You’re all set for a beautiful wedding on the beach. Everything’s ready to go. That’s when the bottom falls out. The sky darkens and suddenly you have to find a place for 45 people attending your wedding. I got your back!!!
Check out Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park (say that 3 times fast) in Ft. Lauderdale, FL (but physically located at a Dania, FL address) and you’ll find their education facility is the perfect setting. It reminds me a bit of a Roman teaching pavilion insomuch there is a center table surrounded by ascending rows of bench seating. The Pavilion is enclosed completely with 4 walls and an entrance. It’s lovely, and better than that, is a large enough structure to keep your guest list dry while you make sweet promises to you honey bunny.
This park, recently renamed from John U. Lloyd State Park, is the largest coastal State Park serving the greater Ft. Lauderdale area and sits directly on the inlet where the boating traffic enters the Intracoastal (including super duper large cruise ships!!) In addition to the Education Pavilion option, they also have large open air pavilions with table seating ocean view. Additionally, it has restrooms, small snack stands and a plethora of amenities.
Three very important things to know about this option:
- Don’t speed in this park. You will undoubtedly be caught and ticketed.
- When traveling to this location coming east on Dania Beach Blvd, be careful to not take the wrong exit. Dania Beach Blvd, will curve left (north) and you PASS the first exit. The next (and only other exit) is the one you want. Veer right onto the exit and it feeds you directly into the park.
- THIS IS IMPORTANT! State of Florida Parks require you to pull a permit for a wedding. Now here’s the deal, I’ve done over 100 weddings in State Parks and none of my clients pulled permits. If you are having an small walk on wedding, it has never seemed like a big deal. I’ve had park rangers walk/drive right by us performing a ceremony and not a one has ever stopped to ask for a permit. If you are having a wedding and 50 people are attending, that might make a ranger pause and wonder. I can’t tell you what to do. Everyone has their own tolerance for risk. I strongly doubt a ranger would interrupt a wedding, learn there was no permit and stop the wedding. Just doesn’t seem likely. He/she may make you come to their shack up front afterwards and pay for the permit fee. So let’s think about this, you’re in a bind. You need an immediate solution. You can either take a chance and maybe get caught/maybe not, and have to go pay the permit fee. If that risk makes you feel queasy, then you can always go to the Park, talk to the folks there and throw yourself on their mercy. My guess is they would make it work. My last choice would be a phone call. It’s so impersonal, and much more likely reach an unsympathetic government minion who doesn’t care. *My personal choice would be to verify the pavilion isn’t in use at the time and date I need it, then I’d have my wedding there. I would post someone at the pavilion entrance who could interface with a Ranger should someone actually stop by. I would instruct my guests to not mention they are attending a wedding as they come through the guard shack. But maybe that’s just me…. BTW-why wouldn’t you just get the permit right before the wedding? It takes anywhere between 30-60 days to obtain a permit and you only have hours or days until your ceremony.