Have it all with a destination wedding in the Keys...without ever leaving the States. We’re talking all the tropical exoticism you want without any of the exorbitant travel time, outrageous costs, or international worries.
The Keys are famous for promoting a laid-back lifestyle. Trust us when we tell you that there will never be a time you’ll appreciate this attitude more than when you’re planning a wedding. Stress during the planning process? Not a chance.
Boredom simply doesn’t exist in the Keys—there’s an endless list of compelling activities that have become a part of the local routine. From snorkeling to beach bumming to cruising art galleries and more, the sheer number of adventures that await are enough to warrant a trip straight to the coast.
What do you get when you add ocean-fresh seafood, exotic cultural influence, and a healthy dose of vibrant local flavor? A distinctive cuisine that just won’t quit. The bright brand of Floribbean food found here is a little bit Cuban, a little bit Bahamian, and a whole lot delicious.
Who ever said that winter weddings had to be snowy and cold? Make your way on down to the Florida coast for a warm, tropical, and sun-filled soirée—even (and especially) in the dead-of-winter months.
It’s a decision that some young women dream about for years, wondering just what fate has in store for her. Looks, personality, degrees of compatibility...all these elements cycle through her imagination. Will she have to compromise? Is the right fit out there somewhere? Oh, the search for The One. Wait—did you think we were talking about soul mates? Sorry, friend. No. We’re talking about The Dress. Find your sartorial match made in heaven at one of the fabulous bridal shops in the Keys, where your fairy godmothers of fashion are waiting to outfit you in the gown you were born to wear. (While you’re there, dress up your whole wedding party to match; you’ll see your entire wedding vision really come to life.) Then gild the whole ensemble with help from your local ring and jewelry specialists, where those eye-catching details, from wedding bands to a “something new” necklace, will secure the look you’ve been searching for. Then sit back and breathe a sigh of relief...whew. The hunt is over.
Unless you are a model or a celebrity (and if so, well then congrats to you), the twenty-four hours surrounding your walk down the aisle might be the most photographed day of your life. With all those cameras flashing, you’ll want to be sure you’re looking mighty fine, so book an appointment or two with local hair and makeup professionals well in advance to work through the finer details of your wedding appearance. They’ll help you achieve that polished, but not too “done” affect so that you look like you...just a really, really stunning version of you. What could be better? Reward yourself for all that hard work of being gorgeous with a trip to one of the Florida Keys’ pampering salons, preferably with your best buds in tow, to get that relaxed, glowy vibe that comes from a killer facial and massage. Oh, and remember when we said this was the most photographed you’ll ever be? Same message applies for your hands, so get those digits in front of a nail technician while you’re there. (Trust us, “ragged cuticles” is not a hot look.)
(Steel) drum roll please...this is the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Don’t let anyone tell you differently; the ceremony—the walk down the aisle, the heartfelt vows, the first kiss as a married pair—is the foundation of your wedding day. Which is why it’s essential to dream up a Florida Keys ceremony that’s all your own. Enlist the help of the best local wedding officiants to stand by your side as you roll up your pants, let your hair down, and recite customized vows with the sand between your toes (the Keys obviously allow for open air “I do’s”). To really embrace the local flavor, ditch the harpist and find a ukulele player among the wealth of ceremony musicians that call the Keys home. There’s no set rules for the ceremony—the main idea is to get in touch with your style and run with it. After all, in the land of laid-back leisure, anything goes.
Welcome to paradise. Lucky for you, postcards are made thanks to the natural scenery here, so consider finding your picture perfect venue in the Keys the easiest thing you’ve ever done. Once you’ve scored a spot, establishing your style will help all of the other details fall into place. A chic, preppy beach wedding naturally calls for plenty of pastels and starfish-studded particulars; or don your flower crown and opt for a boho celebration along the rocky coastline. Wherever your tastes fall on the style scale, the Keys have a plethora of wedding professionals to help get you there: local florists have the blooms covered, Florida Keys wedding caterers will fill your plates, and the area’s most popular live bands will keep the dance floor going on night long. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the party.
It’s the eve of your big day and we can only imagine the kind of butterflies going on in your stomach. One of the best cures we can think of? Distract yourself with an intimate rehearsal dinner with all of your closest friends and family (we promise that you’ll be feeling much better after a few champagne toasts). It doubles as a way to show your guests that the Keys are much more than the sum of their pretty landscapes and sandy shores—there’s a ton of big flavor going on here. Pair your roast pork empanada with a warm breeze atop the terrace of Roof Top Café in Key West, or get your duck confit with a side of live jazz at Nine One Five. In Islamorada, you can indulge in the vibrant tapas at Spanish Gardens Café; or go casual in Key Largo at Sundowners. The options are broad no matter where you are in the Keys, so get excited for an evening delectably spent with your nearest and dearest.
The day after your wedding is often ridden with goodbyes, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be a party (hey, when you’re in the Keys, life’s a party). Prolong the festivities with a morning-after brunch—a syrupy stack of pancakes and a mimosa will make the farewells (stickily?) sweeter. Dive into James Beard-winning plates at Sarabeth’s (the omelets here are extraordinary), or get the key lime-stuffed French toast at Azur (yeah...that exists). Plus, there’s always the Pig’s Breakfast at The Stuffed Pig in Marathon. The bottom line: take this time to round up your remaining guests and give them a proper goodbye (and by that we mean, with champagne in some form or another). Check out our recommendations below for local spots with scrumptious spreads that can help you plan brunch for a crowd.
That envelope, standing out like a diamond amidst the bills and junk mail, is the first piece of information your guests will receive regarding your wedding. The invitation is an insight into your affair’s personality, offering clues about such fundamentals as formality, mood, size, and setting. It’s a gift, really, and can be as pretty as any present—if done well. Don’t waste the opportunity to make a first impression with your invites; enlist the design expertise of a local invitation and paper goods boutique to help craft an original, considered, and cohesive paper suite that truly plants the style seeds for your complete wedding vision. Of course, if your budget allows, going the extra mile to have your stationery hand-calligraphed will pack a majorly sophisticated, not to mention personalized, punch. The talented calligraphers in the Florida Keys can do just about anything with a pen and ink, so whether your vibe is clean and modern or elegantly casual, consider adding an extra touch of artistry to your wedding stationery. That envelope will shine all the brighter for it.
Welcome your guests with open arms as soon as they get off the plane. And by open arms, we mean a fantastically local, superbly assembled wedding welcome bag. Load ‘em up with fresh fruit to keep them going all weekend (remember, Florida citrus is a thing), sweeten their morning cup of tea with some original, Florida-made Tupelo honey, and add in some key lime cookies for good measure. For non-edible treats, wax poetic and include one Ernest Hemingway’s Key West-penned short stories (“The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is a classic option). Add to that a few necessities, (a map of the area and a detailed itinerary of the weekend), and you’re well on your way to hosting superstardom.
The devil’s in the details, so they say. Based on our line of work, we take this to mean that attention to the little things will really kick your wedding reception up a notch—for instance, don’t overlook your wedding favors. While they might seem unimportant enough to warrant skimping, passing out a clever, useful token at the end of the evening will seal the deal for total party awesomeness. Your guests can scrub down like a local with Florida Keys Sea Salt, spice up their lives with Florida Keys Hot Sauce, or indulge their sweet tooth with key lime cookies from Bob’s Bunz. Whatever favors you end up with, the main idea is to find the sweet spot where local inspiration and “thank you” collide. For even more inspiration, check out our list of awesome Florida Keys wedding favors.
From dolphin excursions and snorkeling tours to browsing through art galleries and sampling the locals’ pick for poison (hint: it’s not fresh-squeezed o.j.), the laundry list of things to do in the Keys is exhaustive. Although the crux of their weekend will obviously be your nuptials, your guests will want to experience some of the fun to be had here in paradise—encourage them to explore on their own and offer a few suggestions to get them started. The literary-minded can check out the place where Hemingway created masterpieces, history buffs can re-discover Fort Jefferson at the Dry Tortugas National Park, the naturally adventurous can make a new friend at Crocodile Lake, and life’s leisure-seekers can soak up the sun and lounge around on any of the Key’s beautiful beaches. Check out PlanetWare’s top eight attractions in the Keys for even more ideas than the ones listed below.
If the Florida Keys were served up on a platter, it’d be a dish bright with citrus, packed with spice, and fresh from the ocean. For a real taste of the islands, check out any of the waterfront restaurants that grace the foodie scene in the Keys: head to El Siboney for the best Cuban fare in town, settle in for panoramic views of the harbor and classic seafood at Hogfish, or hit up the happy hour (and honky-tonk music) at open-air Green Parrot Bar along with the locals. For even more delicious ideas, check out some of our tried-and-true favorites listed below.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to waste away in Margaritaville when you come to the Keys; there are plenty of more comfortable, less tequila-soaked (in most cases) places to lie your head at night. Immerse yourself in the old Key West vibe at the beachfront Pier House or cozy on up in the comfortably elegant Marquesa Hotel. The Reach Resort is a serious escape into paradise (complete with their own private, natural-sand beach), and the Hyatt Winward Pointe is sure to quickly become your new seaside home away from home. As the soon-to-be married couple inviting your guests from near and far to come celebrate your Keys wedding, do your due diligence by researching conveniently-located options at a variety of price points; once you find your winners, make sure to reserve blocks of rooms for out-of-town guests. To help jumpstart your research, have a look through our suggestions for a sweet spot to stay in the Florida Keys below.
Landscapes like this don’t lie—the Keys are rife with picture-perfect scenes to frame your engagement photos. Water the color of Elijah Wood’s eyes? Check. Palm trees as perfect as the Tommy Bahama logo? Check. Sand as pure as Snow White’s skin? You got it. Throw on your best beachy garb and head to Bahia Honda State Park for some jaw-dropping views (taking advantage of the superb natural light around these parts doesn’t hurt, either). Or corral some of the lively vibes of Duval Street into a single frame. The options are immense no matter where you are in the Keys. Check out our photographer-approved list of the top places for your Florida Keys engagement shoot for even more ideas. All that's left to do now is grab one of the fabulous Florida Keys wedding photographers around these parts and smile pretty.
Sipping daiquiris on the beach, snorkeling in clear waters, munching on cheeseburgers in paradise—sounds like the perfect girls’ weekend to us. So planning a bachelorette party in the Keys? Not a problem. Mindful brides can drop in on a seaside yoga class, sporty gals can hike the coast to their heart’s desire, and night owls can bar hop the night away on Duval Street. Whatever type of bride you have on your hands, the Keys have the perfect lineup of weekend activities waiting for you. Check out our definitive guide to planning a bachelorette bash in Key West and get ready for one hell of a girls’ weekend.
For a day with the dudes, you’d be hard pressed to find a better destination to throw down than the Keys. Why, you may be wondering? Let us count the ways: the skies are prime for parasailing, sharks are down to clown with the rest of the boys, and the rum-soaked bars just don’t quit. If we still haven’t convinced you, check out some of our other fabulous ideas for a bachelor weekend in the Keys. By the time you reach the end of our guide, you’ll already be booking your hotel.
Where would we be without the immensely talented pool of Florida Keys wedding vendors? Their passion for planning, commitment to their couples, and incredible ingenuity is what makes the local wedding scene as remarkable as it is, and it's the unique team behind every wedding working together that makes each event an affair to remember. Their combined experience and expertise is second to none, and we want you to benefit from it while assembling your dream team of vendors. Check out our Spotlight Series for in-depth Q&As with the best of the best in the industry, and make sure to read the articles they've contributed to Borrowed & Blue for the most reliable wedding tips and tricks, straight from the source.
Let’s face it: the Keys are a place everyone wants to be. Which is why you’re planning to get hitched here (obvi), but is also why loads of other people flock here for vacations, honeymoons, babymoons...you catch our drift. In addition to the Keys’s busy season, (mainly the winter months, when everyone else is trying to escape the snow), there are also a handful of significant events that happen throughout the year. Be sure to steer clear of these happenings when setting your wedding date, if only to avoid the headache of overbooked hotels, chaotic foot traffic, and even worse car jams. We’ve gone ahead and done some of the legwork for you; be sure to add these major Keys events to your radar, but don’t forget to double check any date that you end up choosing.
When planning something as complex and significant as your wedding day, sometimes you just want friendly experts to step in and share some pearls of wisdom. Lucky for you, we know people (we’re sitting right here—wink wink). And we’ve got your back: insider tips, exhaustive research, and inspiring takes on all aspects of the planning process, compiled here specifically with your wedding location in mind. You’re just a few clicks away from wedding planning peace of mind…You’re welcome! (No thank-you note required.)
Check out some other useful local online resources to get you acquainted with all-things Florida Keys, from travel guides to the local restaurant scene to great local wedding blogs run by our friends in the industry: