Featured Location: Florida Swept Away Southern StyleWords by Carolyn Steere
From the Panhandle to Key West, Florida offers a plethora of romantic locations for a destination wedding. For Margie Lee Maddux and Dave Newman, Florida was the one location that everyone agreed with. “We looked at every potentially romantic destination wedding site you can imagine, but wanted our friends and family to be able to come with us if they wanted. Every time we settled on one location, someone would offer up a different one, making it very difficult to choose a destination that everyone would agree on." They changed wedding locations about 10 times and were about to book a flight to Vegas … when they discovered Key West.
Dave and Margie’s romance started with a not-by chance encounter. Margie pretended to be locked out of the garage of the apartment complex they both lived in to get David to notice her. When that didn’t work, she enlisted the assistance of the apartment’s property manager to let him know that she thought his was a “cutie.” Telephone numbers were exchanged and one thing led to another. Margie says, “It was the beginning of the longest first date of my life, most fun I have ever had, and the most love I have ever felt.” She says, “Ask anyone -- no really, anyone! They will tell you that there has not been a day since January 13 that I did not say, “I am going to marry Dave Newman.”
Their traditional Christian ceremony incorporated some non-traditional features like a co-ed wedding party and being given away by her mom. The ceremony took place at Smathers Beach. “It wasn’t in a church, but when the clouds parted and the sun came through during our vows, you will never convince me that we weren’t in a place of worship,” says Margie. When asked to describe her thoughts and feelings of the day, Margie says “It was the best day of my life. Every moment of that day I remember saying to myself ‘remember this.’” Their reception was a “blast,” -- dancing and laughing for three straight hours with their 70 guests.
Margie was definite about her advice to other couples planning a destination wedding. “You must hire an experienced wedding planner. Heather Snively and Kristy Rapp of Weddings Unique took care of every detail from booking vendors, arranging travel and hotel rooms, and being sure I had coffee the morning of the wedding.” The best wedding coordinators are ones who really “engage” with their bridal couples and Heather was delighted to share her memories of Margie and Dave’s wedding. She recalls, “This couple was so happy, they could not smile or giggle anymore. He just stared at her with a grin. It was a joy to see them enjoying the day so thoroughly and taking in all the love in the room.”
Heather, owner of Weddings Unique offers the following advice to couples planning a destination wedding in Florida: “Make the week or weekend a fun-filled, action-packed time for all. With so much to do and see in Florida, take in attractions, beaches and leave a little rest and relaxation time to get ready for the big day! A wedding website is the best way to get all the information and activities out to all the guests.”
We also asked Heather to give us an update on how things are going with the recovery from the hurricanes of 2005 that hit the state. She says Florida is, “almost all back to normal now. We miss trees in Coconut Grove, but spring has brought out lots of new growth. The beaches have shrunk, but there is still plenty of room to wiggle your toes! It is still a wonderful place to be married!”
Janie Lawrence and Hunter Collins were engaged at the Breakers Hotel in South Florida; the same beautiful location at which they would have their tropical theme wedding, two and a half years later.
Having always wanted to be married in “a castle near the ocean,” Janie said, “I felt like a princess and the wedding was “everything I’d ever dreamed of.” With 110 years of history, the Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach prides and names itself on the foundation of its breathtaking ocean view. The beautiful scenery held special meaning to the Collins as the site of their engagement.
“We went down to the Breakers to meet with someone about having our wedding there. Keep in mind we were not officially engaged yet. After the meeting Hunter took me to the terrace -- one of the most romantic of all the locations. It overlooked the ocean and was at sunset. That is where he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.”
Palm Beach has become known as one of the premier destinations for southern Florida vacationing and weddings. It offers 40 miles of gorgeous beach front, plenty of attractions, cultural venues, and festivities involving local custom and culture. It integrates a tropical local with the busyness and charm of an ocean-side community. Janie and Hunter incorporated this exotic theme into their wedding with local island music, an exotic menu and pineapple-orchid centerpieces: all of which was catered and arranged by the Breakers Hotel. Having the wedding at a hotel that was able to take care of everything, Janie was able to plan the event all herself and “had the best time doing it. Everything was put together like a dream.”
Janie’s most precious memory was of a moment before the ceremony. She recalls, “I was heading through the hallways of the Breakers and caught a glimpse of my five-year-old son with my husband to be all dressed up in his tuxedo. It made me cry. That was the only time I cried at the wedding.” With a gorgeous Florida setting, surrounded by their family and friends, Janie and Hunter’s wedding was all they could have imagined.
Margie and Dave Newman Wedding
Wedding Ceremony Site: Smathers Beach, Key West, FL
Reception Site: Double Tree Hotel Key West
Photographer: Jen Sens and Eric Larson, Light of Day
Wedding Planner: Kristy Rapp, Weddings Unique
Florist: Love in Bloom, Key West FL
Dress Designer: Oleg Cassini
Cake Designer: Cakes by Joey and Paulie, Key West, FL
Janie & Hunter Collins Wedding
Wedding Ceremony and Reception: The Breakers
Photographer: Debra Weisheit
Florist: Cameron Keating, The Design Studio at The Breakers
Cake Designer: The Breakers
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