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Tying The Knot, Florida Style
Florida is the place for a dream wedding. Not only do you get the chance to get married in style in sumptuous tropical surroundings, but the cost is a fraction of what you would pay in the UK. You can fulfil every whim on your wedding day in the sun and still have plenty of cash left to throw at making the most of your honeymoon.
We have plenty of experience to speak from. Not only did we marry in Florida in 2001, but my sister got married there in 2004 too.
Deciding to get married abroad was a big decision for us. We were worried that it would be really expensive and that none of our family would be there to experience it. We were wrong on both counts.
We spent around £4000 on the whole fortnight. This included the wedding, our flights, accommodation, car hire and theme park tickets. Of that, probably only about £1000 was related to the wedding day itself. Compare that to the cost of a traditional wedding.
You might think that sounds cheap and we must have really cut back on our day, but that’s not the case.
Our worries about our family not being able to attend were also unnecessary. Most of them jumped at the chance and said they wouldn’t miss it for the world.
For our wedding holiday, we stayed in a hotel, whereas my sister stayed in a villa. Whilst we had a great time at the hotel, I think staying at a villa really added to the experience for my sister.
There’s the option to spend the night before apart if you want to, and the privacy to get ready in a separate room too.
At both weddings, we hired a stretch limo to take us to the wedding venue. I can still remember how thrilled I was to see the limo arrive. There’s nothing like travelling in style.
Our wedding took place at Cypress Gardens in a white porcelain gazebo which looked for all the world as if it was made of icing sugar, against the backdrop of lush tropical flowers and trees.
We stood in the centre of the gazebo whilst our family clustered around. It was a beautiful day, and so peaceful there.
Afterwards we wandered through the gardens having photos taken against the most spectacular views, including fountains, bridges, waterfalls and lakes.
The gardens were very quiet but occasionally people did wander past. What really made the day for us was how incredibly friendly the Floridians were. Every complete stranger we passed came over to congratulate us. The warmth of the local people was overwhelming.
After this, we retired to a small restaurant within the gardens for cake and champagne. The Americans have a tradition where the bride and groom feed each other the first piece of wedding cake by hand. Needless to say this can be messy, but fun!
Had this been all there was to the day, it would have already been special enough, but this was just the beginning.
We returned to the limo to find more champagne waiting for us to ease us through the journey to our wedding meal. We chose a restaurant called the Ming Court on International Drive for this and had a really memorable feast amongst ornate décor, surrounded by koi carp filled pools. Of course there was more champagne, and another wedding cake to enjoy.
My sister’s wedding followed a similar theme, but this time the venue was an old plantation called Magnolia Acres. This was also an amazing place to get married. It was also outside, but was a more private venue than Cypress Gardens, with the whole place to ourselves.
The scenery was more arboreal and enclosed but equally beautiful, and the trees helped to provide some contrasting areas of shade and sunlight.
For their wedding meal, they chose a wonderful restaurant at the top end of International Drive called Texas de Brazil. We would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a venue for a wedding meal.
Both our wedding, and my sister’s were arranged with Virgin. It was so easy to do, and you don’t have to book your accommodation with them either.
It was so easy. Virgin can organise the flights and the wedding package. We really would recommend them as they took care of everything for us - from arranging the service, booking the limo, organising the flowers, cake and wedding meal. All we had to do was turn up and enjoy an unforgettable day in an unforgettable place.
There are lots of other amazing places you can get married. From the Florida Keys to sunset on beautiful Clearwater Beach.
Certainly, you'll have some incredible wedding venues to choose from, but why spend your honeymoon in a cramped hotel room, overlooking a busy tourist area, when you, your family and friends could have the privacy of your own spacious villa in a beautiful location.
This is a great way to have an unforgettable wedding day that you’ll always look back on with fond memories – not to mention some spectacular photos!
And when your time in Florida is over, why not arrange a reception for everyone who couldn’t make it for when you get home.
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