Everglades romantic? Park hosts weddings
EVERGLADES CITY, Fla. — The Everglades is a thick jungle swamp, unlike any other place in the world.
To some, the Everglades is a nature fanatic’s paradise. To others, a hokey tourist spot where one air boat driver and alligator wrestler wrangle business away from another.
|Click on the video at the right to see a short slideshow highlighting the romantic sunsets of the Everglades National Park and the Everglades City area prepared by writer and photographer Nina Markowitz.|
But to the people who get married in the Everglades, and they do, it is the most romantic place on earth.
“We’ve had brides and grooms, take them out to the Gulf of Mexico at sunset on fishing boats, and we’ve married them,” Robert Miller, manager of the Oyster House Restaurant, said. “We’ve married them on shore, too, at the Everglades National Park.”
|Right and below, outdoor sunset weddings on the water are popular in the Everglades. With these romantic sunset shots, it is easy to see why (Photographs by Nina Markowitz).|
Tiny Everglades City is the host location for the west coast entrance to the vast South Florida park, not far from Marco Island and Naples. It has a visitor center with boat tours available.
The Oyster House Restaurant is only one of many restaurants and banquet halls that line the perimeter of the Everglades with the capability to host large wedding events.
With a notary for a wife, Miller has hosted at least 30 couples. Still, one wedding stands out amongst all others.
“We took the groom and bride and the bridal party out into the Everglades on a crab boat,” Miller said. “The bride and groom jumped overboard with their clothes on.”
“When nuptials for a unique couple are being planned, think of our special Oyster House restaurant ‘Wedding in the Glades’ program,” the Oyster House website offers.
Indeed, many do.
Jean works in the office of River Wilderness, a waterfront hotel complex that doesn’t hosts weddings, but oftentimes houses the wedding party or honeymooners.
She is a long-time resident of Everglades City and quite familiar with the weddings put on there— she just planned one for her daughter.
“My daughter was married out on Indian Key. She had a sunset wedding,” Jean said. “We had the reception first and, after everybody ate, a big crab boat took them and then about five or six other boats went, and everybody gathered and it was really nice.”
Despite Everglades City being a small, tourist-driven town devoted to the fishing and hunting life, Jean attributes its beauty and charm as the magnet that attracts many couples to Everglades nuptials.
“Kids that went off to college come back here for weddings,” Jean said. “It’s one of the few small, rural little cities in Florida.”
Bordering the Everglades National Park, Everglades City oftentimes hosts wedding parties where the ceremony is in step with nature.
Sunset sailing, air boat rides and nature trails make the perfect weddings for the adventurous, while the quiet rivers and nearby Gulf of Mexico offer much in terms of romantic scenery.
Donell Richard, part-time manager and waitress at the Back Country café— and long-time Everglades City resident— sees the beauty in an Everglades wedding.
“We have a national park down here that does sunset boat rides, and there have been some people who have been married on it,” Richard said. “It’s really pretty.”
If You Go…
- Everglades City is located approximately 90 miles away from Miami International Airport, on the west coast of Florida.
- The Oyster House Restaurant, http://www.oysterhouserestaurant.com for more information.
- Everglades Community Church, http://www.evergladescommunitychurch.com
- The Everglades Rod and Gun Club, http://www.evergladesrodandgun.com