How to plan a destination wedding in Florida 

Millions of weddings happen annually in the US, and every bride wants to make their special day memorable. If any kind of wedding stands out, it’s a destination wedding! 

If you’re thinking about having a destination wedding but haven’t decided where you want to go, we highly recommend Florida. A tropical paradise is always a good idea for a destination wedding. The beautiful thing about Florida is because it’s so large, there is something for everyone. From extravagant Southern-style mansion weddings to rustic farm weddings. And thanks to its great weather and sparkling white sands, it’s also a popular beach wedding location.

If you want your wedding in the sunshine state, here’s how you can plan your destination wedding in Florida.

Getting Started: Your Date, Guest List, and Budget.

Like any wedding, it’s good to start by picking a date for your wedding, so you’re more sure about your plans when you start talking to venues and vendors. For a destination wedding, you need to consider the weather in your location during that time of year when picking a date, especially if you want an outdoor wedding on the beach or in a garden. Your date may change once you start talking to venues and vendors, but it’s good to have a starting point. 

You also need to work out your guest list and budget so that when you start talking to service providers, you know exactly how much you can spend. On the plus side, destination weddings are usually much cheaper than traditional weddings closer to home because of their shorter guest lists. 

Pick Your Style, Location, and Venue.

Next, you need to consider your style, location, and venue when planning your Florida destination wedding. For your wedding style, you can go for a romantic beach wedding, a traditional church ceremony, a classy restaurant, or a garden wedding. Florida has many great venues for any type of wedding; you can even go big with a ballroom or treat yourself to a cruise wedding. Of course, you’re free to choose any style you like but here are some great venue options if you’re leaning towards a beach wedding. 

Your wedding style will determine your location – after all, a beach wedding must be held by the beach. Fort Walton Beach is famous for its amazing views; you can have your wedding near the emerald waters of the Gulf Coast. After choosing your style and location, you can look for a venue. Your guest list will largely determine your venue choice, so you find a place with room for all the people invited. 

Start Looking for Vendors.

After choosing your venue, you can now go ahead and start looking for vendors. Your vendors are all the people who service your weddings, such as florists, photographers, and caterers. Some venues will have a preferred vendor list you can choose from, while others, like restaurants, will typically take care of your catering. 

Make sure you find out what amenities and services your venue offers that you need for your wedding. Using their services could save you a lot of time and money, especially with all-inclusive venues specializing in weddings and offering comprehensive wedding packages. However, you can still ask your venue if they are flexible with letting you bring in off-site vendors if you would prefer to choose other vendors. 

Here are some of the most essential wedding vendors:

  • Wedding venue – this comes first; you can’t continue planning your wedding without having a space to hold it.
  • Caterers – depending on your venue, you may need a caterer. For example, they’ll most likely cater the event if you have chosen a beach resort or restaurant. When hiring a caterer, you also need to find out if their services include glassware, dinnerware, and flatware. Alternatively, see if your venue can provide these. 
  • Tables, chairs, and other rentals – while most venues will have their own seating if you opt for a manor or beach wedding, you might need to take care of the tables, chairs, and linen too. 
  • Entertainment/Music – many venues provide in-house entertainment, which can be hard to negotiate. Find out how strict your venue is on this and whether you like their wedding band or DJ. If not, then try to book entertainment yourself. 
  • Photographer and videographer – what’s a Florida destination wedding without all the incredible memories? Make your memories with the best in the area. Check out Dalton Young Films & Photography’s portfolio; if you find our style, personality, and approach perfect for your wedding vision, get in touch. We’d be happy to help you capture your big day.
  • Cake – there’s no wedding without cake! Finding the perfect gateau can be challenging if you are not there to taste it, but you can always check out reviews. However, suppose you feel like that isn’t enough and can spare a little time and money. In that case, you can always visit the location and organize a few meetings with vendors before settling.  
  • Decorators and Florists – Florida is filled with decorators and florists who are experts at weddings, so your centerpieces are in safe hands. Find potential vendors by looking at their past work, show them your mood boards, and share with them your vision. They’ll let you know if they can do it and help you work out any kinks. 
  • Hair and Makeup – you will also need to look into bridal makeup artists and hair stylists. It’s best to go with a service that can travel to your venue.

Make sure to thoroughly research your vendors before committing. It’s much harder to properly check out vendors when you’re far away. Bride & Lens, a free vendor-bride matchmaking service, can help you prepare and choose the right vendors with complementary resources such as vendor interview preparation checklists and training videos. 

Bride & Lens also offers paid phone assistance if you need more help vetting your vendors. Once you make a decision on which vendors you are going for, make sure to let them know so they can save the date.

Be mindful of Logistics.

Logistics for destination weddings can be tricky, so it’s crucial to stay organized and plan well. Make sure you have a plan to help your guests get to the location of your wedding. You can give them directions through a little video guide on your wedding website or private YouTube link.

You also need to make sure your vendors know the location of your wedding and what time they need to be there. So, keep things organized and make a chart with all the necessary information. They will find it incredibly useful, ensuring you have a smooth day.

Keep in mind that you will also need a valid marriage license. You can apply for one, which takes about three days to be issued. Once you get it, you have 60 days to get married before it expires, and after expiry, you must reapply for a new one. So you should apply for a license at least one week before you head to Florida.  

Apart from your marriage license, there is other documentation you must have when getting married outside of your state. These include your photo ID, original birth certificate, and divorce decree if previously married. Confirm this with the country clerk’s office of your destination. 

Have fun!

Finally, remember to breathe – planning a wedding can be challenging. Still, it should be exciting, especially a destination wedding, where you get to start your new married life with an adventure!

You can also create thoughtful gift bags for your guests who came all the way to celebrate with you. Practical party favors like sunglasses, a fan, and SPF are excellent ideas for a beach wedding swag bag. It will also give your loved ones the feeling of being looked after; it’s nice for them to know you thought of them on your special day.

The fun thing about creating a Florida destination wedding is that you can do it all from the comfort of your home. Thanks to technology, you can easily connect with vendors and have conversations via platforms like Skype or Zoom. It eases the stress of the planning process and helps you get things done faster. 

So, what are you waiting for? Start organizing your Florida destination wedding, and good luck!

Remember to check out Dalton Young Films & Photography If you require videography and photography services to help you remember the day exactly as it is. Feel free to get in touch; we would be happy to answer any questions that you may have about our services.