You may remember Fort Lauderdale from your college spring break days, but oh how times have changed in this South Florida hot spot. Ibiza-style eateries and swanky lounges have set up shop along the boardwalk with views of the beach that can't be beaten. For something a bit removed from the party scene, host a rehearsal dinner along the Intracoastal with Champagne cocktails served alongside some of the freshest seafood in the state, all within views of canals so stunning, they've been nicknamed the "Venice of America."
Pelican Grand Beach Resort (Above)
Removed from the hustle and bustle of Fort Lauderdale beach's main drag, Pelican Grand is like stepping into a stately Southern manor that's set right on the sand. Your guests will feel like you're welcoming them into your home with laid-back dining on the lantern-lit terrace at OCEAN2000. The lapping of the nearby waves can serve as background music as guests toast to the bride and groom while dining on a menu of Florida-style surf and turf that ranges from oxtail terrine and braised lamb to lobster tails and local snapper. Read real brides' reviews here!
Photo: Courtesy of the W Fort Lauderdale
At the W, it's hard to get much closer to the ocean without actually being on it. Set on Fort Lauderdale beach's boardwalk, couples can take their pick of indoor and outdoor spots with sweeping views over the sea. Our favorite? The breezy rooftop terrace, where guests can spread out on sleek beach loungers by firepits, mingling over cocktails and hors d'oeuvres served under the stars. Read real brides' reviews here!
Photo: Courtesy of S3 Fort Lauderdale
Short for sun, surf, and sand, this boardwalk beauty is truly the spot where all three of those elements meet. Served up in the form of a waterfront terrace complete with live music and rustling firepits, this locale is perfect for an intimate and relaxed rehearsal dinner. The same group behind nightlife hotspots YOLO and Vibe gave their newer venture a more laid-back island vibe that's still just as chic — ideal for sophisticated beachfront soirées that are close enough to the shore without worrying about getting sand in your stilettos. For the bridal party that's still sticking to their pre-wedding diet, they won't have a problem during dinner thanks to a menu of sushi and light seafood. For a pre-wedding splurge, however, the Asian-inspired cocktails are well worth the calories.
Photo: Courtesy of Boatyard
Capture the feel of quintessential Fort Lauderdale by throwing a dockside soirée on the Intracoastal at Boatyard. Watch luxury yachts cruise on by while dining on fresh fare delivered that day by local fisherman. The menu includes seafood faves from tuna tacos to coconut conch chowder and jumbo crab cakes. For an al fresco affair, the patio can seat up to 80, or you can transform the indoor nautical-style space for events up to 200. Read real brides' reviews here!
Photo: Courtesy of Coconuts
You don't need to head all the way south to Key West to capture a chilled-out rustic beach vibe. The wood-planked patio at Coconuts — formerly a pair of hotels that were the place to be when spring break kicked off here some 60 years ago — is a low-key spot to sit by the water and celebrate your upcoming nuptials surrounded by friends, family and even the furry ones, as long as your pup comes on a leash. The menu here is just as casual, but that doesn't mean it skimps on South Florida flavor. Order up some of the house specialties like coconut shrimp and conch fritters, before bringing along the eatery's signature comfort food dishes like jambalaya, BBQ ribs and rosemary-marinated yardbird — best paired with one of Coconuts' craft brews like Monk in the Trunk.