If you dream of saying “I do” with your toes in the sand, Florida’s 825 miles of beaches offer plenty of options to start off your marriage in beachy bliss. Of course, this state is known for its sunshine and sandy shores, but the peninsula really doesn’t get enough credit for being one of the more diverse locales in the nation.
If Florida seems like the perfect destination wedding location for your nuptials, you’ve come to the right place. Ahead, experts Shannon Tarrant and Angelina Colhouer explain all that Florida has to offer, including the best seasons and venues to visit.
“Whether the couple is looking for unique nature like the Ocala National Forest or The Everglades, beautiful white sandy beaches without having to leave the country, or amusement parks for the playful couple, Florida is a one-stop destination,” says Tarrant. It’s a win-win wedding spot for you and your guests because “people traveling to Florida immediately get into a vacation frame of mind.”
While most flock to the southernmost state for its sunny skies and warmth, the most important thing to consider when hosting a wedding here is the season. “The best time to have a wedding in Florida is between October and April,” says Colhouer. “Any time outside of that and the weather becomes extremely hot or there is unpredictable rain.”
From June through November hurricanes are always a possibility in Florida, but the season typically peaks in August and September, so those would be the months to avoid planning a destination wedding in Florida.
Sure, the warm weather is a given, but there’s much more to this beach-bordered state than its alluring climate. “Florida is such an exciting choice for a destination wedding because there are so many wonderful options for the different styles of weddings that [couples] choose,” Colhouer adds. “We have amazing beachfront venues for a classic coastal aesthetic, we have beautiful historical estate venues that offer Tuscan-inspired architecture, and we have alternative venues like The Ringling Museum in Sarasota and the Tampa Museum of Art.”
For a Florida destination wedding to keep your guests talking for years to come, check out these show-stopping Sunshine State venues below.
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The Temple House in Miami Classic art deco design meets modern luxury at The Temple House on South Beach. The venue’s Grand Room boasts an arched 23-foot-high ceiling and an impressive mezzanine that overlooks the main space, while the rooftop terrace is a Grecian-inspired oasis. The Temple House is truly a blank canvas that offers endless variety because of its hi-tech projection mapping packages that can transform the space into any imaginable ambiance.
Packages start at $12,800.
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Dockside Lake Nona in Orlando Dockside Lake Nona is a waterfront event space with rustic wooden floors, contemporary chandeliers, industrial roofing, and an exposed brick wall. Art enthusiast couples can exchange vows in front of The Glass House, a stained-glass art installation by Brooklyn-based artist Tom Fruin, before heading to The Lakehouse for a waterfront reception. The space is under an hour from the airport and an easy drive to Disney, making this an attractive option for guests who might want to extend the wedding weekend.
Pricing for rental and food and beverage starts at $7,000 for peak dates.
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The Treasury on the Plaza in St. Augustine Situated in the heart of St. Augustine’s historic district, The Treasury on the Plaza features soaring ceilings, intricate architectural details, and a bank vault from 1927—a great spot for photo ops or a surprising grand entrance. “This unique venue specializes in destination weddings,” says Tarrant. “Their packages include the ability to book so much through the venue that it’s easy for an out-of-town couple to plan.” Within walking distance of hotels, restaurants, tours, and activities, the team at The Treasury is happy to help you and your guests discover everything Florida’s oldest city has to offer.
Custom weddings and reception packages for up to 225 guests start at $8,500.
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Hotel Effie in Destin You’ll find snow-white beaches in Northwest Florida’s coastal towns like Pensacola Beach, Seaside, and Destin, where the new Hotel Effie provides the perfect blend of modern elegance and southern charm with a variety of venue options. Whether you opt for the airy indoor spaces or expansive outdoor options, you can rest assured your guests will be satisfied as they savor the menu from the James Beard-winner and Top Chef-alum chef Hugh Acheson. As an added bonus, you can prep and pamper before your big day with luxurious in-room spa services.
The starting site fee for peak weddings is $4,000.
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La Casa Toscana in Ft. Myers The Gulf Coast is becoming a Florida destination wedding hotspot because of its beautiful beaches and influx of new venues. One such venue—a private Tuscan-inspired estate nestled on the southwest coast—is quickly gaining popularity among the pros. “La Casa Toscana is my favorite venue to date,” says Colhouer. “It’s located close to the beach, popular restaurants, and cool downtown hangouts. You and your guests can experience the beaches and the city, and then off to the wedding venue where you feel like you’ve been transported to an Italian villa.” While the venue isn’t all-inclusive, there are several stunning options for both the ceremony and reception throughout the estate where pricing begins at $14,375.
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Don CeSar in St. Petersburg You’ll discover a combination of super-soft sand and stellar sunsets in retreats like Siesta Key, Naples, and St. Pete Beach. In the latter, this pink palace is an iconic choice for a Florida destination wedding. The historic Don CeSar was built in the name of love back in 1928 and has celebrated the union of countless couples over the past century. From elegant ballrooms to toes-in-the-sand luxury, the options are endless at this legendary locale. Weddings here are truly all-inclusive with everything from custom cocktails to professional photography available in their tailored packages starting at $200 per person.
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The Ray in Delray Beach A newcomer to the hotel scene in Delray, The Ray’s 45,000+ square feet of event space is impressive, but the real gem is the 2,200 square-foot floating glass cube and rooftop (the only one in the city!). Set to debut in September 2021, the hotel has recently launched its wedding package, Married at The Ray. Couples who book by Nov. 1, 2021, can choose a complimentary perk such as a welcome glass of Champagne for all guests, a signature cocktail served throughout the event, or late-night snack service added to any package. This package is available with a minimum food and beverage spend of $15,000.
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Up the Creek Farms in Melbourne Just a short drive from the famed Space Coast, you’ll find Old Florida charm at its best at Up the Creek Farms. Stately oak trees draped with Spanish moss reach over manicured flower beds at this rustic estate where guests will swoon over a ceremony at the Oak Cathedral. Set up a game of corn hole on the lawn during cocktail hour and then head to the Boathouse where the sliding barn doors offer an outdoorsy ambiance and crystal chandeliers add a touch of elegance. Also on the property, an 1878 farmhouse has been lovingly restored as a quaint B&B—ideal for a bridesmaids’ sleepover the night before or a honeymooners’ night after.
Wedding and reception packages begin at $5,200 for a weekday à la carte event.
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The Ringling Museum in Sarasota The intricate architecture, tropical grounds, and stunning views of Sarasota Bay make The Ringling Museum a favorite for Florida destination weddings. Home to the former owner of the famous Barnum & Bailey circus, the Ca’ d’Zan Terrace was built in the style of Italy’s Venetian Gothic palaces and features fine materials including colored marble, glazed terracotta, and stained glass. Weddings here take place along the Bayfront Promenade, overlooking the lights of Sarasota and Longboat Key. For a more whimsical wedding, host your reception in the newly renovated Historic Circus Galleries where your guests will enjoy themselves among circus wagons, sideshow posters, and the Ringling’s private rail car.
Sites throughout the museum can accommodate as few as 50 guests at $3,500 up to a maximum of 400 guests starting at $12,000.
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Casa Marina Key West, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, in Key West If you’re a beach-bound couple seeking barefoot luxury, look no further. The historic Casa Marina lays claim to the largest private beach on the island of Key West, and as a Waldorf Astoria resort, you can expect nothing less than five-star service. If that’s not enough of a draw to host your wedding there, the breathtaking photo ops from their private dock should seal the deal. If you do opt for an indoor affair, grandeur and elegance is the theme, made evident in the timeless hardwood floors, ten-foot arched windows, and strikingly high ceilings.
Packages start at $11,500 inclusive of a food and beverage minimum and site fee.