Destination Weddings in ArubaWords by Sarah Padilla
Some say if you’ve been to one island, you’ve been to them all. But those who have been to Aruba beg to differ.
So, what is it that sets this tiny country apart from the hundreds of islands surrounding it? Is this the best possible place for you and your betrothed to have a once in a lifetime destination wedding?
For some, it’s the weather. Aruba lies outside the hurricane belt and gets little rain. Beyond the white-sand beaches lies a desert landscape equally peppered with cacti and windswept Divi-divi trees.
For others, it’s the size. At only about 20 miles long and six miles wide, it’s easy to get to the resorts, the airport and the island’s other major attractions.
And yet for others, it’s the people. Aruba is part of the Dutch Caribbean, yet it also has strong Spanish, South American and African influences. Its people are known for being warm and welcoming, both to tourists and to the blend of cultures that have settled here over the years. In fact, until recently, many locals would print their wedding invitation in the newspaper – essentially inviting the entire island.
For Cindy and Josh Hoffman, it was a combination of all of the above that led them to wed on the island in April 2007.
“We’d been throughout the Caribbean, but Aruba is by far our favorite, mostly because of the friendly people,” says Cindy. “And it was the perfect place for a destination wedding because the island is so small that our guests could stay anywhere and it wouldn’t be a problem.”
To make it official, the Maryland couple chose to tie the knot in the beautiful, historic courthouse in downtown Oranjestad – one of the requirements of a 2002 law allowing non-residents to legally marry in Aruba.
The newlyweds and their 20 guests then held a “formal beach” celebration at the Bucuti Beach Resort, a boutique property along pristine Eagle Beach. In addition to the resort’s lush grounds, picturesque beaches and newly-built oceanfront Tara Beach Suites, Cindy and Josh were drawn to the resort’s staff and their willingness to make every aspect of the intimate event perfect.
Up the coast from the Bucuti Beach Resort, smaller hotels give way to a series of sprawling high-rise resorts along Palm Beach, all offering a broad range of wedding packages. Inland, the Tierra del Sol Resort and Country Club is a picture-perfect golf resort community featuring vacation rental homes and facilities that can accommodate more than 500.
Another unique venue for a bridal event is The Flying Fishbone, a charming, off-the-beaten-path restaurant where servers go barefoot and guests can enjoy the sunset or a candlelit meal while the water literally laps at their toes.
While the typical destination wedding is a smaller affair, that doesn’t mean it has to be any less fun. Cindy and Josh lounged on the beach, parasailed and rode wave runners. They also spent a day with their guests snorkeling and riding the water slide at De Palm Tours’ private island.
Consider a driving tour to get the lay of the land. Family-owned EL Tours offers an insider’s look at Aruba’s most popular tourist destinations. Diving enthusiasts should check out Red Sail Sports; they also offer a range of water excursions and romantic sunset sails that can be booked for private parties.
Aruban sunsets, by the way, are another of the island’s claims to fame. Vibrant, colorful and warm, they are a reflection of Aruba’s people – and both keep ‘em coming back for more.
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