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Finding the perfect place

A Wedding Guide Commentary

College is a time when students find out who they are and what they want to do with their lives. Education may be the first priority, but what happens when they fall in love, settle down with someone and experience the proposal they have always dreamed of?

So many questions, so few answers. What kind of flowers? What dress color? Should it be at the beach or the church? Can there be two maids of honor? Summer or spring? And then, the final question: Is there enough time and money to have the ceremony of their dreams? The answer: Yes.

The timing is great; post-graduation is one of the most popular times to get married. And in Florida, the beaches and weather allow for a gorgeous wedding that several tourists would envy.

Florida has several romantic destinations that provide for an ideal wedding ceremony. Whether it is the beach, the bay, botanical gardens, a church or a luxury hotel, Florida has it all.

After getting engaged myself, I feel that planning a Florida wedding is now one of my areas of expertise. The thing to look for when picking out a location for the wedding is what is most important to the couple. For example, is it most important to have the wedding at a church, in a garden or on a beach? Think about the month, as well. July and August are the hottest months in Florida; a wedding outside during either may be out of the question.

One of my favorite spots is located off of St. Petersburg Beach at the Don Cesar. It looks like a huge pink castle, which is every girl’s dream. The prices vary according to the size of the wedding and the reception room. Most resorts and hotels that provide receptions make their own food and have several other services included in the price. This makes it easier for the soon-to-be wed because it helps save money.

Another popular resort located in St. Petersburg is The Vinoy, a renaissance resort. This resort overlooks the Tampa Bay and is surrounded by beautiful flowers and a private marina with an 18-hole golf course. This is ideal for out-of-town guests because it allows for a miniature vacation.

Here are a few other spots on the beach:

The Marriot Suites — Sand Key, in Pinellas County
TradeWinds Resort — St. Petersburg Beach
Pasa Tiempo — St Petersburg Beach (the entire resort can be rented)
The Colony — Longboat Key Beach, in Sarasota
Longboat Key Country Club — Longboat Key Beach
The Hilton — Longboat Key Beach

Garden weddings are also very popular in Florida because flowers are always blooming. One of the perks of a wedding in the garden is that money can be saved on decorations and flower bills.

The historic Bok Sanctuary, located in Lake Wales, is a gorgeous wedding site. There is a belltower that stands in the middle of the gardens and plays music on the hour.

In Sarasota, about an hour south of Tampa, is Selby Gardens. This garden is popular because of its location, on the bay in the heart of Sarasota. The scenery and flowers are magnificent.

Now comes the easy part. Once the location of the wedding is set, everything — the color of the dresses, the flowers, and the decorations — will fall into place.

An easy way to keep people up to date on wedding plans is to start a wedding Web site to inform out-of-town guests, old high school friends and co-workers of recent plans and the date and place of the wedding. Letting them know the location in advance gives them optimal time to make plans for their visit to the area. There are several Web sites that offer the services for a fee, or take the free route by visiting www.weddingchannel.com. There, couples can design a Web site that includes their history together and the wedding details.