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The Not-So-Beach, Beach Wedding

By Rebecca Padgett
Main photo by Lauren Bailey Photography

There is no mistaking the breathtaking beauty of a sunset beach wedding.

There is also no mistaking that a beach wedding can result in sand everywhere and unavoidable sweating.

If you love the beach but aren’t a sand-between-your-toes kind of couple, you’re in luck — there’s an abundance of resorts, seaside chapels and historic venues that provide just the right amount of coastal ambience.

Lily & Sparrow Photo Co.

Northwest Florida is a treasure trove of wedding opportunities because each city contains its own unique attributes. From the beachside ballrooms of Destin resorts to charming historic buildings in downtown Pensacola, the sea breeze is never too far away.

The appeal is also in the versatility of options, whether you want a separate ceremony and reception space or an all-inclusive option where you and your guests can stay and celebrate.

If not directly on the beach, many couples want the shore to be seen from their location or within walking distance. WaterColor Inn & Resort’s property embodies all of the best natural aspects of Northwest Florida, including 500 acres of pristine beaches, long-leaf pine forests and a rare coastal dune lake.

Paul Johnson Photography

“WaterColor is ideal for the couple that wants a relaxed, playful and memorable experience that is tailored just for them,” said Cheryl Walton, senior wedding sales manager at WaterColor Inn & Resort. “Most of our brides are looking for a setting in which they can enjoy time with their guests, and doing so outdoors is key for them — whether they’re spending time around a bonfire, dining with a view, paddleboarding or simply enjoying time at the beach.”

One of the most iconic venues in Northwest Florida is The Chapel at Seaside in South Walton. This award-winning chapel, with its stunning urbanist design and picturesque backdrop, is one of the most photographed buildings on 30A, many of those photos being of happy couples.

“We chose The Chapel at Seaside because we wanted to get married at the beach — but also in a chapel,” said bride Laura Rogers. “The chapel is absolutely beautiful, charming, quaint and sophisticated. Several of our guests commented they had never been to a chapel with such beautiful natural light nor a reception that felt like a picture in a magazine.”

The Chapel at Seaside is the chapel closest to the water in all of Northwest Florida, but there are many beautiful chapels and churches of all denominations throughout the region.

Where the beach certainly attracts much attention, Pensacola’s downtown is bustling. Located just 15 minutes from the beach, Pensacola’s downtown gives both a taste of city and coastal. Downtown Pensacola is perfect for the couple that is drawn to more modern and industrial design for their wedding but wants to relax by the beach after the celebration has commenced.

The Palafox House, constructed in 1912, contains the building’s original 20-foot high wood ceilings, exposed brick walls and floor-to-ceiling windows.

“Couples love getting married at the Palafox House due to the historic charm and character of the space,” said Maria Goldberg, director of marketing, public relations and events for the Palafox House. “This is a perfect venue for a destination wedding where guests can enjoy the beach as well as our historic downtown.”

While beach weddings will withstand the sands of time, there are a plethora of Northwest Florida venues that embrace the coastal cool vibe.

Lily & Sparrow Photo Co.
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