Oh to go home again!  3 weeks, 2 days, 18 hours until touchdown at STT.  For those of you in the know, STT is St. Thomas, USVI and it’s the first square in a quick hopscotch game known personally by me as “Take Me To Heaven”, a place more universally known as St. John, USVI. 

Heaven. 

Seriously!

It’s been a few years since I last photographed my toes on the beach there (I always photograph my toes on the beach in the Caribbean, a tremendous Zen exercise performed on around 11 islands so far – plop butt in sand, point toes heavenward, aim, focus, shoot – the results to be contemplated a substantial number of times thereafter – pure Zen!).  I have my toes on the beaches in St. Kitts, Nevis, St. Martin and St. Maarten (I know, same island – but different nations so it counts), St. Croix, Grand Cayman, Turks & Caicos, Isla Mujeres, Anguilla, a pocketfull of Bahamian islands, and I’d have to dig into the picture pile to remember all the rest, but you catch my drift.

St. John is special, though.  About 75% of the island is national park.  Some Rockefeller thunked it up.  And you don’t necessarily have to be a Rockefeller to go there, either.  You just have to know some tricks. Read on!

We rent a house, we visit two beaches a day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon.  We love Starfish Market.  I know, it’s weird to love a grocery store, but this one you’ve gotta see.  The first time I happened upon it was during the prelude to a Category 2 Hurricane, after having missed the last ferry to the mainland. 

“Please give us your full legal names, your social security numbers, your emergency contacts and make a trip to the grocery store – it’s gonna be a long, hungry wait for the next ferry, ma’am, maybe as much as two weeks, and it may not be a ferry – it might be a barge to Puerto Rico – just depends on if this one is as bad as Marilyn was…”  (It wasn’t, thank you jesus)

Getting Married on St. John is quite the popular idea, and I’ve actually witnessed a few weddings on the beach there.  Highest profile wedding to date was Renee Zellweger’s wedding to that country singer.  He has a beautiful, beautiful home on Peter Bay (the high-rent district in Heaven) and I’m pretty sure that house and that location had a great deal to do with her decision to marry him – because once they left the island, things went south very quickly, now didn’t they?

Yep, there’s magic on St. John.  If you want to get married there, and you have a pretty good budget and a bunch of friends willing to make the trip to witness the occasion, you could consider renting a house like Great Expectations.  It has lots of rooms, lots of space, and is centrally located.  There are plenty of caterers and wedding planners ready to help you with your big day, and of course I have the best favors for a beach wedding known to mankind!

Hey!  They’re already traveling, so send them home in style with a practical little memory from your beach wedding adventure – flip flop luggage tags! 

If you have a bunch of willing friends and family and an unlimited budget – Caneel Bay is your place!  Another Rockefeller idea, and a cash drain for sure – but lovely.

One of the beaches at Caneel Bay

The Westin is your only other resort option and, from what I’ve seen over the years, Westin tries its best to rival Caneel for “most expensive place to stay on St. John”, but keeps the room rates 2 or 3 bucks below Caneel because, well:

          1.  They’re basically the second and only other hotel on St. John and

          2. They’re basically the second and only other hotel on St. John and they want to remain competitive.

Gallows Point at Cruz Bay has a little gazebo overlooking the point where the boats dock on that side of the island, and it’s gorgeous.  A little decoration, an officiant, some guests, one bride, one groom and it’s Wedding On!  They have a restaurant on-site, so see?  Easy reception!

I watched one once at around 6pm on Cinnamon Bay Beach – bride in sleek satin gown, groom Tux top and shorts, both barefoot – small group of family and friends, one officient, tropical flower bouquet and as the sun began to set, a new marriage was confirmed.  They all filtered back to the camp ground area where a caterer had set out a sumptuous feast on the picnic tables (now covered in white linen).  Calypso and Bob (that would be Marley, btw), played on the sound system, and the dancing on the beach lasted way into the night, lit by moonlight and tiki torches.

The view from Cinnamon Bay (sigh)

More simple means – you might consider one of the eco-resorts on St. John – beautiful locations, and one has a restaurant on site which, I’m sure, would be happy to handle your wedding feast!: 

Here are my favorite spots for wedding planning on St. John:

House rental:  Caribbean Villas (nice, professional, proactive, helpful, there aren’t enough adjectives – use these folks!)  www.caribbeanvilla.com

Gallows Point:  Beautiful location, condos, pool, restaurant, perfect wedding spot (and safe, too – we spent a hurricane there, once). http://www.gallowspointresort.com/

Food for your wedding feast?  http://www.katilady.com/

Favors: 

oneGift each guest with a disposable camera and a beach-themed wedding album.  For that extra “Oh!”, hand write a quick thank you note from you and your fiance, and make that the “title” page of the album.  Second page – engagement photo – then let the guests capture the rest of the album with their own disposable camera!  Thoughtful, thoughtful, thoughtful! (click the pic for more info on the favors)

 Wedding Help?   http://www.stjohntraveler.com/weddings/

Cruz Bay Webcam link:  http://www.stjohnspice.com/stjohnspicecam.htm (by the way, these people sell a WHALE of a good grill rub – get some for sure – great souvenier!)

Celebrating Weddings in the Caribbean – specifically St. John, today (and, if I may – my upcoming vacation – wah hoo!).

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!

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