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.
I think I’m the only girl who didn’t have a dream wedding planned out in her mind. I knew I would like to be married someday, but the marriage itself seemed far more important than the wedding day itself. That was when my fiancé suggested Key West as a tropical island wedding, I said “Sure, why not?” We’d both been there on vacation, separately as well as when we were dating, we both liked it, and it would be a nice change of atmosphere for us and our friends.
I was definitely excited about getting married, and as we went around the island with our wedding planner, I certainly had opinions of what I wanted and didn’t want, but maybe because I had never built it up in my head, it never became super overwhelming. That all changed on the morning of the wedding.
If I had scripted the day, it could not have been more perfect. The weather was warm, but the breezes were blowing all day so it felt relaxing. The ceremony on the beach was perfect, with the sun setting behind several sailboats. The reception, on an outdoor dining patio under the stars with fresh seafood and key lime pie, went off without a hitch, and afterwards, a few of us were even up for a little karaoke on the Duval crawl.
It wasn’t until I went to bed that night, my first as a married woman, that I realized how perfect my Key West dream wedding had been. Certainly, some of it had to do with everything that beautiful island has to offer, but a lot of what made it perfect was the guy snoring in bed next to me.
One of the toughest challenges my wife and I had was planning our wedding. I’m not kidding. It got heated from time to time, and what made it worse was it wasn’t us putting the pressure on ourselves. It was everyone else. As the first child to get married in each family, everybody had an opinion on what we should do and nobody was shy about sharing them. It got to the point where we almost eloped, but then we did the next best thing: we decided to get married in Key West, Florida.
We invited everybody that we had planned on, told them all that is was going to be a very simple beachfront ceremony, and that if they wanted to come to the reception, we needed to know a month in advance. Once we had our number, we then scrambled to pick from the Key West restaurants to find the perfect place. We wanted a combination of fresh seafood on the reception menu and outdoor patio areas so we could dine and dance under the stars. We were lucky enough to get a booking at our first choice, and after that, the planning was basically done.
My cousin thought it was the coolest idea ever, so he got his certification online so he could marry us. Most of the people who had shared an opinion agreed that we had managed to throw one heck of a wedding, and as the two of us danced to our first song, both in our flip flops, we knew that we had made the right decision as well…so much so that we booked our one year anniversary trip even before we left Key West.
I have always wanted to have a tropical island wedding. There has never been any question in my mind about it, so when my boyfriend and I first started talking about getting married, I let him know that in no uncertain terms. He laughed and made some “bridezilla” joke, but when he saw the look on my face, he knew now was not the time for joking, so he did what he does best. He went to work researching our options.
Many of the resorts that offered tropical island weddings had very specific packages and other restrictions that made my dream seem more like a nightmare. I wanted the wedding to be on my – okay, our – terms, which meant being able to choose where we held it, what type of reception we could have and the number of guests we could invite.
At first, that didn’t look like it was going to be an option, but them my fiancé stumbled across an article about tropical destination weddings in Key West, Florida. The article made it seem so easy I figured there had to be a catch, but we started making some inquiries, even talked to a few couples who had been married down there, and all of them said what a great experience it had been. We had never been there, but between all the great recommendations, we figured we’d give it a shot.
It ended up being an even better wedding than I imagined. Everything was beautiful and perfect, thanks to an amazing wedding planner. I even brought home a little sand stuck in my dress, and I’m going to keep it there as part of my memories.
When my wife and I got married, we were both fresh out of college and just starting our careers, so money and time was tight. We had a simple ceremony followed by a reception in her parent’s back yard, and our honeymoon was a weekend getaway. Although we never regretted having something so small, we talked from time to time about what we would have done differently if we could have.
Flash forward about twenty years and our upcoming anniversary. We wanted to do something special so we decided to renew our vows. This time, we were going to do it the way we wanted, and that meant by making it happen in Key West. That had been our dream honeymoon destination back then, and we had been fortunate enough to vacation there a few times over the years.
Even though we were already married (obviously), we still hired a wedding planner to take care of the logistics. Then we went through our old guest list and re-invited everyone who had been there the first time, plus some new friends we had made over the years. I’m not sure if it was because they wanted to support us or just wanted a tropical island vacation, but most of them said yes.
We had a blast. We got to say “I do” on the beach as the sun set, we took our friends to several of our favorite Key West restaurants, and we even got to spend the night in a honeymoon suite. We may have been one of the older couples having a tropical island wedding that weekend, but we felt like newlyweds all over again.
A cousin of mine was getting married this winter in Key West and I was invited. Naturally, I wanted to go, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get the time off from work, much less be able to afford it. I didn’t know much about the island and so I thought it was like the rest of the Caribbean islands: far away, hard to get to and overpriced. Luckily, my wife is a little smarter than I am and she made the trip work.
First, she found us a direct flight into Fort Lauderdale and a rental car. Before I could ask her what good that was, she showed me pictures of the Overseas Highway and the iconic 7 mile bridge. She found us a flight that left at 6am (ugh) but that meant I would only have to miss two days of work. Then she lined up several different hotel options, all of them well within our budget. We settled on an inn in a restored mansion that seemed close enough to where everything was happening.
Everything was perfect. The wedding was beautiful, the weather was gorgeous, and I even got the chance to go snorkeling for the first time. We had such a great time in Key West that my only regret was having to leave around noon on Sunday to drive back to the mainland, but even that was tempered by the chance to take that beautiful ride. My wife even drove so I could take in all of the scenery. Now that we know how convenient and affordable it is, we will definitely be back again and again.