Islands to be Slammed with Newlyweds
Photos by Josie Koler
“It’s a done deal. Ten, ten, ten at ten, ten, ten in the morning!”
Vice Mayor Mark Rossi shouted out the plans for this Sunday to the Weekly Newspapers as he takes a break during another grueling city commission meeting in Old City Hall. The wedding writing is all over the walls in Old Town. Key West’s vice-mayor and entrepreneur isn’t the only one taking the plunge in paradise with their sweetheart on this typically scary October weekend for the tourist driven economy.
“I have to point out,” remarked Commissioner Teri Johnston, “this will be Mark’s last meeting as a bachelor!”
Check out the trend for 10•10•10 our hospitality industry is reporting. According to the Casa Marina’s food and beverage director Yunior Rodriguez, in 2009 and 2008 only one wedding occurred at the House on the Ocean. This year the premier resort will provide the backdrop to four couples. Two on Saturday and two more on Sunday.
“It’s all about the date, as evidenced by the bookings,” notes Rodriguez. “These weddings were booked early. 18 months and 14 months out.”
President of the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys and Key West, Jodi Weinhofer attests bookings are way ahead of pace. October is typically really good obviously because of Fantasy Fest. Many hotel owners and managers were initially confused why people were booking early in October. Technically Fantasy Fest begins on October 22. Realistically October 9 and 10 are a week ahead.
“Everyone I’ve talked to is way ahead of pace. This weekend is heavily booked with small groups. Small groups are typically small weddings.”
“We have 100 bouquets. In six years of business I’ve never had this.”
Down on Fleming Street, floral designer and owner of Love in Bloom Florist Nulita Loder gives the lowdown on making love official on 10•10•10.
“It’s completely insane. The weddings are all taking place this weekend. October is generally a very slow month. This year I have to close the shop to regular orders to make sure I can make all of the bouquets and boutonnieres done. The shop is not as full of flowers as it is on Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day but that’s because I don’t have to guesstimate. The task took me three and a half hours to order specifically. It’s scary. It’s daunting. I have to hope I can please 100 brides. I’m hoping we can get through the weekend and at least make 98 happy!”
A couple blocks over on Simonton Street, designer Clint Davis with Flowers by Gilda confirms the chaos.
“We’re busier than normal. We’re doing a number of weddings. Mainly on the beach.
We do mostly tropical arrangements. They’re the strongest and sturdiest flowers and they hold up in the heat. They are the most ideal for here. And they’re all indigenous to the area.”
Dana Brooks, owner of Mama Flowers on Caroline cements the weekend is shaping up great for her and her team.
“This is a busy time. We have lots of weddings and are looking fantastic for November, December, and January, too!” With her brides choosing tropical arrangements with a sunset-colored edge. “We bring fall into it with orange, yellows, and brownberries.”
In the Middle Keys at Flowers by J&J Danielle Lebo excitedly talks about the trio numbers luring brides and grooms like chum set loose on the back of a boat for some flats fishing.
“Oh, my gosh. We’re packed! I have three weddings on Sunday. I guess your husband can’t forget your anniversary. Everyone’s that’s in attendance won’t forget either.
The Wedding Planners
Mile Marker Party Rentals owner and operator Jill Atkinson has two beach weddings in Marathon and another event in Key Largo on 10-10-10.
“We’re extremely busy this weekend,” Atkinson says as she strategically lays out the staff schedule. “This weekend was booked more than a year ago, and some of our clients weren’t even worried about their time, so we’re just fitting them in.”
Atkinson’s business is essentially a one-stop shop, from rental setup and planning to officiate services – she’s a reverend, too!
“Tents, tables, linens, wedding arches…you name it,” she continued. “Being a jack-of-all-trades makes it easier for our clients.”
The 10•10•10 line-up is as magical for the owners of Weddings To Go Key West as the date is for engaged couples. Owners Eileen and Ray Jensen have been officiating and orchestrating the vows for seven years. Between the oil spill (which never reached the Florida Keys’ water) and the economy, they are happy to report bookings so bold in numbers, they can’t disclose them!
“Thank God for 10•10•10. This is one of our busiest days ever, and the weddings aren’t all on the beach like people think. 10•10•10 is what my husband and I refer to as a novelty day. Plus, it’s a holiday weekend and people take advantage of that extra day. We don’t anticipate any issues. We’re very organized. That’s the key!”
Hair, Make-up, Nails
Infinity Hair Skin and Nails typically sees a lot of walk-in brides in their salon on Simonton and Front Streets. But this weekend, there are three separate parties with appointments on the books. Owner Julia Jabour reports it’s “interesting.” Her clients tend to tend to their tresses at the last minute.
“We’re seeing three brides on Sunday. One is a bridesmaid. They’re coming to Key West to get married. On Sunday, we have two stylists working. If we need more we’ll have three, and I must say, we’ve been blessed with very nice brides. We serve’em Mimosas which gets them in the mood for getting married.”
Another big factor which can make or break a vacationing bride’s day, doing-up that do to withstand the humid climate. Jabour isn’t joking when solidifying her stylists are ingenious when the request is island-style.
“They’re used to working with the weather!”
Marriage License Statistics
Back to Loder, surrounded by her four designers, Blue Hydrangea, Calla Lilies, French Tulips, Roses and Orchids, “I would love to see the statistics to see how many marriage licenses are issued!”
A call to the Monroe County clerk of Courts reveals this. A marriage license is good for 60 days. Within ten days of the weddings, the marriage license has to be returned for processing.
“I can’t determine whose getting married on the tenth,” states Jackie Donohue deputy clerk. “After the couple turns the license in, we record it, send to vital statistics, and send the applicants a certified copy.”
Which means the number will be available on October 21.
Nestled on the calendar before we carve that bird, the next novelty set of numbers will hit on a November Monday. A date everyone on the island is already eagerly anticipating.
At the Casa Marina, the bookings are already on the books! One, which has been slated since March and another, which will be confirmed any day.
Loder’s already locked down orders. She has two inquiries.
“It’s just a sign; it’s going to happen again!”
Lebo has two weddings already booked, and Atkinson right now knows of one, proving weddings in paradise will prevail intensely on novelty dates whether you’re a gal from Georgia or a heavy hitter in city politics.
Again Commissioner Rossi
“The date sounded good and it’s Columbus Day weekend, a three day weekend. It’s 10•10•10. I won’t forget my anniversary. I always liked the number ten and my wife-to-be (Dr. Teri Beers) is a ten!”
The Reading Behind 10•10•10
Just for kicks, Julie, a psychic on Duval points to this. The number one symbolizes a beginning and zeros is an opening for positive energies. Having this Sunday for a wedding date is going to prove very positive for the 100-plus couples!
Infinity Hair Skin and Nails owner, Julia Jabour. “We’re used to taking care of the brides, bridesmaids, and grooms coming from Sunset Key, The Hyatt, Pier House, Ocean Key, The Reach, The Galleon, La Concha, Casa Marina, and Southernmost as well.
Ken Jessen a floral designer at Love in Bloom Florist with “The Cleo” bouquet; Calla Lilies, Asiatic Lilies, Cydicorum, and Hypericum. Due to the 10•10•10 and the fact it’s Columbus Day weekend, his boss has had to hire extra help. “We have 100 weddings in three days,” says Nulita Loder.
Flowers by Gilda
At Flowers by Gilda on Simonton, designer Clint Davis is surrounded with green on the floor… cold hard cash is in the drawer due to 10•10•10!
Owner of Mama Flowers Dana Condon with her daughter Hanna and designer Siiri Saard.