Thanks for the Memories

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I just got this email. It really made my week!

“My name is Chris.  My wife Nicole and and I had the wonderful opportunity of being married by you Smathers Beach on March 15th 2014. We also got to come back on the same day one year later and spend the evening, during the exact minutes that you pronounced us man and wife, under the same tree, with the same warm breeze. The only thing that was missing, was you and the wonderful photographer that recorded our best day ever! I was just thinking about you and wanted to let you know that you will always hold a place in our hearts and we will always cherish that absolutely insanely crazy day! It couldn’t have been more perfect! It absolutely captured not only our lives before, but everything else that has happened since that glorious day! Hope to see you again one day in the future!”

Thanks, Chris. You have no idea how much this means to me.

Silk Flower Bouquet

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A lot of my wedding couples arrive in Key West on cruise ships or have to fly out very soon after their wedding ceremonies. That can make taking a flower bouquet with them quite a hassle. And some brides just don’t want to have a live bouquet to care for. For those couples, I have had my florist create a beautiful silk flower bouquet and boutonniere that can be rented for the ceremony and pictures.

The bouquet and boutonniere add that splash of color and romance without any of the commitment! The bouquet is a combination of beautiful silk tropical flowers and the boutonniere is a classic white silk orchid.

With my Officiate and Photography package, the bouquet and boutonniere are yours during the ceremony and pictures for only $25. Then, just hand it back to me and off you go to enjoy the beginning of your lives together.

And, of course, there’s a whole page of live flower bouquets on my website if that’s what you’d prefer. It’s your wedding, you should have exactly what you want!

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The Greatest Job in the World

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Hubby and I just came back from vacation. 2 weeks in Colombia, South America; the beautiful city of Cartagena and the lovely Macura Island. Great trip and I think Colombians may well be the nicest people on the planet. But, that’s a post for a different blog!

The point is, I got home and there was a package waiting for me. Now, over the years I have received some really lovely “thank you’s” from couples I’ve had the honor of officiating for. I’ve received thank you notes and pictures, even pictures of their new babies years after I’ve married them. I even have an adorable statue of a troll that stands on my desk that a wonderful couple from Norway gave to me. Each one of these items I cherish and I feel a part of each couple’s extended family.

Inside the package was an exquisite wood craft created by Kelli of Cottage Grove, WI. I had officiated for Kelli and Kevin in October. A picture of the wood craft is below. It’s a blue plaque with the state of Florida created from an amazingly artistic array of string and tacks and Key West is in the shape of a heart. The sentiment reads “Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day.” – Marnie Reed Crowell

Well, I couldn’t have said it better.

Thank you Kelli and Kevin. This will hang proudly in my office. And thank you to all of those couples that have allowed me to be a part of their big day. I look forward to many more! Yes, I have the greatest job in the world!

Intergalactic Freak Show

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Well, it’s that time again, Fantasy Fest is here. This year’s theme is “Intergalactic Freak Show”. Peter and I have our favorite events that we wouldn’t miss. Sunday is the 6th Annual Zombie Bike Ride. In a short 6 years this has become a favorite among locals. Literally thousands of bike riders, dressed as zombies, with decorated bicycles, will ride from the East Martello Tower to Duval Street. We keep it pretty simple with Zombie makeup and lots of lights on our bikes, but a lot of people get really elaborate. It’s certainly something to see!

Also, this year is the first annual Smallest Parade in the World contest. I have a entered a float. Maybe I’ll post a picture after I win the grand prize! 🙂

There’s also the Pet Masquerade (don’t worry, Kitties, I’ll leave you home for that one) and the Masquerade March. Peter is going as the Intergalactic Freak Show Ringmaster and I’ll simply be his Intergalactic Freak.

And in between all this nonsense, love birds keep getting married. We even have a wedding on Halloween morning!

And so, congratulations to Jamie and Jeremy from Missouri who got married on Smathers Beach. She was in a lovely white wedding gown and he was in blue jeans, flannel shirt and cowboy hat! Their wedding just the way they wanted it!

A Nip In The Air

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Coming home last night on our scooter after a lovely dinner, we noticed the first hint of a nip in the air. When you live here for a while you start to notice the change in the seasons. It’s subtle, but it’s definitely there. The evenings are cooler, the humidity is going away. It’s a reminder that in another month or so, while it’s getting cold in so many places, it’s getting perfect in Key West.

This is the time of year to plant tomatoes and other vegetables that can’t grow in the heat of the summer. And this is when my orchids begin to bloom. It’s also the time of year we start working on our Fantasy Fest costumes! Only a month to go before this year’s theme of “All Hallow’s Intergalactic Freak Show”.

Very soon it will be time to turn off the air conditioning and open the windows. And that’s how it will stay all winter.

A lot of homes in Key West don’t even have heat, there’s certainly very rarely a need for it.

But, no matter what time of year, it’s always a fine time to get married in Key West. Zsofia and David came from Scotland to do just that. Zsofia in her beautiful dress with the long train and David in his traditional kilt. It was their first time in Key West but I don’t think it will be their last.

So, we say goodbye to summer and look forward to perfect weather, snow birds, festivals and spending a lot of time outdoors!

 

 

Include The Kids

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Many couples getting married are joining two families together. And many couples that are renewing their vows invite their children to the ceremony. To make this a true family celebration I can incorporate the children into the ceremony. After the couple has said their vows to each other, I charge each of the children to actively participate to keep the bonds of the family strong. The wording is normally as follows:

“(Children’s name), Your life will be touched by the promises made today. Your participation will be needed to keep the bonds of this family strong. We now ask you to promise that you will continue to help make this a family of mutual help, respect and support. We ask that you help to create a home and a way of life in which all of you may grow into the best people you can be. In this spirit, will you pledge to continue to grow together and honor this family for all the days that follow?”

Children reply – “I will”

“(Couples names), as you affirm your love for each other, will you also promise always to keep room in your life together for (Children’s names)? Will you commit yourselves to respect and honor them as individuals as well as your children? Will you pledge to cherish, encourage and tenderly care for them as long as they need you?”

Couple responds – “We will”

The couple may then give the children a small gift, a token of family unity, if they wish.

The children can be included into any ceremony that you choose. I think this is a lovely way to make the children, especially young children, feel truly a part of the ceremony.

 

Hemingway Days 2015

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Next week is the annual Hemingway Days in Key West. There’s always something going on. Hundred of bearded men from all over the world will gather onstage at Sloppy Joe’s in the hopes of being crowned the newest “Papa Hemingway”. The contestants are usually dressed in classic Hemingway style “Big Game Hunter” clothes or classic turtlenecks. Although, in the July heat and with the beards, I don’t know how they last in those turtlenecks!

There’s lots to do if you’re here during Hemingway Days. You can: Tour Hemingway’s Home, visit the Hemingway museum exhibit at the Custom House, compete in a Marlin tournament, meet the “papas” competing in the look-a-like contest, attend a reading by famous authors and Lorian Hemingway, have coffee and donuts with the “papas”, attend the Key West Poetry Guild’s “Papa’s Poems”, watch the “papas” in a look-alike fish-off, enjoy a dockside cocktail party and fish fry, buy cool stuff at the Caribbean Street Fair, cheer on your favorite at Sloppy Joe’s “Papa Hemingway” look-a-like contest, be a part of the wacky Running Of The Bulls, join in the Malibu Rum Hemingway 5k Sunset Run/Walk/Paddleboard Race and wind up with the Hemingway Days Arm Wrestling Championship. And I’m sure I’ve missed a few events!

And when it’s all said and done, head over to the seaport to one of the many open air restaurants and relax and enjoy the sunset while sipping an ice cold tropical drink.

You’re only bored in Key West if you want to be 🙂

 

Bouquet for a Vegan

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Every ceremony is different, as they should be. But, this is one I just had to share. Pilar and Andrea came from Italy to get married on the white sands of Smathers Beach. It was just the two of them, my photographer and me. Pilar is a vegan and Andrea had emailed me that she was going to make her own vegan bouquet. Well, I wasn’t quite sure what that was until they arrived. Pilar had made the most amazing bouquet using real cabbage, peppers and squash. I’ve seen bouquets of flowers, fake flowers, old jewelry, borrowed items, family photos and personal mementos, but this was a new one for me. It was amazingly creative and well done, and quite heavy!

With a wedding there is no right or wrong way to do things, it’s all about the bride and groom and what they want their day to be. Congratulations Andrea and Pilar! I wish you a lifetime of happy vegan dining!

 

Summer in Key West

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As you can imagine, it gets warm in the summer in the Keys. But, probably not as warm as you think. At the height of summer it will get up to about 90 degrees, very rarely above that. The humidity, well, that’s what goes way up. Right now it’s 88 degrees with 68% humidity and it’s only June. So, if you’re planning to come to Key West in the summer expect to spend a lot of time in water (pool or ocean) and to hydrate a lot. Of course, the trade off is that airfare and hotels are less expensive in the summer. And, there are lots of fun street fairs and festivals.

But, if you’re getting married outdoors, just remember the humidity and dress accordingly. And that goes for makeup, too! A little goes a long way on a warm humid day.

Just a few of the events we’ve had this month have been the First Friday Art Stroll, Swim Around Key West, South Florida Symphony Concert, Les Paul’s 100th Birthday Bash, The 5 Day Pridefest  Celebration with all its activities, Tutu 10K on the Beach and the annual A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If you want to keep up on Key West events, one of the best calendars I’ve found is http://www.milezerokeywest.com/calendar/ They don’t miss a thing and neither will you!

Hurricane Season

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Hurricane Season officially starts this coming Monday, June 1st, and ends on November 30th. Historically, the chances of hurricane activity are greater between August 15th and October 1st. People often ask me if I’m afraid to live here because of hurricanes. No matter where you live there is some type of disaster that can happen. And the last hurricane to pass close to Key West was Wilma in 2005. Wilma, as a hurricane, was not that bad when it passed us by, it was the storm surge afterwards that caused damage. And, considering most of the buildings in Old Town were built in the 1800’s, this little island was built to stand tough.

I think hurricanes are such high profile because they can be predicted weeks in advance. A tornado, earthquake or other natural disaster happen without warning. But with a hurricane there’s plenty of time for reporters from every news organization to come down, check into the La Concha Hotel, and then stand out front on Duval Street reporting while trying to look like they’re fighting 100 mile an hour winds.

The good news about hurricane season is that hotel rates and airfare are usually lower. In fact, most visitors from Europe visit during hurricane season. And there are a lot of great events scheduled in the Keys during that time.

Here is a little information just in case you are in Key West and a hurricane is headed our way: For information on evacuation orders or hurricane info you can go to www.fla-keys.com or call the visitor assistance line at 800.771.KEYS. You can also check Facebook and Twitter for information from the Tourist Development Council. If a tourist evacuation is required and you don’t have a car there are several options. We have rental car companies, flights from the airport, shuttle services between Key West and Miami and Bus Lines. Everything that’s available will be posted on Facebook and Twitter by the Tourist Development Council. Historically, the chances are excellent that you Keys vacation will not be interrupted by a hurricane.

One of the beautiful things that happens during hurricane season is that our Royal Poinciana Trees bloom. They start at the beginning of June and bloom through November. This one has just started. In a week it will be an unbroken mass of color.