Destination I Do

Destination Wedding Florida

Words by Jennifer Stein


If you are a travel enthusiast, chances are you’ve been to Florida.  Maybe just on your way out of the US on a Caribbean cruise, for a weeklong vacation with family to Disneyworld, or even for a romantic fun filled outing to Miami. Florida is home to some of the most unique cities, beaches and attractions in America. And with so much to offer – it may be just the perfect domestic destination for your wedding getaway.

Working our way from East to West and North to South – we’ll start at one little treasure called Amelia Island. Located only 29 miles from Jacksonville International Airport – not only is it convenient, but it has so much to see and do.

Our favorite place to stay is Amelia Island Plantation, the “greenest” resort in Florida.  By green we mean environmentally conscious – having won countless awards for their efforts. Not only is it an eco-friendly destination but it’s a fantastic place for guests to bring their kids.  With pool-side activities, daytime and evening programs for the little tykes – it’s easy for parents to get in some romantic time and maybe even attend your wedding sans kids.

The self-contained resort property boasts shopping, dining, golf, horseback riding and a whole myriad of different outdoor activities.  One of the best ways to spend your time is at The Spa at Amelia Island Plantation. Offering any treatment you can dream up, they only use products created with the purest of ingredients.

There are countless places to say “I Do” at the Plantation, as for assistance in the weddings department, rest assured – they never take on more than they can handle. Lisa Presnell Kirkus – Wedding Coordinator – shares “as planners, we make sure we are not stretched and can help our brides as much as possible. We are not ‘cookie-cutter’ here, we customize every event, every time.”

You and your guests will feel relaxed and at home because when you visit Amelia Island Plantation you’re visiting a little piece of heaven!

Another spectacular destination in Florida is Rosemary Beach. This quaint beach town was home to the destination “I do’s” of a very special couple.  Lauren & Elliot Walls are busy working professionals living in Manhattan – but before they were married, they met and fell in love at a birthday party. Turned out they had lots in common, including the desire to have a destination wedding. Even better, they agreed Rosemary Beach was the place to tie the knot. Lauren tells us, “We fell in love with the unique setting, architecture and natural beauty. We also wanted our family and friends to experience the charm of Rosemary Beach and turn the wedding celebration into a mini-vacation. As an added bonus, Elliot is originally from Georgia and I’m from Alabama, which made for an easy drive for the majority of our guests.”

The ceremony was held on the Western Green overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and the day could not have been more perfect. “We were blessed with amazing weather - 75 degrees, sunny and not a cloud in the sky!”

The reception turned out to be just as fantastic. With a tent overhead, the couples planned several custom details including local culinary delights, signature cocktails, an interactive Polaroid picture guest book and rosemary flavored sea salt favors. Their strawberry red and pale blue color palette added to the “vacation feel” of the event.

Lauren’s advice for other brides planning a destination wedding – “Break up the planning into small tasks, stay true to your vision, personalize a few key details and in the end just enjoy it!”

Now, venture south – as far south as you can go and you’ll find an absolute favorite destination in Florida – The Keys. Known for their blue-green water, awesome pie and friendly towns – the Keys leave little to be desired. There are so many great places to get married, jet off for some much needed honeymoon time or just a romantic vacation in general.

One of the most romantic of the Keys, Key West, happened to be the place of choice for some very special friends of Destination I Do. 

Eric Vicars and Noha Spears met while working together on a project in New Jersey.  They quickly became friends and stayed in touch after their project ended.  Eric was living in Denver and invited Noha out for an official “weekend ski date” and from that point on – they were inseparable. Less than three years later, Eric proposed to Noha while on vacation in Costa Rica and the wedding plans began.  Because they are such avid travelers, we had to know how they decided on their destination: “We couldn’t imagine our big day any other place than somewhere tropical and warm!  Since we have been to Key West on several occasions and both love it, we decided to have our wedding there. We chose The Westin Key West because we wanted an outdoor setting during sunset. The Westin Pier overlooks Sunset Island, so our odds of getting a beautiful sunset were pretty good.”  And boy were they right!  That evening, one of the most breathtaking sunsets took place during their ceremony & cocktail reception.

Besides the gorgeous sunset and perfect romantic setting, Noha and Eric truly appreciated the attention of the staff. “We worked with Tony Wood who is the Wedding Coordinator at the Westin Key West.  He was very responsive, had good recommendations on vendors and great ideas for the reception. The whole day was flawless…everything was perfect and I think a lot of it had to do with Tony and the vendors he led me too.” says Noha. We caught up with Tony Wood and Rebecca Hysell (Director of Sales & Marketing) and it was immediately apparent what a high level of pride they have for the destination, their hotel and the clients they serve. “When couples book this property for their wedding, it really is the personalized service they are coming for.” says Hysell. “Key West is a fun, laid back environment that welcomes everyone. Almost 98% of our weddings are out of town couples, so we are pros at meeting the needs of just about anyone.” says Wood.

The Westin Key West feels like a self-contained village with an adorable ice cream parlor, shopping, swimming, restaurants and the pier overlooking the ocean.  The rooms are spacious and the location convenient, plus they work directly with other locations nearby to give couples options regarding the wedding venue.  “We book space for The Little White House and The Audubon House so our couples aren’t limited.” Says Wood.

When it came to Eric & Noha’s wedding weekend, they felt anything but limited. “We had around 100 people come to Key West for our wedding.  It really meant a lot to us since most guests traveled quite the distance.” says Noha. They took the time to coordinate several other gatherings before and after the wedding including a hosted dinner at a nearby oyster bar, a sunset cruise with music and cocktails and bar hopping at Fat Tuesdays and Sloppy Joes. “It was great to hang out and enjoy time with friends and family in a tropical and fun place after we were actually married!”

We asked Noha to describe her favorite moment of the day, and although she had a hard time choosing just one, she shared the moment she and Eric saw each other for the first time that day. “When my bridesmaids and I were taking pictures prior to the wedding, our photographer went to get Eric and the groomsmen. When Eric turned around his facial expression and body language when saw me for the first time was the cutest thing I have ever seen.  The way he looked at me that moment and everyday is what makes our love so wonderful.”   

When it comes to romance, good weather, friendly people and a flat out gorgeous destination – no matter where you go, Florida has a little something for everyone.

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