My boyfriend and I got engaged a couple of months ago, and almost immediately, everyone started barraging us with questions and suggestions about our wedding. Neither one of us are that uptight about it, so we decided that we would plan it as stress-free as possible. Turns out that only took three easy steps.
Step 1: Don’t do it at home. We knew if we tried to do it local, everybody would be even more in our face, so we decided to have an island wedding in one of our favorite places: Key West, Florida. Our intention wasn’t to do it right away, but we realized we could get great prices at Key West restaurants and hotels over the summer.
Step 2: Work with a professional. Naturally, it would be hard to plan it from a thousand miles away. That was why we got ourselves an awesome wedding planner. We told her what we were looking for, some of our favorite places on the island and how much we wanted to spend. So far she’s found us everything we’ve asked for and is constantly keeping us up to date on how things are going.
Step 3: Watch everyone get jealous. When we started mailing out invitations – not save the date cards, mind you, but actual invitations – everyone was blown away by how quickly we put it together. The great thing is many of our friends have never been to Key West so it’s an extra incentive for them to come see us get married and have a great tropical island vacation.
My fiancé and I wanted to have a special destination wedding. We felt it was important to start our marriage together in a meaningful place. We both love to travel, and between the two of us, have visited most of the states and about a dozen countries, but neither of us had ever been to Key West.
At first we kind of dismissed it, mostly because all we knew about it was its reputation as a party town. But we decided that the place we chose should be new to both of us, so our first memories of it could be together, so we bought a couple of plane tickets and headed down for a week to see if it would be our tropical island wedding.
It turned out to be far more than that. We immediately fell in love with the beautiful weather, the warmth of the people and the laid back island lifestyle. We understood the reason why so many people we met told us stories of having come down for a week ten years ago. We knew we couldn’t quite do that – we each had responsibilities back home and there was still a wedding to plan – but we decided to do the next best thing.
We still had a destination wedding. We had a beautiful oceanfront ceremony and chose among our favorite new Key West restaurants for our reception. The only thing that made our wedding different than most was that when everything was over, all of our guests went back, and we stayed in our beautiful new island home.
My husband and I are perfect examples of opposites that attract. Luckily, we’ve always been able to compromise. He teaches art and sculpture at the local college while I commute to the city for my finance job. I own at least two dozen professional outfits and I think he has one suit and maybe two ties. When it came to our wedding, I wanted a traditional church service and he wanted a tropical island celebration. Key West offered us the perfect solution.
We told the local Key West wedding planner we hired what all of our concerns were and she helped us arrange the perfect destination wedding. We found a beautiful church to hold the ceremony at, and she took us to several different Key West restaurants to look at for the reception venue. We got to sample some of the fresh seafood and key lime pie that would be part of the menu, and found a beautiful location with outdoor patios and plenty of room for dancing.
Most of the guests on my side were a bit surprised when they saw the invite for a tropical wedding, knowing as they did my traditional wedding dreams. I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first, too. Much of that was due to how little people know about Key West beyond its reputation as a partying resort town. Everyone thanked us afterwards not only for having such a beautiful wedding, but also for introducing them to a great new vacation destination. Every time someone said that, my husband just gave me a wink. He was too polite to take credit himself, but if not for him, I never would have learned how beautiful Key West is.
Pretty much from the first date, my husband and I knew how to compromise on almost everything so we would both enjoy what we were doing. Still, I was a little nervous when we started talking wedding plans. I always envisioned a traditional ceremony and reception, while he wanted a tropical island wedding. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out until we discovered Key West.
We went down on an early scouting trip even before we knew much about it, and almost right away, many of my fears were put at ease. There were several churches to choose from, and many Key West restaurants had the menu, style and décor that I was looking for, but then a strange thing started to happen to me.
The more I thought about our time down there, the more I realized I didn’t want to have the same wedding I could back home. We started looking at some of the different options, including getting married on a boat at sunset, or at a historic fort on the beach, and I realized how much fun and how memorable that could be.
My husband was so excited about my change of mind that he blindsided me and found the perfect reception spot that was everything I could have hoped for. There were beautiful outdoor dining decks, some of the best seafood I ever had, and a casual elegance to the whole evening that was fancy enough to make the event special but relaxed enough so everyone had a great time. And when the reception was over, we didn’t even have to pack for the honeymoon.
Is it any wonder people hire wedding planners? The whole process is huge, complex and, frankly, stressful. However, it is not a futile challenge if you approach it on your own. With a little bravery and a lot of research, you can achieve the destination wedding you have in mind in sunny Key West, Florida without a wedding planner. There are a few general guidelines, tips and tricks to keep in mind that can help you flesh out your booking decisions. For example, restaurant review websites like Urban Spoon can help you suss out the cafe that serves the best crab cakes or best key lime pie on the island (though, this may involve some taste testing as well!), helping you narrow down where it is you will be booking a banquet room or outside catering. Similar sites exist when you are looking to book entertainment. Musicians, live bands and DJs all not only have personal listings and sites, but can be reviewed online as well.
Your island wedding already has a lot going for it if you plan to host in in Florida. The weather and new island cuisine are both huge draws to the region. A final tip to carry with you is this: Let this atmosphere work for you. No matter what theme you want your wedding to embody, there is a way to play with it in the context of tropicality…emphasizing sunshine and beautiful local flowers and plant life. Keeping this in mind can help you take full advantage of the context of your destination wedding. Good luck!
There is a constant flow of tourism in Key West, Florida, creating a thriving industry of food, entertainment and craft all across the island. That, combined with the stunning architecture and beautiful sunny weather, makes Key West one of the most popular island wedding locations in the world. If you are looking for the perfect location to host your destination wedding, look no further. One of the things that truly make the experience unique is what local cafes are calling new island cuisine – that is, a new approach to the local menu. While you are free to search for the best key lime pie and best crab cakes on the island for your wedding guests, there are a plethora of other options that have just entered the island palate. Striving to capture the modern cultural melting pot the island has become, new staples and dishes have been introduced to local menus, including Mediterranean influences. While The Keys is steeped in a rich culinary and cultural tradition, it is constantly moving forward into new territory, and the food reflects the cusp of cultural change.
Lastly, when booking your outside catering or banquet room, remember to read reviews. Restaurant review sites like Urban Spoon are perfect for comparing places. Reading the real, honest impressions of customers is a great way to get a feeling for how they may or may not work with the destination wedding you have in mind. Come see the island for yourself if that doesn’t convince you. You’ll be glad you did.
When you think of a destination wedding, for most of us, a tropical paradise comes to mind. An island wedding would make almost anyone smile from the soul. Key West, Florida is a great location to plan a destination wedding and it is practically in our backyard. As one of the most popular and sought after locations for weddings in the continental United States, Key West offers a multitude of sun-soaked romantic beaches, crystal clear tropical waters and historical streets boasting award-winning restaurants and jazz-filled nights.
With destination weddings in Key West on the incline of popularity, there are endless resources for planning the perfect wedding. The internet is one resource that is stocked with information for engaged couples and is full of wedding ideas and package deals to consider. The local Chamber of Commerce is a great resource to contact when hiring any services you want to have at your wedding, and the Visitors Center maybe have additional wedding packages for travelers and discount booklets with money saving coupons and ideas.
Key West, Florida is not only known for the exciting culture and traditions surrounding the island, it also is one of the most relaxing and revitalizing locations in the Southeastern United States. When planning your arrival in Key West, make sure you include enough time to enjoy the abundance of day spas and treat yourself and your bridal party to some relaxation therapy before the big event. Plan for your dream wedding to be in Key West, and surround yourself with tropical bliss.