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    Monday, 1 September 2014

    Anna Maria Island – The Perfect Wedding Destination

    Planning a wedding when you have never been all that interested in getting married is actually easier than you might think!

    As I had no preconceived notions, I was able to put together a wedding that was (if I do say so myself!) laid-back, super-fun, cost-effective, and chic by utilizing the great local connections that I have.

    The ceremony itself took place on a family friend’s back deck overlooking the white sand beaches and the Gulf of Mexico.

    The reception was in the lush, overgrown tropical jungle environment of my mom’s front yard. My dad got certified as a notary public and performed our ceremony, as my stepdad played guitar as we walked down the aisle.

    My husband and I made our own playlist and loaded it onto our MP3 player and plugged it into a PA system we rented ($60 for three days).

    We bought all our beer and wine from a big box store. Really, our only expense was food because we just couldn't resist taking advantage of the great events catering just a few blocks down the street at The Sandbar.

    Anna Maria Island weddings
    Beach front wedding ceremony on the Island

    In the years since my wedding, I've had friends and family ask me for advice on how to throw a casual but stylish ceremony on Anna Maria. I’m always happy to offer tips. First, I advise them to keep things simple: it’s much easier to relax and enjoy everything about this magical day if you aren’t overwhelmed trying to manage a thousand details.

    Next, I advise them to use the natural beauty of Anna Maria as a backdrop. If you’re not afraid to gamble on the weather, a beach wedding is so memorable and beautiful. The best way to organize this is to go to one of the amazing local venues on the island, that are perfectly set up for beach weddings. The Sandbar and the Beachhouse Restaurants are two of the most popular on Anna Maria.

    We strongly advise against choosing a Vacation Rental located in a residential area or on the beach as your wedding or reception venue. As unfortunately if you do, you run a very good chance of having your wedding shut down by not abiding by vacation rental agreements.

    Renting a “residential” property for your reception is not appropriate and you may be required to leave on your “special” night. There are very few homes on Anna Maria Island, which legitimately allow you to hold a wedding or reception party.

    Remember Anna Maria Island is a mixed-use residential area, that has full time residents living in harmony with visitors. Weddings, receptions and any other large group gatherings held in residential neighbourhoods directly conflict with why we all love Anna Maria Island so much. It is more important than ever to respect all our neighbours quiet enjoyment.

    However, as an island that caters so well for weddings, I would advise you to call the AMI Chamber if you think you have found a property that is zoned commercial and is an approved wedding or reception venue. Be sure to ask your professional rental agency as well if weddings parties are allowed. Venues located in commercially zoned areas are the best way to plan an incident free, fun wedding.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I recommend that you establish a good home base for yourselves and all your guests staying on Anna Maria Island by finding the right rental property. Whether you’re having a big church ceremony, or a small outdoor wedding, it’s imperative to have some space to prepare for your big day and to spend time together on your honeymoon afterwards.

    Personally, if I had it to do all over again, I would keep everything about my wedding the same except for my accommodation. I spent my first night as a newlywed in my Mom’s guest room! Looking back, it would have been amazing if we could have instead retired to a peaceful and romantic waterfront getaway like Limefish.

    Anna Maria Island rental Limefish
    Limefish the perfect honeymoon villa on AMI

    As it is, I’m always trying to compensate for not thinking of that by urging my friends to stay there. It’s incredibly beautiful and located right in paradise so you can start your honeymoon right away!

    You can also rent separate properties for the guests who come to town with you. Berryfish is a great place to encourage family bonding. Because it has an East side and a West side, the bride and groom’s families can all stay in the same location but still have plenty of space to retreat to.

    Anna Maria Island Rental Berryfish
    The view from Berryfish

    And Honeyfish with its fun nautical décor and gorgeous water view is a wonderful place for bridesmaids and groomsmen to kick back and unwind.

    Anna Maria Island rental Honeyfish
    Honeyfish's water views

    Anna Maria Island has become known in the last several years as one of the most beautiful places to get married, and for good reason. I was the most reluctant of brides, and yet I was captivated by the magic of my little seaside wedding.

    It’s the perfect spot for a destination wedding, but be prepared: Anna Maria is so lovely, you may never want to leave.

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