By Kara Franker
Picture rolling sand dunes that spill onto a crystal sand beach where royal blue waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash against the shore. It can be yours in an Amelia Island wedding.
A small barrier island located in the northeastern-most corner of Florida, Amelia Island is a pristine location for your romantic destination wedding. It’s a place where island romance meets Southern charm.
“It’s different than any other place in Florida,” said Rachelle Lucas, a travel and dining writer who got married on Amelia Island. “It’s so relaxed and low key. You don’t really feel like a tourist because you feel like you’re part of the island community.”
Whether you’re looking for a more intimate ceremony at a cozy bed and breakfast or you want to throw a blow-out reception at a luxury resort, a variety of venues on the island can accommodate any style.
“I had family and friends that came from all over to attend the wedding,” Rachelle said. “There are great restaurants and the downtown area has that quaint island feel. We really felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.”
I asked Rachelle for a few recommendations on what Amelia Island wedding venues couples should consider when planning a romantic wedding destination.
Bed & BreakfastIf you’d like to stay on the beach, the Elizabeth Pointe Lodge is a luxurious bed and breakfast that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. With only 25 rooms on the property, you and your guests will feel as if you have your own private beach house. Wedding packages start at $3,500 plus room rates, which range from $220 to $500.
The Elizabeth Pointe Lodge is located at 98 South Fletcher Avenue in Amelia Island, Fla. For more information call (800) 772-3359 or visit ElizabethPointeLodge.com.
Another option is the Italianate-styled Fairbanks House located in historic downtown. Each of the 12 guest rooms is decorated with antiques and period pieces, taking you back to a romantic era. Whether you want to book each of the guest rooms or simply escape for just the two of you, this property provides a unique and charming option. Elopement packages start at $495 and rooms range from $180 to $305 per night.
The Fairbanks House is located at 227 South 7th Street in Amelia Island, Fla. For more information call (888) 891-9882 or visit FairbanksHouse.com.
Celebrate in Grand Style at a Luxury Resort
A true foodie at heart, Rachelle chose the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island for her ceremony and reception because of their delicious dining options and custom-designed dessert bar. “I loved working with the Ritz because it was so easy. They took care of everything for me - flowers, linens, music and, of course, the food.” Rachelle said. “It was Southern hospitality at its finest and I didn’t have to worry about anything.” The hotel even served macarons in the color of the couple’s wedding invitation.
Room rates at The Ritz-Carlton start at $229 to $499 and wedding package prices are available upon request. The resort is located at 4750 Amelia Island Parkway. For more information call (904) 277-1100 or visit RitzCarlton.com.
Another great option, the Omni Amelia Island Resort, sits on 1,350 lush acres and 3.5 miles of gorgeous beach. This resort is a gorgeous place to enjoy the natural beauty of the island. Your guests will have an array of activities at their fingertips including golf, tennis, shopping, fishing, bicycle tours and a nature-inspired spa. Room rates range from $199 to $479 and wedding package prices are available upon request.
the Omni Amelia Island Resort is located at 39 Beach Lagoon in Amelia Island. For more information call (904) 261-6161 or visit OmniHotels.com.
Tips and Advice for the Bride-to-Be
Planning a romantic destination wedding can have its challenges, but here are a few tips to make your big day go as smoothly as possible.
Beach Weddings: You don’t have to have a permit to get married on the sand. However, sea turtles nest between May 1 and Oct. 31 so the city asks that you smooth the sand out after the ceremony and refrain from lighting or flash photography during pre-dawn or post-dusk hours.
Wedding Planners: If you get married at a resort you’ll likely have a staff member who will take care of most of your wedding planning needs. Having someone help you is priceless, so if you do need to hire a wedding planner, here are two local companies that come highly recommended:
Marriage Licenses: In order to get married in Florida, you’ll need a Florida marriage license. Bring your driver’s license and Social Security Number. Non-U.S. Citizens may submit a naturalization number, immigration number or passport number. The marriage license costs $93.50 and can be obtained at the Nassau County Historic Courthouse located on 416 Centre Street, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034.
Visit the Island: Hey, it’s a good excuse to go on a fabulous vacation right? It helps to see everything before you book your ceremony and reception, so that you can decide what will work best for you. The Amelia Island Visitor and Convention Bureau is a great resource to help you plan your trip.