With an average of 361 sunny days a year and temperatures that reliably peak between 65 and 95 degrees, Tampa’s weather offers a respite from the cold. Yet this hot spot never gets too hot: Tampa’s official high has never hit the 100-degree mark.
Stock up on sunscreen: there are 35 miles of white sand beaches along the Gulf Coast, where views of cerulean waters will calm any wedding stress right out of you. If lounging isn’t your thing, Tampa Bay offers tons of eco-tourism adventures along the banks of its many freshwater rivers, inlets, and bays.
The Cigar City has a long history with neighbor Cuba, and Cuban culture is fully present everywhere you look. Take a trip to historic Latin quarter Ybor City, where cigar manufacturing used to reign supreme, to puff cigars, sip coffee, indulge in hearty Cuban fare, and dance until dawn in the many nightclubs.
The largest open-water estuary in the state, this rare ecological region is literally built around water. This means not only stellar waterfront wedding pics, but the chance for some wet fun. Guests can admire the skyline while aboard pedal-powered kayaks on the Hillsboro River, or saunter down Riverwalk, a harbor-front pedestrian path connecting the city’s major cultural venues, with drinks in hand.
A word of advice: Don’t leave the ceremony planning to the last minute. Too often, we find this to be the case, leading to uninspired and impersonal ceremonies. Instead, interview as many Tampa Bay wedding officiants as you need to until you find the one that seems invested in telling your love story. Work with your local ceremony musicians to select the perfect pieces of music that reflects the mood of your day and the two of you as a couple. The ceremony is the heart and soul of the whole day, so take care and make it memorable.
Your wedding reception in Tampa Bay will be one for the books. Infuse a little bit of what makes this area so unique with Cuban cuisine prepared by talented local wedding caterers, hand-rolled cigars (you’re in Cigar City, after all!) to hand out as favors at the end of the night, and a salsa band to keep everyone on the dance floor all night. When your guests enter your wedding venue, they won’t know what hit them.
The rehearsal dinner is when the pre-wedding jitters start to melt away and where it all starts to feel real — you’re getting married tomorrow! Show off all that Tampa has to offer with a delicious meal with your most intimate friends and family. There’s no better way to start the weekend's celebrations.
The fun doesn’t have to stop just because the last song has been played. Invite your guests to a post-wedding brunch as a final sendoff and as a “thank you” for attending your nuptials. You and your guests will both love the extra opportunity to spend a little more time with each other, and besides, who doesn’t love brunch?
Be the best host by taking care to warmly greet your guests upon their arrival. What’s the best way to do this? With a wedding welcome bag full of your favorite local goodies and essentials to get them through the wedding weekend. You can’t be physically present to welcome each and every guest, so this is your second-best option. Plus, it’s a fun way to tie in your theme and personalize the celebration just a little bit more. As always, we’re sharing a few Tampa wedding welcome bag ideas to get you inspired.
Thank your wedding guests for celebrating with you by giving them a creative wedding favor. We suggest you draw on your awesome wedding destination, the Tampa Bay area, to show them all there is to love about this place. You’re in Cigar City, so why not offer up some delicious hand-rolled cigars at the end of the night? Or perhaps a personalized beach towel with your first names and wedding date for them to use as a keepsake? The ideas are endless, so let your imagination run wild! For a bit of inspiration, check out our suggestions.
Tampa truly plays to a variety of people. For the outdoor adventure seekers, head out to the ocean to go surfing or parasailing, or for those looking for some R&R, hit the white sand beaches and bask in the sun. Busch Gardens is the place to get your adrenaline pumping on the rollercoasters, or head to a zoo and let the kiddos feed the giraffes. Trying to beat the heat? Try your hand at exploring one of the museums in the area. You get the idea: guests won’t run out of things to do in Tampa Bay. Suggest a few of your favorite activities around town and share them with your guests on your wedding website or within your invitation suite so they can discover the area through your eyes.
The Columbia Restaurant is the state’s oldest and the nation’s largest Spanish restaurant. It dates all the way back to 1905 and offers dinner and entertainment: you can witness a falmenco dance routine most nights.www.columbiarestaurant.com
Back in the 1880s, Ybor City was a melting pot of immigrants from Spain, Cuba, Germany, and Italy and quickly became the cigar-making capitol of the world. Now, it is a blend of latin culture with its own flare and nightlife to keep you and your guests entertained between your nuptials.www.yborcityonline.com
African safari meets amusement park with thrill-seeking rides, Busch Gardens is just as fun for adults as it is for the kids.www.seaworldparks.com
There is so much to do and see at the aquarium, including a dolphin cruise, animal shows, and even the chance to do some snorkling!www.flaquarium.org
Just voted #1 zoo in the country by Parents Magazine, Lowry Park Zoo isn’t just about walking around looking at lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), you can feed the animals, pet the stingrays, and enjoy live shows with the zoo keepers.www.lowryparkzoo.com
Tampa’s cuisine is certainly unique. With access to some of the freshest seafood in the world, you can bet that most menus in the area feature some kind of fresh-caught something. Being close to Cuba, the authentic Latin flavors you can find in Tampa rival those you will find overseas. Suggest a few of your favorite local restaurants to your guests, and check out what USA Today is called the 10 best foodie spots in the area. Your loved ones will love eating their way through Tampa!
If your loved ones are coming to Tampa Bay for your wedding weekend, be sure to recommend some fabulous guest accommodations to make their trip planning a little bit easier. Tampa Bay is a huge area, so make sure you’re suggesting places that are close to your wedding’s festivities, and offer a few at different price points to make sure everyone can find a place that suits their budget. Your guests will so appreciate this gesture.
The Tampa Bay area has so many places for great engagement photos. Hit up one of the many beautiful white-sand beaches, visit Ybor City for photos with Latin flair, or walk the adorable village of Hyde Park for sweet and romantic images. Chat with your Tampa Bay wedding photographers and pick their brains about the best spots in the city for unique backdrops. We can’t wait to see your engagement session!
Grab your best gal pals and head for the beach because you have some celebrating to do! Tampa is the perfect place for a bachelorette party. Hang by the pool and sip on something fruity, check yourselves into a spa for some pampering, and hit up Ybor City to salsa dance the night away.
Tampa Bay is every bit a man’s playground, and we’ve got lots of ideas for making the most of the weekend. Your guy can gather his buds and hit the greens to play a round of golf or indulge his competitive nature and organize a paddle board race (loser buys the first round of beer).
The good news is that you’ve chosen a vibrant, scenic, and seriously fun location to gather your nearest and dearest on your big day. Congrats! The bad news? Your wedding location is so awesome that it draws a crowd for reasons other than your nuptials all year long. When selecting your wedding date, be sure you know what other activities are happening in the area that might put a cramp in your party’s style. We’ve gone ahead and done the legwork for you, so check out the annual calendar of major Tampa Bay events and add them to your radar.
Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium hosts the NCAA Football Outback Bowl each New Year's Day.www.outbackbowl.com
The Clearwater Marathon attracts runners of all backgrounds and experience levels who are drawn to Clearwater’s mostly flat terrain. Expect traffic closures on race weekend!www.clearwaterdistanceclassic.com
This annual festival celebrates the fictitious José Gaspar, a pirate captain fabled to have operated in southwest Florida. The festival features music, film, and road races, and attracts over 500,000 attendees.www.gasparillapiratefest.com
Up to 500,000 visitors travel to Tampa each February to explore agriculture, play carnival games, and savor fair dishes like the infamous funnel cake burger.www.floridastatefair.com
During baseball season, up to 40,000 spectators visit Tampa to watch the Rays play at Tropicana Field in nearby St. Petersburg.www.tampabay.rays.mlb.com
The Mainsail Arts festival brings over 250 juried artists to Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg. Average attendance reaches 100,000.www.mainsailart.org
The University of South Florida’s graduation packs the City of Tampa with graduates’ adoring parents, siblings, and friends.www.usf.edu
Over 60,000 football fans to flock to Raymond James Stadium when the Bulls are at home.www.gousfbulls.com
Tampa’s NFL team plays weekly from September to January. Expect crowds of up to 65,000 at home games.www.buccaneers.com
Check out some other useful local online resources to get you acquainted with all-things Tampa Bay, from travel guides to the local restaurant scene to great local wedding blogs run by our friends in the industry: