|As the wedding of Harry and Meghan approaches, here are just some of Florida’s most memorable wedding and honeymoon experiences, fit for a prince and princess.
Brides can glide down a grand staircase like a royal, following in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth, the Countess of Portugal and the First Lady of the United States, at West Volusia’s Stetson Mansion. Promising a Gilded Age setting for a modern-day wedding, only six couples each year have the honour of holding their special day at this luxury estate, which has undergone a multi-million dollar restoration. Intimate weddings can be held in the main house while the grand lawn and gardens are perfect for a marquee wedding. Packages include dressing rooms, marquees, Chivari chairs, China, genuine silverware and glassware.
Fort Myers & Sanibel
Fly in by helicopter and exchange vows in the beautiful waterfront gazebo at the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village, where the $15 million Tarpon Point Ballroom, overlooking the Caloosahatchee River, will open later this year. Couples can honeymoon at South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island, with its 330-acre beachfront wildlife preserve and Offshore Sailing School, or spend some quality time on the semi-private island and beach at Sanibel’s Hyatt Regency Coconut Resort and Spa. The resort, overlooking Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, has a championship 18-hole golf course too.
New Smyrna Beach
The stunning white sands of New Smyrna Beach are ‘wedding friendly’, which means there’s no need for permits or licenses for wedding parties of 50 or less. But that’s not the only option. Couples looking for a modern wedding can book the Atlantic Center for the Arts, while The Brannon Civic Center has a number of spaces, including a 6,500 sq. ft. grand ballroom and an outdoor terrace overlooking the Indian River. The Salty Mermaid‘s oceanfront courtyard is a favourite for informal, beach weddings, while The Delamater House is a rustic yet upscale barn with a bridal cottage, groom’s cottage, bar, reception area and ceremony site.
Florida Keys & Key West
On the beach front at the Cheeca Lodge & Spa in Islamorada, in the landscaped gardens at Key West’s historic Hemingway House, or even under water (using slates and sign language) there are lots of ways to say ‘I do’ in the Florida Keys. It’s the perfect place for honeymoons too, perhaps at the H2O Suites, The Perry Key West, Oceans Edge in Key West or the soon-to-open Bungalows Key Largo, the Keys’ first all-inclusive resort. For the ultimate romantic adventure join Danger Charterson a Wind & Wine Sunset Sail where you’ll probably see wild dolphins, or take a seaplaneto America’s most remote national park, Dry Tortugas.
Couples looking for Old Florida charm can have their special day on the beach at Anna Maria Island, a laidback island that’s perfect for a truly relaxing honeymoon too. For something more formal, Bradenton is also home to the Powel Crosley Estate, a 1929 mansion right on the Bayfront. Mediterranean in style, the estate has a waterside gazebo and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Or, how about taking your vows among one of the Bradenton’s beautiful vineyards? Click here for more ideas.
Discover Crystal River
Newly-weds and their wedding guests can swim with manatees, take a boat tour, enjoy spa treatments, or play world class golf at the Plantation on Crystal River. The resort’s professional team will take care of every detail, whether you want to exchange vows on the expansive lawn or in the elegant ballroom with views of the pristine waters of Kings Bay. The hotel can host intimate weddings of 20 or bigger celebrations with up to 250 and guests can stay on site in rooms, suites, and golf villas.
With 23 miles of white sandy beach and beautiful beachfront hotels, Daytona Beach is the perfect setting for a Florida wedding and honeymoon. At the newly-opened Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach ceremonies can take place on the oceanfront terrace and private courtyard or in the indoor space for up to 590 guests. Or, how about celebrating your union in one of Florida’s famous historic homes? Daytona is home to the late John D Rockefeller’s winter home, The Casements, set on the shore of the Halifax River and a designated Florida Heritage Site. The gardens, designed by a Swedish designer, are the perfect backdrop.
For a fairy-tale wedding, look no further than St. Pete’s iconic Don CeSar, known as the Pink Palace. It’s got panoramic sea views and a choice of romantic settings, from tropical courtyards and beachside pavilions to its elegant Grand Ballroom. For honeymoons, there are day trips to Caladesi Island, accessible only by ferry or private boat, and the aptly named Honeymoon Island, with dramatic white-sand beaches, alongside the award-winning Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach. Active couples can go paddle boarding or kayaking through the mangroves or calm open waters and maybe spot dolphins or manatees.
Greater Fort Lauderdale
Be one of the first to get hitched or honeymoon at the new Circ Hotel in Greater Fort Lauderdale, opening in May 2018. Designed by the renowned Gettys Group, the contemporary hotel will be an iconic landmark that anchors its neighbourhood with a rooftop pool, funky bar and restaurant. Newlyweds can splash out on the Circ Suite, the ultimate urban luxury, with a king-size bed, vaulted ceilings, a beautifully decorated interior living room, and a spacious private balcony with wide open views.
From historic churches to dunes of sugary sand, Pensacola has many places for that special day. Downtown, under the shade of grand live oak trees in Seville Square, sits Old Christ Church, the oldest church in Florida. A stroll away are Lee House Boutique Hotel and the Barkley House, with charming wraparound porches and manicured lawns for the big occasion. At the beach, Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key, and Gulf Breeze offer a variety of accommodation, from romantic cabanas and waterfront venues to beachside mansions on the Gulf, bay or sound.
The Emerald Coast
The beaches of Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and Okaloosa Island in the Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast offer the ultimate romantic destination. For an intimate beach ceremony and reception, how about Henderson Beach State Park, or one of the area’s other parks? Or perhaps you’d prefer a wedding at sea? Choose from a 1946 mahogany yacht, glass-bottom boat, Buccaneer Pirate Cruise and more. Destin also offers private vessels for small, intimate weddings and dolphin or sunset cruises. Some of the cruises come with an officiant, along with the option to wed on the boat or at a romantic beach nearby.
Getting hitched or honeymooning in the Sunshine State is easy when hiring a car from Hertz. Join the free Hertz Gold Plus Rewards programme to beat the queue, and simply pick up your car from any of the 300+ locations across the State, and take advantage of daily rates from £21 per day on Florida bookings.