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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Plan a Florida Destination Wedding

Words by Courtney Cox

It’s day two of our Destination: Florida week and today we’re sharing a destination wedding photographer’s favorite photogenic spots, a wedding planner’s top do’s and don’ts for weddings away in the Sunshine State and a great romance package at an iconic property to help you relax and celebrate after the big event. In other words, all sorts of helpful info to aide you in your efforts to plan a Florida destination wedding. In case you missed our first day of Destination: Florida week, our friends at The Monroe County Tourist Development Council shared some of their top activities and spots for couples and guests enjoying the Florida Keys and Key West. 

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Must-See Spots from a Destination Wedding Photographer

The Florida Keys is the ultimate destination wedding location. A short drive from Miami International Airport, it’s one of the most beautiful, scenic routes in the country.  Most of Care Studios' brides come to the Florida Keys to get married and experience a tropical island atmosphere without leaving the United States; this facilitates convenient logistics for guests and family. The Keys are made up of hundreds of islands connected by the Overseas Highway – a total of 108 miles. In September, Hurricane Irma directly affected the lower portions of the islands. While the recovery process has been moving at a very fast pace and the islands have been open to visitors since October 1, there is still some work to do. In The Upper Keys and Key West, most of the wedding venues are open and fully operational.

Across the unique archipelago that makes up the Florida Keys, we have many photogenic spots for couples hosting their wedding or enjoying their honeymoon. Here are some of our favorite examples!

Southernmost Point
The Southernmost Point Buoy is an anchored concrete buoy in Key West, Florida, marking the southernmost point in the continental United States, just 90 miles away from Cuba. 

Smathers Beach
Hundreds of weddings are celebrated on this beautiful public beach every year in Key West.

Ernest Hemingway House and Museum
The museum welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world and is a tropical, beautiful setting for hosting weddings. 

Cuban Coffee Queen
A small café located close to the water in Key West, the Cuban Coffee Queen became very popular for the Key West painted sketch many couples use for their photographs.

Sea Ranch
A private home on the Ocean Side in Islamorada, the turquoise waters and privacy makes it a perfect venue for small groups. 

Morada Bay and Pierre's
Host of the popular Full Moon Party in Islamorada, this is one of the most beautiful waterfront venues, where you can enjoy the famous Keys sunsets.

Largo Resort
Located in Key Largo and on a private property, Largo Resort is ideal for hosting intimate weddings.

Casa Marina Key West
A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Casa Marina Key West has remained a landmark of the grace, charm and tranquility of Old Key West. Enjoy a luxury escape where lush green lawns meet the Atlantic surf on Key West’s largest private beach.

Caribbean Resort
With panoramic ocean views, inviting Caribbean-style homes, fishing pier and beach-entry pool, the Caribbean Resort is located in the heart of Islamorada.

Florida Wedding Planning Do’s and Don’ts

  1. Do look for your venue early, as Key West and the Keys are one of the top destinations in the states. The usual booking time is from 12-18 months in advance.

  2. Do get an expert to guide you. If you are too far and unable to visit, reach out to a planner that knows all the Keys, as they will guide you not only about the where, but what venues can accommodate your  number of guests etc.

  3. Don’t miss setting up a welcome party on one of the boats at sunset or visiting Mallory Square in Key West.

  4. Don’t book a private home without checking to make sure you are able to host a wedding there.

  5. Do keep in mind the other activities for guests, and make sure the town or area has activities that your guests can do on their own. Scuba diving in the upper keys, fishing in the middle and partying in Key West, every island will only add to your wedding celebration.

  6. Do book vendors right away. Remember that vendors (planners, photographers, musicians) normally only take one event a day, so booking early is important.

  7. Do know your budget for the wedding and other activities. If you have a limited budget, check and see if the venue has different rates Monday thru Thursday or during off-season.

  8. Don’t plan too many activities. Give your guests time to explore the islands. Key West is a town rich with history. It has a ready made bar scene, day time activities and some wonderful historical venues and resorts.

  9. Do explore up the Keys from Duck Key to Islamorada. This is ideal for those that love the natural surroundings and fishing and want to have an all inclusive experience. Every Key has a "personality” that will give you and your guests a unique experience.

  10. Don’t come in one day before your destination wedding. Give yourselves a couple of days before guests come to relax, meet with your planner, venue, etc., so you can relax and enjoy everyone when they arrive.

  11. Don’t miss watching a sunset or sunrise. Ride a bike and take a stroll down Duval Street!

  12. Do plan for a "plan B." Let the experts and venues guide you. When planning an outdoor wedding, make sure you talk about options in case of weather and you may want to consider wedding insurance.

  13. Do "save the date" early and know that having your wedding in Key West or on any of the wonderful Keys will  be relaxing, fun and unlike anywhere else!

Florida wedding planning do’s and don’ts courtesy of destination wedding planner Peggy Russell with Destination Wedding Studio.

Celebrate Post-Nuptials with this Romantic Package

The Don CeSar is located in St. Pete Beach, Florida and is commonly known as the “Pink Palace.” The hotel opened at the height of the “Great Gatsby” era in 1928 and the Mediterranean-style castle hosts upward of 350 wedding-related events a year! Needless to say, the folks at The Don CeSar understand what it takes to pull-off and execute a successful destination wedding! Already have plans for “I do?” Not to worry, The Don CeSar wants to help you celebrate your recent nuptials with the “Queen of Her Castle” package. The package starts at $4,185 and includes:

  • Luxury, two-story Penthouse accommodations (Gulfside or Bayside) featuring 1,300 sq. ft. of space, sweeping views of the Gulf & beach or city & intracoastal waterway, 2-3 bedrooms, 2½-3½ bathrooms, plush living area, kitchenette and oversized private terrace
  • Round-trip airport transportation in a Rolls Royce, complete with red carpet arrival and Champagne toast
  • Luxury day bed with personal beach butler on the sugar-sand beaches of the Gulf
  • Serenade by Lobby Bar pianist with Dom Perignon Rosé
  • 24k dessert
  • “Be Celebrated Spa Package” (90 min. Oceana Renewal Body Treatment, 60 min. Custom Organic Facial and glass of Champagne) 

For more information about this iconic Florida property, to book the “Queen of her Castle” package or to check out The Don CeSar’s wedding offerings, visit doncesar.com or call 727-360-1881.

Please stay tuned tomorrow for a beautiful real-life Florida destination wedding!

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Care Studios (1st-12th) & The Don CeSar (13th-16th).

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