 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic derailed their plans. After rearranging their big day twice, they finally exchanged vows in front of 13 guests in an oceanside ceremony at the five-star Sandals, South Coast resort in Jamaica in November 2021.

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The average UK wedding costs around £24,000, but the couple managed to get most aspects of their dream day for free, including their wedding planner, venue, food and decorations. Find out how…

Free Jamaican Marriage


The couple were married in the chapel on the water

You’d think a free destination wedding would be hugely popular with brides, but Hannah stumbled upon it while attending a family party.

“I think we always wanted to get married overseas. And then we found Sandals Resort because my dad got married at Sandals, Royal Bahamian in 2018.

“My husband and I flew in to surprise him and his current wife for their wedding. I think that’s what just sold it to us. It was actually kind of funny because we were walking from their wedding at the location where they were having their reception, we walked past the wedding office and their photographer was obviously with them.

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“I said to them, ‘Is this just one of your stock photos?’ And he was like, ‘No, this is our chapel on the water in Jamaica.’ We looked at each other and were like, ‘Sold!'” the bride explained.

couple dance

Hannah and Lewis chose to have their wedding reception in the private gardens

Hannah and Lewis got engaged in October 2018 and originally booked their wedding for November 2020. They eventually married the following year with the help of travel consultant Kelly Smith, who booked the Serenity Wedding Chapel at Sandals South Coast they had seen during their Bahamas. travel!

The couple opted to move their planned evening reception from the beach to the gardens which offered their guests shade while they dined – not to mention a nice backdrop for their photos.

“Being on the beach, you’re completely exposed to that heat and it’s so hot,” Hannah said. “While in the private garden, we had these two big trees that gave us a fairly large cover so people were more comfortable afterwards. And there was like a little grassy area that we informally called the track of dance.”

They were assigned a wedding planner, Talia, who helped plan (and rearrange) their wedding and fine-tune the details for a stress-free day. After communicating by phone and email from the UK, they met her on their first day in Jamaica and she showed them around for the ceremony and reception. She also organized cake tastings, welcome bags for guests, hair appointments and more.

“I couldn’t believe you only had to stay three nights for the wedding to be free. I was shocked. These are the things you get included in the free wedding – it must cost them a fortune to do it for people because obviously you get your flowers, your cake, your ceremony,” she said.

The £7,000 money saving

This brings us to the question of money. According to Sandals, couples simply need to book a three-night all-inclusive vacation to be eligible for marriage. So how much did Hannah save? “Oh my God, thousands,” she laughs.

wedding cake

The wedding package includes a cake of your choice

“We actually liked a split stay, so we spent our first week in one room. And then we changed rooms the day after the wedding to a slightly different room because we thought we could consider it our honeymoon. .

“I think it’s around £14,000-£15,000. But we flew business class so we upgraded a few things. Obviously we knew we were saving so much money compared to the wedding here. Plus we were getting like two weeks of full sun.”

She went on to explain that their original budget was around £20,000, so they saved at least £7,000 with their destination wedding. And that includes any extras they’ve chosen following booking extra accommodation for their guests – like a game night in a private space that she described as “so much fun”.

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Her budget also included everything the couple bought outside of the Sandals vacation package, like her wedding dress.

For those on a budget, Hannah said: “You could have chosen a lot cheaper. When my dad was away for two weeks in the Bahamas I think it was around £1,000.”

Anniversary benefits


Sandals South Coast in Jamaica


If you didn’t already need an excuse to return to the white sand beaches and clear waters of the Caribbean, Hannah revealed that you get perks for booking another stay around your birthday.

“We had such a good experience at Sandals that we booked for our first anniversary this year,” she told us. As long as you get closer to your wedding date, you end up getting a free night.” Good deal!

Hannah explained that this applies not only to the Sandals resort where you chose to get married, but to all other locations as well. “We got married on the south coast and we’re going to Barbados this year and my dad got married in the Bahamas and they’re going to St. Lucia,” she added.

How can other couples get a free destination wedding?

It turns out that a destination wedding with Sandals Resorts might actually turn out to be cheaper than a wedding in the UK!

Couples simply need to book an all-inclusive stay of three nights or more to take advantage of the wedding package, which features: professional wedding planners; a wedding ceremony with a bouquet for the bride and a buttonhole for the groom; a wedding reception including cake, cocktail and hors d’oeuvres; a romantic turndown service; and a honeymoon dinner on one night.

If you book additional accommodation for your guests, you can also choose a table d’amis, an additional sangria bar for the wedding reception and a rum and games evening.

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