Miami Heat: Same-Sex Weddings in South Florida

by David Toussaint

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday October 17, 2014

Miami Heat: Same-Sex Weddings in South Florida

What's not to love about a same-sex wedding in Miami? You've got sun, you've got beach, and you've got that stunning architecture that looks as if the first fabulously gay caveman on earth carved it. And you can have it all without flashing a passport. Out-of-towners and residents alike love that a wedding here means that all involved are in a destination so fun it might as well be called Florida's "other" Happiest Place on Earth.

One cold note in such a heated climate: Same-sex marriage is not legal in Florida (yet), so if you want that license you'll still have to make it official in another state.

Before you pack the sunscreen and wedding bands, remember that a wedding on these shores takes a lot of planning. To that end, we've enlisted three people to help you out: Event Planner Melissa Davis, salon managing partner Mario Silvestri, and hotel representative Jonathan Torres. With this ménage à trois, all you need is a honeymoon hot tub... for the two of you, of course.

Melissa Davis Designs
Melissa Davis Designs  

Melissa Davis, Melissa Davis Designs

Davis, who runs Melissa Davis Designs, has been in the event-planning business for 17 years, and says that almost all of the weddings she handles are from couples out of state. "People love the idea of a wedding in Miami," she says. "They want a view of the Atlantic, toes in the sand, something outside."

When Davis gets the call, she first looks at budget, then moves on to vendors. She also finds out what the priority is for the couple, venue or time.

"If you're dying to get married in a certain hotel, then that's the priority. If you call me and say 'I just want to get married in March or April,' then that's the most important thing."

Other factors to consider are weather. Miami can be horribly hot during the summer months. Hurricane season officially runs June through November with August through October being the peak wedding dates - all of which creates a lot of extra planning. "It is 10 to 15 degrees cooler on the beach," reminds Davis, who thinks that March has the best weather for South Florida weddings.

Any wedding in South Florida requires a rain plan, and all major venues are prepared. "If the chance of rain is over 30 percent, I usually have to make that call," says Davis, adding that most hotels want the rain back-up plan in writing.

Davis likes to have 10 months to plan a wedding, although she's done it in half that time. "It has a lot to do with whom you're hiring," she says. "If you want the best photographer or band, you need time. You also need to remember that there are only so many Saturday nights in a year."

If you book a resort, you'll probably be required to use their food and décor, even if your vows are on the beach. Of the major extras besides flowers (Davis can get you pretty much whatever bud you choose), hair and makeup is huge.

Junior & Hatter
Junior & Hatter  

Mario Silvestri, Junior & Hatter

In the hair and makeup department, a favorite of ours is Mario Silvestri. The managing partner of Junior & Hatter in Wynwood (a must-visit arts section on the other side of the bay that was just declared an official tourist destination), Silvestri has a crew of 20, and has got you covered from start to finish. On the wedding day, his people can even come to you.

The first thing you find from Silvestri is that a test date for hair and/or makeup is essential, even for men.

"I suggest one to two months ahead of time for women and a couple of weeks ahead of time for men," says Silvestri, noting that hair needs to be coordinated with outfits.

"If the look is casual the hair should be, too," he says, adding that men who wear beards have to be particularly careful about the polish.

"If you want to wear a beard it comes with a lot of responsibility," he says. "It has to be really well kept. The outlines have to be really sharp. If it's long you have to shampoo and condition it."

For women, Silvestri offers one strong piece of advice: "You shouldn't wear extensions. It's not what your hair looks like."

Silvestri says that most men with scruff arrive the day before for a touch-up. Unless he comes to you.

"If we go to their room, we get them out of the shower, we blow-dry their hair, even if it's short," says Silvestri on the morning of. "It takes about a half hour to 45 minutes."

Women take longer ("a bride can take an hour to an hour and one half"), and Silvestri's group will commonly do hair and makeup for entire wedding parties.

Finally, if you're getting a facial, do it about a week ahead of time. "On that rare occasion people have an allergic reaction," so you should avoid getting that amazing Hydrotherapy Oxygen Facial right before your "I Do's."

Shelborne Wyndham Grand
Shelborne Wyndham Grand  

Jonathan Torres, Shelborne Wyndham Grand

Miami has a multitude of fabulous places to hold your ceremony, and we're especially intrigued by the reopened Shelborne Wyndham Grand on Collins Avenue (yep, that's beachfront!).

Two towers comprise the hotel with 200 rooms total. Opened in 1940, the Art Deco resort has just completed a $280 million restoration, keeping the original look intact with some modern enhancements.

"Our team is here to work with you. You can have a wedding on the beach and a reception on the marine deck, or you can have either on the upstairs marine deck, or at the pool," says Marketing Manager Jonathan Torres.

Torres says people can say their vows in white tie and tails or tank tops and shorts. If you want to have a sit-down dinner in their grand ballroom, that's also an option.

In other words, this is Miami, folks, and your wish is their command. The pool area can hold 1,500 people, so you can go as big as you wish or as intimate - 100 people can fit on the Marine Deck.

The music is up to you, and Torres reminds couples that the bigger the band, the smaller the space is for guests. If you want it, the hotel will arrange a wedding suite for you-they'll even hold a bachelor or bachelorette party.

The finishing touch: Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto personally designs each menu around the couple's wishes, so you truly get a designer dinner.

And remember, couples. You're already at your honeymoon. The heat is so on.

David is an established columnist with EDGE. Follow him on Twitter at @DRToussaint.