It is a perfect, magical day for a wedding in this unspoiled island sanctuary. Getting married in a beautiful beach setting is all about location, and this popular wedding destination offers many choices and packages for a picture-perfect backdrop.
Balmy breezes, endless Gulf beaches and year-round sunshine make southwest Florida’s Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel one of the world’s most romantic wedding destinations. For those seeking a secluded spot for a wedding in paradise, the area offers every accommodation and setting to make your special day unforgettable.
With the popularity of destination weddings in tropical locales, area resorts and hotels offer special packages and options that make this the perfect time to plan a wedding that is affordable for the wedding party and guests. Wedding parties are drawn to the area because of its island feel without traveling outside of the country.
Who can resist a wedding under a gazebo at Lovers Key, Florida’s most romantic state park? Lovers Key’s secluded Gulf-front setting resulted in recognition as Florida’s most romantic state park, and it is a preferred site for beachside weddings and the party that follows. Or sail away on the Sanibel Princess, a 100-foot luxury yacht that accommodates 103 wedding guests for a fairytale ceremony and reception surrounded by the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico. For a riverfront setting steeped in history, the beautiful and tropical landscape of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates will make unforgettable memories with a backdrop of royal palms, historic bamboo, orchids and other exotic plants. Or exchange vows at sunset on a private island with all the details arranged by the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa.
The choices are endless depending upon the size and budget of the wedding. There are world-class resorts, restaurants, services and facilities that cater to weddings of all sizes and types. From a simple sunset ceremony on the beach to a formal wedding with a reception in a luxury resort, the area is a popular destination for memorable weddings.
Get married on your own private island
Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, Bonita Springs
The Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa offers a tropical paradise complete with lavish gardens, sparkling water and green golf course fairways. The resort also features an Asian-inspired spa, access to a secluded beach, three pools, six restaurants and lounges.
With impeccable service and attention to detail, the resort provides locations including the Wedding Pavilion, Cypress Courtyard and Royal Palm Courtyard, as well as ballroom settings. Dream weddings are planned by an on-site wedding coordinator who handles everything from start to finish.
Wedding ceremonies may also take place on the resort’s private island located between Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The perfect location for sunset weddings for up to 75 people, this choice includes a private 20-minute boat trip out to the island, with possible glimpses of dolphins and bald eagles. Receptions are held on the resort property.
Packages: A $2,000 site fee is required and inclusive packages start at $175 per person and include: passed hors d'oeuvres, cheese display, four-hour open bar, champagne toast, appetizer, salad and entree, customized wedding cake, wine service with dinner, wedding night complimentary view room for the bride and groom, wedding coordinator, tables, chairs, ivory linen and napkins.For information contact Mike Dolch, senior catering manger at firstname.lastname@example.org,(239) 390-4241 or (800) 233-1234 or visit www.coconutpoint.hyatt.com.
Island weddings in paradise
Casa Ybel Resort, Sanibel Island
Gracing the secluded, shell-strewn beaches of Sanibel Island, Casa Ybel Resort weddings can be as grand or intimate as desired. Choose a site from swaying coconut palms on the beach to a grand old-island manor.
The Thistle Lodge restaurant has been hosting weddings for more than 100 years. In fact, the romantic beachfront manor was built by a groom as a wedding gift to his betrothed. Today, from rehearsal dinner to honeymoon arrangements, Casa Ybel continues the tradition of romance in breath-taking beach side surroundings with top-notch service and distinctive catering. Small, intimate wedding packages for 20 or less are available.Packages: Start at $160 to $175 per person for 30 or more and include:
An outdoor ceremony site set up with chairs
Bridal bouquet and groom’s boutonniere
Choice of an elaborate, plated four-course dinner
An intimate and private setting for the dinner reception
For information call (239) 472-0693 or (866) 748-8958.
Contact the wedding planner at Jessica@casaybelresort.com or visit www.casaybelweddings.com.
Holiday Inn Beach Resort, Sanibel Island
This quaint beachside resort, directly on the Gulf of Mexico, provides the lush, tropical setting for outdoor beach weddings for as many as 50 people. Food and beverage is catered by Courtney's, the resort’s on-site restaurant. Access to wedding planners may be found on the resort’s Web site. Ceremony may be planned in front of live “Beach Cam” and viewed from around the world on Web site.
Packages: Quoted individually, based upon season and number of guests, from a basic package to tents with a sit down gourmet meal and reception. For more information call (239) 472-4123 or (800) 443-0909 or visit www.sanibelbeachresort.com.
West Wind Inn, Sanibel Island
Weddings are held at this Gulfside inn with a choice of locations including beautiful sandy beach, butterfly garden or under a tent on the lawn. The beach is the most popular location and sunset services the most coveted time. Reception areas include a conference room, poolside or on the lawn. The Normandie Seaside Café provides catering.
Packages: Individual quotes are provided. Price depends upon the size of the wedding and season. For more information, contact Charlene Staton at email@example.com or (239) 472-1541 or (800) 824-0476 or visit www.westwindinn.com.
Island Inn, Sanibel Island
Magical weddings take place at private locations and Gulf views along the 10 acres of beach front property that feature picture-perfect sunsets over this quaint property.
Packages: Each wedding is created individually for parties up to 125 people for receptions and room availability from 10 to 40 rooms. For more information on planning your wedding, contact (239) 472-1561 or (800) 851-5088 or visit www.islandinnsanibel.com.
South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island
With the resort's two-and-a-half miles of shell-strewn beaches, waterfront location and a well-rounded offering of recreational options, South Seas provides a truly intimate Captiva wedding location with all of the signature features to ensure lasting memories. Couples enjoy a wedding geared toward their individual tastes and styles, including the options of indoor/outdoor ceremonies and receptions.
Packages: The Intimate Island Wedding Package for 30 begins at $7,500. For more information including details on food and beverage, contact a wedding coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (239) 472-472-7685 or (800) 524-7601 or visit www.southseas.com.
‘Tween Waters Inn, Captiva Island
Romantic sunset weddings at three locations directly on the beach are created by the inn’s wedding coordinator.
Packages: Ceremony package begins at $2,000 and includes:
Private beach reserved for wedding ceremony for 2-160 people
Ceremony officiate to sign and file marriage license (couple must obtain their own license)
Bridal bouquet and groom’s boutonniere (choice of fresh flowers)
Wedding day coordination (limited services)
Decorated pair of tropical tiki torches for beach altar
20 beach chairs for ceremony
10 percent off bride and groom’s accommodations for two-night stay
For more information and additional services, contact Sherry Lucht at (239) 472-5161or (800) 223-5865 or visit www.tween-waters.com.
Captiva Island Inn, Captiva Island
Located in the historic Captiva Village, the pastel painted cottages with gingerbread and white picket fences give this inn the charm that appeals to many wedding planners. The inn has been featured in Southern Living and Coastal Living magazines. With gentle breezes and a relaxed island style atmosphere, the inn has hosted everything from pool parties with guests in flip flops to romantic weddings on the beach for up to 100 people. The inn will assist with every detail including flowers, photography, food, music, accommodations, transportation and salon appointments. Accommodations for the wedding party or guests include the “Celebration House” with five bedrooms.
Packages: Customized depending upon size of wedding. For information call (239) 395-0882 or (800) 454-9898 or visit www.captivaislandinn.com.
Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa, Fort Myers
Captivating island views, spectacular sunsets and a romantic setting in a tropical paradise all combine for the perfect wedding and honeymoon at Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa. This 85-acre bayside resort, situated on a private peninsula overlooking Sanibel and Captiva islands, creates storybook weddings and receptions.
For the wedding ceremony, couples may choose a poolside terrace surrounded by lush foliage and fountains, a magnificent 100-foot private luxury yacht, an elegant ballroom or a secluded cove on the beach with swaying palms. The main ballroom may accommodate up to 965 people and can be easily divided into three individual sections, each with breathtaking views.
Luxurious receptions are created by the resort’s award-winning chefs and catering staff. An in-house pastry chef creates customized wedding cakes for any theme. A favorite location is the Island Room which provides floor-to-ceiling views of the tropical setting. For out of town guests and the wedding party, arrangements may be made for services in the luxurious spa, as well as for golfing, kayaking and nature tours to nearby barrier islands.
Packages: Pricing for an intimate ceremony for two to 70 people in a private beach location begins at $1,250. A tropical poolside location, providing a picturesque view of the resort and the back bay of the Gulf of Mexico, accommodates up to 100 people and begins at $1,250. A ceremony on the poolside veranda overlooking the back bay of the Gulf of Mexico begins at $2,000 for up to 500 people. For information call the resort’s team of wedding planners at (239) 466-2252 or (888) 663-6285 or visit www.sanibel-resort.com/weddingpackages.
Tropical weddings on beautiful Fort Myers Beach
Lovers Key Resort
Located on pristine Estero Bay across from Lovers Key State Park, this resort’s tropical setting allows for casually elegant locations that include a private beach and a bayside lagoon-style pool with waterfall.
Packages: The Royal Palm Wedding Package is designed for 10 to 60 people at $150 per person, plus 18 percent service charge, 6 percent tax and $350 coordinator fee and includes:
Bayside patio and arch for ceremony
Luxuriously appointed bridal suite
Wedding officiantGuitar music for the ceremony
Floral packageRoyal Palm reception room or Bayside Patio for reception
Tables, chairs, linens, centerpieces
Two-hour open bar
For more information contact Jayson Rydell, wedding coordinator at email@example.com or (239) 765-1040 or (877) 798-4879 or visit www.LoversKey.com.
Pink Shell Beach Resort & Spa
With its quiet beachfront, awesome sunset views, and elegant waterfront locations that may be arranged on land and boat, this Gulfside resort has all of the components for a tropical wedding and reception.
Packages: Basic wedding package begins at $1,500 for up to 30 people and includes:
Beach ceremony with decorated arch
Tropical iced tea and water station
Dinner for up to 30 people in JoJo's Restaurant
Champagne toast for up to 30 people
Welcome amenity for the bride and groom
Select vendor list and on-site wedding coordination services
For information contact Dony Bruder or Sarah Cardenas at (239) 463-8634 or (888) 222-7465 or visit www.pinkshell.com/weddings/.
DiamondHead Beach Resort
With white sandy beaches, emerald waters and bright blue skies, the pristine beauty of Fort Myers Beach provides a picturesque backdrop for the special day. DiamondHead Beach Resort is the only property on the island that can accommodate beachfront wedding ceremonies for up to 200 guests.
Packages: The Ruby Wedding Package offers an intimate, fairy-tale wedding for 20 or fewer guests for $2,100 and includes the following:
Wedding between 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Beach setup of arch and white folding chairs, plus complimentary parking for guests
An officiant to perform the wedding ceremony
Bouquet of roses for the bride and boutonniere for the groom
Guitarist to play at the ceremony
Choice of two wedding portraits, 12 four-by-six photos, copy of the photo CDA premium wedding-night beachfront suite with bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, his-and-hers plush bathrobes
Dinner for two at the resort’s elegant Chloe’s Restaurant (up to $125)
For information contact Josh Pankhurst at (239) 765-7654 or (888) 627-1595 or visit www.diamondheadfl.com/weddings.
Outrigger Beach Resort
The Outrigger Beach Resort provides the perfect stress free wedding. A package includes everything, even the cake. When the bride and groom arrive all they need to do is enjoy, have fun and show up on the beach.
Packages: Wedding packages are designed to include all the basics for a romantic beach wedding and are affordably priced beginning at $1,000, according to the size of each group. Each one includes:
Romantic and personal wedding ceremonyProfessional photographyBridal bouquet and groom’s lapel flowerWedding arborCake, champagne toastRecorded musicKeepsake wedding certificate and a written copy of ceremonyConsulting servicesLegal filing of license after the ceremonyFor information contact Paula Poe or Glory Williams at (239) 463-3131 or (800) 211-8441 or visit www.outriggerfmb.com.
Plan a Gulf-front wedding in Florida’s most romantic state park
Lovers Key State Park, between Bonita Springs and Fort Myers Beach
Just south of Fort Myers Beach, Lovers Key is Florida’s most romantic state park. Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the recreation area includes more than 1,900 acres of breathtaking natural habitat and 2.5 miles of beaches. This provides a dramatic backdrop for a unique, turn-of-the-century gazebo/pavilion which is available for weddings. The picturesque, open-air structure and the park’s secluded Gulf-front setting, have bolstered Lovers Key’s recognition as Florida’s most romantic state park and made it a preferred site for beachside weddings and the party after. Each wedding is planned individually based upon the wishes of the wedding party. For information contact Peggy Woods at (239) 463-4588 or visit www.naturerecreationmanagement.com . For information on Lovers Key, visit www.floridastateparks.org/loverskey.
Luxurious, new waterfront resort in Cape Coral
The Resort at Marina Village
Tucked away in an undisturbed waterfront setting, the resort’s hideaway locale, luxurious amenities and waterfront surroundings are ideal for weddings, with exquisitely appointed indoor and outdoor areas, including an 1851-square-foot pavilion and covered veranda perched adjacent to the marina and Caloosahatchee River. This new luxury resort is located at Tarpon Point Marina.
Packages: Emerald Wedding Package Begins at $135 per person for a minimum of 20 and includes:
Outdoor ceremony in the gazebo with white folding chairs
Four-hour dinner reception
Choice of linen colors/white chair covers and choice of sash/centerpieces
Choice of hors d’oeuvres/salad/entrée
Premium Suite for bride and groom on wedding night
Breakfast for the bride and groom the next morning at Marker
Complete list of local recommended vendors.
For information, call (239) 463-2559 or 1 (888) 865-5584 or visit www.marinavillage.com/weddings .
Romantic weddings in a historic setting
Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers
The beautiful and tropical landscape of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates make the memories of a special wedding day last forever. Guests will be surrounded by royal palms, historic bamboo, orchids and other tropical plants that create the perfect ambiance for a wedding. The Estates offer several outdoor site locations including the historic winter residence of legendary automobile maker, Henry Ford, friend and neighbor of inventor Thomas Edison.
Mr. Ford’s beautiful two-story home with large covered porches was built in 1911 and the recently restored house is situated on the scenic Caloosahatchee River. Mina’s Moonlight Garden provides an intimate, romantic setting filled with fragrant flowers and tall, bougainvillea-entwined trellises for photo opportunities and gatherings of 10 or less. The Edison Caretaker’s House provides a quaint indoor and outdoor space with porches and gardens reflecting the charm of the historic setting. Or Edison’s Coconut Grove between the lily pond and the Caloosahatchee River.
Packages: Wedding ceremonies range from $300 for intimate weddings of 10 or less up to $1,500 for 31 or more. Receptions are based upon location and number of guests. Wedding rehearsals are included along with tickets for guests. For more information and package pricing, contact Tori Lawless at (239) 334-7419 or visit www.efwefla.org/wedding.asp.
Gasparilla Inn & Club, Boca Grande
Located on beautiful Gasparilla Island, The Gasparilla Inn & Club is an idyllic southwest Florida wedding venue. A full-service resort offering old-world ambiance since 1913, the inn is a Historic Hotel of America and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Whether the bride dreams of walking down a sandy aisle on the beach, or down the glamorous staircase inside the historic inn, the resort offers many options throughout the 170-acre property.
Packages: Each wedding is custom designed to suit the client. For more information contact Sharon Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org or (941) 964-4630 or (800) 996-1913 or visit www.the-gasparilla-inn.com.
Burroughs Home, downtown Fort Myers
The romantic backdrop of a historic Georgian Revival mansion on the Caloosahatchee River is the perfect setting for a garden wedding. Built in 1901 by cattleman John Murphy, the home has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1984. Brides may select the front porch or a garden gazebo for a sunset ceremony. An event coordinator is available to assist with ceremony and reception plans. Contact Christine Forbes at email@example.com or (239) 337-0706 or visit www.burroughshome.com.
Plan a wedding in Fort Myers
Crowne Plaza Hotel Fort Myers
Convenient to the beaches, airport and Bell Tower shopping, the Crown Plaza Fort Myers is the perfect centralized location for the wedding party and guests. With a professional staff to assist in organizing plans for the special day, the hotel offers its tropical patio or Fort Myers ballroom for the wedding ceremony and reception.
Packages: Boutique Wedding Package begins at $55 per person for a minimum of 100 guests and includes:
Half of the Fort Myers Ballroom
Complimentary dance floor
Breakfast for bride and groom the day after the wedding
For additional packages and information contact Dawn Kruis at (239) 210-2464 or visit www.cpfortmyers.com.
Embassy Suites Fort Myers-Estero
Overlooking a 20-acre preserve, this property is situated near the airport and beaches. Wedding and receptions are customized for up to 200 people. For details, contact Amy Sanford at (239) 444-5487 or visit www.fortmyersembassy.com.
Useful information for planning a destination wedding
To make it easy for out-of-town visitors to plan a destination wedding, there are wedding planners and consultants throughout the area who can assist with everything from site selection and hotel reservations to flowers and photography. For a list of wedding planners, click here.
Getting married in Lee County is easy. Visit the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court to apply for a marriage license. Both parties must have valid photo identification, such as a driver's license and a Social Security number. International visitors who wish to marry in Florida must have a valid passport and a translator, if necessary, who has a valid U.S. driver's license. No blood tests are required for a marriage license, and there is no waiting period unless you are already a Florida resident -- then you must wait three days. Once you have the license, you can get married at any time within the next 60 days. Cost: $93.50 to be paid in cash only. For details and downloadable forms visit http://www.leeclerk.org/Marriage_License.htm/.