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Miami Bliss

If you want your destination wedding to be a party as well as a celebration, tell your guests “Bienvenido a Miami.” Like New York, Miami is a city that never sleeps—but with sunny tropical weather and swaying palm trees to go along with the hip-shaking Latin and Caribbean beats that move the city’s famous club scene.

A Miami destination wedding means embracing the variety of a multicultural hotbed, where your wedding party can start the day with a fan boat tour of the Everglades or a yacht cruise on Biscayne Bay, take lunch at the famous Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana or indulge in the steak frites at Red, the Steakhouse in Miami Beach, then while away the evening on South Beach. Intriguing options for group activities include a walking tour of the hip Wynwood Art District with its distinctive street art and paddle boarding across Biscayne Bay for a classic Miami “sandbar party.” The secluded beach on Flagler Monument Island is the perfect destination for a champagne picnic lunch with your bridal party.

Collins Avenue is where you’ll find many of Miami Beach’s best hotels, from beachfront high-rises to Art Deco classics transformed into ultra-chic destinations with gorgeous lobbies and hidden pool bars. The Fontainebleau, once a hangout for Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, retains all of its past glory and more: the Oasis Pool is still the signature setting for a wedding ceremony; reception guests can dine on dishes made entirely in-house with locally sourced seafood, followed by wedding cake from resident artist Brielle Fratellone.

The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort is a private retreat on Miami Beach’s quieter North Beach and a favorite for destination weddings with its elegant Astor Ballroom and Ocean Palm Court—top options for indoor and outdoor events, respectively. The St. Regis can even help you design a wedding gown to match the setting, thanks to the hotel’s partnership with couture house Marchesa. For a more contemporary affair, consider the W South Beach, where you can welcome your bridal party with a poolside cabana dinner at the Wet nightclub, exchange vows on the resort’s palm-fringed Lawn, raise a toast with cocktails in the shady Grove, and dance and dine in the spacious Great Room, transformed into the reception setting of your dreams.

A hotel basement might not be your first thought when it comes to planning a destination wedding, but Ian Schrager’s Edition hotel on Miami Beach can keep your affair light and fun with a downstairs club that features roller skating and bowling— a great spot for a pre-wedding bash or a wedding night after-party. Couples will also love the Edition’s oceanfront location for beach ceremonies and the fact that, with only one ballroom, you’re guaranteed to be the sole focus on your wedding day.

Looking for something a bit more laid-back? The lush grounds of the Palms Hotel conceal a colonial-style wedding gazebo from prying eyes, and your wedding weekend can be enhanced with couples massages at the AVEDA spa or private tiki dinners in a tropical garden. A poolside welcome barbecue and a morning-after brunch at the beachfront Essensia Restaurant can bookend the perfect Miami nuptial weekend.

For a larger beach wedding, consider the artsy Faena Hotel Miami Beach with its 10,000 feet of sandy shoreline and private beach club. The hotel also has two restaurants, Pao by Paul Qui and Veranda, that can host smaller events. To wed on the cutting edge of the Miami arts scene, plan your ceremony and reception at the Faena Forum, a gorgeous new cultural center designed by Rem Koolhaas. With 50,000 square feet of space dedicated to lectures, debates, theater, art exhibitions and other events, there’s room for even the largest weddings at this $150-million Collins Avenue landmark that debuted in 2016. A hotel with Argentinean flair, the Faena features guest rooms with private butler service and a unique, South American inspired spa with a private couples suite where you can relax after your big day.

Hotels aren’t your only Miami options for an unforgettable South Florida wedding ceremony and reception. In a city of distinctive and varied architectural styles, the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens stands apart with its Italianate Main House, private courtyards, gardens filled with statuary and fountains, and a magnificent waterfront setting that includes terraces reminiscent of a Venetian villa. A fireworks display over Biscayne Bay can cap the perfect old-world style wedding, infused with the warmth of the tropics.

Situated on almost five beachfront acres in pristine Sunny Isles Beach spans Acqualina Resort & Spa. This luxurious seaside haven with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean has been awarded the coveted Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award and the AAA Five Diamond Award. The beach resort’s location provides a dramatic backdrop for both the wedding ceremony and reception and it features impeccably appointed guest rooms and suites with world-class services and amenities for out-of-town wedding guests. Just minutes from South Florida’s best shopping and nightlife, Acqualina lends itself to a memorable wedding destination experience.

When it comes to sumptuous food and offering your guests a gastronomic experience for the rehearsal dinner, there are ample choices to contemplate. Fairly new to the Miami scene and well worth considering, is Estiatorio Milos. Having elevated Greek cuisine to new dimensions, Milos is recognized as one of the finest Mediterranean restaurants in the world.

Slightly apart from the city’s high-rise core you’ll find the fantastic Mandarin Oriental, Miami, perched on the tip of tiny Brickell Key and offering the double bonus of great views of the downtown skyline and the bay. Couples can arrive in style by yacht or helicopter, craft a wedding weekend that includes an Asian-inspired spa day and lagoon-side dining at the La Mar restaurant, and cap their celebration with a ceremony and reception on the resort’s private beach or a spacious, light-filled ballroom. From beach to city, your options for a sizzling and stylish Miami destination wedding are nearly endless.

> Written by Bob Curley


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