Getting Married in Florida

By: Kara Chalmers

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Getting married in Florida? Here some ideas to get you started - and some important legal information to keep in mind for the big day.

For those who dream of a romantic outdoor wedding, Florida beckons. With its endless sunshine, warm weather year round and varied venues with names like Lovers Key and Honeymoon Island, Florida is the perfect place to hold nuptials.

Afterward, there's no need to leave the state, which boasts scores of exceptional honeymoon spots.


Beautiful Backdrops for Your Special Day

In the Sunshine State, our gentle climate allows for an outdoor ceremony and reception virtually any time of year. For many couples, this is the best reason to plan a wedding here. Florida's dependably sunny weather greatly increases the chances of outdoor wedding success.

Beach lovers can proclaim their vows barefoot in sugar-white sand, with palm trees swaying and waves crashing nearby. For Gulf coast weddings, use the setting sun as a brilliant backdrop. On the east coast, plan a sunrise ceremony.

The state is also blessed with many lush, botanical gardens and other outdoor venues, many of which also feature indoor or covered sites in case of rain. To tie the knot at a public beach or park, it's sometimes necessary to make a reservation and pay a small fee.

For a more formal affair, opt for a ceremony in a historic church or on the grounds of an elegant estate. There are also inns and resorts boasting everything from Cinderella-style ballrooms with spectacular waterfront views to culinary creations from award-winning chefs.

Another option in Florida is to "cruise" down the aisle. Many couples take advantage of the state's vast array of waterways by holding weddings on sailboats, yachts and even kayaks.

And why stop there? Some brides and grooms come to Florida to pledge their eternal love while scuba diving off the Florida Keys or while skydiving over the Daytona Beach area. The opportunities are endless to make your wedding truly personalized.


After "I Do"

Florida offers honeymooners choices ranging from all-inclusive golf and spa resorts, to colorful beachfront cottages to cozy bed and breakfast inns that guarantee the perfect romantic escape.

Some couples choose to "rough it" at secluded island beach bungalows, far away from other people, while others dine in style and party at nightclubs in the state's bustling cities such as Miami, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. Still others seek a cultural perspective, visiting museums and historic locales and enjoying theater, ballet and opera performances.

Adventurous honeymooners can spend their days (and nights) in the company of alligators and saltwater crocodiles, while canoeing and camping through the awe-inspiring Everglades.

From hiking in verdant state parks to horseback riding along the beach, Florida offers activities that are sure to make your honeymoon unforgettable.


License to Wed

Follow these simple guidelines to be on your way to wedded bliss.

To get married in Florida, visiting couples need only go together to the nearest clerk of the circuit court office to obtain a marriage license. Marriage licenses are good for 60 days. The standard fee is $93.50, which can be reduced to $61 for Florida residents who have completed a premarital preparation course. It's not necessary for residents to obtain licenses from their home county. It can typically be paid by cash, charge or personal check.

Florida residents must wait three days to get a license. However residents who can provide documentation showing they completed a state-approved marriage preparation course within the year don't have to wait the three days. The four-hour course includes instruction in topics including conflict management, financial and parenting responsibilities.

As soon as a license is obtained, a wedding ceremony can be performed anywhere in the state. Those who can't wait can be married right away in the clerk's office, usually for a fee of $30. These offices are generally open on weekdays from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

To obtain a marriage license, U.S citizens must provide their social security numbers and photo identification, such as driver's licenses or state identification card. International visitors must bring passports, or naturalization or immigration numbers. Certain counties ask international visitors to provide a translator, if necessary.

Also, people who have been married previously must provide the date of divorce, annulment or spouse's death.

With a few exceptions, both the bride and groom are required to be 18. Florida doesn't require blood tests or medical exams.

Contact the local clerk of the circuit court for further information.

More By Kara Chalmers

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