No matter what kind of wedding reception you are planning, from a traditional affair at a banquet hall, an informal gathering in your back yard or as the crowning moment of your island weddings, everyone will have a great time as long as you take care of the three D’s: dancing, drinking and dining.
Dancing is easy. Just make sure you hire a high energy band or a DJ who knows how to work a room and follow the crowd. If you have a fully stocked bar with maybe a “signature drink” that is special for the occasion, you’ll have the drinking part down pat. It is the dining part that can be the most easily messed up, but if you are planning a great destination wedding in Key West, Florida, it is also the part of the night that will keep the guests talking.
Key West is known for having the freshest seafood and the best key lime pie, and there are dozens of Key West restaurants that specialize not only in fine dining with a degree of casual elegance, but also have the experience at hosting the perfect wedding receptions. They know that most people who have their weddings there are looking for fun over formality, so they will put together a menu that features all of their great food and presents it in an easygoing way so people can relax and enjoy themselves. When it comes to island weddings, the wedding may be for you, but the island is for your guests, so make sure you give them a 3-D wedding reception they will never forget.
Everybody probably remembers the first time that they rode a bike. The question is, how many people remember the last time they did. Nowadays, if you ask people that question you will get one of two answers. Either they are physical fitness junkies who will tell you extensively about their favorite twenty-seven mile loop they ride every week, or they are people who just came back from a vacation in Key West, Florida.
One of the charms about taking island vacations is an opportunity to experience a completely different culture and, even though it is a part of the United States, Key West, Florida is no exception. This island paradise has a history that goes back over five hundred years, so naturally, there has been a lot of cultural melding happening. This can be seen in the unique architecture of the houses and it can be tasted in the amazing food put out by the Key West restaurants. The best way to experience all of this unique culture is by forgoing the car rental agency and finding a bike shop.
There are many different locations around the island that will rent you a bicycle to help you explore the island. Most of the locals use a bike as their primary means of transportation, so there are plenty of places to lock up when you are out for fine dining or just the best key lime pie. Best of all, the leisurely pace that riding a bike affords you will let you see the beauty of the island in a way you just couldn’t get by being in a car. For the truly adventurous, you can even rent a bicycle built for two.
Everybody has heard the old saying “Getting there is half the fun.” Problem is, when people are making their travel plans, they are so excited about finally having time off from work, they forget about that. Granted, when it comes to island vacations, it is pretty hard to do anything about it. You are either confined to your first impression of your destination being provided by an overcrowded and understaffed customs line inside a sweltering tropical airport, or you see the beauty of the island from the deck of the cruise ship you have to be back on in less than six hours. Luckily, Key West, Florida gives you an alternative to all of that with the Overseas Highway.
Originally built as a train line known as Flagler’s Folly after the millionaire who basically created the South Florida area as a vacation destination, US 1, as it is officially known, stretches one hundred and twenty miles from the mainland of Florida all the way out to Key West. Along the way, you have breathtaking views of the Florida Bay and the Caribbean Sea as you cross forty-two different bridges. If some of it starts to look familiar, that’s because this stretch, named one of the ten best in the country, has been featured in numerous movies and advertisements.
Other island vacations require you to decompress for a while when you first arrive. By taking this unique way to visit Key West, Florida, you will already be plenty relaxed and rejuvenated the minute you arrive and sit down in your favorite Key West restaurants and start enjoying yourself, because, remember that if getting there is half the fun, being there is the other half!
I get along great with my mother-in-law now, but I almost didn’t, and it was all because of, you guessed it…the wedding. My wife and I had been to a few island weddings and we decided that was what we wanted: a simple affair on the beach at sunset, with a wedding reception that featured great seafood and an outdoor dining place where we could dance under the stars. Unfortunately, my wife was an only daughter, and when her mom saw that engagement ring, she went into overdrive trying to micromanage and plan every little detail for us. It got to the point where the two of us, plus my wife’s dad, scheduled an intervention.
We went out to dinner, figuring a public place would diminish the likelihood of a “scene”, and tried to explain the reason we wanted an island wedding and wedding reception was because we weren’t looking for a stressful environment for anybody. She was skeptical at first, but when we invited her to come with us to Key West while we made the arrangements, she decided she could use a vacation.
We imagined that she would watch us like a hawk, asking questions and making demands, but when she saw how professional all of the Key West restaurants were in making arrangements (not to mention how beautiful she found the island), she understood what we were looking for. At our island reception, I saw her having the time of her life, and she confided that from now on, island weddings were the only type of weddings she was going to attend.
Everyone (and I mean everyone) has a story about being at a wedding reception, having a great time and remarking on how amazing everything was, except the food. Overdone steak, dry chicken, bland pasta, unidentifiable fish… it’s the one constant in everyone’s experience, and in many cases, there’s nothing the couple can do about it. These giant reception halls only offer a limited number of choices. That is why you should skip the wedding factories and follow the trend of island weddings. With a destination wedding, you can have a reception that people will be buzzing about for months.
If you have your wedding in Key West, restaurants there aren’t designed to be conveyer belts of food. They are meant to offer stunning examples of fresh seafood, with tropical fruits and other flavors you can’t get at home, and they are used to cooking for people from all across the country. They have the tips for picking a great reception menu, by offering people plenty of choices, including a few tried-and-true conventional options for the less adventurous guests in your wedding.
Dining is an art form in Key West, home to the idea of casual elegance. When it comes to planning the perfect menu for your reception, this takes the form not in a formal sit down four-course dinner, but a constant stream of small plates, appetizer sized portions of entrée styled dishes so that people can taste a little bit of everything, while being sure to fully enjoy themselves. You can have prime rib any Saturday you want. Make your wedding reception memorable with Mahi-Mahi and fully enjoy the atmosphere of your island wedding.
If you ask one hundred people what they like least about their job, most of them will say the commute. I’m no different. My husband doesn’t understand, probably because he only drives ten minutes, whereas I ‘m in the car for almost an hour each way. That dreaded commute is why I insist that, when we go on vacation, it is to a tropical island paradise. My favorite island by far is Key West, Florida.
I discovered it years ago when my best friend decided that island weddings were the only way to go. Ever since that first trip, I have been going back at least every other year, and one of the little but important deciding factors was that I didn’t have to rent a car. In fact, once the taxi lets us off at our hotel, we either walk to where we are going or rent bikes for the week.
Don’t get me wrong. This car-less-ness wouldn’t mean a thing if the rest of the vacation was only so-so, but there is so much to fall in love with. The Key West restaurants are some of the best I’ve ever dined at, and that isn’t just the joy of outdoor dining under the stars talking. The seafood, as you can imagine, is amazingly fresh, and many of the restaurants feature what they call “new island cuisine.” I’ve tried making it at home and it isn’t just the same. Some days we go exploring and others we just relax by the pool, but I always smile when I first wake up, knowing I don’t have to drive anywhere.
My friends always look at me funny when I use the phrase “destination vacation”, as if I’m being redundant. Of course, once I explain to them what I mean, they never look at their trip planning the same way again.
To me, a truly great vacation is one I can’t simply replicate. If I want to go to an amusement park and ride rollercoasters, for instance, I’ve got a few hundred options to choose from. When the trip is over, there will be very little to make it stand out. A destination vacation is something more unique, like an island vacation to Key West, Florida. I know that when I go there, I’m going to have an experience that will stick with me. You visit enough amusement parks, you soon forget which vacation your memory is from, but I know when I’ve been enjoying outdoor dining tasting the best key lime pie ever, I was in one specific place.
Of course, there is one minor drawback to this. I found myself having such a great time the first time I went to Key West that every few years, I have to break my own rule and go back again. I still plan a new destination vacation for myself every year (finally going to Machu Picchu this year, so excited!) but I can’t shake the pull that the southernmost island has on me. The good thing is, I know that there is only one place I can go to scratch that itch, and that’s why I don’t even try to look for it anywhere else. That, and I miss that amazing key lime pie.