Say ‘I Do’ with Florida Keys Flair
FLORIDA KEYS — The ardent sunsets, generous foliage and seemingly endless seas of the Florida Keys & Key West easily entice those pledging or renewing their vows — or simply seeking an island escape following a commitment ceremony.
Popular sites for shore-side ceremonies and celebrations include parks, beaches, restaurants, tiki bars and lodging facilities, many offering romance packages. On the high seas, tall ships, sailing vessels, glass-bottom boats and luxury motor yachts are available for reciting “I do,” while offshore islands accessible only by boat exude an exotic ambience and the choice of on-site private homes or luxury hotels.
Houses of worship throughout the island chain cater to a variety of denominations, and professional planners can coordinate everything from officiators to reception details.
Opportunities also abound to unite in a setting unique to the Florida Keys & Key West. In Key Largo, certified divers can take the plunge by pledging their vows beside a coral reef or at the bronze Christ of the Deep statue. Jules Undersea Lodge, situated in a Key Largo lagoon, offers underwater honeymoon accommodations with sub-sea marine life views.
Unions in Islamorada can be backdropped by a 125,000-year-old fossilized coral reef at Windley Key Fossil Reef State Geologic Site, which at one time served as a quarry. Alternately, historic Indian and Lignumvitae Keys, accessible only by boat, transport couples back to the Florida Keys of yore.
Avid anglers have been known to cast lines after officially getting “hooked,” while animal lovers can enjoy a playful celebration with gentle bottlenose dolphins in attendance. Historic Pigeon Key, once a base for laborers and operators of Henry Flagler’s Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway, also provides an appealing outdoor location.
In Key West, those with a penchant for the truly extraordinary can exchange vows aboard a float during the island city’s annual Fantasy Fest parade. Partners and their attendants also can marry with a pirate-themed ceremony on land or at sea, or amid clouds of exotic butterflies at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory.
The Audubon House & Tropical Gardens, where John James Audubon conceived avian images, is one of several outdoor garden-party settings. For literary aficionados, the gardens at the former residence of Ernest Hemingway provide a locale for beginning a new chapter in their lives.
Former president Harry S. Truman’s Little White House is ideal for those who want a presidential seal of approval on their vows, while charming 19th-century homes and bed-and-breakfast inns offer Victorian elegance.
In addition, forts such as the Civil War–era West Martello Tower and Fort Zachary Taylor provide impressive historic backdrops, and maritime history buffs can set a course to unite before the coastal Key West Lighthouse Museum.
In fact, two people eager to exchange vows will find a setting as unique and memorable as their love in the Florida Keys & Key West.
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