Miami's notorious heat and afternoon showers are just a few of the things to factor in during the wedding planning process. Thanks to the help of some of the city's top wedding experts, we've crafted a list of tips on everything from the flowers to the food and wine — plus ways to stay (almost) sweat-free during the ceremony.
1. Think about venues away from the beach.
"When brides think of Miami weddings they usually imagine a beach wedding, but there are also other wonderful places to get married and take photos besides the beach," says Ms. Wedding Planner Lynne Goldberg. Opt for an industrial-style venue, such as the Pérez Art Museum Miami overlooking Biscayne Bay, or transform a botanical garden into a whimsical dinner party reception.
2. Weave your personalities into the rehearsal dinner.
"When planning a rehearsal dinner, I encourage the brides I work with to create a festive evening, unique to the bride and groom's personalities and their guests. For me, the rehearsal dinner is like the appetizer at a gourmet meal — it is the celebration that gets everyone excited about the wedding," Goldberg says. One example is hosting a rehearsal dinner at an art gallery or artist's studio in Little Haiti or Wynwood, choosing artwork relating to your theme of choice.
3. Work Miami's scenery into your wedding shots.
"Miami is a difficult location [to shoot] because it's full of ballrooms on the beach for weddings, but to find a truly unique location, you have to look outside the strip," explains destination wedding photographer Sara Kauss. "There are a couple neat places to take a bride and groom if you're given the time to break away from the ballroom, or do a post-wedding session. The beach offers fun lifeguard towers that provide a colorful, Jimmy Buffett feeling."
The Art Deco architecture and pastel hued lifeguard booths make for signature wedding photos you can't capture anywhere else, so strike a pose on Lincoln Road using the Old Florida-style buildings as your backdrop, then head two blocks away to snap toes-in-the-sand shots. Some venues, such as Vizcaya, even allow brides to make a reservation to use the grounds and gardens (for a nominal fee) even if they're not getting married there.
4. Factor weather into your wedding date.
If you want an al fresco ceremony and cocktail hour, skip the spring wedding and opt for a date from November through March to avoid afternoon showers, recommends The Biltmore's assistant director of catering Natalia Plasencia. Not only will you be skipping showers, you'll also avoid the hottest — and most humid — months of the year, which means less sweat dripping in wedding photos. On the other hand, brides on a budget can snag better deals during Miami's low season. "If you've always dreamed of a Biltmore wedding but are working with a lower budget, there are certain months and days when our food and beverage minimums are lower. The low season for us is July through September, and we also offer reduced minimums for weddings on Fridays and Sundays," Plasencia says.
If you're going for a wedding in the spring or summer months, opt for lightweight gowns for the bridal party, and recommend your guests don loose clothing in light colors.
5. Have a back-up plan and prep for windy beach weather.
With Miami's unpredictable rain and wind, be sure to have a Plan B that's either a tented or indoor option. As pretty as beach ceremonies can be, keep in mind that wind will easily blow over arches and huppahs — and the same goes for your hair. South Florida wedding planner Aviva Samuels, founder of Kiss the Planner, recommends forgoing the veil and wearing it up, so it's not blowing in your face throughout the ceremony.
Samuels also encourages planning for Miami's heat and pesky mosquitos by packing a welcome bag for guests containing sunscreen, bug spray, hand-held fans and umbrellas.
6. Food and drinks are just as important as the venue itself.
"I get a lot of brides who are more focused on the design of the ballroom than the food and beverage itself, but what I try to remind them is that what their guests will talk about after is what food was served, or how cool the bar concept and offerings were," says Four Seasons Hotel Miami's catering sales manager Jaclyn Jerstad. "Miami is such a huge culinary scene, and weddings shouldn't be any different." Think outside the box when it comes to cocktail and wedding receptions, going for Miami-themed bars serving mojitos or Cuba Libres, or switching up the typical buffet for food truck-inspired stands.
7. Bouquets can sway from tradition.
"Long gone are the days of the simple white bouquets; brides are incorporating color, theme and personal touches like your grandmother's broach, a piece of lace from your mother's wedding dress, or that pop of color you've incorporated in your reception décor," says Plasencia at The Biltmore.
According to Trump Miami's in-house wedding expert Katie DeNapoli, couples are also incorporating orchids, succulents and beech wood to give bouquets and centerpieces a look that's more "urban chic" than traditional, playing on the theme of a beach wedding.
8. The getaway car doesn't have to be a car.
"On Miami Beach, any vehicle on two wheels rules the road," Kiss the Planner says. "A pair of beach cruisers, (the bicycle of choice on Miami Beach), a pair of Segways, a moped or a scooter would all make great wedding getaway cars." And don't forget about options off land, from jet skis to power boats.
9. Your venue (or hotel) may have built-in ways to get rid of pre-wedding stress.
"Many grooms get their groomsmen together to burn off wedding day jitters by playing basketball on [the JW Marriott Marquis Miami's] NBA-approved basketball court or by golfing in our indoor golf center with its HD golf simulator," says Holly Pacheco, the hotel's social events manager. Brides (and bridesmaids) can also de-stress before the big day with an onsite yoga class at the hotel's Rina Yoga Studio. Other spots can also arrange spa services in your bridal suite for last-minute stress relief.
10. Send guests home with a Miami-inspired souvenir.
"Miami is known for its Latin influence, its chic style and its glorious sunshine. Unfortunately, you can't put the sunshine in a bottle, but there are a lot of great things you can take home that say 'Miami' all the way," Kiss the Planner says. Give guests a taste of this culture with wedding favors they can't get back home, from aromatic cigars to Cuban coffee. One great find is The EPIC's "Live Life a Local" gift set, featuring everything you need to recreate a traditional cortadito — a small Cuban espresso with steamed milk — back home.