What Makes the Florida Keys Such a Popular Choice for a Beach Wedding?

It’s relatively easy to travel to the Florida Keys from just about anywhere in the United States. If you are a U.S. citizen and are trying to avoid the hassles of traveling out of the country for your beach wedding, the Keys offer a fabulous domestic solution! Known as the America’s Caribbean–they have gained in popularity in recent years as the costs of air travel outside the United States have increased. When you can enjoy the same tropical climate, with sunshine almost year round–why not look to this area when thinking of a beach wedding or honeymoon?

Florida Keys Map

Main Areas of the Keys
The geographic areas of the keys consist of the Key Largo area, Islamorada, Marathon which is in the heart of the keys, the Lower Keys, and finally, Key West which is the southernmost tip of the Continental U.S.

4 Great Wedding Destinations in the Florida Keys

Cheeca Lodge and Spa in Islamorada
The only family owned and operated resort of its size in the keys, the Cheeca Lodge and Spa has been around since the early 1900’s when it was formerly called the Olney Inn. Currently owned by the Johnson family, it underwent a $30 million renovation in 2005 and is now the elegant resort that it is today. It is located in Islamorada, which is known as the sports fishing capital of the world, and has lots of watersports activities available at the resort including charter fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailboat trips, etc. Cheeca Lodge and Spa can accomodate from 10 to 200 people for an unforgettable beach wedding and reception. 1,100 feet of palm-infringed beach including Cheeca’s renowned “Leaning Palms”, make for an incredible backdrop for your barefoot oceanfront ceremony.

Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort in Marathon Key
A luxurious beach front resort located in the heart of the Florida Keys in Marathon, and offering two and three bedroom beach front homes, Tranquility Bay can accomodate weddings of up to 70 guests. It was was voted in 2008 and 2009 as the best place to have a wedding in Marathon. It’s a picturesque setting on the Gulf of Mexico and would make a great backdrop for your beach wedding. It has been featured on the Travel Channel with host, Samantha Brown, as one of the best luxurious resorts to stay in the Florida Keys.

Little Palm Island Resort in Little Torch Key
If you plan on having a smaller, more intimate beach wedding–Little Palm Island has wedding packages for up to 40 guests. It’s a hidden treasure in the Florida Keys and only accessible by boat or sea plane. There are no telephones or televisions and no guests under the age of 16 years. It has been an escape of choice for presidents and high profile celebrities as well as savvy travelers. With only 30 guest suites, consisting of thatched-roof bungalows and private oceanfront verandas, Little Palm Island has been hailed as “Florida’s most secluded and romantic retreat” by Travel and Leisure Magazine.

The Reach Resort in Key West
A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, The Reach Resort has just completed at $32 million renovation and, it boasts one of the most picturesque Key West lodging experiences as it is located on the only natural beach on the island of Key West. With 150 guestrooms and 76 suites, many with private balconies, The Reach Resort would make a great choice for your Florida Keys beach wedding.

Tranquility Bay

Tranquility Bay Resort, Marathon

Florida Marriage License Requirements

To have a legal wedding ceremony in the state of Florida, you will need to obtain a marriage license at any County Clerk’s Office within the state. A blood test is not required. A waiting period of three days applies to Florida residents only; there is not a waiting period for non-residents of Florida.
Proper identification is necessary, such as a valid Driver’s License or Passport. Copies of applicable divorce decrees are required. Both the Bride and Groom must be present to obtain the license. Fees for a Florida marriage license are subject to change without notice so, check with any county office for current license fees.

In the Florida Keys, the Monroe County Clerk’s Offices are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, excluding holidays. Your license will be issued immediately and must be used within 60 days. More information may be obtained from the Monroe County Clerk’s Offices – Key West 305-292-3458 or Marathon 305-289-6027. They can also be reached on the web Clerk of Court for Monroe County.

Weather in the Florida Keys
Generally speaking, the weather in the Keys can be described as tropical almost year round. For a complete listing of average temperatures (highs and lows) as well as avearge rainfall, click on each of the areas below:

Key Largo Weather

Islamorada Weather

Marathon Weather

Lower Keys Weather

Key West Weather

Florida Keys Sunset

The Best Sunsets on the Planet can be found in the Keys. If you are easily romanced by the dramatic glow of the sun’s rays as it sinks down into the horizon, you won’t want to miss a single sunset during your beach wedding. I’ve got to say that, even after seeing the sun setting over the south rim of the Grand Canyon–and it was pretty amazing–there’s not a better sunset anywhere in the world than those I’ve seen in the Keys.

Florida Keys sunset at Key West

Sunset in Key West

Captain Robbies Marina

Captain Robbie’s Marina, Islamorada

Seven Mile Bridge

Seven Mile Bridge, linking Marathon to the Lower Keys

dock at Pigeon Key

The Dock at Pigeon Key


Your Must-Know Guide to Great Beach Wedding Pictures

Marissa Siebert photography Marissa Siebert Photography

Your beach wedding pictures are one of the most important parts of your wedding planning. You’ll treasure these images of your wedding day for years to come so, read through the following for tips and ideas on creating beautiful beach wedding pictures.

Selecting a Wedding Photographer

If you’ve decided upon a beach wedding at a resort, chances are there’s a list of wedding photographers for you to choose from. Some of the larger resorts that specialize in destination weddings even have wedding photographers on staff.

I’ve seen some beautiful wedding pictures taken by resort staff photographers. After all, how can they screw up a gorgeous beachside backdrop you might ask?

Well, it can and does happen if you end up with an inexperienced wedding photographer.

Be sure that you ask to see examples of the photograher’s work. You certainly want someone who specializes in wedding pictures such that they know exactly what poses should be taken.

Checklist of Beach Wedding Pictures

You’ll not want to forget some of the following must-have poses for your wedding album:

Before the Wedding Ceremony

  1. You and any bridesmaids, flower girls, or ring bearers getting ready
  2. You and your maid or matron of honor
  3. You preparing to walk down the aisle
  4. A full length of the back of your wedding dress
  5. Your bouquet
  6. Your groom and his groomsmen getting ready
  7. The wedding ceremony location prior to anyone arriving

Wedding Ceremony Photos

  1. Guests arriving
  2. Ushers seating guests
  3. Parents and grandparents being seated
  4. The groom walking down the aisle or entering
  5. Closeup of the groom as you walk down the aisle
  6. The wedding party watching you walk down the aisle
  7. You walking down the aisle
  8. Flower girls or ring bearers walking down the aisle
  9. You and your groom exchanging your wedding vows
  10. Your first kiss as husband and wife
  11. You and your groom leading the recessional

Portraits following the Wedding Ceremony

  1. You and your groom
  2. You and your groom with the wedding officiant
  3. You and your groom with your side of the family
  4. You and your groom with his side of the family
  5. Signing of the wedding certificate
  6. Your hands together displaying your wedding bands

Reception Photos

    1. The wedding cake
    2. The reception site
    3. Guests awaiting your arrival at the reception
    4. The banquet stations
    5. First dances
    6. Toasts to you and your husband
    7. Guests dancing
    8. Cutting of your wedding cake
    9. Feeding each other the cake
    10. The bouquet toss
    11. The garter toss
  1. Your departure from the reception as husband and wife

Wedding Dresses for Your Beach Wedding

What’s HOT and What’s NOT in Wedding Dresses

Wedding dresses are not just something beautiful to look at — your dress is an expression of your personality so–have some fun with it! You have so much more flexibility with a beach wedding than any other wedding venue and, who says it has to be white?

Wedding Sarongs

One of the hot new fashions are wedding sarongs. You’re probably familar with a sarong being used as a bathing suit coverup. Wedding sarongs are not only are they beautifully elegant yet casual at the same time, they are also very inexpensive!

Talk about easy on the budget!

You can get a beautiful wedding sarong for as little as $14.99. Now that’s something that should make you smile when it comes to your wedding expenses.

Wearing a sarong as opposed to a traditional wedding gown may be able to afford you an upgrade to the honeymoon suite at your wedding resort!

These sarongs take it to the next level!

Short and Sassy

Short or mini-dresses are a great solution if you want to remain traditional yet, shed the long gown. Think about standing too close to the shoreline and getting the bottom of your long wedding gown wet and sandy. Although it can come clean, it’s not the best look for your wedding pictures.

Mini long sleeve lace dress

Other Wedding Styles

Bermuda or Walking Shorts and a matching elegant blouse would make a great look for a casual beach wedding. While this isn’t a wedding “dress”, it’s a super alternative!

Wedding Dress Styles to Avoid

When you visualize yourself standing on a windy beach, you probably don’t see yourself wearing a heavy, bulky wedding dress with layers and layers of fabric or a long cumbersome cathedral train. While this look suits some wedding venues and some brides, it’s not the best look or feel for a beach wedding.

Top 5 Musts in Choosing Intimate Apparel for Your Wedding Night

Bridal Lingerie From $8.90

Top 5 Musts in Choosing Intimate Apparel for Your Wedding Night

Your wedding night intimate apparel should be special…something for you AND your husband!

1.  It MUST be sexy!
This IS your wedding night after all. There’s never going to be a better time to turn on the sex appeal. Your husband will pick up quickly on the scent your giving off.

2.   It MUST fit correctly!
Be sure to take your body type into consideration when you purchase your wedding night under garments. Choose wisely. You’ll want to be sure to choose a style that best accentuates your body.

3.   It MUST make you feel great!
The biggest part of exuding sex appeal is feeling like a sexy woman. If you are feeling like you look great in your wedding night lingerie, you WILL look great!

4.   It MUST be comfortable!
This may seem like it goes against all you’ve been told about being a woman but, to look great and feel great, you must be comfortable down to and beyond your lingerie. Stay away from overly lacy fabrics which tend to be scratchy. Soft and silky–almost “slippery” is the key for the night!

5.   It MUST get the OK from your husband!
You should know your man’s tastes by this point so, be sure to play into what pleases his senses. This is not necessarily one of those times when “less is more”….leave something to his imagination and be sure to accentuate those womanly curves in the most pleasing of tones and fabrics that your husband will go wild over!

Choosing the right intimate apparel will make all the difference. Browse through thousands of styles and designs to find one that’s just right for you and don’t forget about the 5 MUST haves when searching for your wedding night lingerie at DressilyMe.com.

A Christmas Engagement?

Did you get engaged over the Christmas holiday?  Congratulations!  Christmas has long been known as “engagement season” as it’s generally a time when family gathers together so, what better time to propose and share the occasion with family (and friends).

Your head is likely spinning with all sorts of exciting things to come!  And with good reason because, after your proposal and when things settle down a bit, your next step will be to start thinking about a date and venue to tie the knot with your sweetheart!   There are so many options to consider and, they cover the spectrum when it comes to cost.

If you’re trying to stay on a budget, a beach wedding might be something to consider.  All the better if you live within driving distance of a coastal area.  I attended a beautiful beach wedding at Edisto Beach in South Carolina this past June!  My long-time friend (since age 13), Connie, married her fiancé in a small ceremony under a public pavilion right on the beach.  They were surrounded by family and close friends who came to watch them exchange their vows at high noon.  Dress was beach-casual, with sundresses and sandals worn by the guests, and the bride looked stunning in a floral print sundress while the groom wore a pair of white linen slacks and a shirt that complimented the bride’s dress.

If you don’t live within driving distance of a beach or, if you prefer a destination wedding to a more tropical location, Sandals Resorts has a Free Wedding Package if you stay at any of their all-inclusive resorts for a minimum of three nights!  What a romantic setting to exchange your vows and, roll your honeymoon all into one with your wedding day!   This can be very cost effective and, can be tailored to your budget basing it on how long you want to stay and, how many guests you want to invite, etc.

When thinking about a destination wedding, another great value is getting married at sea while on a cruise ship!  Like a destination beach wedding, a cruise also combines your wedding and honeymoon…and what better way to do so than with a ceremony on the high seas.  This too can be tailored for any budget as cruises can vary in length and ports of departure, ports of call, etc.  The only thing to consider here is, if neither of you have cruised before, it MAY be risky to make your first cruise be your wedding (or honeymoon) cruise.  People who cruise either really love cruising or hate it…there’s usually not much in between.  I absolutely love cruising and find it to be one of the best vacation values out there BUT, it’s a big gamble with one of the most important days of your life, if you’ve never cruised before and don’t know whether it’s for you or not!

If you’re not new to cruising or, are up for the adventure,   A Caribbean Cruise may be the perfect wedding destination! Book Your Caribbean Cruise Today, Only at Cruisedirect.com! EXCLUSIVES – Up to $1,000 to Spend Onboard, Low Rates, & 10% Off Shore Excursions!

Again, Congratulations on your engagement and, Happy Wedding Planning!



Beach Wedding Receptions For Any Budget

Beach wedding receptions can be big and outlandish or small and casual. It all depends on your budget and your desires.

Your beach wedding reception is the celebration of your beach wedding ceremony!

This is it…the moment you’ve been waiting for…the wedding ceremony is over–let the fun begin! You’ve just married the man of your dreams and now it’s time to celebrate the occasion with family and friends at your beach wedding reception party!.

You’ve fussed and mussed over every little detail of the wedding ceremony and the wedding day…the flowers, your hair, your dress, your shoes, your veil, headpiece, the bridesmaids, the flower girl, the ring bearer, the guests, the invitations, the honeymoon, the weather, you name it…you’ve thought about it a time or two…or ten!

Now it’s time to let all of that stress leave your body and have some serious FUN! This is not a time for stuffiness or fussiness anymore. Just relax…be yourself and enjoy being the bride in the spotlight at your beach wedding reception!

It’s YOUR day!

If you’ve planned a large wedding reception directly following the ceremony, you won’t have far to travel for the fun to begin.

Keeping the Beach Wedding Reception Costs Down

The reception is probably where the largest costs will be in the overall beach wedding expenses, excluding resort travel of course.

Perhaps your wedding ceremony is taking place at a beach wedding destination far from your hometown and, not many guests, if any, have traveled with you for the occasion.

You may opt to have a small reception at the actual wedding site then, have a larger reception for friends and family back home that were unable to come to the wedding. This is perfectly acceptable and, it makes a lot of sense too.

Your idea of a perfect beach wedding may in fact be either just the two of you or, your immediate family members at a great beach destination. This certainly cuts down on expenses in a beach resort location.

If you do plan a reception at a later date in your hometown, shop around for a less expensive venue. This way you can invite as many wedding guests as you like, at a fraction of the cost!

The old fashioned church hall reception is a low-cost way to include many more guests than any other venue. Depending on your church, you may not even be charged a rental fee use the fellowship hall if you’re a member of the church.

Some churches even offer catering services by various womens’ groups within the church. This can be extremely affordable.

Since we weren’t active church members at the time, our wedding reception was held in a historic home, the Governor Thomas Bennett House, in Charleston, South Carolina (our hometown).

Plan the time of your wedding ceremony or wedding reception to take place at a time other than the lunch or dinner hour. This allows you to serve hors d’oeuvres as opposed to a sit-down dinner or buffet.

So, to recap some ideas to keep your wedding reception costs down:

  • Consider holding your wedding reception in your hometown at a time later than your wedding day
  • Hold your wedding reception in your church’s fellowship hall
  • Search for low-cost rental fees in a suitable venue
  • Serve hors d’oeuvres as opposed to a full catered meal

A Tropical Setting to Say “I Do”

Most little girls dream of a magical fairytale wedding day when they will wed their Prince Charming. However, over the past couple of decades, the cost of a large traditional ceremony has almost gotten out of reach for many people! The old tradition of the bride’s parents paying for everything, has become financially impossible for a lot of families and, most engaged couples are now sharing in the expense.

If the thought of high expenses makes your head spin, a beach wedding ceremony at a seaside destination might end up being a less expensive alternative to a traditional hometown ceremony. By having a simple beach wedding ceremony somewhere other than your hometown, you may not feel the same sense of obligation to invite a large number of people. In other words, you can have a more intimate gathering with fewer guests, resulting in lower overall costs.

Even better still — and much lower costs — if only the two of you are in attendance!

Within this website, you’ll find information on…

  • Finding the perfect location
  • Deciding on a ceremony that fits with your style
  • Choosing a wedding dress that is most flattering to your body type
  • The 5 MUST haves for Wedding Night Intimate Apparel
  • What’s new in cake designs
  • How to keep your catering costs low by choosing fun beach-style foods
  • The latest fashions in engagement rings and bands
  • How a diamond ring is valued
  • Hosting a reception that guests will talk about long after your special day
  • How many bridesmaids and groomsmen should you have
  • And…you’ll even be able to read stories from other brides-to-be and share stories of your own planning

If you’re like most brides who begin their planning a year or more in advance, you’ll benefit from receiving my newsletter–it’s packed full of ideas and helpful information!

Destination Weddings

Questions You Must Ask When Deciding on the Best Beach Wedding Locations

What’s my budget for a beach wedding?

Finances play a major factor in which beach wedding locations you’ll be considering. Take a look at your finances–maybe you’ve already set aside money for your wedding or, maybe you’re one of the few lucky brides whose parents are able to cover your wedding expenses. If you and your groom are footing the bill, it’s a good idea to sit down now and decide just how much money you’ll have to spend.

  • What month of the year do I want to get married?

When we got married, we chose December as we wanted a cool-weather wedding and honeymoon. However, if you prefer vacationing (which is what your honeymoon really is) in warmer weather, you should choose a warm-weather month or a warm weather beach wedding destination to exchange your vows.

  • What type of wedding ceremony do I want?

Since you’re planning to exchange your wedding vows on the beach, you may want a really casual wedding ceremony– one where your wedding officiant is dressed in beach attire and conducts a simple ceremony covering just the basics…like your vows and blessing of your wedding bands, etc.

Or, just because your wedding venue is by the sea, doesn’t mean you can’t opt for a more traditional wedding ceremony complete with music, a large wedding party, guests, etc.

If you’re thinking of a very small romantic beach wedding location, you probably wouldn’t choose a beach known for it’s party atmosphere such as, South Beach in Miami, FL.

You get the idea here…the beach wedding location you choose will have the same “personality” as your ideal wedding ceremony.

  • What beach destinations have I always wanted to visit?

Now’s your chance! If you’ve dreamt of vacationing on a tropical beachsomewhere and being served drinks with little umbrellas while basking in the noonday sun, this may help to narrow the scope of your search for the perfect beach wedding destination. For example, if you’ve always wanted to visit the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and your wedding finances are in order, then tying the knot there makes perfect sense!

  • What size wedding party would I like to have?

My first wedding (yes, I’ve been through what you’re about to go through twice) I had six bridesmaids and six groomsmen. Why?Because, like you’re about to find out, it’s hard to leave out “cousin Martha” or your husband-to-be’s sister (even though you’ve only met her once). Or what about all of the guys whose weddings he was best man at or, all of the women whose weddings you were a bridesmaid (and still have the tafeta dresses to prove it!)?

So, that said, you really have to do some deep thinking on just where to draw the line.

You may find that, a beach wedding location farther away from your hometown may provide you with the perfect opportunity to scale down to a bare minimum number in your wedding party.

Or, if you’re truly dreaming of a large beach wedding party filled with high school and college friends as bridesmaids and groomsmen, or perhaps you come from a big, close family and want them all by your side as you exchange your wedding vows, then, you may decide that a beach wedding location closer to home would be the best choice for your beach wedding.

Sandals Whitehouse now Sandals South Coast