Dreaming of saying "I do" with the sand between your toes and the sounds of seagulls applauding your first kiss? Or perhaps you see yourself and guests aboard a luxury yacht setting sail into the sunset?
Destin offers such picture-perfect venue options for couples planning a destination wedding in Florida.
Located on Florida's Emerald Coast, Destin is a laid-back town where you'll find serene water and sugar-sand beaches. The once sleepy fishing village on the Gulf is now a thriving vacation destination, with more than 4.5 million visitors each year.
According to a survey conducted by TheKnot.com, Florida is the leading destination wedding state in the continental United States, so it's no surprise that many couples choose Destin as their ideal locale to get married.
Here are three picks for great destination weddings in Destin.
Henderson Park Inn
Hues of tangerine fade into scarlet as the sun disappears over the horizon, setting the stage for a beachside reception with your closest family and friends. The Henderson Park Inn was voted the most romantic hotel in North America by TripAdvisor and is a favorite pick for brides and grooms-to-be.
The Inn is truly a special place. Upon arrival, guests are greeted with wine and chocolates. Each day you'll wake up to an incredible gourmet breakfast spread. This New England-style bed and breakfast is a great pick for discerning couples who want the ultimate in luxury and romance.
The charming terrace at the Henderson Park Inn overlooks Destin's pristine beaches and provides a spectacular view of the Gulf. The terrace can comfortably seat 50 guests. If you're planning a larger wedding, the manicured beachside lawn can accommodate groups from 50 to 100 guests and the north lawn can seat up to 300.
No detail was overlooked for Devon and Tom Wheaton's recent wedding at the Henderson Park Inn. Imagine white garden chairs adorned with Mason jars filled to the brim with vibrant flowers, and white rose petals scattered down the aisle.
"We wanted a beachfront venue that would be easy and relaxing for our guests – something all-inclusive, but nothing generic," said Devon, a graphic designer. "We were able to book the entire inn, which allowed us to have the privacy and seclusion we desired. Plus, our out-of-town guests were spoiled with breakfast, lunch and cocktail hour every day."
The couple exchanged vows under a white arbor with a wrought-iron cross backdrop and sweeping views of the emerald waters.
"Oh my goodness," Devon said, "it was breathtaking."
If you go
What: Henderson Park Inn
Where: 2700 Scenic Highway 98, Destin
Room Reservations: 888-836-1105
Wedding Planning: 850-424-7648
The Solaris Luxury Yacht
Another wedding venue option sure to make a splash is the Solaris, a 125-foot luxury yacht docked at the Baytowne Marina.
From ceremony to reception, the staff at SunQuest Cruises will go above and beyond to design your wedding on the water. For some, planning a wedding from a distance can be a challenge, but not to worry; the staff's motto here is "you bring the dress and let us do the rest."
The yacht has three decks with more than 5,000 square feet of space inside and out, a great option if you're planning an event for up to 150 people. The sky deck has a platform for the wedding ceremony and uninhibited views of the Destin shoreline. The second deck has a private bridal suite, enabling you and your bridal party to prepare for the big occasion in style.
With a full-time wedding planner on hand, every detail is carefully executed. One of the great options on the Solaris is the on-site executive chef who will design a menu to ensure an exceptional dining experience.
Docked at the Baytowne Marina at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, the Solaris is also known for its great live entertainment as it sails the Choctawhatchee Bay. You and your guests can dance the night away as the sun disappears over the horizon.
Have you ever done the "Electric Slide" on a luxury yacht? Could be the perfect ending to the perfect day.
If you go
What: Solaris Luxury Yacht by SunQuest Cruises
Where: Baytowne Marina, 9300 Emerald Coast Parkway West, Miramar Beach
Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort
You and your guests won't have to leave the property of the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort for anything. The resort is a world unto itself with the popular village of Baytowne, four golf courses, a full-service marina, tennis center, shopping and dining, and miles of white-sand beaches.
The wedding planning staff at the Sandestin exudes Southern charm and hospitality. Their mantra is to create the ultimate stress-free wedding experience. They offer nearly a dozen outdoor and indoor options, so you can design a ceremony and reception that fits your style.
Kristen and Bryan Nelson got married on the deck of the nearby Sandestin Hilton where the view of the sparkling water stretches over the horizon. Originally from Kansas City, Kristen grew up visiting Destin on family vacations. When it came time to decide on the perfect destination wedding, Florida was a natural choice.
"We love Sandestin for all the activities and entertainment it provides and for its family-friendly atmosphere," said Kathy Colontuano, mother of the bride. "We also appreciate all the natural beauty of the area, the state parks nearby, as well as the art, music and dining scenes. Most of all we love the beaches."
If you go
What: Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort
Where: 9300 Emerald Coast Parkway West, Miramar Beach
Room Reservations: 866-657-7271
Wedding Planning: 850-267-6736
Professional photographer Catherine Taylor, owner of Woodland Fields Photography suggests that couples consider getting married on a day other than Saturday. "Not only do some vendors offer small incentives to do so, but your guests can come and enjoy the weekend or week," Taylor said.
Whether you decide to get married at an intimate bed-and-breakfast, aboard a luxury yacht or at a world-class resort, Florida's Emerald Coast provides the ultimate romantic destination for your big day.
Let the planning begin!
Wedding Planning Services
- Capture every moment of your big day with Woodland Fields Photography. Contact Catherine Taylor at 850-559-1095 or go to woodlandfieldsphotography.com.
- Hire a professional to design your stationery, wedding website and invitations. Contact Devon Wheaton at 407-221-5847 or go to devonbussey.com.
- For full-service wedding planning in northwest Florida contact R.S.V.P Event Production at 850-837-6595 or go to rsvpdestin.com.