By Leah Langley of Leah Langley Photography
You’re getting married in Florida! Yay! Whether you live someplace else, or in Florida, planning a wedding in this lovely state requires some additional considerations. Hopefully this article will help you have a seamless day without the unique hiccups a Florida wedding can sometimes have. Being a native Floridian, some of these come so naturally that I forget others might need a heads up. I do my best to help clients navigate the tricks to having a wedding in the Sunshine State.
Getting married in Florida is a wonderful idea! There are so many great reasons why this beautiful state is a top worldwide destination! Lush vegetation, over 1,000 miles of coastline, hundreds of freshwater springs, numerous lakes and rivers, and home to thousands of islands! We have a diverse culture, a long history, great food, and lodgings that range from 5 star resorts to excellent State Parks. It is easy to see why Florida is so popular.
Florida has a strong tourism platform, so it’s set up for having weddings any day of the year. Venues are not limited to weekends, holidays are fair game, and your guests will love all the options for making it a memorable vacation.
There are a few things to consider when getting married in Florida that will help the experience stay enjoyable and full of fun. Below are some of the items that come to mind.
Heat vs Heat Index
Florida is hot. That’s no shocking statement, but not everyone knows why Florida sometimes feels hotter than it should. The Heat Index combines air temperature and humidity to give a “feels like” temperature. When it is 93º F, and the humidity is at 85%, the heat index is well over 120º. This is also based on the shade, so if you’re in the sun, it can feel much worse. Take into consideration age or medical conditions, and you or your guests can quickly have a serious reaction. Being a native Floridian, I still get in trouble with this form time from time. Click here to see a heat index chart. Not only does humidity affect your health, it affects your hair and makeup, so make sure to hire local and experienced hair and makeup artists.
This next tip goes hand in hand with the first. Florida is the Sunshine State, and with that comes gorgeous sunsets, but also sunburns and bad tan-lines. I cannot stress enough the importance of sunblock or a very high SPF sunscreen. If you MUST attempt to get a tan before the wedding, at the very least pace sun exposure, and wear a bathing suit that has tan lines that will compliment your clothing for the wedding. Best bet is to get a high quality spray tan a week before the wedding, and wear a long sleeve sun-shirt and big floppy hat while hanging by the pool. Your photographer and makeup artist can add warmth to your skin tone a lot easier than trying to fix lobster skin and crazy tan-lines.
Transportation in Florida is a big deal for weddings. Certain times of the day or year can double or sometimes even triple the time it should take from one location to another. Given the rapid growth of this state, and lack of public transportation, the infrastructure isn’t always there for the amount of tourists in a given area. If you are having a destination wedding in Florida, one the best things you can do for your guests is to hire busses or keep everything in one location, including lodging. Also, make sure to learn about the many toll roads in the Central Florida area. Automatic toll passes SunPass and E-Pass will make traveling faster.
If you book your wedding at a large resort with expectation that your guests will stay on property, make sure to read the fine print about the hotel holding a block of rooms for your guests. I had a client who booked a large resort for their wedding, and 8 months before their wedding, the hotel booked a large convention and there were no rooms left for her guests. Make the booking policy clear for your guests so they know to book their rooms ASAP.
Fun fact: If you can see a pool or the beach from your ceremony location, there’s a strong chance of having bathing suit clad watchers in your photos. Extra points for the tall, pasty guy in the electric blue speedo. Your photographer will do his or her best to minimize your “extra guests” but there’s still a chance.
Two words that send dread to any couple getting married in Florida between June 1st and November 30th. The peak of the season is from mid August through mid October. That being said, I have seen plenty afternoon thunderstorms that made a Category 1 storm seem like an April shower. Rain and powerful storms are just part of the deal with Florida. Make sure you have a weather backup plan regardless of the time of year.
Your out of town guests will love a well stocked Welcome Bag! Items to includes are sunblock, snacks, maps, water, brochures for fun things in the area. One of my favorite gifts are cliche Florida Christmas ornaments! Always makes me smile to see my glass flamingo complete with a feather boa and glitter on my tree every year. Maybe even print out this article so they are all caught up, and won’t show up to your wedding with a lobster sunburn!
If Colorado can have altitude sickness, then Florida has Latitude Sickness. Heat, Sun and alcohol does not mix well. It’s easy to get caught up in the vacation mentality while in Florida, but make sure to drink plenty of water between cervezas and mojitos.
If you want to be surrounded with Florida’s tropical environment while you say your vows, make sure to avoid having your ceremony between 10 AM and 5 PM between the months of April and November. Find out when sunset will be, and take that into consideration. Unless there is high shade, like under a canopy of live oaks, or other natural shade, make it a quick ceremony with refreshments for your guests. And as mentioned before, have a backup weather plan.
There you have it. Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you plan a perfect Florida wedding. Rules are meant to be broken, or at least a little bent, so make your day about celebrating your relationship the best way possible! Hiring local professionals will help you greatly in the planning process. They are there to help and guide you to have the best wedding.