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A Wedding Planner’s Guide to Tampa

A Wedding Planner’s Guide to Tampa

Tampa is a wedding planner’s dream! Are you thinking about celebrating your wedding in Tampa Bay? Or maybe you’ve already decided! There’s so many reasons and ways Tampa is the city for you and your partner on your big day of love. It’s beautiful, perfect weather, there’s mesmerizing ocean views without leaving the city, incredible food options, makes for a fantastic destination wedding that your guests will appreciate as they celebrate with you.

 The best way to look at it is through the eyes of a wedding coordinator- they will be able to guide you through every detail of your venue choice(s), catering options, decor and floral services, dress designers and tux (or suit) rental/purchase, invitations (not just the design but also when to send and how to choose who is invited)- and the best ones also make this experience which, let’s face it is laden in logistics, as magical as your day.

Wedding Planner's Tampa Bay
Photo credit: https://www.maddnessphotography.com

One of the best reference sites to get on the road to the big day is Marry Me Tampa Bay, started by local Anna Coats in 2012 to showcase the best Tampa has to offer in weddings and vendors. This site even offers a list of referenced wedding planners that has taken a lot of the screening work off your plate.

So let’s take a look at this city through the rose colored glasses of the business of love a la resident wedding planners!

What Say Wedding Planner’s?

  1. First Things First

For your wedding basics (that are anything but), we look to expert John Campbell of John Campbell Weddings. He emphasizes to start with your budget but got with your personal priorities- for some people, this means going all out on decor, for others, it’s all about the food, or maybe it’s the venue. Whichever way you go, his concept is very simple: do what makes you happy!

His best tip– “Any of my clients will tell you how much I push personalization.” And his preferred method is finding an amazing photographer for your big day! A great photographer makes the rest of your choices look absolutely stunning and captures your moments big and small so you can focus on the beautiful event you’ve created. Some weddings he has featured take place at the Orlo and the Dali Museum- which you should definitely put on your list to visit while scoping out special spots! 

Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club Wedding Venue
Photo credit: http://kristenmariephotog.com

Fortunately, budgeting for a wedding in Tampa is fantastic because of the huge array of options (make sure to check your planner’s options too, they usually offer a wide range of services and packages that will meet your exact needs). That’s why we love the advice to be true to your personal priorities.

  1. Next Comes. . .

So you have your budget in mind, you have your personal priorities checklist, you’ve started hitting up Tampa’s finest coordinators. Now let the inspiration flow! Plan on visiting between 3-7 potential venues- and keep an open mind about possibilities. For instance, you may love the idea of a beach-side wedding, but maybe visit other outdoor venues like the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort where you have half indoor, half outdoor options (summer or winter may bring a fair amount of rain, so this is a great way to play the weather).

Also, keep in mind the wedding and the reception venue- if they are separate, let your wedding coordinator know that you’ll need some help with travel logistics for guests. Because beach weddings are part of the Tampa Bay magic, this is a list of the top beach wedding venues the Bay has to offer! We know you’ll love them. And any excuse to check out some gorgeous beachside spots is one we’ll gladly take- so research away with a day (or two) at the beach!

Gathering inspiration….

You, your significant other, and wedding coordinator will then spend time gathering your inspiration and then help put together your decor (including colors and invitations). There are so many amazing florists, staging and lighting pros, etc. to choose from- UNIQUE Weddings makes a strong case (with a portfolio nearing perfection) for focusing on some key details and not being afraid to be bold! They favor using bright colors or high contrast, accessorizing a room with elegance like a grand piano, and letting organic movement of flowers, fabrics, glasses, and metals meld.

UNIQUE Weddings Tampa

You can be sure with UNIQUE that Tampa Bay is your oyster- if you can envision it, they can create it- that’s owner and self-titled “plansigner” Staci Mandikas’ job! She has a knack for listening to the “vibe” you describe and bringing that into living, breathing reality. And she has a true knowledge of local spaces (the Ybor State Museum Garden anyone? So beautiful!) to help you navigate if this is a destination wedding, or trigger your imagination if you’re also local.

  1. You’ve Made it This Far

You’ve made tons of decisions so far, explored and chosen so many things- there’s still so much to do! But, just like your relationship, the best really is yet to come. Ready to go dress and tux shopping?

Tampa wedding coordinators agree- the best thing to do if you can is get yourself to a Bridal Expo! The next big one is here though they occur fairly frequently. The shopping experience is enhanced with giveaways (a honeymoon? yes please!!!) and gifts, as well as the ability to meet the vendors you may indirectly work with through your coordinator. It’s a social experience and the benefit of being in a big city is to be able to go to these types of events!

Truly Forever Bridal Gowns

If hitting the shops is still for you, check out Truly Forever Bridal (a perennial favorite), Nikki’s Glitz and Glam Boutique for the best one : one style consulting, Bella Bridesmaids to dress your full party, The Bride Tampa for the most fashion- forward brides, and Sacino’s Formalwear which is both historic (in existence since 1916!) and renowned for having the highest quality, best fitting menswear.

  1. Feed Me!

We highly recommend going wedding cake tasting after your dress shopping experience to end the day on the utmost of satisfactory notes! Check out Alessi Bakery, L’Artisan Cake Atelier, Hands on Sweets, and Let Them Eat Cake to schedule a tasting based on what you, your fiancé, and your wedding planner decide. There are also amazing bakeries just outside of Tampa that your planner can direct you to if you’re looking for something specific that isn’t quite within city-bounds, just make sure to ask!

Aside from the cake, there’s also the catering to consider. Let your wedding planner help guide you on this, and as always, pick one or two favorites (if rum is your thing, make sure to offer a rum cocktail or toast! or maybe you and your fiancé never miss a taco Tuesday opportunity- celebrate your bond, your way over tacos- guaranteed the pictures will be adorable) and be open to the rest.

Alessi Bakery - Wedding Cake and Cupcakes

Your wedding consultant will be able to point you to the best caterers and menu options, as well as details (do you do a whole dessert bar, or serve your sweet at the end of the main meal) that you’ll need. And many venues offer in-house services as well, so if you’re choosing one of the amazing resorts or golf courses as your reception venue, make sure to check out options there as well!

  1. Travel Plans

You may already know this- Tampa is one of the top cities in the United States to get married! With such a popular choice, there are some great options and things to keep in mind for you as you make your plans. Wedding planner Katy Turchich of Coastal Coordinating says “The best time of year to get married in Florida would be Spring.” And we agree! Summers are extremely hot and humid, Fall can get hurricanes, and Winter is not a bad option but spring is the perfect weather.

Turchich also reminds us that churches have different rules than non-denominational venues, so to always check in with churches in making plans for religious ceremonies to plan accordingly for requirements and do’s/don’ts they may have.

Just Remember……..

If all of your guests are out of state (and/ or country), local Staci Mandikas of UNIQUE Weddings says to (aside from looking for a convenient spot to stay near the airport/venue) look for “something familiar from home.” This could be the hotel guests stay in, the location (closer or further from the beach, more busy or quieter, uptown or in a historic district), or the food choices, depending on what you know they will enjoy.

So now you know- whether you’re planning your own wedding or attending in Tampa- from the best sources a bit of what to expect, and some of the best of the best that this beautiful city offers! You are ready for the adventure of a lifetime with the people you cherish in a new city, or if this is your city, then your city seen with new eyes! Remember to bring your questions to your wedding planner and to follow your inspiration as it leads you, and your big day will be absolutely unforgettable.

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