Top U.S. and Canadian Island Weddings

When most Americans think of an island, their first thought is usually the Hawaiian Islands. Certainly Hawaii is a fabulous place to hold your wedding. But, did you know there are wonderful, romantic islands in the Continental United States and Canada that are just as romantic for your wedding and may be a little closer to home? Here are some you might want to consider:

5 Top Romantic Islands for Weddings in the Continental U.S. and Canada

1. Catalina Island – California

Located 26 miles from the coast of Los Angeles, Santa Catalina Island is and always will be “the island of romance.” Although Catalina Island was hit by a wildfire in 2007, the city of Avalon was untouched and is still one of the most romantic spots in Southern California to have your wedding, just the two of you or with friends and family.

Catalina Island abounds with great spots to hold your wedding. If you wish a larger ceremony, you might want to choose some of the more formal venues like the Descanso Beach Club or the Catalina Country Club. If you wish a small, intimate ceremony, you can hire an officiant to perform a wedding at such places as Buena Vista Point on Mt. Ada overlooking the ocean, the beach, or the Wrigley Botanical Gardens. Of course, you will have to get a permit for the public areas.

2. Sanibel Island – Florida

Located off the coast of Southwest Florida and about 30 minutes from Fort Myers, Sanibel Island is world renowned for its white sand shelling beaches, which provides visitors with an abundance of seashells from the Gulf of Mexico. Sanibel Island is a place to get away from the high-rises of other beach tourist communities and just relax.

If you’d like a beach wedding, check out Casa Ybel Resort’s Thistle Lodge, which has been hosting weddings for more than 100 years. You can choose to have your wedding in one of the many resort locations such as a secluded white-sand beach, the lakeside gazebo, or the grand Thistle Lodge. Call them at 866-748-8958 for more information.

3. Mount Desert Island – Maine

What’s so special about Mount Desert Island in Maine? The beaches, the vistas, and Acadia National Park are just a few of the reasons why you should consider Mount Desert Island. Another reason is the number of “Best of” lists which Mount Desert Island finds itself on year after year.

Bar Harbor is the most popular town on the island, with Frenchman Bay being a sought-after spot for many weddings. If you want to get away from the crowds of Bar Harbor, you might want to consider the town of Southwest Harbor, on the island and 20 minutes from Bar Harbor.

You can even have your wedding at Acadia National Park, which also tops many “Best of” lists. You will have to pay a permit application fee of $50, and there are certain restrictions. For more information you can visit the National Park Service site at and find information for Acadia National Park.

4. Cape Breton – Nova Scotia

If you’re located outside Canada or the Northeastern United States, you might not be familiar with Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. But, apparently enough people have visited this beautiful destination to have voted it one of the “Top North American Islands” in the 2006 Reader’s Choice Awards for Conde’ Naste Traveler magazine. In 2006 Travel + Leisure ranked Cape Breton Island as the #1 island in the Continental U.S. and Canada.

If the two of you are into outdoor activities, Cape Breton Island is the place for your wedding and honeymoon. There you will find the world-famous Cabot Trail, considered by some as one of the most beautiful scenic destinations in the world.

For a small wedding of just yourselves or up to 18 guests, check out Castle Moffett, which overlooks the Bras d’Or Lakes. Castle Moffett has earned both Canada select’s Five Star and AAA Four Diamond ratings. Call them toll-free at 888-756-9070 for more information.

5. Vancouver Island – Vancouver

Vancouver Island has also made the Travel + Leisure and Conde’ Naste Traveler’s lists for 2006. Known as “Canada’s Paradise on the Pacific,” Vancouver Island is known for its beauty – year-round blooming gardens, lush rainforests, beaches, rocky shorelines – as well as the “quintessentially-British” city of Victoria, with its high teas, double-decker buses and horse-drawn carriages. A wedding here will certainly give couples a wide range of experiences.

Island Wedding Dresses and Wedding Gowns

A wedding on a tropical island invokes images of sand, surf, and rolling waves. A gentle breeze and shimmering sunshine the bride who awaits her island wedding, in her beautiful island wedding dress.

Island wedding dress fabrics
Island wedding dresses are more an idea or a feeling than style per se. several aspects must be respected for the bride to feel comfortable at the beach during an island wedding. One of these is the trade winds, which are breezy and light. To be capable of using these trade winds in a bride’s favor, fabrics that are light weight are best, such as georgette, linen, charmeuse, gauze, satin, cotton, silk, and chiffon. The advantage to these fabrics is their easy mobility; to limit the amount of sticking or clinging a fabric may have against a bride’s skin, in the hot weather.

This means the bride’s wedding dress will have to be packed, therefore a dress that irons well or less likely to crease is a safe bet. In keeping with an island wedding theme, sarongs, tea length dresses, or short wedding dresses lend themselves really well. A train that is extended is not advisable when the wedding location is outdoors, but a shorter version is acceptable.

Colored Island wedding dress or colored detailing
Tropical island statements are made by colored wedding dresses, as opposed to the more conventional white or ivory, which are still very good color choices for island wedding dresses. Color adds character and island charm is infused into the ceremony, and as such any color can work well with an island setting wedding. For those brides who prefer otherwise, a few details of the wedding details can be in color, such as appliqu├ęs, embroidery, some piping, or sash, can be in color. This finer detailing will hint at color, without overwhelming the senses.

As a tribute to the stunningly beautiful nature of island weddings, quite a number of the well respected designers in the wedding dress industry have entire lines of island wedding dresses. The style of dress can range from spaghetti straps, strapless, and halter necks, to A-line, empire waist, cut out low back, and full skirts.

Island wedding dress accessories
Island wedding dresses have to be paired with the appropriate footwear, as traditional pumps are not practical in sand. As a consequence, sandals, which are elegant and simple, will work well with wedding gowns. One strap sandals are particularly recommended. Flip-flops, adorned with flowers that are hand painted, jewels, or shells are a popular choice of island wedding dress footwear, as are barefoot sandals. These are jewelry that embellishes the top of a bride’s feet, at the same time leave the soles of her feet bare. Adornments may include flowers, rhinestones, and pearls.

Jewelry should be kept simple, as a simple rule. A lone gold chain, pearl earrings, is normally adequate. Fans, be they of straw or white elegant paper, can also adorn an island wedding bride, as well as parasols can. Brides retain a feminine look with parasols draped off the shoulders. A hair ornament will add romance to any island wedding, with a tiara, jeweled comb, or flowers completing the ensemble.

10 Fatal Mistakes When Preparing a Caribbean Island Wedding

1. Not understanding the local geography. When a website says the villa is located near or has access to a beach, that does not mean it is walkable.

2. Not having a local representative that knows the islands customs, nuances and laws. I.e. which beaches have fire ants, which villas allow large parties, is there enough parking at my event site or should I hire taxis for my guests, etc.

3. Thinking the same conveniences enjoyed stateside exist on a tiny island: i.e. 24 hour convenience stores, fast food, wholesale clubs and department stores, parking, door to door mail, garbage or food delivery and pick up etc. People like islands for their tranquility… this also means they are remote and do not have every accommodation available.

4. Bringing your own photographer not educated on our unusual lighting challenges. You’ll waste money on photos that are average when you’re in a top location for some of the best wedding photos you’ve seen.

5. Having your ceremony at sunset. While romantic, unfortunately this produces disappointing picture quality and eliminates all the beautiful Caribbean water shots. Depending on the beach, mosquitoes and no-see-ums can also become a problem.

6. Shipping your wedding dress. Don’t do it. Shipping can take WAY longer than you think. Do NOT believe the post office when they say only a few days or a week. And do not think the packaged box will be treated with care.

7. Believing the post office or other delivery service when they say it will be there the next day, week, month. This is something that is easily assured to get you, an unknowing visitor, satisfied enough to get off the phone. Talk to your planner and learn the best way to insure your items get here before your wedding.

8. Not taking into account that our climate may change the way your personal care products work. i.e. make up, hair spray, etc. Hair gets frizzy or goes flat; hair products get sticky or go hard; deodorant can be useless after 5 minutes… ask about this stuff or read up on the internet before you go and assume it will all be as effective in the hot climate.

9. Hiring a stateside wedding planner. They may know weddings. They will not know Caribbean weddings or island-specific details that will make your experience a smooth one.

10. Getting a facial the day before your wedding. Please do not even think of this. I’ve seen too many brides foolishly indulge in a facial during a luxurious spa day before a wedding, part of her relaxation and enjoyment with friends. Then, RED ALERT! Her face breaks out in a rash, red blotches or starts itching the next morning–the day of her wedding day–due to some ingredient she didn’t realize was included in the exclusive salon products.