Organizing a destination wedding, as many brides can attest, is a complicated affair. Coordinating convenient travel dates, organizing the legalities of a marriage license, and trying to plan the event from a different country are just some of the obstacles brides and wedding planners face.
Ditch the passports and consider the Florida Keys as a fantasy destination for your big day. At the intersection of the Mexican Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean, the Florida Keys have year-round tropical weather. Locals boast the sandy white beaches rival those of the Bahamas and Caribbean. Opt for this island getaway without sacrificing the convenience of local travel. The best times to go are during winter when temperatures range from 75 to 85 degrees.
The Keys are known for their relaxing vibe and Caribbean lifestyle. The Upper Keys host country clubs and estates for weekend vacationers. Islamorada (meaning “purple islands”) is named after the local violet sea snails and purple bougainvillea.
The most scenic views belong to the town of Marathon, on the Middle Key. The town is known for being quaint and having the best sunset views.
Key West, the most familiar and large city on the Keys, is surrounded by lush tropical flora and is steeped in history.
The Florida Keys will make a beautiful backdrop for your wedding, but here are a few more reasons why the Keys make the perfect location for a destination wedding.
1. They Really Dig the Laidback Lifestyle
Locals and guests choose the Florida Keys for one simple reason: the laidback lifestyle. The simplicity this locale boasts makes for an easy-going and stress-free planning process. Most weddings take place on a white sandy beach right at the water’s edge at sunset. The beautiful backdrop requires little decoration, leaving more in the budget for other things. Also, having a laidback beachside wedding gives you the best opportunity to get some nautical, tropical stationery and motifs.
2. Doubles as a Honeymoon
Save time and funds by combining your wedding and honeymoon! The Keys provide a variety of accommodations, from five-star hotels to intimate beachfront bungalows. Many resorts offer packages that include options to stay after the wedding.
The tropical tranquility of the Florida Keys will add romance to any honeymoon. The have-it-your-way attitude allows different couples to customize their experience. Choose from sporty packages with scuba diving, snorkeling, and even camping, or a fuss-free experience at an all-inclusive resort.
3. Underwater Weddings
The clear warm waters of the Keys attract scuba enthusiasts, and, now, engaged couples! The Florida Keys have become popular for underwater weddings. Bridal parties tie the knot alongside underwater monuments like the U.S. continental barrier reef and the Christ of the Abyss, a nine-foot high shrine in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Don’t forget to rent glass bottom boats so all your guests can capture your big day!
4. Best Natural Marine Life
The Florida Keys is home to a variety of diverse animal and marine life. Just off Key Largo is the only living coral reef in the continental United States, third largest in the world. Nearby in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is a vast labyrinth of canyons and mountains home to different tropical fish and underwater shipwrecks.
Couples can also wed with dolphins as guests at the Theatre of the Sea in Islamorada. Before the ceremony, couples can enjoy a private dolphin and sea lion show. Other Key natives to check out are the Key Deer, smaller and fuzzier than mainland deer, in the Great White Heron Wildlife Refuges.
5. You Can Rent an Island
The Florida Keys is used to describe a group of 800 islands that make up a coral cay archipelago off the southern tip of Florida. Some islands are small enough to fit just a cottage while others host resorts that can accommodate you and your guests for your special day on your own private island.
Most accommodations are private bungalows overlooking the crystal-clear ocean. Enjoy island life by sampling the various fruits located on some of the greener islands. Many resorts also offer activities and amenities such as snorkeling, windsurfing, and even a private chef. Take your family and friends, or just the two of you, and enjoy a private tropical getaway.
6. Celebrate with Hemingway
Lovers of literature can tie the knot in the former home of one of America’s most influential writers, Ernest Hemingway. The breathtaking historical landmark in Key West occupies an acre of lush tropical gardens. Hemingway’s beloved polydactyl cats wander the property. Wedding guests also receive a private tour of the Hemingway Museum.