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Orlando Destination Weddings: Think Outside the Box

Planning a destination wedding this year? Within an hour’s drive of Orlando you will find much more than just the Disney experience. Opportunities abound to get to know this region of Florida, which still offers a lot of history before all roads led to Walt Disney World.

If you’re looking for something rustic, The Acre, a charming property located in the historic Orlando neighborhood of College Park, provides just that. This hidden gem offers one-acre of indoor and outdoor opportunities for a relaxed ceremony and celebration. A garden party setting opens up all kinds of ideas with the services and venues available on this beautiful plot of land.

The Barn includes an indoor stage with built-in sound and light systems; an original tiny house, fire pit, kitchen house and chapel hall are but a few of the offerings surrounding the great lawn. Equipped to handle Florida’s wacky weather, there are plenty of indoor venues to aide in escaping an afternoon thunderstorm.

Orlando’s neighboring chic city Winter Park is host to Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, an example of vintage architecture, adjacent to the Winter Park Country Club and golf course. Designed by famed architect James Gamble Rogers II, this historic home was moved from its lakefront lot to its current site on Park Avenue. Now, the home serves as an elegant, classy wedding venue for those wanting something a bit more sophisticated.

Just steps from the city’s center, this location offers a plethora of shopping and restaurants. Your wedding party and guests might stay at The Alfond Inn at Rollins, located just a block from the south end of Park Avenue. This boutique hotel houses the award-winning Hamilton’s Kitchen restaurant as well as the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art, with installations located throughout the property.

Just north of Orlando, the Danville Bed & Breakfast in Geneva provides a venue like no other. Imagine seeing the front end of an old airplane hangar opening like a garage door to the sight of the quaint town of Danville, with storefronts and hotel. Located on a tiny airstrip, this property offers a bit of old Florida with moss-draped oaks, palm trees and warm breezes.

The property includes a 2 bedroom, 2 bath Inn with living room and small kitchen. Also included is a theater with an 80-inch 3D television. A Man Cave, located a few steps from the Inn, has been repurposed from an old garage which houses the owner’s collection of vintage cars. Other surprises include a treehouse yurt, an alpaca farm and a possible small plane flight over the area, taking off within steps of the venue.

PHOTO: Storefronts and hotel of Danville. (Photo courtesy of Susan Young)

A sunset wedding ceremony on the beach is an ideal choice, especially for a smaller group. The coastal town of New Smyrna Beach, an hour’s drive from Orlando, does not require a permit for weddings with 50 guests or less. Just make sure you check the tide schedules so your party doesn’t get swamped!

Afterward, move on down Flagler Avenue to The Grille at Riverview for your reception and dinner, assuring a seamless experience designed to fit any budget.

Another choice is to hold the ceremony at the Black Dolphin Inn on the Intracoastal Waterway, where mid-century modern decor provides a pleasant change from the typical Victorian B&B. The Black Dolphin mixes glam with old Florida charm and comes up sophisticated and charming at the same time.

On top of all that ambiance, the proprietors’ daughter and chef, MacKenzie Smith, is a Food Channel celebrity, having won two episodes of Guy’s Grocery Games. Her blog Grilled Cheese Social is wildly popular and recently published a cookbook. Just last month, she surprised family and friends with her own wedding in the courtyard, under the guise of an engagement party.

Lobby of Black Dolphin Inn
PHOTO: Lobby of Black Dolphin Inn. (Photo courtesy of Susan Young)

Of course, if a grand themed wedding is what you are looking for, and money is no object, Walt Disney World is the big daddy of them all. Options include a Fairy Tale wedding with the total princess experience, being whisked away in Cinderella’s coach to Cinderella’s Castle. Epcot offers a more global experience with venues available in its many countries.

The many resorts and hotels on property also offer amazing opportunities for combining family reunions with the happy nuptials. Disney’s Wedding Pavilion, on the grounds of the Grand Floridian Resort, offers a non-denominational chapel on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon.

Orlando is also known as one of the most LBGTQ-friendly cities in the country, which is reflected in the number of gay-friendly wedding venues available in the region. In addition to those mentioned above, Universal Orlando Resort and Sea World offer many unique opportunities for creative options to make that special day one of unforgettable memories.

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