Miami Beach provides a beautiful backdrop for a destination wedding with miles of golden coastline, turquoise water as far as the eye can see, and hundreds of glamorous hotel beach clubs ready to entertain you and your guests. When considering all the elements of your special day, images of a breezy beachside service are far more romantic than the local church or meeting hall where you live. Planning a wedding can be complicated enough to turn any girl into Bridezilla, but inviting your closest friends and family to join you for a weekend of fun in the Florida sun gives you the freedom to limit the guest list and budget your resources in a completely different way. That’s why over 10% of today’s weddings are planned as out of town trips.
Let’s face facts—modern weddings are an expensive proposition. Any opportunity to creatively craft a great event and also manage a tight budget is a very BIG deal! Destination weddings limit your guest list to your inner circle who are able to travel to be part of your day. With complicated family dynamics, grumpy distant relatives and hoards of friends and co-workers who might otherwise feel slighted if you do not include them in a local event, a getaway ceremony helps you wave off would-be critics with a suntanned smile. Best of all, combining the celebration and honeymoon in one luxurious location brings the focus away from conflicts and back to the happy bride and groom.
Miami Beach offers many affordable hotels and restaurants for out of town guests, breathtaking seaside terraces for romantic moonlit receptions and an endless variety of cozy honeymoon suites. The lower cost of a domestic airline ticket to Miami or Fort Lauderdale airport and the relative ease of getting around South Beach make it simple for everyone to have a good time. With less travel hassles and more time to spend together, having a perfect getaway wedding surrounded by the ones you love leaves you with memories to last a lifetime!
Once you become engaged, the logistics of planning any wedding get extremely complicated. The event itself is so steeped in tradition, it seems everyone has deeply held beliefs about how it should be done – how it MUST be done. People who may be modern in their everyday lives suddenly show a very old fashioned side to their thinking when they reveal the roles they want you and your families to play. Soon enough, advice rings in from every corner whether you’ve asked for help or not. Tradition holds that the bride’s father pays for the wedding and the groom’s parents cover the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon. Some folks think a couple’s brothers and sisters must all take part in the wedding procession. But in the current economy and with families fragmented by divorce and remarriage, following custom may not be possible. By the time a guest list is settled and the budget busts, your dream wedding can start to feel like a nightmare!
Most couples soon come to realize that finding your one true love is the easy part, but getting married requires committee approval. And if other family members are footing the bill, their decisions may supersede your own. It is hard to tell Dad his friends are not welcome if he’s buying the booze. And mothers have opinions about dresses and churches and menus and seating arrangements that may lead to tears before long. Many weddings require out of town guests to pay for travel and lodging. Some couples have different religious backgrounds, which leads to conflicts about the ceremony. Every action seems to have an expensive and unanticipated consequence. Suddenly the happy day is filled with clouds.
When the wedding logistics overwhelm the simple beauty of becoming man and wife, the primal instinct is to get away from it all. That’s when the notion of a Destination Wedding really makes perfect sense. Removing the myriad details from the hands of well meaning but ultimately exhausting friends and family gives you back an element of control. That’s why the number of getaway weddings has tripled in the last ten years. Travel to Florida with a well-edited guest list so your once-in-a-lifetime event can be as easy and breezy as a day at the beach.
The best months to plan an outdoor Florida wedding are November through April when the weather is balmy and there is less chance of rain. Because it may be snowy and bleak in most parts of the world, Miami’s “t-shirt weather winter” is also high season when hotels are in greater demand and room rates rise. Budget conscious brides may find hotel rates are lowest in the summer months, but chances are greater you will need to consider an indoor venue to escape the heat. If you are determined to wed outdoors, a morning service and buffet brunch are an easy and cost-effective summer solution allowing you to beat the heat and humidity of a Miami afternoon. In the event of rain, many hotels have restaurants and ballrooms overlooking the ocean so your wedding can feel beachy but guests will remain cool, dry and comfortable indoors. No one can control the elements, but having a beautiful setting and sharing the excitement of a South Beach vacation makes your Destination Wedding unforgettable.
A destination wedding in Miami Beach is easier than you might imagine because there are so many hotels, restaurants and bars at all price points you can organize a weekend of nuptial fun that won’t break the bank. While the ceremony and reception can take place at a beautiful seaside resort like the Raleigh, National, Sagamore or Ritz-Carlton South Beach, you can offer your guests a variety of accommodations within walking distance to the main event that will easily cost less than the wedding hotel. Members of your wedding party can stay nearby at the Albion, Crest, Cadet or Catalina Beach Club and simply walk across the street to the party.
If a resort hotel is too pricey for your wedding plans, a sunset service on any beach followed by drinks and dinner at a nearby restaurant like Wish, La Marea or The Royal can help stretch your budget far enough to pay for a few extra nights of honeymoon fun. Most Miami Beach restaurants will gladly work to help you plan a dinner menu, affordable drink and wine service and a comfortable setting for all your happy guests. Many wedding-ready dining rooms are steps away from the coastline where you can say your, “I Do’s” before a night of toasts, dinner and dancing.
Flying guests to your South Beach wedding is more affordable because both the Miami International Airport and the Fort Lauderdale/ Hollywood International Airport have frequent direct flights from most US cities with Fort Lauderdale fares sometimes far less money than Miami flights. Discount carriers like Virgin America, Air Tran, Southwest and Jet Blue fly into Fort Lauderdale Airport every day. It may be easier to have your best friends by your side if the bridesmaids and groomsmen can afford to fly to Florida on an inexpensive carrier.
South Beach is a small community with most of the great hotels, fine restaurants and fun bars concentrated into a few busy blocks. Plan your wedding within the South Beach district between 1 and 23 Streets and guests can hop on the South Beach Local Shuttle Bus for 25 cents to get anywhere in town in a flash. Without the expense and hassle of planning everyone’s transportation needs, your friends can enjoy an independent weekend of fun leaving you to concentrate on the details of the big day. A brand new express service called the Miami Airport Flyer transports passengers directly from Miami International Airport to Miami Beach from 6am to 11pm seven days a week for just $2.35 per person.
Before the big day, treat the wedding party to a night on the town at Taverna Opa, a casual Greek restaurant on Ocean Drive where the ouzo flows, guests dance on the tables and everyone has a great time. Perfect for larger groups, the menu features tapas-style small plates that are great for sharing and a variety of fresh Florida seafood that’s ideal for a South Beach soiree. At South Pointe Park, the popular steak house Smith & Wollensky serves dinner under the stars at tables facing the busy waterway where cruise ships pass by on the way out to sea. A lovely spot for a sunset rehearsal dinner or happy hour, the menu offers juicy burgers, sizzling steaks and lighter fish and chicken entrees everyone can enjoy.
If your friends want to celebrate your South Beach wedding weekend in jeans and t-shirts, spend a night at Burger & Beer Joint, Fratelli la Bufala or Bond Street Sushi where the dress code is as casual as you want to be. Burger & Beer Joint specializes in gourmet patties of beef, turkey, veggies or tuna and offers 99 different varieties of bottled beer. A second floor private dining room is available for larger crowds and wooden picnic tables line the sidewalks if you’d rather kick off your shoes and party. Fratelli la Bufala on busy Washington Avenue serves pizza, pasta and lighter Italian fare for a night that’s all about La Dolce Vita. Share some over-stuffed calzones and a few bottles of affordable regional wine at this genial sidewalk cafe in the nightclub district. For a little extra South Beach drama, make plans to dine on the rooftop of the Townhouse Hotel where Bond Street Sushi can prepare a Japanese feast for you and your guests to enjoy while toasting the sunset high above the neon lights of the city.
Getting everyone ready for a picture perfect walk down the aisle just got a whole lot easier with the Ritz-Carlton South Beach Hotel’s Bubbles and Blowouts Spa Night every Thursday from 6 to 9pm. Invite the mothers of the bride and groom and all your attendants to bond at a special girl’s spa night of pampering in the capable hands of La Maison de Beaute Carita trained staff. Kick start your wedding weekend with a champagne toast, snacks of imported cheeses and fresh fruit while a team of salon stylists wash and blow-dry everyone to perfection. Manicure and pedicure service is also available so that each bridesmaid can sparkle from head to toe. Open seven days a week until late night, group services should be reserved well in advance.
If a sunset service by a glamorous resort swimming pool or out on the sands of Miami Beach is the reason you’re traveling this far to get married, be certain every aspect of your ceremony is like a picture postcard. The pool deck of the landmark Raleigh Hotel was originally designed for silver screen goddess Esther Williams. Surrounded by lush tropical foliage, the retro pool bar lies just behind a cascading waterfall where your guests can toast your happy future. A beachfront Oasis with bold striped cabanas and a fire pit makes a perfect retreat for the ceremony and reception. Chef John DeLucie’s Royal Restaurant provides an elegant terrace for supper under the stars.
The DiLido Beach Club at the nearby Ritz-Carlton South Beach offers guests a front row seat to the sands of South Beach with a candlelit Moroccan themed oasis, swaying hammocks and secluded loungers. Chef de Cuisine Josh Becker crafts a menu of “Sun Cuisine” inspired by the flavors of North Africa and the Mediterranean. Guests can sip tropical signature cocktails like watermelon and peach sangria and enjoy fresh bites of falafel, flatbreads, and seafood salads. For an elegant and exotic reception, invite everyone to kick off their shoes, share a hookah pipe and watch the moon rise over the ocean.
The K-17 Beach Club at The Surfcomber Hotel is the perfect place for a barefoot wedding overlooking the azure surf. Popular with locals and tourists, the lime green umbrellas and bamboo loungers create a casual, tropical oasis where specialty drinks and a Mediterranean menu can be served to your guests. The hotel faces over 200 feet of Atlantic oceanfront with VIP cabanas adjoining a tropical landscaped pool. One of South Beach’s affordable luxury resorts, a poolside reception cabana stands ready for an alfresco wedding party.
Some brides would rather have a dedicated local planner orchestrate the myriad details of a Miami Beach wedding before she arrives. The Palms Hotel & Spa is a one-stop spot for a complete wedding package at any of their indoor or outdoor venues including a romantic poolside gazebo or out by the sea. With swank ballrooms for up to 200 guests or an intimate botanical garden, the staff can craft an intimate champagne BBQ or a gourmet sit down dinner. Essensia Executive Chef Julie Frans’ organic cuisine will suit every member of your party using fresh, local, sustainable produce. The on-site Aveda spa and salon makes it easy to get everyone ready for the big day in style.
Miami’s Ace of Cakes
Carolina Montoya and her husband Fernando originally practiced architecture, but found a shared passion for crafting unique wedding cakes at their brand new South Florida showroom. Inspired by the dynamic creations she saw on the FoodTV network, Montoya set about the task of combining her culinary skills with the meticulous attention to detail required in crafting architectural scale models. The end result is a breathtaking array of sculptural cakes as amazing as any you may have seen on television. To plan the ultimate showpiece for your Florida wedding, simply send Designer’s Cake the colors, themes or photos of the confection of your dreams and by the time you arrive on South Beach, the finished product will be ready to dazzle your guests. See more of their work on FaceBook or DesignersCake.com
Modern brides who want to capture the classic styling of a professional photojournalist rely on Pulitzer Prize nominee Andrew Itkoff to shoot their special day. Working in Florida for over 20 years, his knowledge and experience inform a unique editorial point of view and bring both candid behind-the-scenes snapshots and breathtaking traditional portraiture to every wedding album. From bold black and white images to the sweet smiles of a shy flower girl and her proud parents, Itkoff weaves his magic from every angle of your reception so that no golden moment is ever overlooked. Trust your most important memories to a dedicated professional who understands your passion for life’s most precious events. See some recent wedding portfolios at FloridaWeddings.us
Once the vows are spoken and the bouquet is finally tossed, the brand new Mr. & Mrs. can share their honeymoon adventure alongside their friends, or sail off into the sunset aboard a romantic honeymoon cruise. Just minutes away, the Port of Miami is home to dozens of cruises on casual lines like Carnival, more upscale ships like Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, and luxury adventures via the Celebrity Concierge Class. Shipboard honeymoons are an all-inclusive way to enjoy your first nights of wedded bliss on weekend or week-long tours of the Caribbean islands, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Mexico.
Casual travelers opt for the family-friendly style of Carnival, affectionately known as “The Fun Ship.” Royal Caribbean caters to an active crowd with onboard rock climbing, ice-skating, miniature golf and a full roster of daily programs. Norwegian lines are known for “Freestyle Cruising,” giving travelers more freedom to schedule their days with a resort-friendly dress code and a variety of lounges and bars. Honeymooners who crave more luxurious appointments can splurge on Celebrity’s Concierge Class where butler service, champagne toasts, spacious spas and specialty restaurants are available for a moderate surcharge. If getting away to Florida wasn’t quite far enough, extend your adventure with a romantic ocean voyage.
Weddings offer a unique opportunity to celebrate your love with the most important people in your life. If a neighborhood ceremony can’t capture all the romance you share with your new mate, a Destination Wedding will bring the allure of far away places and tropical dreams to everyone lucky enough to attend. With low cost airfare, limited transportation costs and a captivating variety of restaurant, hotel and reception options, getting married on Miami Beach affords you the perfect start to a lifetime of sunny days together. So set the date, buy the dress and get ready to bask in the love of uniting your families on the romantic South Florida shore.