Ideal location: Michael Onions and Catherine Hughes, a couple from the UK who worked for British Airways, are seen here with the bridal party and guests enjoying their day at Fort St Catherine. *Photo supplied
Ideal location: Michael Onions and Catherine Hughes, a couple from the UK who worked for British Airways, are seen here with the bridal party and guests enjoying their day at Fort St Catherine. *Photo supplied
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Pink sand, blue skies and aquamarine water, it’s no wonder that so many people want to get married on a Bermuda beach.

Bermuda is renowned for its natural beauty, and the purity of its crystal clear shoreline makes a stunning backdrop for wedding photographs.

There are several beach locations to choose from for civil weddings, but if you prefer a more formal setting, there are also historic forts and the Botanical Gardens.

The cost of getting married in paradise is more reasonable than you would expect — the Wedding Fee for a Special Event Permit is just $25, available from the Department of Parks.

If you are expecting 50 or more people at your wedding, you must also pay a deposit — refundable if you leave the site as you found it.

The deposits cost: $100 for 51-100 people; $150 for 101-150; $200 for 151-200; and $500 for more than 200 people.

Over the years beach weddings have become increasingly popular among local residents and tourists. The Department of Parks currently accommodates up to 70 a year.

Craig Burt, Parks Officer, said: “When I first started out in the Department of Parks in 1985, weddings weren’t a big thing, so I’ve seen a lot of changes in parks use over the years.

“More and more tourists are getting married on our beaches and it is also becoming more popular among island residents.

“City dwellers in particular really appreciate the crystal-clear waters of the island as a setting. Getting married on a beach just makes the day special.

“Getting married in a park, such as in Astwood Park, is also becoming more popular.

“This also means the competition for a particular site heats up on certain days. But it is feasible to have two, even three, weddings a day in some places, such as one in the morning, one early afternoon and one in late afternoon.

“We look at the schedule and see if we can spread it out.”

He added: “Sometimes we’ve had people on a cruise ship who have decided to get married on a beach rather than on the ship, and so we’ve had companies scrambling to get the wedding venue.

“We can accommodate at short notice but we do advise anyone planning a wedding to book as soon as possible, whether it is months or a year in advance.”

Locations available

The beach venues for a civil wedding are:

West Whale Bay; Horseshoe Bay; Chaplin Bay; Stonehole Bay; Jobson’s Cove; Warwick Long Bay; Elbow Beach and John Smith’s Bay.

Historic locations include: Fort Scaur and Fort St Catherine.

Park locations include Astwood Park and the Botanical Gardens (there is a gazebo in the Formal Garden).

Mr Burt said: “For those who don’t want a beach wedding but want a park scene instead, we have our formal gardens in bloom in the Botanical Gardens.

“Fort Scaur and Fort St Catherine are also popular venues and have ocean backdrops.

“We in the Parks Department work with industry partners to make the day go as smoothly as possible.

“Some overseas visitors bring up to 45 people — sometimes more — to Bermuda, so it also helps tourism and the economy.”

Special Event Permits must be issued a minimum five days in advance, and are available on a first come, first served basis.

Regulations:

• Beach bonfires are allowed, but only on a metal surface — open fires on the sand are not permitted. Bonfires are also not permitted at John Smith’s Bay Park.

• All trash must be disposed of responsibly.

• All barbecuing must be done with metal barbecue equipment.

Coals and ashes must be extinguished and disposed of before leaving the site.

Do not bury hot coals in the sand or throw them into the ocean.

• No generators or live music bands are allowed, and retail of alcohol or other items is prohibited

• Park Rangers inspect the site the next day to ensure the area is left in compliance with the Special Event Permit terms and conditions.

If conditions are adhered to, the Accountant General will send you a cheque to refund your deposit.