Barefoot Cay, a petite little island just off of Roatan, is a little slice of heaven and a unique destination wedding location. A small boutique hotel, just a stone’s throw from coral reef; its an ideal spot for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts with a 5-Star PADI IDC Dive Center on site. But its also for couples who just want to get away from from their busy lifestyle. Barefoot Cay Resort in Roatan is an oasis for those who love the tropics.
I had the pleasure of visiting Barefoot Cay, and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since then. I dream of swaying on a hammock on their palapa covered pier with the tropical breezes and pina colada in my hand. Ahhhh… You will not be disappointed by their warmth and hospitality here either. Gracious staff greet you, feed you and entertain you. A trifeca of perfection.
Let’s get to know them and see how they can help with your destination wedding at Barefoot Cay.
Tell us about yourself, and how Barefoot Cay came to be?
My name is Mel James, I’m the reservations and marketing manager of the resort, I’ve been with the resort for 6 years. I’m a Canadian who’s been on the island for over 15 years, after originally coming here to teach scuba diving. I started working at the resort when a friend recommended me to the owners. The resort was started about 11 years ago by John and Milesse Kennedy, a couple from Seattle, and a friend of theirs, Hal Wyman, as a financial partner. They bought the undeveloped cay and property on the shore with a vision of having a couple rental bungalows and seeing how it would go, and transformed it into a beautiful luxury boutique resort with 11 accommodations. John unfortunately passed away a few years ago, but Milesse still lives on property and works closely with the management team, and Hal remains an owner as well.
How did Barefoot Cay get started doing weddings? Was it a guest request or?
The owners had always been adamant that they’d never do weddings, as they didn’t want to risk making someone’s big day anything less than perfect, so initially, I turned down several wedding requests. Then we had some guests that wanted to get married here anyway, even if they needed to organize things on their own. This happened a couple times, and each time, we ended up getting involved with all the wedding planning and implementation, as there weren’t any wedding planners available. After that, I talked it over with the owners, and we agreed that weddings were a good fit for our beautiful property, and as we pay attention to every detail in all that we do, they’d be sure to be magical. We actually even did a few ‘practice wedding’ days, where we experimented with different ways of decorating and even had some fake brides and grooms so that we could get a few photos to start out (if you see my face on the wedding page, that’s why!). Several years and many weddings later, I can definitely say that each Barefoot wedding has been incredibly beautiful and unique.
What’s your favorite part of being a part of Barefoot Cay Resort?
Building relationships with guests. There are several guests that have returned to the resort multiple times, and we’ve gotten to be friends. Also, being part of a team that all work to a common goal. Our staff really bend over backward to try to give each guest a wonderful vacation experience down to each detail, and it’s very rewarding working with such great individuals! We also love sampling menu changes! Especially loved when our consultant chef added lava cakes to the menu, and we had to make sure they would be a good addition to our desserts.
Why should couples choose the Roatan, and specifically Barefoot Cay Resort, for their wedding?
Roatan is an incredible island- it’s lush and hilly, and surrounded by turquoise Caribbean waters as well as part of the second largest barrier reef system in the world. This beauty above and below the water makes an incredible backdrop for a wedding (I say ‘below the water’ as well, because we’ve even done underwater weddings!). As our resort is a small property and includes a private cay, with a wedding of 26 people, you’ll have the entire resort and island to yourselves and get to exchange vows in a unique and exquisitely beautiful location. Our wedding planner Steph will work with you every step of the way, from corresponding before you come, to helping you get your dress buttoned.
What are the legal requirements for getting married in Roatan? Is the marriage recognized in the States?
The legalities are a little tricky, we recommend that wedding couples do their blessing ceremony here, and do their legal wedding at home. If they’d like to do their legal wedding here as well as the blessing ceremony, the following is the list of requirements:
-a valid passport for each person(or your cedula for Honduran citizens)
-a certified copy of your birth certificate
- blood test- AIDS screening and blood type
-divorce certificate if previously married, and letter attesting to single status that has been prepared by a city official in your town of birth, that has been authenticated by the Honduran Embassy in your country
-two witnesses with valid passports, cannot be relatives (we can help you with this if just the two of you are coming)
-parents names and dates of birth of the bride and groom
-occupations of the bride and groom
All documentation must be translated into Spanish by a translator who signs and seals the translations. Most of this paperwork has to be submitted to the City Hall in Roatan at least 2 weeks before the wedding, so this information can be faxed down for me to submit it (and then they’ll need the originals when you arrive). You’ll receive a certificate after the wedding, which is not the official marriage certificate. The marriage certificate can take several weeks/months to process. Once it’s ready, we’ll get it from the registro and send it to you.
What advice do you have for couples who are just in the beginning stage of thinking about doing their wedding with you?
Look through our photos of past weddings, and ask lots of questions! Don’t be afraid that you’re sending too many emails, I can guarantee you that there’s been another bride who has sent more. We’re happy to answer them, we’d rather that you understand clearly each step of the planning, and if everything gets discussed before you come, then you can just enjoy your time here without having to worry about sorting out any last minute details. Look through magazines, websites, send us photos of things you like. Even if it’s something that you don’t see in our photo collection, we’re happy to do new things! We want to make it the wedding of your dreams, so make sure to share your dreams with us.
How far in advance do you recommend couples start planning for a destination wedding there?
For couples who are planning on booking all of our accommodations, I’d recommend to start planning 8-10 months in advance. For small weddings (12 or less people), 5-6 months is usually plenty of time.
What is your capacity if the couple decides to bring along guests to stay on the island?
Weddings are only available when booking a minimum 3 night stay for the wedding couple and all wedding guests. We have a maximum of 26 guests, based on 2 per each bedroom, though a few more can easily be accommodated, as a few of the bedrooms have two queen size beds, and rollaway beds are also available. If a wedding group books all of our resort accommodations, there are other accommodations at other hotels. The additional guests can come for the wedding festivities. We can accommodate wedding groups of a maximum of 70 people. As our resort is known for its privacy and seclusion, we normally don’t allow day guests, and our dining service is not available to the general public. But when you have booked all of our accommodations, then we are able to make an exception to this, as there wouldn’t be any other guests that might be disturbed.
What’s your favorite location for a wedding on the Cay?
That’s a toss up- a wedding on the beach is beautiful, but I also really love weddings out over the water at the palapa. One wedding couple were split- he wanted to be married with his feet in the sand, and she wanted the palapa, so they compromised. We wheelbarrowed in several loads of sand and made an aisle of sand on the dock, so that he could be married with his feet in the sand, and she could be married at the palapa!
What’s the trickiest part about planning a wedding on the Cay?
The weather. We’re in the tropics, so most days are full of beautiful sunshine, but we do have the occasional tropical downpour, as well as some windy days. As our weddings are always outdoors, this is something that we’re always conscious of. Fortunately we have really great providers that we work with, so we’ve even shifted a wedding day entirely! (rescheduling the pastor, photographer and entertainment)…and we have a large tent that we have used on occasion, in addition to having small weddings in our Lookout Lounge, that has louvers that can modulate the weather.
Do you have any stories from working with a client that you’d like to share?
One of my favourite wedding couples were such a delight to work with, that we decided we’d give them a little surprise by planning a ‘getaway car’, decorating one of our barges with a Just Married sign and flowers to pick them up at the palapa after their vows. It was such a fun way to whisk the wedding couple away to do their photos that we’ve done it for several of our weddings now.
My travel list is broad, but when an opportunity comes up that involves being able to experience something personal in a destination, I go for that. I’ve stayed in Intercontinentals, Ritz Carltons, etc. and while they are luxurious, they are similar the world over. I’m attracted to smaller hotels and resorts where it’s more likely to make personal connections…experience and learn about the area from people who live there. That’s what we had in mind when we created Barefoot Cay!
The world’s a big place, I have lots of spots on my list. I’d love to check out the eastern Caribbean by spending a few months on a catamaran, and Asia is also at the top of my list.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
I can’t pick just one, they all have given me the warm fuzzies inside. It’s a really amazing feeling to help in creating such a significant event for someone!
· Barefoot Cay was AMAZING in this area. Especially Mel. She would be your contact person for all things wedding. She’ll get back to you on email and plan about everything for you. She was wonderful. She planned everything for me- everything. All I had to do was bring my dress and show up for the day.
· Mel and the staff welcomed our friends and family like they were friends and family and by the end, they all were family. Our wedding was not just a day, but a long weekend experience that our friends and family still talk about today.
· My husband and I booked the entire resort for the Exclusively Yours Package. It was the most relaxing vacation/wedding I’ve ever been to. Mel was a great help with all the planning. I sent her pictures with what I wanted and she didn’t disappoint. Everything turned out the way that I imagined. The entire staff seemed to be involved and really invested in making this a relaxing perfect day.
What’s your top tip for couples planning a destination wedding?
Don’t forget that one of the great things about a destination wedding is not having to get caught up in a million little decisions that turn weddings into chores. Cake choices? Chocolate, yellow or strawberry. Flowers? Local tropical blooms. Embrace the simplicity of it, because that’s part of what makes a destination wedding so wonderful!
Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
If you’ve been thinking about a destination wedding, but aren’t sure where to go and are nervous about leaving your big day in the hands of someone else, you can rest assured that we’ll take wonderful care of you, from your first email, to taking you back to the airport to head home as Mr. and Mrs.
Once you come down and experience it, you’ll realize why Barefoot Cay is truly a world apart- “Otro Mundo Aparte”.
Discover Barefoot Cay by visiting their beautiful website to see their property and wedding packages. You’ll just love it!
North America Reservations: 1-866-246-3706
Roatan Reservations: +504-9967-3642
Office/Guest Services: +504-9468-7147