Sarasota's 10 Best Spots to Tie the Knot
Celebrate your union at one of America's most important historic houses, the Cà d'Zan, John and Mable Ringling's Venetian bayfront mansion. The Cà d'Zan Terrace, an 8,000-square-foot verandah of variegated marble overlooking the water, accommodates up to 250 for sunset (or moonlit) ceremonies and receptions. For more intimate ceremonies, Mable's Rose Garden fits up to 50 guests. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. (941) 359-5700.
There's nothing more tropically romantic than a barefoot beach wedding at The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort. Sink your toes into sugary sand while pledging your love beneath a flowered archway. The Colony knows how to make beach simplicity totally luxurious, and the helpful staff can arrange pre-ceremony spa and beauty treatments, inspired flower displays and a fantastic sit-down dinner, complete with three-tier wedding cake. The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key. (941) 383-6464.
Weddings take on 1920s flair at the Mediterranean-style Crosley Mansion, perched on 60 acres on Sarasota Bay. The 11,000-square-foot home boasts 21 rooms and 10 baths-and plenty of hidden corners in which to sneak a wedding kiss or two. Weather permitting, the ceremony and reception can be held on the great lawn for up to 700 guests. Retire inside for a wedding supper surrounded by the beauty of a bygone era. Crosley Mansion, One Seagate Drive, 8374 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. (941) 722-3244.
As the last surviving plantation house in South Florida, the Gamble Mansion is a one-of-a-kind setting, simple yet rich in old Southern charm. Ceremonies take place on the porch or under the gazebo just outside the antebellum-era house, Afterward, enjoy a Southern-style picnic on the plantation's lovely 14 acres. The picnic pavilion also turns into a dance floor for that sunset wedding waltz. Gamble Mansion at The Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, 3708 Patten Ave., Ellenton. (941) 723-4536.
For an intimate, tender ceremony, you can't do better than Historic Spanish Point's Mary's Chapel. The reconstructed 1890s chapel has nine pews (for up to 40 guests), an antique pump organ, stained glass windows and the original chapel bell. For ceremonies of up to 150, the Sunken Gardens is idyllic for a fresh-air, tropical-style wedding. This water garden boasts a pergola adorned with creeping bougainvillea and the peaceful sounds of a splashing fountain. Historic Spanish Point, 377 N. Tamiami Trail, Osprey. (941) 966-5214.
Do it in grand style in the Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club's glamorous 4,200-square-foot ballroom, complete with ornate chandeliers, a Romeo-and-Juliet balcony and an elegant winding staircase. If golf is your thing, you can say your vows on a balcony overlooking the golf course and fountain-filled lake. A luxurious bridal suite provides space to escape the madding crowd and prepare for your grand entrance. Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club, 7650 Legacy Blvd., Bradenton. (941) 907-3033.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens may be Sarasota's most popular wedding spot, and it's easy to see why. Eight beautiful acres abloom with orchids, bromeliads, and other exotic flora stretch along Sarasota Bay. Most ceremonies take place in the Schimmel Wedding Pavilion, an open-air structure with stained glass panels at the edge of the great lawn. For wedding parties of 50 or fewer, the historic Christy Payne Mansion is perfect for an elegant reception. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 811 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota. (941) 366-5731 ext. 224.
Say "aye" do aboard the brand-new Marina Jack II, which can comfortably fit 149 passengers for dinner and dancing. There's something special about an onboard wedding-it's cozy, festive and a bit adventurous, too. Captain Earl will be happy to officiate as you cruise into the sunset down the Intracoastal. For larger parties, enjoy cocktails onboard and then retire to Marina Jack's grand banquet hall, which overlooks the playful dolphin fountain at Bayfront Park. Marina Jack II, 2 Marina Plaza, Sarasota. (941) 365-4232.
For a ritzy experience, why not try the real thing-The Ritz-Carlton Members Beach Club on Lido Key. Exchange your vows under the gazebo on the manicured lawn, just steps from the sandy shore. Afterward, enjoy an alfresco reception and sit-down feast at The Sunset Terrace, overlooking a magnificent expanse of Gulf. For a lavish honeymoon night, The Ritz-Carlton Suite awaits, with nearly 3,000 square feet of marbled luxury. The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota. (941) 309-2000.
All the world's a stage, so why not get married on-or close to-one? At the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, set along Sarasota's sparkling bayfront, the 6,000-square-foot Grand Foyer is a great spot to stage your wedding performance. After an outdoor ceremony, celebrate with up to 1,500 friends and family on the stately lawn and wraparound terrace. Inside, the Grand Foyer seats up to 350 for dinner and dancing. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. (941) 955-7676.