St. Augustine Beach vs. Clearwater: Which is Better for Weddings?

St. Augustine Beach is the perfect spot for your Florida Destination Wedding. Florida takes the cake for best beaches in the U.S., and St. Augustine is making a name for itself world wide as a perfect Atlantic coast location for outdoor weddings on the beach. However, Clearwater Beach, on the Florida west coast, keeps holding its own as one of the most beautiful beaches in the USA. Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, this white,  sand beauty is popular with many of our brides. Keep reading for all the details on both beach side wedding venues to make a decision on a location for your Florida ceremony.

Let’s Compare Beach Wedding Locations

Fun is in the air:

St. Augustine: There is no shortage of amazing things to do in America’s Oldest City. Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth, downtown boutiques, delicious cuisine, an alligator farm, lighthouse, romantic cobblestone streets… the list goes on. There is also surfing and fishing. So whether you get here early or extend your stay with a St. Augustine honeymoon, you and your guests will find yourselves thrilled with all the beauty, nature, and charm this historic city has to offer.

Castillo de San Marcos

Clearwater: It’s hard to beat this location for Tampa beach wedding packages. Being so close to the big city, you can take advantage of great entertainment after your Clearwater wedding. Ybor City food tours, Busch Gardens, and the Florida Aquarium will keep you busy and delighted. Clearwater Beach on its on has much to offer any newly married couple: boating, golfing, dolphin sightseeing tours and more.

Ybor City Tampa Bay street tour

Beauty of the Beach:

St. Augustine: Who doesn’t love the thought of the fresh ocean breeze, sandy toes, waves rolling and a relaxed and intimate wedding ceremony? The Atlantic coast of St. Augustine offers a variety of beachfront options for your ceremony and wedding photography. Rocky shorelines at Vilano Beach make a stunning background or you can choose Anastasia State Park with sugary brown sand. Anastasia State Park is just minutes from downtown St. Augustine, Florida and one of the best beach wedding locations! You and your guests can enjoy a small beach wedding reception at the park under their pavilion. Or, if you prefer, it is only minutes to get to one of the many unique restaurants in downtown St. Augustine for dinner. 

Couple kissing on St Augustine beach after wedding

Clearwater: Clearwater Beach is a top choice among our couples for so many reasons. The white sand will make for a perfect aisle-way as you share your wedding. Then, as you say, “I do” and share your vows, the deep vibrant sunset will begin directly over the calm, emerald water of the Gulf of Mexico. Finally, you can finish up your Gulf island wedding with our photographers capturing every perfect moment.

Evening Skies:

St. Augustine: Although sun does not actually set on the east coast (it has the sunrise), you can experience a softly lit sky and ocean with dreamy, pastel color at the end of the day. Your wedding photographs will provide you with romantic memories for years to come. If you love pinks, golds, oranges and blue clouds reflecting off the white-capped water, then a St. Augustine Beach wedding is for you! Vilano Beach at sunset is shown below.

Couple saying wedding vows on Vilano Beach at sunset

Clearwater: Of course Clearwater Beach is famous for its sunsets. We time your ceremony just right so that our wedding photographer can get perfect pictures of the two of you as the sun goes down over the Gulf of Mexico. Vibrant reds and oranges make a stunning backdrop as you share your love for each other…maybe even trashing your wedding dress in the Gulf beach water! 

Sunset Beach Clearwater couple kisses after wedding

Lodging and Reception Dinner:

St. Augustine: a fast growing city, but everything is so easily accessible. You and your guests can choose to stay downtown just steps away from the must see St. George Street where you’ll find a gambit of fun shops and tasty eateries like A1A Ale Works overlooking the river: they have two private dining options for wedding receptions also. Or if you want an entirely tropical get away, you can stay right on the beach! Just make sure you know there is a difference between “ocean front” and “ocean side” if you’re looking to be “on” or “near” the beach. A popular hotel is the Castillo Real resort. We can also perform all of our St. Augustine beach wedding packages here. If you are having a smaller beach wedding here, the La Cocina is located directly in the hotel. 

St. Augustine beach weddings at a hotel on the beach

Clearwater: Like St. Augustine Beach, there are several beachfront locations to choose from in Clearwater including: Indian Rocks BeachRedington BeachMadeira BeachTreasure IslandPass-A-Grille BeachSunset Beach, and Sand Key. Yes…it just got more difficult to choose but our Beach Wedding Specialists can help you with your decision. Lodging in the area includes hotels like the Holiday Inn Harbourside which is an ideal location for couples to both stay and have a reception. It is a one minute walk to 4th Avenue, where we will hold an Indian Rocks Beach wedding ceremony. At Sunset Beach, we highly recommend renting the Sunset Beach Pavilion. This Pavilion is located directly on the Gulf beach, making it easy and convenient for you and your guests to enjoy a simple beach wedding reception. Take advantage of the beautiful sunset, affordable pavilion rental, and let your guests relax on the beach during your beach wedding reception. You also have the option to rent a lot in the parking lot. 

Indian Rocks Beach Weddings and hotels in Clearwater, Florida

Now that you’ve had a chance to look at the benefits and features of both these Florida destination beaches, it’s time to give it some thought. Once you’ve made up your mind you can begin to design your wedding online! Without leaving the comfort of your living room, you can browse our beach wedding packages and customize one just for the two of you. We take care of the rest without you having to lift a finger. Your dream wedding awaits in Florida. Don’t hesitate to contact us at pam@floridabeachweddings.com if you have more questions.

Wedding on Anastasia Beach St. Augustine

Anastasia Beach Wedding –

A St. Augustine Wedding Like No Other

Being inside all the time has many of us feeling a little down, but in Florida things are looking up. And at Anastasia Beach you can trade your gray skies for blue. Trade boots for bare feet. Trade layers of clothes for sun dresses. And when you hear “white wedding,” the white sandy beaches are a perfect match for your stunning wedding dress. Well, let’s see just what a dream beach wedding at Anastasia Beach looks like.

What We Love about an Anastasia Beach Wedding :

Accessibility:

Anastasia Beach offers easy beach access with plenty of parking. Some neighboring beaches are equally as beautiful, but guests may be forced to walk up to a mile or more from the closest parking spots. Parking can be at a premium for many beaches and the large parking lot relieves that concern for your beach wedding ceremony. In addition, this beach also offers a very easily accessible handicap ramp right by your wedding ceremony location. There are no buildings on the beach and no driving, so you get nothing but beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean and beach dunes. The Sea Turtle Pavilion is available for small, outdoor wedding receptions. There is a permit fee for an Anastasia State Park Wedding, the price depends on the size of your wedding.

The View:

It’s a common misconception to think all Florida beaches are alike. Each has it’s own unique characteristics. And these can change within the short distance of just 5-10 miles up or down the coast. Anastasia Beach is made up of gorgeous white sand, untouched sand dunes, and beautiful rolling ocean waves. Think poster print beach wedding photography.

Local Fun:

St. Augustine is a treasure chest full of adventures, nature, and history. And within just a couple miles of your Anastasia Beach Wedding, you can rent bikes or paddle boards, catch an outdoor concert, or zipline through the Alligator Farm,

St. Augustine is a top destination for Florida weddings. Well, here’s proof. These are some of our favorite shots from Clari and Ciro’s February beach wedding at Anastasia Beach.

Clari & Ciro’s Anastasia Beach Wedding

Anastasia Beach Wedding

There are many all inclusive wedding packages and elopement packages for you to choose from with our beach wedding company. Click here to book your Anastasia Beach Wedding today!

UK Brides: US Destination Wedding Myths Busted!

Are you thinking of getting married in the USA on a beautiful Florida beach? On the fence as to whether or not a destination wedding is right for you? Thinking it may be out of your budget? Well put aside whatever you’ve been told before or doubts you may have about destination weddings in Florida. Many couples travel from England, Scotland, Ireland and other countries to have a wedding ceremony in Florida. We’re going to give you the facts and bust some popular US destination wedding myths!

Siesta Key wedding couple UK

Myth # 1:

Destination Weddings are too complicated to plan.

Fact:

If you can book a flight to the USA and pack a suitcase, you can plan a Florida destination beach wedding. With our Florida Beach Wedding Company, we do EVERYTHING for you to ensure a seamless and beautiful beach wedding. Our US beach wedding packages are all inclusive. We’re talking about helping you choose a Florida beach location, set up/break down of your wedding decorations, a wedding officiant, professional wedding photographer, and assistance with your Florida marriage license. Our beach wedding specialists can advise you regarding what to do the week before the wedding, how to choose the perfect wedding dress for Florida beach weather, beach wedding make up….we’ve got you covered with all the best tips and tricks to make your US destination wedding perfect. 

Myth # 2:

Destination Weddings are too expensive for UK citizens

Fact:

The average cost of a traditional (non destination) wedding in America is $26,000. Wait, what? That figure should have you running for the hills, but wait, how about running for the beach? Our Florida Beach Wedding packages are coming in somewhere between $1,000-$2,500 USD with almost everything included. Now translate that into your own currency and start clapping with excitement! Add in flight and hotel, dress, hair and  make up to the budget and you will still have room for the honeymoon. Really, you could have roughly 5 beach weddings for the price of 1 “average, traditional” wedding. Once you have booked your date with us, we can provide even more ways to save money with a destination beach wedding with our recommended vendors list for every Florida beach location. 

Destin Beach wedding couple embraces after UK wedding in Florida

Myth # 3:

Florida Destination Weddings won’t be legally recognized in the UK

Fact:

In order for your Florida marriage to be recognized as legal in the UK, the following conditions must be met (per raydensolicitors.co.uk):

  • The marriage must be recognized as a legal marriage in the USA and the parties to the marriage must have complied with the procedures required in the country of marriage: USA. This generally includes giving the relevant notice and having the required witnesses.
  • Each party to the marriage must have capacity to marry under the laws of the country that they are domiciled at the time of the marriage. The country in which you are domiciled will be the country of your main permanent home in which you live, or to which you intend to return. Capacity covers issues such as age, consent and mental capacity.
    Any previous marriage must be properly terminated as per the requirements of English law and you must have the date for your Florida marriage license application.
    It is also important to have evidence of the marriage, which will generally be the original marriage certificate.

The Notary or Minister of your wedding is responsible for posting the marriage license back to the courthouse to have it validated (Florida Beach Weddings takes care of this for you). You won’t receive your marriage certificate straight away. The courthouse will post it to your home address, which usually takes 4-6 weeks, although some people have said they received theirs earlier.

Following Florida’s legal marriage process will ensure that your marriage is legal in the UK. You can obtain it by mail. There is no residency or citizenship requirement to apply for a Florida marriage license but you will need your photo passport. Contact us to plan your dream destination wedding or with any other questions. As you can see, getting married in Florida is easy for UK couples! Email pam@floridabeachweddings.com.

UK couple kiss on Florida beach after wedding in Daytona Beach

Wedding Reception Ideas for a Sarasota Beach Wedding

Siesta Key Beach Wedding Celebration

Sarasota/Siesta Key Beach Wedding Receptions

When planning a destination beach wedding this question always arises; what to do about a reception?  Here are some of our reception ideas for your Sarasota Beach Wedding:

Small Weddings of 30 or less guests:

With smaller weddings the easiest, and most cost-effective way to have a celebration after your beach wedding ceremony is to take your guests to dinner. Choose a restaurant that either has a small private dining room to rent, or where they take reservations and can accommodate your guest count. You can even make arrangements to have your cake delivered to this venue. After your first dance on the beach you can have a complete, small wedding reception at a fraction of the cost of a reception at home. Check out Turtles on Little Sarasota, Cafe Gabbiano’s and the Daquiri Deck in Siesta Key Village. The Columbia House, and Tommy Bahama Restaurant in Lido Beach come highly recommended. Sharkey’s in Venice and there are several more throughout the Sarasota, Florida area that may be suitable for your beach wedding reception.

Couple ties the knot in Siesta Key on beach at sunset

Larger weddings with 30 – 100 guests:

There are several venues that can offer you a great reception for an economical price after your Sarasota Beach Wedding.

Siesta Key: Although this is one of the best beaches in Florida, there are no Gulf beachfront hotels or restaurants directly on the Gulf in Siesta Key that offer a reception venue. However, the Boatyard Bar and Grill is a great option (see photo below courtesy of Wedding Wire) — you can have your own reception area on the bay front. The Devyn is on the mainland but is a full service reception venue. Mattison 41 also provides reception accommodations.

Boatyard Bar and Grill wedding reception, Sarasota, Florida

What about a beach wedding reception outdoors? We do not recommend an outdoor beach wedding reception for several reasons.

  • First, most Gulf beach areas do not allow it or the rules are so limiting that it makes it more work for the couples (and more stress). During Turtle Season (May – October) there are many more rules about lighting, hours, on the beach after dark, etc.
  • Your guests definitely will enjoy your Gulf beach wedding, but the comfort of an indoor/outdoor covered area will be inviting and refreshing after you have completed your beach wedding ceremony.
  • If the weather has been a bit uncooperative but we have been able to use the beach for your wedding, you do not want to leave any part of your wedding day to the mercy of outdoor elements (especially if a rain event is approaching). In the case of inclement beach weather you may only have a small window of opportunity to complete your Sarasota Beach wedding, so why not head to your indoor reception area to have a great wedding reception celebration without the weather worries!
  • Older family members usually prefer an indoor/ or semi-indoor reception. It is great to be dressed up and enjoying the sandy beach for a ceremony, but to spend several hours outdoor on the sand is a different story (or the heat).
  • Something not usually thought about, but would be greatly appreciated is indoor plumbing!

There are so many options for a reception for your Sarasota Beach Wedding, you can surely find the one that works for you.  Once you choose your beach wedding package and book your wedding date with us we can provide more local vendors depending on your specific needs.  And, contact us with any questions you may have about your Sarasota Beach Wedding!

Military groom and bride at beach wedding in Sarasota kissing

Sand Key Beach: Say Yes to “De-Stress”!

If you are looking for a Gulf beach wedding venue that has white sand, emerald water and comes complete with a beach, park, outdoor reception areas and parking for hundreds – it’s Sand Key Park in Clearwater, Florida! It’s time to say Yes to De-Stress and get ready to relax in Florida.

Sand Key Park, Clearwater FL

Photo courtesy of Visit St. Pete Clearwater

Perfect for a large wedding party, the park proper has two picnic shelters with grills, a playground, and restrooms. Grills, picnic tables, and water fountains are but a few of the offered amenities. Sand Key also offers disabled visitors beach wheelchairs, which are easier to use on the sand and float in the water, free of charge. A salt marsh with viewing benches further enhances the park where heron, roseate spoonbill, great horned owls and other Florida birds nest and feed.

Sand Key Park is away from the hustle and bustle of the main area of Clearwater Beach, making it a peaceful place for the perfect beach wedding! There are several key areas that make for wonderful wedding day photos: large grassy areas, the white sand beach, and rocky areas. However, Florida Beach Weddings prefers to perform your wedding ceremony on the quietest area of the beach, so you can enjoy an intimate and unforgettable wedding day. A perfect getaway spot when children are included, they will be thrilled with the warm Gulf sea.

Sand Key Beach Restaurant for a Wedding Reception

The Columbia Restaurant was founded in 1905 and is Florida’s oldest restaurant℠. The Columbia Restaurant in Sand Key on Clearwater Beach is the perfect venue for your party or special event. Old-World Mediterranean style dining rooms lend an atmosphere of warmth and elegance to any gathering. Group reservations welcome.

When considering a beach wedding in Sand Key Park here are some things to be aware of:

  • If you’d like to use a caterer, you must use the licensed caterer provided by the park.
  • Reservations are required for the main picnic area.
  • There is a fee for parking using automated meters.
  • A permit fee will be required to be married on Sand Key Beach (our beach wedding company will help you with this process).

So why not tie the knot with beautiful decor on a Gulf beach in Florida? Choosing Sand Key Park will be an unforgettable experience for you and your guests. Contact us today.

Tropical Distinctive wedding arch on Sand Key Beach, Clearwater, FL

 

Beach Wedding Guests, What They Need to Know

Beach Wedding Guests celebrating the newly married couple at their beach wedding in Florida

Many couples are now planning their 2021 weddings and may be thinking about a Florida destination wedding. You might even be working on your guest list which is always a challenge. Having a Beach Wedding is meant to be relaxing and enjoyable. In order to ensure a smooth beach wedding ceremony it is best to make sure your guests are will informed. Below are some helpful tips to help your guests arrive on time, know where to go, and ensure they don’t have to add stress to your special wedding day.

Teal Distinctive Design Package beach wedding with guests in chairs

Teal Distinctive Design Package beach wedding with guests in chairs

  1. Most important: Time of ceremony.  Your guests should arrive at least 15 minutes before your ceremony start time. This allows them plenty of time to get to the beach, find parking, and mingle for a few. TIP: On your invitations put your ceremony start time 15 minutes prior to the actual start time, so you can guarantee your wedding will go off on time. Everybody will be relaxed and ready to watch the bride walk down the aisle!
  2. Location of the beach wedding ceremony. If you are all staying at the same hotel, or rental home on the beach and you just have to walk outside to the beach, great. However, if you are all staying at different locations, or they will be driving in, you need to provide your guests with an exact address of the beach area. Any landmarks, street intersections, etc. that can assist them in getting to the correct beach wedding location will help them navigate unfamiliar streets. Our Florida Beach Weddings company always provides you with detailed information about the beach location, and this can be shared with your guests. You may wish to designate someone as a contact to help with any guest issues that arise prior to the ceremony, for peace of mind.
  3. How to get to the beach wedding ceremony.  As you may know, parking is not always easy to find. We try and provide you with beach wedding location choices that are close to large parking areas to accommodate the size of your wedding guest list. Keep in mind, most parking is paid parking (meters are usually found in the parking lot areas — they take cash, or credit card). Your beach wedding guests should be aware that most of the parking is paid parking, so they can be prepared.
  4. If you, and all of your beach wedding guests, are coming from out of town, you should provide them with a couple of hotel options. Or at least one, if you want everyone to stay at the same hotel.  You may want to contact the hotel directly, and talk to their group sales department. They will be able to  provide you with information about how to block rooms. This usually requires a five to ten room minimum.  You will receive a code to give to your guests when they make their reservation.  If you are having a smaller group, you can provide them a few hotels in the area, and they can make their own reservations. We have hotel recommendations we can share with you after booking your wedding to help you make this decision.
  5. Provide your beach wedding guests with a general timeline of the day of the ceremony. This way, they know how much free time they will have to enjoy the day and what time they will need to arrive for the ceremony. You may also want to let them know about any after ceremony festivities. Such as meeting at a restaurant, or  providing a small reception, etc. Florida Beach Weddings company will provide you with the timelines to facilitate a smooth and happy wedding ceremony.
  6. If your beach wedding guests have never been to the area, you can provide them with some interesting things to do. If you choose to have a Gulf beach wedding in the Tampa area, you have the Florida aquarium.  And, the drive to all the major attractions in Orlando, is only a little over an hour from east coast beaches. Your guests might get lucky and get the chance to see a NASA space launch near Cocoa Beach!
  7. Your wedding guests might be wondering what to wear, especially if they have never visited Florida.  You can tell them to make sure they are cool and comfortable. There are many options to be “dress casual” and still enjoy the beach. For the gentlemen: Polo shirts, linen shirts, khaki pants or shorts, boat shoes or flip flops. For the ladies: Comfortable sun dresses (tip: make sure they aren’t see-through in the sun), dress shorts, cute flat sandals, pumps, or flip flops. If dressing up, great — another hint, if the dress is too short, it may blow “up” in the sea breeze. If you want, you can even give them some color options for those special wedding photos. For example, you can let them know that it would be great if everyone followed a color theme, and give them two to three choices of colors (for example, khaki, coral, and teal) to go with your beach wedding decor.  This gives everyone some type of guidance, and it would make a great, color-coordinated group wedding photo!

If you make sure your beach wedding guests know where your Florida beach wedding will take place, this just means less stress for you. You want the day of your ceremony to be filled with joy and laughter, not stress for yourself or those special people in your life. Our beach wedding specialists are here to help you from booking your date, to choosing a complete wedding package, Florida marriage license, and arriving on the beach for your marriage ceremony. So, remember, an informed beach wedding guest, is a happy guest! 

Congratulations, and we can’t wait to see you, and your special wedding guests, on the beach!

Beach wedding unity sand ceremony on Gulf beaches.