Some of the best wedding planning inspiration comes from real life weddings. I have had the pleasure of planning my own destination wedding here on St. Croix. While I am a resident of St. Croix, most of our guests, 70 out of 80 to be exact, came from off island. It was a St. Croix destination wedding for everyone, except the bride and groom. I’d like to share a little about my St. Croix wedding with you, all the way from the proposal.
After a wonderful day of hiking and exploring, CJ took me for a romantic walk down the Frederiksted Pier at sunset. It was the very same place where he had first set foot on St. Croix, one year prior, and fell in love with the island. During that sunset stroll, the man who had taken me on this crazy adventure to St. Croix got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.
After eight months of living on St. Croix, CJ and I were engaged to be married. It didn’t take long to decide that we wanted to have the wedding on St. Croix as well, so that we could share our fabulous island home with our friends and family. From the start, we knew we wanted a laid back, toes-in-the-sand kind of wedding. Not too serious, beach casual and fun. We wanted our friends and family to see why we love St. Croix. So we set out to plan a long wedding weekend to give our guests a taste of island life.We opted to hire a wedding planner to help us through the process and I must say it was such a great help. Having a wedding planner to consult with and who already had connections with local vendors made researching and planning a whole lot easier. During the planning stages, our wedding planner was an invaluable resource not only for suggesting vendors but for keeping our planning focused and making sure we hadn’t forgotten anything. When the week of the wedding arrived, all I had to do was make sure the wedding planner had all of our vendor information and contracts and it was her job to make sure everything happened on time and as planned. It was such a huge relief to know that everything was being taken care of, the decorations were being set, the deliveries were scheduled and on time and all I had to worry about was enjoying my day.
The Week Of
Guests began arriving on Monday the week of our wedding. Tuesday night, we invited close family, the wedding party, and a few island friends over for a cook-out. We threw some burgers and dogs on the grill and I put everyone to work. I had fifty welcome bags that needed to be assembled, so I let everyone help! Our welcome bags included a map, some island information and brochures, drink cozies, snacks, mini rum nips and mixers. By Wednesday, the majority of guests had arrived and they were eager to explore. We had an impromptu mid-day excursion with about 30 of our guests who were looking for something to do. We headed to La Reine Chicken Shack for their island specialty, rotisserie chicken and johnny cakes. After filling up, we moved on to the Cruzan Rum Distillery to take their factory tour. The inexpensive ($5) tour leads you through the actual rum making process as it’s happening and finishes off with free samples! For having been thrown together at the last minute, it was one of the big hits of the week.
The Welcome Dinner
After the rehearsal, CJ’s parents hosted a Welcome Dinner for all the guests at Cheeseburgers in America’s Paradise. Guests were provided “Hi-My-Name-Is” name tags when they arrived and were encouraged to write how they knew the bride or groom along with their name. There were also trivia cards for guests to complete together, one with trivia about St. Croix and the other about Sam & CJ. The welcome dinner was the perfect opportunity to introduce everyone – the wedding party and family members – and for all of our guests to gather in a fun, casual setting and share a meal. The casual, family-style, picnic table atmosphere was perfect for mingling and getting acquainted, but it also gave CJ and I a chance to connect with everyone that had traveled to see us.
Both the ceremony and reception were held at The Palms at Pelican Cove. CJ and I instantly loved everything about the resort the first time we visited. The location was ideal , situated on the North Shore, just minutes from Christiansted. Also ideal were the neighboring accommodations. While some guests stayed at The Palms, it’s neighboring properties are the Hibiscus Beach Resort and a condo community that offers vacation rentals. This gave our guests a range of options for their accommodations. What we loved about The Palms was the layout. The beautiful palm tree grove for the ceremony was only steps from the restaurant. The buffet dinner was held inside the main open-air dining room and dancing was outside under the stars. The staff at The Palms was easy to work with, responsive, eager to please and willing to accommodate our every request.
As guests arrived on the beach for the ceremony, they were encouraged to kick off their shoes, dig their toes into the sand, and help themselves to some lemonade or ice water. The aisle was decorated with palm fronds and flowers. The ceremony began at 5 pm and the palm grove was wonderfully shady. Our officiant was Captain Steve from Big Beard’s Adventure Tours (an ordained minister and friend of ours). He gladly let us customize our ceremony and write our own vows. One of CJ’s brothers/groomsmen played acoustic guitar for our ceremony music. We chose yellow calla lilies for the bouquets and boutonnieres. My dad walked me down the aisle, cracking jokes the whole way. CJ and I exchanged vows and rings, I kissed my groom and we walked down the aisle together as Mr. & Mrs. to “Here Comes the Sun.”
A cocktail hour kicked off the festivities with libations and hors d’oeuvres. We chose to offer a limited bar serving rum punch, a red and a white wine and two types of beers; Sam Adams Lagar (where we came from) and Virgin Islands Ale (where we landed). The hors d’oeuvres served were coconut shrimp, bacon wrapped scallops, goat cheese & caramelized onion crustini, and fruit skewers with yogurt dip. After cocktail hour, we were seated for dinner. One of my bridesmaids, one of CJ’s groomsmen, and my father gave beautiful and heartfelt toasts. Dinner was served buffet style offering tasty dishes with island flare. The dinner was topped off with the cutting of the cake, a simple white cake with mango filling decorated with palm trees and fresh flowers.
After dinner, we surprised our guests with a Mocko Jumbie performance. Even my parents didn’t know about it! This was perfect for getting everyone out of their seats, onto the dance floor, and ready to party. The dance floor was strung with twinkle lights and paper lanterns to light the dance floor. The night flew by filled with dancing, laughter, congratulations, newly wed kisses and joy. It’s still all a blur in my mind. CJ ended up in the pool thanks to his friends and brothers – followed by the bridesmaids who just wanted to go for a dip.
The Boat Charter
The day after the wedding, we chartered one of Big Beard’s boats, The Adventure, to take us and our guests to Buck Island for a 1/2 day trip. We took the afternoon trip to give ourselves and our guests a chance to sleep in after a late night of celebrating. Guests were encouraged to bring snacks and refreshments for the trip. Snorkel gear and instruction were provided by the crew. Captain Steve, the same one who’d married us the night before, was also our fearless boat captain. We stopped at the gorgeous Turtle Beach to put our toes in the soft white sand and then snorkeled the famous underwater snorkeling trail inside the reef. What a relaxing way to spend the day with our friends and family. We got to show everyone why we moved to St. Croix.
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect wedding week. It was exactly what we had wanted; laid-back, surrounded by the people we care about, sharing the beauty of St. Croix. Our friends and family are still talking about our St. Croix destination wedding.
– Mrs. Sam Jensen