Best Outdoor Wedding Venue-Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Outdoor wedding ceremonies located in Ft. Lauderdale, FL can be romantic, dreamy, and also fraught with concerns of how to pull it all together. That Wedding Lady TM shares a post with information on a perfect location for a rustic ceremony with all the amenities a bride needs, and at an extremely affordable price. It is, in fact, Broward County’s best kept secret, and a perfect place for your special day.

Photo of a "This way to the Wedding" sign at Secret Woods Nature Center

Why You Need to Know About Secret Woods Nature Center

It is one of the few locations I’ve visited that offers everything a ceremony venue needs, from the necessary, such as, beautifully appointed restroom amenities, on-site free parking, superior cost per value, rain backup, on site reception facility to your wish list items like, a gorgeous pergola surrounded by a wood close next door to a butterfly garden,  and oodles of spectacular photography options for the before and after pictures. Rarely do I visit an outdoor location that has everything. Nearly always they are missing a key feature making it a less than perfect option. Not so with Secret Woods, I was very impressed and highly recommend it for your consideration.

Photo of decorated pergola for an outdoor wedding

Location Details

Secret Woods Nature Center
2701 W. SR 84
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
(954) 357-8884
Open 9 AM to 5 PM every day
Website: www.broward.org
Google Maps Location: https://goo.gl/maps/xi36wAVYty62

Pergola and guest seating surrounded by the woods
View-from main walkway into pergola space; decorating the pergola
View from inside a pergola looking back towards the walkway
View-Looking from inside the pergola towards the walkway
Looking into the wedding space from the butterfly garden
View-Looking into the pergola space from the adjacent butterfly garden

Facility Details

Parking:
– Ample parking and no fees!

Restroom interiors
Inside the lovely and ice cold restroom facilities

Restrooms:
-Very nicely decorated
-Large
-Stalls and floors are made of a lovely wood
-Ice cold air-conditioning
-Connected to reception room by private door; plus another door leading out into the Nature Center
-Ample mirrors

 

Artsy picture from inside a pergola looking towards the sky.

Flower covered walkway to Pergola used for outdoor wedding ceremoniesReception Hall
– Unable to visit on this day since they had a active ceremony going on.

Building structures:
-Attractive and blend in with the area
-Offer excellent backgrounds for photography
-Japanese bells adorn many of the buildings

Nature Center Features:
-Gorgeous greenery throughout
-Two walkway trails – one of which leads directly to the New River upon which the Park is situated
-They have a dedicated butterfly garden with a lovely arch. This would be a great setting for some photography. I saw monarchs, zebra butterflies (Official State of Florida butterfly,) and dragonflies.
-Cute benches are tucked around in and out the grounds offering shade and more photography options.
-Pergola and benches are a short walk from the main area with a wooden walkway leading to them for the Bride’s grand entrance.

Benches surrounded by nature
Hidden benches throughout the grounds for thoughtful contemplation and photography options.

Accessibility:
-Fully accessible in most areas (the trail paths are somewhat handy-capable friendly.)
-Parking, main grounds, walkway to Pergola and some other areas are suitable for wheelchairs or for persons who may have difficulty walking and getting around.

Rental Details and Cost:
– The Pergola is not available for rental on its own. You have to rent the reception hall and, for an additional fee, include use of the Pergola for your event. There is also a large outdoor space adjacent to the reception hall which comes with the package.
– Cost: $600 for four hours, or $800 for the whole day. Know that I obtained this information from the Groom there that day. I do not know if these figures include the additional add-on option for use of the Pergola. Of note, the Groom was absolutely thrilled with the cost and amenities.
– Rain Backup Location – Yes, the reception hall

Picture of main walkway entering Secret Woods

Pro Driving Instructions

**The entrance to the park is located on State Road 84.

If you’re coming from the east, Drive West on State Road 84 passing the freeway interchange for I-95. The entrance is just past this interchange on the right-hand side.

If you’re coming from the west, proceed east on State Road 84 until you come to 15th St. (there will be a 7-11 on the corner, big intersection) and make a U-turn to travel back west on State Road 84. Go past the freeway entrances for I-95, and just past this interchange, the entrance to the nature center is on the right-hand side.

Ft Lauderdale FL Rain Back Up Option

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.

Wedding Rain Backup Fort Lauderdale
Mizell Johnson State Park Education Pavilion

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:

  1. Don’t speed in this park. You will undoubtedly be caught and ticketed.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

State of Florida, Parks and Recreations Department, Mizell-Johnson Park page.

Eco Friendly Confetti-Beach Weddings

Biodegradable, environmentally friendly, green weddings are popular as folks choose better sustainability options. This eco-friendly confetti is an excellent choice for guests to throw after the big kiss.

Biodegradable Wedding Confetti is Safe for the Environment

Made from fully recycled, compostable material, this wedding confetti completely dissipates in water. It is FSC, PEFC and SFI certified and meets the highest standards for environmental safety. It’s also acid free, has a neutral PH balance and has is colorfast so it won’t stain clothes. Plus it’s available in tons of colors so you can match it to your wedding palette.

Perfect Beach Wedding Decor

Florida beaches need your help. Never throw anything on the beach that you can’t pick up and throw away. This includes flowers (pesticides=bad) or silk flowers (not biodegradable) or risk getting a ticket, or worse yet, people on the beach sticking their nose into your ceremony to complain.

Here it is on Amazon:

biodegradable wedding confetti & table decor
Ivory Eco Friendly Wedding Confetti
Eco Friendly Wedding Confetti
Gold Biodegradable Wedding Confetti
Green Weddings Confetti-blush and gold color
Blush & Gold Beach Wedding Confetti
Peach & Gold Eco Friendly Wedding Confetti
Peach & Gold Environmentally Safe Wedding Confetti
Rose & Gold Biodegradable Wedding Confetti
Rose & Gold Eco Friendly Wedding Confetti
Wedding confetti that dissolves
Teal Environmentally Friendly Wedding Confetti
Beach Safe Wedding Confetti
Red Biodegradable Wedding Confetti
Lavender & Gold Beach safe confetti
Lavender & Gold Beach safe confetti
Mixed colors biodegradable confetti
Silver metallic eco safe confetti
Silver metallic eco safe confetti
Beach friendly wedding confetti
Red & Gold Beach friendly wedding confetti

Ft Lauderdale Beach Wedding Ukulele Musician

Find the best beach wedding ukulele musician for your special day right here in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Top rated ukulele player TWL personally recommends for wedding ceremonies, commitment ceremonies and vow renewal ceremonies lends the perfect atmosphere for your seaside event.

Somewhere Over Your Rainbow

Have you dreamed of a wedding ceremony beside the ocean, toes in the sand, people you love around you and soft ukulele melodies serenading you as you make sweet promises to your special someone?

Pacific Island Ukelele Musician (yes I know it’s misspelled-it’s on purpose)

Meet my friend and music instructor, Typhoon Olopai “Ty” from whom I’ve been taking ukulele lessons. A big, adorable, cuddly teddy bear of a man originally from Micronesia, who performs at hundreds of wedding ceremonies and other events throughout the year.

ft lauderdale ukulele player business card
Ty’s Business Card-Click thumbnail to enlarge.

During one of my lessons, Ty and I discovered we are both wedding service providers, and I hastened to share this information with my brides, many seeking a simple service with a pacific island sounds in the background to complete their vision of a beach wedding.

I highly recommend Ty from a professional and personal experience standpoint. He is affable, amiable and completely willing to assist you in creating a music list to meet your needs. Why, even if he doesn’t know a particular song, I’ve watched him listen to it and learn it nearly on the fly, although I doubt there is a wedding song you could throw out that he hasn’t played a million times prior. Choose from a popular set of wedding songs (yes, including Somewhere Over the Rainbow) or create your unique playlist.

Watch YouTube Video Short

Below is a very short clip of Ty at one of my lessons playing a snippet I requested of him that is hands down the quintessential beach wedding song that 100% of my brides request.

Great Beach Wedding Location-Ft Lauderdale Beach

Like every beach town some public entrances are better than others. Whether you’re having a wedding ceremony, vow renewal ceremony or commitment ceremony, sweet, romantic and intimate are attributes most of my clients seek.

Beach Wedding Locations

The primary entrances onto Fort Lauderdale beach is at the intersections of Las Olas and A1A and Sunrise and A1A. While both these locations have many great assets (walk to amenities convenience, parking options), the number of people on the beach may impact the quality you seek for your service.

A Little More North

I’ve found that if you continue traveling up A1A, north of Sunrise to the top end of Ft. Lauderdale Beach, you get a much better option. There are less people here and it is truly a spectacular location. Just past Hugh Taylor Birch park are some of the loveliest beach homes facing the ocean (contrasting to touristy beach retail locations at the other entrances I mention above.) The area I refer to spans from 14th to 18th. It’s more private and there is some excellent street parking along A1A. The street parking ends at 18th but the next light at 20th (19th doesn’t go through to the beach), there is a sneaky little park and indeed another beach entrance with plentiful parking.

where to get married on fort lauderdale beach
Photo of Ft. Lauderdale beach at the 18th St entrance which is hidden between the palm trees.

Wedding Florist Ft Lauderdale

Find a great florist near Fort Lauderdale, FL for your pre-cruise wedding, vow renewal or commitment ceremony and check out Wildflowers located on Federal Blvd in the heart of Fort Lauderdale. Awesome for casual beach type ceremonies

See this Link for Local Bouquet Delivery 

Flowers and Bridal Bouquets in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Here is what I loved about Wildflowers. For some strange reason, I’ve often found floral shop owners not particularly friendly. I know! I said it’s strange. Moving back home to Fort Lauderdale meant starting all over setting up my clients with vendors I feel good about.

Vow Renewal Ceremony on Beach in Florida
This Could Be You Right Now

Luckily I found Bill at Wildflowers. What a friendly fellow! And so helpful!! Exactly what I was looking for. Kind hearted, amenable and ready to serve. His location is perfect for my Fort Lauderdale couples; he’s basically at E. Oakland Park Blvd & Federal Hwy (US 1).

Suitcase for Shoes for No Sand

Give Bill a call and let him know what you need. He’ll get you sorted out right away so you can have the perfect bouquet for your special day.

Wildflowers Florist (954) 565-1717

Wedding at Gianni Versace Mansion South Beach, Florida

Luxury Florida wedding locations include the fabulous Gianni Versace mansion, Villa Casa Casauarina. Located on Ocean Blvd in Souch Beach, Florida. Perfect for outdoor weddings it has several location choice, the gazebo, the pool patio and the center courtyard. It’s absolutely gorgeous!❤️❤️❤️

Opulent,classy wedding location
Gianni Versace mansion in South Beach, Miami, FL. Across the patio.
Extravagant wedding gazebo
Gazebo outdoor rotunda where we performed the wedding. It has 500 year old art inside.
Versace wedding venue pool
The gold in pool is actual gold.
Vow Renewal venue in Miami florida
Entry gate to Villa Casa Casuarina in South Beach, FL
Where to get married in south beach
Front gate at Gianno Versace estate
Luxury wedding venues Miami fl
Center courtyard for Weddings at Versace Mansion.

Best Beach Wedding Tips to Protect Your Skin

Beach Wedding Makeup & Skin Reviews

Beach weddings mean you have to use sunblock or sunscreen to protect your skin. High SPF products usually mean greasy and aren’t makeup friendly. As a beach wedding specialist, I’ve tried them all. Of especial note, makeup for flash photography can be tricky. Be sure to take a hard look at the mineral powder sunscreen option. It’s fantastic! Here are some of my very favorites:

sunscreen sunblock UVA beach cosmetics
public domain photo

Liquid Sunblock and Sunscreen

If your foundation doesn’t have sunblock in it, you’ll need a wedding makeup friendly product that doesn’t muddle your cosmetic and isn’t thick. After trying so many brands, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunscreen SPF 70 does exactly what it says. It goes on thin and isn’t greasy at all. This is important because you want to choose skin and makeup products with a nice matte finish for flash photography.

Get it here: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum SPF 70, 1.4 fl oz

Mineral Powder Sunscreen

If you just don’t want any cremes on your skin, then you’re going to love this. I use this every single day.Your outdoor wedding day or commitment ceremony needs a finishing touch and you’ll find it with this mineral powder sunblock by Mineral Fusion.

Traditional sunblock is greasy and doesn’t work well with makeup, it makes you cry like 10 year old when you get it in your eye and reduces mascara to a watery black mess. Exactly  the small detail that can distract you and take away from your special day.

I stumbled across this in a store and it quickly became my favorite wedding day makeup. Apply this high SPF mineral powder sunscreen and you get a double benefit. It protects you from the sun at your beach wedding AND it gives you a nice matte finish as your final touch.

You can buy it online here. I highly recommend it. Mineral Fusion Brush On Sunscreen. Very affordable!

No Tears Wedding Sunscreen

If you’re a big baby like me, try this. Nearly all sunblock gets in my eyes and makes me tear up, I choose MelanSol 100% Natural Sunscreen for Baby with and SPF of 30. The only thing is it goes on thick and white. You have to smooth it into the skin, let it soak in then wipe excess away with a tissue. BUT….you won’t cry when  it gets in your eyes. I promise!

Look for it on this website.

Sunscreen for Lips

For lip protection, I use Nivea Moisture Lip because it smoothes on well and my lipstick glides over it well (even 2 part lipstick and lip stains.) It has an SPF of 30.

Nivea Lip Sun SPF 30

Stop The Sweat

And on an unrelated note, I did a beach wedding this morning and loathed feeling sweaty between my thighs and under my bazoombas. Nothing is more uncomfortable! To avoid this, I use a humorously named product called Lady Anti Monkey Butt Anti Friction Powder. It’s a super duper absorber. I was mad at myself for forgetting to put in on. Rub it on your inner thighs all the way up to the crotch, and also put it under your breasts to avoid pools of sweat accumulating.

Buy it online here: Lady Anti Monkey Butt Powder 6-oz.

Another option is good old anti-perspirant. It isn’t just for underarms. It works everywhere. Not deodorant. It has to be antiperspirant. Get a non white marking antiperspirant and use it: underarms, crease of elbows, back of knees, under your breasts, between your thighs and along the inner creases of your groin, and truth be told, along the top of your butt crack. It works great.

Finally, one other mention goes to panty liners. Whether it’s time for your monthly “ladies days” or not, wear one. Your panties will be soaking wet after standing in the sun and wet knickers prevent smiling. You’ll thank me for this tip one day.

For regular panties I like: ALWAYS brand Incredibly Thin Liner
For thong panties, these are awesome: Carefree Thong Pantiliners

Summing Up

There is no single product that will do the trick. I typically use a combination of all these solutions at the same time. The product I use every time is the powdered sunblock. It’s a miracle product in my opinion.