As a destination wedding bride I must make it clear that Costa Rica was not our first choice. One hour south of Miami is Key Largo, it is the first key you encounter in the famous Florida Keys. We went down there today to workout and get breakfast at the Key Largo Coffeehouse. Key Largo is semi-important to us for the fact that we were planning to get married there for a little while.
I should give some background on determining our wedding location. We live in Miami, his family is in the midwest, and my family is out west. We did not know any place we liked that was central and convenient for everyone. We don't care that much for Miami and ruled that out but figured the Keys were nearby and they might be enjoyable for our guests.
We scouted Key Largo in November 2006 and liked the Hungry Pelican for lodging and the ceremony. We were also considering their hut for the reception and the coffeehouse for the rehearsal dinner. Soon after we made these choices my fiance slammed on the brakes because he noticed we were sacrificing a lot for the sake of our guests. He talked me into waiting a couple of months before we made our final decision because he did not think we had found a location we absolutely loved yet.
During those months he suggested Costa Rica and I am so proud of him for demonstrating an active planing role or else we may still be doing a Key Largo wedding next January. In the end I think we may have stayed at the Hungry Pelican for our lodging but moved the ceremony and reception to Pierre's/Morada Bay near Islamorada. That option sounds appealing to me, but it is not my ideal wedding plan.
Don't get me wrong. I like Key Largo but it is not the best location for us. We were not in love with the idea of getting married there. I now realize we were trying to force ourselves into loving it even though we did not feel a strong affinity towards the area. There is not a lot of space due to all the development on the narrow key. The beaches are not known for their expanses of soft sand. The community is friendly, but we know friendlier ones that we feel more comfortable in.
I am writing all this because today we went down there and I was reminded about what could have been. It was hard to find someplace to run that wasn't right on US 1 and even then we were confined to a one-square block park. It was cute and complete with a physical fitness course and aquatic complex, but it was small compared to miles of open beach. We also tried to hop in the water after breakfast and had the rude reminder that finding an open space with clean water to jump into was difficult even on a small strip of land bordered by two huge water bodies. There were other nuances we noticed that made us shake our heads in agreement that a Pura Vida wedding better fits our personalities.
The bottom line is that Key Largo is fun, but we like another location better. I am glad that my fiance encouraged us to "stick to our guns" despite the initial objections of our guests and the hassle of coordinating from another country. My #1 wedding advice for any couple is to do what feels right for you and your fiance. This is important for all major decisions. You can let your family and friends influence the minor stuff but you deserve to have the celebration you'll be proud of years later. We are seven months from our wedding and I know I would have felt like we were "settling" if we stayed on course for a Key Largo wedding.
***I do have a piece of useful advice for Key Largo couples... go to the Chamber of Commerce. The staff there are friendly and helpful. They called locations for us for our scouting trip, offered to help with every coupon they had for our out-of-town bags, and even offered the services of their marketing staff to help with our planning. They are a great service in a tourist destination and they are under-utilized.