Your Naples, Florida Destination Wedding Guide
(Above) © Carlos Salazar, A Beautiful Florida Wedding
Considering a destination beach wedding? Naples, Florida might just be your perfect location for its small coastal town with plenty of to-dos and very classy, very luxurious feel. We sat down with a couple of brides who recently planned destination weddings in the seaside city to hear their experience, what they considered, as well as lessons learned.
When Brittany Drummond got engaged during the summer of 2021, she knew she wanted a beach wedding. Think toes in the sand, a gentle rhythm of waves as the background soundtrack, maybe even a sunset painting the sky pink as vows are exchanged – that’s how she always envisioned her wedding day. Of course, that vision wouldn’t have been able to come to fruition had she decided to get married near her hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana. Her solution? Going the destination wedding route.
“Florida seemed like a no-brainer since the destination wedding market is so large down there. Plus, I’m a teacher, so I can’t get a lot of time off work or take extra trips. I saw this doubling as a vacation, and a chance to experience a new place.”
While she originally settled on the destination of Sanibel Island, Florida, for her June 2023 wedding, after Hurricane Ian swept through, damaging her venue, her plans, unfortunately, had to shift – and fast.
“I started researching additional nearby locations in Southwest Florida because I wanted to try to keep as many of our vendors as possible and not have to rebook,” she said. “Naples spoke to us right away as a quiet and calm seaside community flanked by beautiful beaches. And once we saw photos of Edgewater Beach Hotel and past weddings held on the beach, we knew this would be it.”
So how do you know if a destination wedding, the location of Naples, or the venue of Edgewater Beach Hotel might be right for you? We chatted with a few brides to hear their first-hand experience in order to draw out some tips.
ADVANTAGES OF A DESTINATION WEDDING
One of the most obvious benefits of opting for a destination wedding is that, well, it’s a destination, meaning you and your guests get to experience a place that they’ve likely never been. But brides also like these features:
Smaller & More Intimate
“It’s obviously a good way to keep the guest list smaller,” says Melissa Pinkowski, who is originally from Dutchess County in New York and got married in Naples at Edgewater Beach Hotel in May of 2023. “And that for us was something we definitely wanted. It was a second marriage for myself and my partner, and we both have kids, so we wanted to focus on them and close family and friends.”
With a traditional wedding held closer to home, the guest list can bloat because of the number of people the couple feels obligated to invite simply because of proximity. But when you have a destination wedding, the logistics, as well as it being more expensive for people to travel, helps weed out the guests.
© Karl Rouwhorst, Luminaire Foto
Potential for More Available Venue Options with More Immediate Dates
This is certainly not the case with all destination wedding sites, but it was for Pinkowski when she was considering Naples. “Where I’m from in New York, if you want to get married close to home within the same year or close to it, it can be very difficult. Venues are usually booked out way in advance,” she says. But it wasn’t slim pickings in Naples. “There were plenty of venues with available dates. We got engaged in May of 2022 and were married May 2023.”
Drummond seconds that about Naples. Once Hurricane Ian unfortunately pivoted her plans, she was still able to find a venue and hold her wedding in the same month (June 2023) as she had originally planned.
Focus Stays on the Couple
“I think if I had selected doing my wedding in my hometown or somewhere near, there might be more of an emotional attachment and the need for utmost control or things to be absolutely perfect,” notes Drummond. “But because it was not close by, it actually took more stress off of me because it forced me to be removed and just trust. I made all my decisions from afar and leaned on the vendors to tell me what was best. I didn’t overthink it as much.”
It also prevents people or family members from offering up their (sometimes unwanted) opinions on what a couple should do because they, too, are too removed from the destination. And that means the focus stays solely on what the to-be-wed couple wants.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR DESTINATION (AND THE DESTINATION OF NAPLES, IN PARTICULAR)
The setting and backdrop are naturally a big one. Do you have your heart set on getting married on the slopes of a snowy mountain? In a quaint garden or vineyard? Indoors at a grand historic venue? Both Drummond and Pinkowski knew they wanted that beach setting, but here’s what else they considered when it came to selecting what beach and where:
The Vibe of the Overarching Location
“We had actually been to Naples before because we have some family here,” explains Pinkowski. “We knew it was a small coastal town, yet with a very classy, very luxurious feel. And that was precisely what we wanted. We didn’t have to worry about there being any party hearty, spring-break types photo-bombing our wedding ceremony, where we might have in other tropical beach destinations.”
There are also plenty of Naples-based activities for couples and their guests to indulge in during their time on the Paradise coast, including shopping on the ultra-swanky Fifth Avenue South and soaking in museums. Or playing round after round on the scores of picturesque golf courses or biking along the coast, stand-up paddleboarding, or even deep-sea fishing.
A Destination, But Not Too Far-Flung
Pinkowski says Florida was a good destination because it was a bit of a distance, but still within the country, which meant her guests who really wanted to attend could definitely make it logistically work. “If we had picked an international location like Jamaica, I don’t think many of our friends and family could have made that work. So, it was kind of a ‘goldilocks’ location for us – far enough, but not too far.”
It also helped that she had family in the area, something for couples to consider as they’re selecting a destination. “We Googled and read a lot of online reviews, but actually had my dad physically visit the beach and Edgewater to truly vet it. After that, we felt good to lock the wedding destination in.” And when it’s not too far, an advanced visit to scope out the destination and the venue is much more doable.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR DESTINATION WEDDING VENUE
How close is the venue to your ceremony site (is it your ceremony site?)? How close is the venue to where your guests are staying? With plenty of options to choose from in Naples (and many other popular destination wedding locations), it’s important to take into account the following features:
Do you have to bring in an outside caterer? How about tables, chairs, linens? Does the venue have on-site accommodations for you or your guests? When you’re planning a destination wedding from afar, having these kinds of items already provided by your venue can be very helpful because it means fewer vendors you have to research or work with – meaning fewer tasks on your plate.
“I loved the fact that Edgewater culinary staff took care of the food,” says Drummond. “They made the tasting so easy; I was glad to not have to research other caterers and just use them.”
The other key thing to note about Edgewater Beach Hotel is that it’s a smaller, all-suite hotel (just over 100 suites), meaning groups can buy out the whole property and ensure everyone stays right on-site. It’s an added level of convenience many brides love.
Approved List of Vendors
While most wedding venues should have a list of preferred vendors – deejays, photographers, caterers, and more – it’s something Drummond suggests leaning on when doing a destination wedding. “Since we were planning from afar, we were definitely not going to DIY anything,” says Drummond. “Having the hotel’s vetted list is a great starting point, so brides don’t have to do any research.”
Pinkowski said she used all of Edgewater’s vendors. She also stressed the value of booking an event planner. “I used an event planner – Marcella Espinosa of A Beautiful Florida Wedding – and she was basically my eyes and ears on the ground leading up to the day. I used her to go vet and confirm things on my behalf. For example, how the linens looked and the quality of the fabric, different reception setups I could do on the beach, etc. Because I couldn’t be there, she was my key liaison.”
Frequency of Weddings
Is the venue essentially a wedding factory, cranking out multiple nuptials a day? If so, you might find yourself sharing property resources (staff, culinary team, etc.) with another group, as well as physical space in the venue. Will there be any visibility between your guests and others attending different events? Can your designated space be fully privatized to eliminate any confusion among guests regarding event boundaries? What will be the distinct entrances for each event’s attendees?
For that reason, Edgewater Beach Hotel hosts only one wedding a day – again, with the option of a full buy-out if you’re worried about sharing space with other hotel guests. Neither Drummond or Pinkowski did a full buy-out, but Drummond never felt like she needed to. “Because of the way Edgewater is set up, I never felt like I was on top of other guests or were in close quarters with strangers,” she says. “In fact, other guests knew why I was there – to get married – and treated me a little like a celebrity.”
THE BENEFITS OF BOOKING AT EDGEWATER BEACH HOTEL
Accommodating On-Site Event Team
Both Drummond and Pinkowski applauded the on-site event team. “Anything I needed assistance with or had questions on, my contacts at the resort handled right away,” says Drummond. Pinkowski seconds that. “When we came down to do our food tasting and sample the menu options, we asked if my dad could join last minute and the resort and culinary team were happy to accommodate.”
Pinkowski also appreciated their full transparency as it related to the weather. “I think I spent the most energy freaking out about the weather, especially after Ian,” she says. “Once Ian happened, I wasn’t even sure if I had a venue anymore, but the Edgewater team kept me in the loop regarding any damage and that it wouldn’t be an issue come my wedding day. They even showed me videos of the property afterward for added reassurance. I so appreciated that.”
Flexible In Terms of Your Budget
Drummond says Edgewater Beach Hotel was one of the few hotels that was willing to alter packages and add-ons to make it fit her budget. “Other venues wouldn’t even talk to us if we weren’t going to spend at least $50,000,” she said. “The fact that Edgewater was so accommodating in that way really sealed the deal for us.”
That Beauty of a Beach
Of course, we’d be remiss to not talk about the resort’s stunning stretch of sugar-white sand – after all, both brides had their hearts set on beach weddings. And that they got, with both opting to have their ceremonies and receptions right on the beach.
“Our ceremony was just beautiful,” says Pinkowski. “The moment that sticks out most was when I was walking down the aisle and saw my husband standing there with the backdrop of the ocean. And the weather was perfect. It was just a culmination of all the planning we spent months for and truly what I had wanted and envisioned.”
And over their reception dinner set on the sands, as her guests dug into grouper and petite filet mignon at a horseshoe-shaped table setup, she even got that iconic Gulf Coast sunset sinking below the horizon. Think of it as Mother Nature’s toast to the happy couple.