My wife and I knew we wanted a wedding that was equal parts fun and simple, something that everyone could enjoy. The more we talked about it though, the less simple it seemed to be. We could feel it starting to overwhelm us, so we put a moratorium on discussing it for a week while we regrouped. Sometime during that week she saw an ad for Key West, Florida and thought that might be the solution.
When she brought it up to me, we looked into everything the island had to offer. We realized that it was easy to get to in a variety of different ways, and there were plenty of different types of hotels and inns to choose from. With July being the slower season, rates would be lower and availability would be greater. Since we were having this discussion in January, we decided that gave everyone, including us, enough time to make plans.
The only thing we did before we chose the date and sent out the invitations was look through the Key West restaurants and decide which one we’d have the reception at. Once the day was picked, we were just like everyone else: looking for a great deal on hotel and airfare. Since there was almost no planning involved, it kind of felt like we were eloping. Even a couple of days before we left it almost hadn’t hit us that we were getting married. But when we showed up at the beach with the justice of the peace and one hundred invited guests, we knew we’d made the right decision.
One of the things that attracted me to my boyfriend at the time was the sense of adventure we both had. It was certainly something that brought us together and made for exciting times. When we decided to get married, we wanted our wedding to be an adventure as well. We were looking at all sorts of crazy ideas, but we both realized we were feeling the same thing: it wouldn’t be the same without our friends and family. We needed something that was bit of a compromise, and that was when we discovered Key West.
So much about it appeals to so many different people that we knew it would be the perfect choice. People who loved to spend time on the water would have plenty to do, as would those who enjoy history. There were coffee shops for early birds, bars and night clubs for night owls, and an amazing number of Key West restaurants for everyone to choose from.
Of course, we weren’t just concerned about our guests. We wanted to make sure our wedding was meaningful and special for us. We found a wedding planner who understood what we wanted and she helped us find the right location for the ceremony and a great restaurant that had an amazing reception menu of fresh seafood and crab cakes, not to mention a killer view. She even helped us violate one of the pre-wedding traditions that says a bride and groom aren’t supposed to see each other on their wedding day until the ceremony.
We spent that morning sky-diving.
My husband always wanted to get married in Key West. I always wanted a traditional church wedding in June. Much to the shock and surprise of our friends and family, we each got we wanted, and it turned out to be a magical time.
We had been on vacation to Key West a couple of times while dating when he brought up the idea of a tropical island destination wedding. We had started talking about marriage but not about our plans. Needless to say, this caught me off guard. I had imagined a big wedding in a church, followed by fun relaxed reception. I couldn’t possibly see myself abandoning all of that, but I didn’t think there would be much of a way to compromise. Instead of letting it blow up into something big, he proposed a compromise. Since it included a vacation, I was game.
We returned to Key West that June. We certainly did all the fun things we loved to do down there, but we also took the time to explore the life of the island. We even found our denomination’s church and talked to the pastor about having a wedding there. Discovering how easy it would be to arrange it was like the first domino falling. Soon everything else started falling into place.
The following summer we returned with 120 of our closest friends. The wedding was everything I had always pictured in my head with one stunning difference: a beautiful beachside tropical sunset that we took our pictures in front of before going off to the reception.
When I found out my niece was planning a tropical wedding, I assumed that meant no invitation. Not because she wouldn’t want me there, but because there’d be no way she could afford a large number of guests. When my wife and I got the invitation, I assumed that meant we wouldn’t be able to make it because it would cost too much and be too difficult to get there. When my wife showed me just how easy and affordable it would be, I realized I needed to stop making assumptions and start paying attention.
She picked Key West as the tropical island for her destination wedding, and I could see that, in many ways, it was no different (and therefore probably not more expensive) than a wedding back home would have been. She wasn’t stuck using a specific wedding package from a resort but instead could create her own ceremony and reception, hire her own entertainment and work within her budget.
Key West also meant there were dozens of hotels to choose from and several different travel options, which helped keep the costs low for her guests. Many of the family members I talked to at the reception remarked on the same thing I had thought, that once they heard about it they wouldn’t be able to make it. Instead, some of them had the opportunity not only to see her get married but also take their first vacation to the tropics. My own daughter has a few years to go before she’s marrying age (thank God) but at least I can now say I won’t be too worried if she says she wants an island wedding as well.
When it comes time to get down to the little details of your island wedding, you will be anxious and ready to get things done and check them off of your list. By this time, you have probably already dedicated a little time to the planning process, but now you are ready to get really involved and see to those fine details that will make everything run smoothly.
When it comes to the menu at your reception, you will have even more detailed decisions to make. This is a time when you want to be conscious of your guests’ allergies, but not go overboard trying to accommodate your crazy cousin Christy who has self-diagnosed herself as having a gluten allergy. Your island wedding is for you to tie the knot, not your guests controlling what they interpret as a vacation with a wedding thrown in on the side! Of course, you want to be courteous to your guests by giving them options when it comes to the food, but you definitely need to make it mostly about you, your tastes and your favorite dishes. Just because one person does not really care for mushrooms does not mean nothing can contain mushrooms. A great solution could be to label anything that contains a food people are typically allergic to or greatly dislike like nuts, seafood, onions, garlic, gluten or salt. This will allow you to come off as being considerate and also give your guests some variety on the menu. They will love you just a little bit more when they get back from your island wedding.
Island vacations can be some of the most rewarding trips of your life, if well planned. Luckily, there are lots of articles that can help you figure out what it is you need to do to make your Key West vacation a success. One of the most important things to look into is the thriving entertainment and fine dining culture. Key West restaurants are part of a booming food economy, one that benefits all year round from the beautiful sunny weather. Weddings and wedding receptions, banquets, award ceremonies and destination vacations are constantly being hosted on our island, meaning that the region has a thriving and professional collection of fine dining establishments. Which Key West restaurant serves the best key lime pie? The answer might be a subjective and controversial subject among the thousands of satisfied visitors and tourists who cycle through our island yearly, but you can rest assured, restaurant review sites can help point you in the right direction. With so many seafood staples on the menu, you could make a game out of eating out on your next trip.
Key West. Florida is a popular destination vacation spot. It’s no wonder why. A rich architectural and literary history, combined with the stable and stunning weather, mixed with the fantastic food culture, means that there’s something for everyone who visits our island. Be sure to slow down and enjoy your next experience with us, taking time to kick back on the beach and soak up the sun. Happy vacationing!
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!