Top 3 ways to incorporate Haiti into your wedding.

We get alot of requests from brides that aren’t necessarily getting married in Haiti but they are maybe marrying Haitian’s or are of Haitian descent and want to incorporate Haiti into their wedding. So today we are giving you 3 ways to bring a little bit of Haiti into your wedding!

1. Dancing down the Aisle

A huge tradition in Haiti weddings is the dancing down the aisle of the wedding party. Often it is just a little step in unison with a small arm movement, think ballerina like. And then other times it is a legit choreographed dance. Either way, it is a really fun way to add something from Haiti to your wedding instead of just having the attendants walk down the aisle.
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Photo credit: Sarah Blesener

2. Manje

Another way to incorporate Haiti into your wedding is by food and drink! From all out Kreyol food (manje) of rice and beans, griot, sauce, pikliz, salad, and more to a more subtle inclusion of appetizers like acra or a jus anana or jus sitwon (pineapple or lime juice)- any wedding can have a little Haitian fare included into it! Check out our food post here for more info!

3. Buying local wares

If you have a way of getting some wares in Haiti, do so! This is an amazing way to have Haiti beautifully represented in your wedding! You can find beautiful iron work, sculptures, art, baskets, etc that would be gorgeous as part of your decor. If you can’t get to Haiti to buy, check out Market Haiti to buy some! Check out this beautiful chandelier centerpiece designed with carved wooden balls being sold by a local vendor in Haiti on the beach in Jacmel!
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Photo credit: Shannon Kelley

A Haitian Catholic Wedding

This beautiful Haitian Catholic wedding was held in Les Cayes, Haiti at a local Catholic church. Catholic weddings are very similar in tradition to other weddings in Haiti with the bridesmaids dancing down the aisle and the bride and groom seated in the front for most of the service. The wedding certificate was also signed during the ceremony like other Haitian weddings. However, a few things to note of difference.

One was that before the ceremony while the bride and groom arrived in their separate cars a clergy of the church walked around each car and down the aisle to where they would say their vows with incense. Then the actual service lasted around 2 hours, following form of Catholic services with responses and prayer, and was complete with communion. The bride and groom served each other their first communion as man and wife.

Haitian Catholic weddings carry the tradition of Haitian weddings with another level of tradition passed down in the church. It was an honor to be there and feature this wedding!
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photography: Shannon Kelley

Bride Blogger Kara: How to ease the stresses of wedding planning in Haiti

Men anpil chaj pa lou: How to ease the stresses of wedding planning in Haiti

Hey there fellow brides, brides-to-be and wedding enthusiasts! Please excuse my…hiatus from blogging. I’ve been wracking my brain for things to share and, seeing as I’m actually engaged now (aaah!) and actively planning our wedding – not just pinning dresses and flowers to my secret Pinterest boards and tucking away information in a special file on my computer – I hope to have more practical advice to share with you in my coming posts. Without further adieu, I wanted to share two keys to successful wedding planning in Haiti in particular.

No matter where you are, research and referrals are integral to the wedding planning process. In Haiti, I’d argue that it’s what you’ll spend the bulk your energy on. Research can be more labor-intensive and referrals are indispensable because there’s not a wealth of information floating around the internet about resources within the country. Mosey on over to The Knot, Brides.com or any other go-to bridal site and do a little search for Haiti. Seriously. I can wait. Oh, you’re finished already? Riiight. That’s why this website – soon to be magazine – will be invaluable to the planning process for future Haiti brides.

Key #1: Research. Depending on what you’re looking for, the research part may not be the worst of it. Hotels are becoming increasingly easier to find with quite a few listed on Trip Advisor and with the new Bradt Guide devoted entirely to Haiti, there’s additional commentary on price points and amenities. Another web site that can be helpful is Manman Pemba (they actually have an app now). Once you get into rentals, linens, music, hair and makeup, florals, stationers and other elements it will get a bit tougher (and by tough I mean anything from having to drive around just looking for stuff to having to flex your DIY muscles or order online because there’s just not much to offer in that area yet). Have no fear though, it’s absolutely possible.

Key #2: Referrals. They pick up where research can leave you frustrated. They are indispensible. Really. There are hundreds (don’t quote me on that but it’s a lot) of beautiful weddings of different budgets and styles in Haiti every year, so it’s been done and is being done. It’s easy to feel like you’re alone in your planning pursuits but trust me, you’re not. Ask around; friends, family, restaurant and hotel managers can offer information that could be a great springboard into finding a variety of vendors and services. Don’t be shy.

From my experience, most who marry in Haiti are Haitians coming home for their special day or people who are already living in-country, the process can be made easier by having actual feet on the ground, knowledge of the language(s) and family and “friendors” who can help with planning and execution. If you’re an adventurous bride who’s coming to Haiti for something unique either sight unseen or without friends, family or other contacts on the ground the selection of a venue with experience in wedding execution or hiring a wedding planner (wink, wink, more on that another time) will be incredibly important.

Now that I’ve drummed up all of your anxiety (though really, I hope I haven’t), relax. Weddings can be as stressful – or not – as you allow them to be, and there has never been a wedding where everything was executed exactly as planned (gasp, right? but that’s life). If you accept ahead of time that there may be some snafus, your planning experience and the days leading up to your wedding will be much more relaxed – regardless of where you’re getting married. You plan the best you can and at the end of the day you’ll have an amazing wedding and marry the love of your life; the best of both worlds, no? Haiti is a beautiful country that’s full of its own quirks and surprises that make it special. Embrace them as you plan, allow Haiti some room to be who she is and you’ll have a memorable day. After all, you did choose Haiti for a reason, right?
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Kara & Frantz 700x660Kara is a bride blogger for Haiti Weddings and currently planning her 2014 Haiti Wedding! She shares with us all the fun ins and outs of planning a wedding in Haiti! If you have questions for her, leave her a comment here.

See her other posts here:

Misyon: Renmen Ayiti

 

 

 

Haiti Engagement Session

This gorgeous couple got engaged in Haiti where the groom to be currently lives.  They were engaged at the La Palace Restaurant in Tabarre and also did some engagement pictures at Sugar Cane Park (Parc Canne a Sucre) also in Tabarre, Haiti.  We wish them the best of luck in their wedding planning!

rachelleblog1 rachelleblog2Photographer: Shannon Kelley | Venue: Sugar Cane Park and La Palace Restaurant in Tabarre, Haiti

 

City Feature: Les Cayes

married in les cayes

Les Cayes is one of the larger cities on the southern arm of Haiti in the Sud department.  Locally you will hear it referred to as Aux Cayes or Cayes (pronounced oh ky…as in the first sound of “kite”).  It is a seaport town with a 2008 estimate of 70,000 people.

les cayes map

Getting there:

Les Cayes is about 3-4 hours driving time from Port au Prince. There are several ways to get to Les Cayes.

by bus:  Our favorite (and a great option for guests!) is Capitol Coachline, http://capitalcoachline.com/.  This is a new luxury coach line that goes to Cayes twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon.  See their website for details and purchasing tickets.  There are also public buses you can take from Port de Leogane in Port au Prince but not nearly as nice and on schedule-one that we have used and had a good experience with is Transport Chic.  Transport Chic’s office to buy tickets in Port au Prince is face to face of the stadium downtown (+50937412489 / +50937450820 /+50938343063 / +50936302576 / +50931075423)

by airplane:  At the moment, no regular flights fly into Les Cayes but there is the option to charter a plane in, which is an option.  Contact Sunrise Airlines (http://www.sunriseairways.net/) for quotes.

by car:  If you have a personal car, head south out of Port au Prince.  If you need a car, Avis (http://www.avishaiti.com/new/) is a popular choice.

Close by:

Les Cayes has lots of places nearby to explore as day trips for your guests or even look into for your wedding!
Ile a vache, Camp Perrin, Saut Matherine, Port Salut, Aquin, Gelee Beach

History:

The ancient town of Les Cayes has a rich history. It was founded in 1786. Simon Boliver, a man who is considered as a South American liberator, came to Les Cayes in the early 1800’s to accept the troops he was offered by Haiti to help him fight against the Spanish colonial rule. During the colonial times indisposition and pirates were the most commonly encountered difficulties.

The ancient town of Les Cayes has a rich history. It was founded in 1786. Simon Boliver, a man who is considered as a South American liberator, came to Les Cayes in the early 1800’s to accept the troops he was offered by Haiti to help him fight against the Spanish colonial rule. During the colonial times indisposition and pirates were the most commonly encountered difficulties.

Natural disasters have some affection for this town. Fast and forceful hurricanes have destroyed Les Cayes at least twice: in 1781, 1788 and most recently in 1954. A blazing fire released its anger on the town in 1908, thereby destroying a great portion of the small town. History has it that a lot of blood was shed in Les Cayes during the 1929 massacre.  US seagoing soldiers killed a horde of  poor agricultural laborers who were protesting against poor economic times under the US tenure in cold blood.

The creation of a paved highway, the National Route 2, has connected the sea port of Les Cayes to Port-au-Prince. The city is served by only one airstrip, the Antoine-Simon Airport. This airport is named after one of the Haitian presidents.

Les Cayes is known as the world’s largest supplier of vetiver, it exports 250 tons annually of this ingredient of perfume and fragrance manufacturing.

Places to get married or have your reception:

La Cayenne (http://www.lacayennehotel.com/): La Cayenne is a local hotel with a pool.  The best part that we love isn’t just the hotel but the gardens where weddings are held! It is a great place that has so much potential and it’s affordable! If you are looking for a place that isn’t too fancy, is affordable, gives you lots to work with in terms of doing creative things: this is your place.  They have the option just to rent out the location or you can include food.
Botanical Gardens (http://www.haitigarden.org/index_.php):  While we aren’t sure if they will even allow weddings here, we really hope so:) Manicured lawns and gorgeous foliage would make a stunning backdrop for a wedding.  It is a gorgeous place and the best thing to do would be to contact them to inquire if it would be possible.
Gelee Beach:  This is Haiti’s oldest and longest beach.  This is a public beach so you risk the loss of privacy as I’m sure a wedding on the beach would gather onlookers but it’s a great option for a small, intimate ceremony followed by some great food with the vendors that I’m sure you could arrange catering with.
Le Manguier (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hotel-Le-Manguier/55281960817): This is a local hotel that offers weddings inside as well as catering.  It is a great alternative if you are looking for an inside wedding or reception.
Ocean Breeze (https://www.facebook.com/pages/OCEAN-Breeze/353829551381244):  This is a location near Gelee Beach that is made just for weddings and events.  It offers an easy way to have your wedding as they have most of items that you would need and do most of the work for you there.  However, you lose individuality and the feeling of Haiti as it is a walled in property next to a hotel with very little other than the gazebos and place to get married or have your reception.  However, it is convenient, easy, and a favorite for local Haitian’s that favor very traditional norms for a wedding.
The Cathedral Downtown:  This is a gorgeous Cathedral in downtown Les Cayes.  And although we don’t have the contact info on how to arrange to get married there, we felt compelled to share it.  It would be a place for the ceremony only but it is gorgeous and historical.  The best bet if you were interested in this would be to have someone local go visit and inquire.

OUR TOP PICKS:

For a simple wedding: Gelee Beach

For a creative wedding:  La Cayenne

For a traditional wedding: Ocean Breeze

For an inside wedding: Le Manguier

Haiti Weddings Local Vendors in Les Cayes:

Shannon Kelley (photography and wedding planning)

Congrats to the first son of Haiti and his new wife!

Woke up to an exciting announcement! The Sentinel in Haiti announced today:

IMG_1825“PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (sentinel.ht) – The National Palace on Saturday said it was pleased to inform the public of the wedding of the eldest son of the Presidential Couple. Michel-Olivier Martelly and Miss Bianka Joseph.

In a brief statement the Palace Communications Office said “the wedding ceremony was held at the Church of St. Pierre de Petion-Ville, this Saturday, October 12, 2013″ and that on behalf of the National Palace of the Republic of Haiti “wishes” were made to the new union.”

We here at Haiti Weddings are so excited for the new union and wish the couple years of crazy love!

 

 

Haitian Wedding Designer: Charles Corvsky Dieujuste

We ran across Charles Corvsky Dieujuste on Pinterest and fell in love with his story. Hailing from Haiti, he currently calls the US home and is making a huge impact in fashion design as he uses his cultural heritage to inspire him. He even has some amazing wedding dresses in his fall 2013 collection!

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From his bio on his website:

Dieujuste’s interest in fashion sparked at the early age of 9 where he was surrounded by a mother who was familiar with textiles and an aunt, a seamstress. Dieujuste took the opportunity to familiarize himself in pattern making and sewing techniques during his frequent visits to his aunt’s showroom. It was through this exposure that he was able to teach himself the skills needed to begin his journey.

Real Wedding: Phyllis and Steve

Today we are delighted to bring you a beautiful real wedding from Haiti.  Phyllis and Steve got married in Cap Haitian with yellow accents! Hear from Phyllis about their day with lots of tips too!

phyllisrealwedding

Steve and I got married in Cap-Haitien, a city so dear to my heart. I grew in Cap-Haitien and moved to the US when I was 15, & Steve grew up in Port-Au-Prince & moved to the States when he was 13. Growing up, I always fantasized about being married in Cap; it is small & intimate & it holds so many sweet memories from my childhood that I will cherish forever. When I got engaged & started planning the wedding, Steve absolutely had no problems with the wedding being held in Cap because he wanted to make this wedding as unforgettable as possible for the both of us!

The tasks of the wedding planning were divided to each family member that wanted to participate fully; my mom was responsible for the food and cake. my dad took on transportation, music/dj, purchasing food items and drinks, invitation cards, videographer, church program. My aunt and uncle paid for the venue, pitched in for more food items, bridesmaid dresses & other expenses. Steve & I juggled everything else in between: flowers and decor, photographer, and looking over everything else being planned around us. As you can already imagine, this wedding was truly a huge team effort.

Some tips:

Although we can never thank enough family and friends who helped us so much with making this wedding what it was, from our experience we would so recommend future brides getting married in Haiti to just have a budget, pick a location, make sure they cater & can provide some sort of decor planning so all you’ll be responsible for are to send out your invitations, plan and the church ceremony, & bring in a photographer etc.
The plan was to bring all of our non-perishable items from the US by Always Cargo services (718.415.8366) who came to pick everything up at your house and delivers to Cap at your desired location in a month; well that did not happen. They delivered 3 days late from the expected date which caused huge panic and chaos for having to repurchase so many things we already had. My advice on that would be to send them at least a month or 2 prior to your wedding date so everything can be there, waiting for the big day.

Details of the Day:

-Venue: We got married at Hotel Roi-Henri Christophe at rue 24B. Beautiful hotel and amazing scenery for picture taking. I strongly advise that you demand a specific contract at the time of booking, to ensure all services be delivered the day of your wedding. We kept asking the person in charge for one but we never received it so we planned around which was not the best idea. Because my mom wanted to bring in her own catering service & I my own decor, the hotel wanted to charge us extra for everything: dishware, servers, cleaning fees etc. It’s best to have your venue be responsible for catering to avoid conflict. Also prior to booking, make sure to call and ask around to compare pricing & services being offered to you, how everything looks: clean, organized, spacious enough for your guests, are all their items in great condition, customer service etc… Remember: you’re paying for your dream to come true, every little detail matters.

-Church: The ceremony was held at a small chapel of my old school, which was one of my favorite touches. It was intimate, small, and perfect since I was trying to avoid the crowd & i share most of my school day memories at that school chapel. My family is close friends with a priest who was more than happy to do the ceremony. We just had to meet him few days ahead of time to plan and get to know about us more. He requested that we get our blood drawn, have our baptism certificates ready, informations on our family, maid of honor and best man. He came on time the day of the ceremony, was funny and kept everyone entertained. It was an average service with great laughter.

-Photographer: Iris Photography is very well known in Haiti for capturing weddings in the most beautiful way. I contacted him, he sent me a list of pricing. We discussed what would like, which to capture our special day from start to finish and that’s exactly what he did. He arrived on time with an assistant, started taking pictures from the time we were getting ready to the end of the reception. I would recommend him to anyone! He was professional, fluent in English, spanish, french and creole, paid attention to details, very patient and passionate about what he does. His contacts are: Jean-Joseph Napoleon, www.irisphotographie.com, (509) 3742.1592

-Master of ceremony: A good friend of mine was  the host of the wedding. He did a fantastic job! we’ve been friends for several years. So he knew us and our family, which made everything so much easier. He was funny, entertaining and we are forever thankful for all his efforts.

-Dj & music: My uncle owns Kontak Inter, a radio station in Cap and provided us with a dj, instruments for the church ceremony, cds & music as a gift! We just went in days prior, selected all the songs we wanted to be played and made it happen.

-Cake & Food: My mom had a lot of help from friends and family who either own a catering service as a side job or are used to feeding for large amounts of people. They came a day before the wedding, prepared everything, spent the entire night baking and prepping and everything went in the oven the morning of the wedding. I was so busy running around, that I didn’t have the time to supervise their work but it appears that everything turned out great. Everyone enjoyed the entrees! The cake was made by a lady my aunt had known. Unfortunately I don’t have her references.

-Decor & flowers: I hired an event planner who shipped a lot of the items from the US via Always Cargo. (Le Boudoire event planning (leboudoire@gmail.com Phone #: (646) 730-3920). The flowers were purchased in the DR a day before the wedding. Just make sure you oversee the venue and the church with your planner to assure the amount of decors and flowers needed ahead of time. It was so hot in July, so she made sure they were kept in a freezer overnight to avoid the flowers from fading. The morning of the wedding, all the decors and flowers were put up at the venue and the church.

-Invitations: My dad knew a friend who owns a small printing business in NY. The cards were really nice! The owner was professional, and service was very fast! He had everything printed and shipped in a week.

-Transportation: My uncle and dad booked a limo in Cap. The limo wasn’t as nice as the ones here in the US. It had AC, the driver was on time. Picked us up at the hotel where we got ready, and dropped us off at the reception afterwards. The limo was booked for a total of 6hrs.

-Honeymoon: My favorite part! The night of the wedding, Steve’s parents booked us a room at Cormier Plage for 2 mights 3 days. Breakfast was included, and they also have a shuttle service to pick you where you and drop you off afterwards. Beaches in Cap are breathtaking! I was familiar with Cormier since i’ve gone there many times as a child. Service was excellent, food was tasty, and room service was also very good.  Then we traveled south to Dan’s Creek Hotel in Port-Salut for our “real honeymoon”. Dan’s Creek is simply the best! The scenery is to die for! It has a private beach, jacuzzi and pool, the food was exquisite, the staff there is just so nice and always ready to help. Our room was beautiful is such a rustic way, always clean, AC, TV with cable. The atmosphere was all around peaceful, intimate, fresh, beautiful, simple yet so warm and cozy.

In all, we wouldn’t trade our wedding experience for a thing! Steve always reminds me how thankful he is for having me suggest and plan our wedding in Haiti. Yeah we’ve had some difficulties along the way; planning any destination wedding can be stressful. But knowing the right people, doing all your research ahead of time will surely decrease the pressure.I would do it all over again!

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Vendors:    Wedding Planner: Le Boudoire event planning (leboudoire@gmail.com Phone #: (646) 730-3920) | Venue: Hotel Roi-Henri Christophe |  Photography: Iris Photography | DJ: Kontak Inter | Honeymoon: Cormier Plage and Dan’s Creek Hotel | Shipping: Always Cargo services (718.415.8366) |

Realities of Getting Married in Haiti

Ahem.  I would be lying to you if I told you it was all glitz and glamor.  That you will show up to see only beautiful beaches and giant hotels and tourist attractions.  You won’t.  I promise you.  The reality is you will show up and drive through a city that has holds it’s beauty in tucked away places.  You will be confronted with dust, traffic, heat, and remnants of a broken city when the earth moved a few years ago.  But bear with me.

realities

No doubt in your planning you will be confronted with the lack of resources on the web for planning a wedding here, logistical problems, and questions that you have no idea how to answer from your guests.  This is where we come in and are trying to help.  This is why I’m being bold enough to tell you the realities-because we believe that anywhere in the world has things to navigate around when planning a wedding and Haiti is no different.  But having information and knowledge to help you plan is critical to the success of your wedding.  That is our heart-to give you information to make planning your wedding here easier and your wedding day a day of beauty.

I was a person who came to Haiti believing the news that Haiti only needed help; that it had nothing to offer us.  And then I fell in love with the country.  I realized there is unimaginable beauty here if you are willing to look.  There is soul here that I can’t explain.  There is simple joy for life that I am hard pressed to find anywhere else.  I am also a person who got married here.

So, without further ado, some realities and what to do about them:

-The Haiti Stigma:  So you want to get married in Haiti and all your guests know only about what they see on the news.

If you already know the beauty of this country I would suggest sharing that with them.  Photos, stories, etc.  If you need resources, direct them to The Real Haiti and other tourist places online that showcase Haiti as it is.  The magazine Magic Haiti is also really good for educating people.

-The airport and arriving:

2 things.  If your wedding is in Cap Haitian, you will be able to fly in and out from their airport as it is an international airport with flights to Florida.  If you and your guests do need to come through Port au Prince, make is as pleasant as possible by giving them information on navigating the airport (which is new and really nice now!), have a greeter with a sign so it’s easy for when they exit, and line up transportation for them.  If they are going straight to your venue, great.  If they are arriving late, there are a couple great hotels near the airport (some with airport shuttles!) that they could stay at and start their journey the next day.

-Port au Prince:  You have to drive through Port au Prince to get to anywhere else and that is a bummer.

Again, education is key for your guests.  Every time someone returns to Port au Prince they make the comment that it is getting better and cleaner.  And while that may be true, they are improving, I’m also convinced that some of that thinking is not because it really is cleaner but because the person isn’t as hyper focused on it.  Port au Prince is like any city-lots of people, traffic, some trash, vendors.  Imagine taking a newcomer to America down through the Bronx as their first view of America…imagine what they would think!

-Logistics: Everything is harder in Haiti-or so they say.

Yes, Haiti is different and operates a different way to the USA.  If you aren’t familiar with it, it can be frustrating-especially when you are trying to plan a wedding!  I always joke that in the USA you have apps for everything and in Haiti you have “guys” for everything.  Largely how Haiti works is that you need to know people and who to contact for different things. Which makes it difficult to plan a wedding if you don’t know people or aren’t here.

A few tips on logistics:

-This is where the beauty of working with a resort or hotel comes in.  They will have people, “guys”, that work with them and they will do most of the planning and running around for you.

-If you don’t have that luxury at your venue or you need to do some things too, just start asking.  Contact us and we can see if we can help find out something, contact a local that you know and have them look into it, ask another expat that you know that lives here.

-De ga je.  This in Creole means “make it work”.  In Haiti sometimes you just have to be flexible and brilliant enough to make it work and come up with a solution.

-Finding Vendors:  Does Haiti even have a dress shop? And what about my cake?

Yes, they do! You will be amazed at what Haiti has!  Again, a great place to start is asking your venue or planner as they may have recommendations.  If not, shoot us an email or check out our vendor pages as we add in some great vendors!

So the bottom line is this.  Yes, planning a wedding in Haiti has some challenges.  But-planning a wedding anywhere has challenges.  As we address these challenges and work to get you information to help plan your wedding here, we hope you see how worth it it is!