Planning Partners

Classic Nuptials in Key West


May 11, 2016
Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Esther Louise Photography

Michael and Jessica are a Tampa, Florida couple who opted for a destination wedding for classic reasons. “We chose a destination wedding to be able to invite our closest friends and family to one of our very favorite places. We wanted to keep [the wedding] intimate and knew if people were willing to travel for us, they really wanted to be there.” Luckily, the vast majority of their loved ones were on board and most of them had never been to Key West before. Jessica’s mother had some reservations, but after the couple brought her along on a scouting trip to their chosen venue, Casa Marina Resort, she knew the couple had made the right decision.

Key West is the couple’s favorite vacation destination, so it was an easy and perfect choice for their wedding. While the destination was a no-brainer, Jessica and Michael still had to find the perfect venue at which to host their event. “When we walked into the Casa Marina, we were both in agreement that we had found our place,” says the bride. “We had been to several other venues with little luck. We had actually started to question our decision to get married away. These doubts completely melted when we saw the Casa. The architecture was suggestive of old glamour and the walkway to the beach was just stunning. We wanted a beach wedding, but did not want the casual feel. The Casa was really special, which was just what we were looking for.”

The only speed bump the couple encountered was their chosen time of year. It was right around spring break and Passover, a very busy season for Key West. “We were also contending with the heat and humidity an outdoor ceremony in Florida can bring,” explains Jessica. “Luckily, we were able to work it all out and weather was kind that weekend.” In terms of planning, the process went smoothly thanks to the couple’s wedding planner and family who both lived in the Key West area. The couple made a scouting trip and were able to finalize the majority of the wedding details. “It was almost easier to plan from a distance as we were not overwhelmed with too many options. We were able to make good choices without being saturated with too much information.” 

We asked the couple how their wedding would have been different, had they opted to stay locally. The first, most obvious difference, would have been the size of the guest list. “Had we stayed local, there would have been feelings of obligation to invite other guests, which would have grown the tab exponentially. We are not saying a destination wedding is cheap, we just think we were able to control costs a little more. Our wedding was truly of our own making. Decisions we made were between the two of us. Had we stayed in Tampa, there may have been more outside input. Our guests knew our wedding was a showcase of us as a couple, which made the day all about us. This may have been lost had we stayed home.”

When we asked Jessica to provide some helpful advice for other brides and couples, her suggestions were very insightful. “Choosing your bridal party is a big deal for any wedding. This is magnified when you are going out of town. You will count on these people to make travel arrangements, have their dresses and tuxes packed and perhaps get to the location before other guests. Your guests will look to them to have information on other events outside the ceremony and reception. These will be your wedding ambassadors and they need to be capable of helping you out. Also, it’s important who they choose to bring as guests. Disagreements between bridal party members and their dates can effect the entire weekend and potentially ruin your special day. Make sure you choose people that are up for the adventure and the challenge and will make your trip easier.”

Vendors: Photographer: Esther Louise Photography, Wedding Planner: Key Destination Weddings and Events, Ceremony/Reception Site: Casa Marina Resort, Florist: Milan Event Florals and Décor, Stationery: Paper Capers Studio, Cake: Key West Cakes, Hair and Makeup: Studio Marie-Pierre, Gown Designer: Allure Bridals Design from Olga’s Bridal Boutique, Groom’s Clothing Designer: Jos. A. Bank, Bridesmaids/Groomsmens’ Clothing Designer: Vera Wang/Calvin Klein, Other: Scott Gerke with Visualize Entertainment

Couple in Punta Cana doing a destination wedding by the ocean
Destination Weddings at Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva
Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Destination Weddings
Black couple getting married in Jamaica
Jamaica Destination Weddings
Couple in Cancun doing a gazebo destination wedding
White couple getting married in Punta Cana, DR
destination wedding couple throwing rose petals in costa mujeres
Iberostar Weddings

Find a Vendor

Access our list of vendors based on your destination location.