Turn your wedding day from drab into fab by shuffling your wedding party into an airplane and heading for lusciously tropical Key West, Florida. While the rhododendrons at the neighborhood church sure do look beautiful in bloom, no mainland flora and fauna can compare to the exotic offerings found in the Florida Keys!
Key West provides a wonderful backdrop of both native and introduced plants. With fabulous year round weather, lush trees grow all around town and many of the historic homes — such as the Hemingway Home pictured — offer gorgeous tropical gardens to visit or to stage your wedding or reception.
The choices you’ll have when it comes to floral arrangements are very different from what you get at home. You’ll have a blast picking out ornate flowers to match your wedding bikini.
Here are some of the more obvious selections:
Orchids: Orchids are a stunning addition to tropical plants and you may want to consider using this colorful and unusually shaped flower in your bouquets or table decorations. Orchids can be found in various shapes, colors and forms in the tropics.
Frangipanis: Frangipanis are a hardy tree that comes with waxy white and yellow, pink, yellow or pink and white flowers. Their flowers have a wonderful scent that lasts all day long and makes you reflect on your favorite beautiful summer days. They are often used as table or plate decorations. For a more unusual table piece, float frangipani flowers in a bowl of water.
Coconut Palm: Coconut palms, while not native, are an amazing addition to any beach scene and are perfectly adapted to the Florida Keys and Key West. If you’re planning a beach wedding, choose a spot near palm trees for great tropical photos. Have your wedding planner check that the coconuts are cleared of fruit prior to the ceremony as you wouldn’t want a coconut knocking the groom out cold just as he’s about to say “I do.” All jokes aside, falling coconuts can be dangerous, so do take caution.
Papaya: Papaya trees are also not native to Key West, but you will see a lot of them around. A well-kept papaya tree is as pretty as it is functional – and the fruit is delicious.
Poinciana: Also known as the flame tree, the Poinciana or Flamboyant is a tree you’ll find across Key West. When they flower they are totally covered in flaming red petals. It is a dramatic and tropical backdrop that would be a beautiful showcase for any wedding dress. They flower for a few months starting May.
Friendly Visitors on your Big Day!
Something to bear in mind when planning a Key West destination wedding is that you can expect to see a lot of little lizards darting about and clinging to the walls and trees. Lizards are 100% harmless to people and totally fit in with the tropical vibe. So don’t be alarmed, just let them be a firm reminder that you’re getting married in paradise. Also, keep your eyes peeled for any roaming iguanas. These peaceful, timid creatures are a common sight and sure to bring a big smile to your face, says Nadene Grossman Orr, owner of We’ve Got The Keys.
If you’re planning on a beach wedding, keep your eyes peeled for nature’s greatest fisherman, the pelican. Common in this area, pelicans are usually out fishing before 10am or after 4pm, in the cooler parts of the day. They fish very close to the shoreline, where the waves break, so it is entirely possible that you could get them in your wedding shots.
If you have any bird fans in your group, a great pre-wedding meet and greet activity would be to pay a visit to Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden. While the gardens are not especially spectacular, the collection of uncaged, rescued Macaws, Cockatoos and other tropical birds will charm you. It’s also a chance to support a very worthy cause as you take a tour and listen to the birds’ tales about how they arrived in their tropical safe haven.
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By M.-J. Taylor
The writer, M.-J. Taylor, is madly in love with the flora and fauna of the Florida Keys. Living in the tropical environment of Key West means every day is a delight.