The sand was warm beneath my bare feet as I walked the winding path through the island, each step bringing me closer to the man I would marry.
Two women throwing pink flowers petals led the way, while men with traditional Bodu Beru drums kept beat for our procession.
Looking out at the azure Maldivian sea, I could hardly believe this was real. This wasn’t the wedding day I had dreamed of.
This was something much, much better.
Eloping to the Maldives
Deciding to get married had been easy, but planning a wedding? That turned out to be more difficult than we thought.
Wedding planning was stressful – and it wasn’t us. We didn’t care about fancy venues, menu options and ornate flower arrangements.
What we did care about was travel. In fact, our love of travel had brought us together. That was obvious when it came time to planning our wedding.
We wanted the experience of joining our lives together to reflect who we really are. That’s when we knew we wanted something different.
Two months later, we were on our way to the Maldives, where we would exchange our vows on a tiny sandbank in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Bucket List Travel in the Maldives
The Maldives had long been on our bucket list. Made up of 1,190 islands, this tropical nation is known for its clear seas, white sand beaches and world-class resorts.
By eloping to the Maldives, we could have a romantic wedding ceremony on the beach and an unforgettable honeymoon – all for much less than a traditional wedding.
It turned out to be a perfect choice.
We chose to stay and have the ceremony at Baros Maldives, which has a reputation as one of the most romantic resorts in the Maldives.
In fact, Baros Maldives was named the Indian Ocean’s Most Romantic Resort for 2017 by the World Travel Awards, a distinction determined by travel and tourism professionals worldwide.
Baros is a small luxury resort located on a private island just 25 minutes by speedboat from Maldives International Airport in Male.
The resort has a private, intimate feel with 45 Beachside and 30 Water Villas set among a tranquil lagoon.
Our spacious over-water villa had a secluded veranda with an infinity pool and steps that led directly to the sea.
From our very private back deck, all we could see was the ocean – miles and miles of crystal blue waters. Occasional fish darted below. Once we saw a nurse shark lumbering past, paying us no mind.
Activities and Dining at Baros
Travelers come to the Maldives for many reasons – beautiful scenery, a romantic getaway or white-sand beaches. Many come for the clear, warm seas, which are known for excellent snorkeling and diving.
Baros has two centers devoted to diving and exploring the sea. On the day we arrived, they provided us with free snorkel gear, and we spent the afternoon snorkeling along the house reef just yards from shore.
The reef is rich with sea life and coral, and the water is warm. We swam among schools of fish as we explored an underwater wreck.
Later, we relaxed with a soothing couples massage at Baros Spa, which features treatments from Asia, and savored seaside meals at the resort’s three excellent restaurants.
By the end of our first day at Baros, we were in love. With each other? Of course. But also with the Maldives.
Getting Married in the Maldives
On the second day of our visit, we met with Domi, the skilled event planner at Baros. She asked if we had any special wishes and then gave several excellent suggestions.
The wedding packages at Baros include the ceremony, cake, flowers and even a romantic dinner. Twenty minutes later, our wedding had been planned.
We didn’t have to worry about a thing!
On the morning of our ceremony, Domi helped me to get ready. Then the traditional Maldivian Bodu Beru procession led me from our water villa to meet my groom.
As we crossed the lagoon bridge, I could see fish swirling in the water below. Coconut palms swayed overhead as I continued barefoot along the white sand path toward my fiancé.
The smile on my face couldn’t have been any wider when Benjamin greeted me at the pier and the procession continued by boat to the sandbank.
The sandbank looked like a scene from a wedding magazine. The islet’s white sand reflected in the aquamarine seas, while a deep blue sky added its own hues.
The wedding procession continued to a white wedding canopy adorned with flowers. The canopy drapes flowed in the breeze.
Dressed in a traditional sarong, the master of ceremonies led us in our vows.
Afterwards, we shared a white wedding cake and champagne.
Every little detail had been taken care of, from the beautiful flowers to the flavor of the cake and our champagne ceremony. All we had to do was savor the experience.
Back at Baros, we planted a coconut palm together, symbolizing how our love would grow.
We both wondered how long it would take the palm to grow, and more importantly, when we could come back to see its progress.
We hoped it wouldn’t be long.
Though it may not be the usual post-wedding activity, we spent the afternoon diving.
The dive master led us from the shore to the reef, where we saw hundreds of different coral and fish species. Even harmless black-tip sharks and sea turtles made an appearance.
At sunset, we had a romantic dinner complete with wine pairing at The Lighthouse, an over-water pavilion with a white sail roof.
This iconic beacon is visible from miles away and is known as one of the best restaurants in the Maldives.
Happy from our day, we walked back along the lantern-lit boardwalk to our villa. Opening the door, we found pink blossoms in the shape of a heart across our bed.
Candles lit up the room, and a warm bath had been drawn, topped with bubbles and flowers.
We could only look at each other and smile. Our wedding day couldn’t have been any better.
If You Go
Baros has several wedding/vow renewal packages, starting at $1,650. Photography services are also available. Guests must stay at the resort to hold or attend a ceremony.
Wedding ceremonies in the Maldives are ceremonial only. See your local administrators to file legal marriage documents.
How to Get to the Maldives
To reach the Maldives, we flew from Boston to Doha and then to Male with Qatar Airways. Flights are also available from Dubai to Male with Emirates Airways.
Author Bio: Janna Graber has covered travel in more than 40 countries. She is the editor of three travel anthologies, including “A Pink Suitcase: 22 Tales of Women’s Travel,” and is the managing editor of Go World Travel Magazine (www.goworldtravel.com).