An Adventurous Affair

Say ‘I do’ at one of Central Florida’s famous attractions.

There’s a ring on your finger and a date on your calendar—the countdown has already begun. Inspire your wedding plans with the resources and destinations in the following pages to make it the exciting escapade, magical fairytale or adrenaline-pumping ride you’ve always wanted. Make it wild, make it beautiful, but don’t settle for anything less.

It’s your adventure. Go nuts.

A Wild Wedding

This one is for the animal lovers out there. Whether you’re a party of 20 or a party of 750, the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa offers a complete wedding package, including everything down to the linens. In Safari Africa, there’s Safari Lodge where guests will have an unobstructed view of the giraffes, zebras and elephants. The lush greenery and foliage add an exotic backdrop to any event. There’s also Reilly’s Reserve or the Itui Forest Patio in the Lodge. Thinking Australian? Check out the fun Wallaroo Station with its large porch and patio. From a buffet of tasty selections to a sit-down dinner with complete service, there are plenty of options for your special day.

Start planning: For more information, visit and click on “host an event.”

Fit For A Princess

Dreams really do come true at the Magic Kingdom. Imagine saying “I do” with the iconic Cinderella’s Castle in the background. Before the ceremony, the bride will make her grand entrance down Main Street, U.S.A. aboard Cinderella’s horse drawn carriage or glass coach. As part of Disney’s Wishes Collection, couples can now become husband and wife in the newly redone East Plaza Garden near the castle. There’s room for up to 100 guests, and following the ceremony,the party will continue at your choice of reception location. And there are many to choose from throughout the Walt Disney World Resort!

Start planning: For details, visit or call (321) 939-4623.

A Universally Good Time

Want a touch of adventure with all the makings of a traditional venue? Universal Orlando Resort has you covered. Say “I do” at one of Universal’s four on-site hotels: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. Each resort offers multiple ceremony and reception options and can accommodate both your large affair or more intimate gathering. If you and your bridal party are looking for a little theme park action, spend some time at Universal Studios or Universal’s Islands of Adventure. While you’re there, don’t miss The Wizarding World of Harry Potter—it’s the perfect way to add a little magic to your fairytale event. And nearby Universal CityWalk offers the perfect location for your rehearsal dinner (and a good dose of nightlife if you’re planning a post-wedding after party).

Start planning:Visit and click on “weddings.”

The Perfect Proposal

Listen up guys (and ladies, too! It’s the 21st century, right?). Planning on popping the question anytime soon? Why not go big for your big day? SeaWorld Orlando’s Discovery Cove has a proposal package guaranteed to make your significant other swoon.

After a great swim with the dolphins, you can have one of the resident dolphins deliver a special “Will you marry me?” buoy to your love. Following the tears of joy, you’ll exit the pool to your own private beach area where a sweet table with flowers and more is set up. The park averages about two proposals a day and experienced dolphin trainer Alexis McKenzie calls it an amazing experience.

“I think it’s one of the coolest ways to get engaged in all of Orlando,” she says. “It’s like a tropical island was plopped down right in the middle of the city. We do a little photo shoot with the dolphin and the couple, too. It’s quite an experience.”

This all-inclusive event includes everything from your tickets and food to the wetsuits and parking. Think of it as your own personal five-star resort.

The best part? Alexis says, “Up to this point, everyone has said ‘yes.’”

Start planning:To schedule your own dolphin experience, visit

Adventurous Venues

Looking for somewhere other than a traditional chapel or trendy barn setting to say “I do”? Maybe you’re into the outdoors. Or diving. Or pirates. If your relationship is all about the unexpected, one of these daring venues could be right for you.

1. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill

(352) 596-4949

Why here?You can say your vows in front of a waterfall, on a wooded hill overlooking the winding river or in the mermaid hall with a clear view of the underwater world. Weeki Wachee’s famous mermaids can be hired to swim by and do a show and even pose for photos at your reception.

2. Silver Springs State Park

5656 E Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs

(352) 261-5840

Why here? Whether you’re outdoorsy or not, the Silver River, blue spring waters and natural Florida landscape will appeal to you and all of your guests.

3. The Pirate Ship Black Raven

111 Avenida Menedez, St. Augustine

(877) 578-5050

Why here? Do you know anyone else getting married on a pirate ship? Pirate costumes are optional, but having a swashbuckling good time is not. If you’re interested in a venue farther south, check out Captain Memo’s Original Pirate Cruise in Clearwater Beach (

4. Orlando Balloon Rides

44294 US Hwy 27, Davenport

(407) 894-5040

Why here? Just a 90-minute drive away in Orlando, this floating venue will take you and your beloved several thousand feet in the air for your nuptials. There’s even a champagne toast after landing from your sky-high ceremony. Call for pricing information.

5. Captain Slate’s Scuba Adventures

90791 Old Hwy Unit 1, Tavernier

(305) 451-3020

Why here? If you’re a water-sports-loving couple, a scuba ceremony in the Keys is a perfect choice. Captain Slate has been an underwater wedding officiant since 1978, so he’s the expert you need.

Pop the Question (With a Bang!)

Maybe we’ve beaten you to the punch with all these venues and what you need is an exciting place to propose. Here are some ideas to push the limits and have a proposal as exciting as your relationship.

Florida lovers looking for a beautiful view to propose to their honey need not leave town. Canyons Zip Line & Canopy Tours in Ocala provides gorgeous views of natural Florida landscape and limestone quarries from up to 135 feet above! Wait for your partner on one knee at the final platform, perhaps?

As long as you’re cool with heights, consider the top of the Orlando Eye. Enjoy the sights from 400 feet in the air, and you can even arrange for a champagne toast.

Ocala is oh-so conveniently located near numerous theme parks and some of the best roller coasters in the world. If your partner is an adrenaline junkie, why not pop the question right before the big drop on a roller coaster?Just be sure to hold on tight to that ring. (Also, that’s one roller coaster photo you may actually want to purchase.)

Proposals at the beach are beautiful, but an aerial view of the St. Augustine coastline is close competition. Old City Helicopters in St. Augustine offers multiple tour packages, including a beautiful sunset option that cruises down the coastline and over old downtown.

Making Things Personal

Have you imagined yourself in a princess dress and living happily ever after? Maybe you and your Prince Charming prefer to walk on the wild side, or maybe you’re more the wizarding type. If you love some of our adventurous venues but have already booked one of your own, here’s how to personalize your special day to incorporate some of the thrills mentioned.

Can’t get to the Magic Kingdom?

Aside from riding out of the reception in a Cinderella-style carriage, here’s how you can bring the magic to your big day regardless of location.

Not crazy about your table and chair rentals? Start by nailing down your color palette (think whites, creams, soft pinks or blues). Adding fabric covers in your chosen colors to tables, high tops and chairs adds a whimsical touch when finished with flouncy bows.

Go for a royal look by using strings of crystals wherever you like, like to top table runners. If your venue is outdoors, hanging chandeliers from trees is an easy way to add instant magic. String lights are also going to be your new best friend. Wrapped in tulle and draped just so, they can create a beautiful ambiance.

Utilize fairytale storybooks as centerpiece bases to highlight your fairytale day. You can even create confetti (heart shaped, of course) from your favorite stories to sprinkle on tabletops. If you don’t have numerous disposable copies of Cinderella on hand, you can easily type up your favorite passages and print some screen grabs from the film to cut out for the same effect.

You can also use lines from your favorite books and movies to decorate. Quotes look beautiful in calligraphy on chalkboards with gilded frames or accompanying numbers on your table number cards.

Looking for your Beauty and the Beast moment? For centerpieces, a few simple roses under a bell jar will bring the storybook scene to life.

For a fairytale finish, supply floating lanterns for guests to send off in your honor.

Can’t get to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

Hogwarts isn’t real (we’re sad about it, too), and maybe Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter is too long a drive, but any venue can host a wizarding wedding with these special touches.

When sending out your invitations, browse online stores like Etsy for Hogwarts acceptance letter-style invites or envelopes. Save the dates would look pretty cute as tickets on the Hogwarts Express, too.

Two points for Gryffindor! Along with numbering your tables, assign them each a house. You can even coordinate their centerpieces and other décor based on house colors if you’d like. Perhaps a sorting hat belongs near the seating chart?

If you can find a discount copy of your favorite Harry Potter novel (and you’re not opposed to cutting it to shreds), using the pages to create a boutonniere or even a bouquet is a great way to personalize your “florals.”

Create custom cocktails flavored like love potions, polyjuice potion or butter beer. It’s the perfect way to make the theme feel totally grown up.

For favors, set out jars of candy for guests to throw in to-go bags. Of course, they should be labeled with their proper HP-themed names, like candy floss and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.

Remember those dining hall scenes with the floating candlesticks? You’ll want to load up your tables with candles tall and short. You can even make some of them float—place several tea lights in small glass globes and string them up. While candles may take up the bulk of your centerpiece space, don’t forget some special touches like glass potion bottles and jars or some special artifacts from the books on different tables. (Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem, anyone?)

Can’t get to Lowry Park Zoo?

If the zoo is all booked and your wedding party isn’t willing to trek into the Amazon for your nuptials, bring the jungle to you.

Whether your wedding is indoors or outdoors, foliage is key for a jungle vibe. Succulents are popular for centerpieces and boutonnieres these days, and banana leaves are catching on, too. Load up those tables with greenery and tropical flowers to tastefully transport your guests into the wild.

Instead of table numbers, assign guests to the lion table, the giraffe table, the owl table and so on.

Drop by the dollar store or the toy aisle and pick up some small plastic animal figurines. Spray paint them gold or silver for an instantly elegant place card holder or centerpiece accessory.

Animal print can get tacky quickly, but it’s not outlawed. Keep it minimal with small touches, like printed napkins or the groomsmen’s pocket squares.

Visit your local craft store for brown paper gift bags and a few animal stamps to decorate them. Fill them up with animal crackers and a small packet of seeds for a fruit tree or butterfly garden. Your guests will have a snack and a permanent, natural reminder of your wild wedding.

Instead of registering for household items, use your registry to give back to a cause, like The Rainforest Alliance. Sites like and can help you create your online donation registry.

Posted in Ocala Style Features

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