It’s close to impossible to paint an accurate picture of the LGBTQ scene in Miami, because it’s as eclectic, diverse, and transient as its citizenry.
It’s close to impossible to paint an accurate picture of the LGBTQ scene in Miami, because it’s as eclectic, diverse, and transient as its citizenry. Behind every lavish circuit party or annual event like Aqua Girl and the White Party, there’s a small dinner party of gender-bending friends and family, who are desperately trying to download the newest Lady Gaga tune on Rock Band. Discovering Miami is all about discovering yourself, because once you know what you’re looking for, all you have to do is go out and find it. Whether that means the wild nightlife scene on South Beach, or the hipster dive bars in the Design District, it’s all here and waiting for you to join the fun. This varied landscape translates to the gay-wedding scene, too. Whether you’re interested in over-the-top “Sex and the City 2” nuptials or an intimate, serene “I do,” there’s plenty of options in Miami—and luckily, extremely gay-friendly, to boot.
Photo: Simply Captivating
After 10 years, Melissa Barbier of Luxurious Event made the transition from corporate events to weddings. And for the past five years, she’s been working hard to give South Florida couples with distinguished tastes the wedding day of their dreams. Drawn to the love, unity and commitment shared by her engaged customers, Barbier, who has planned same-sex weddings, thrives on the couple’s excitement about the event and utilizes a client-first approach in order to capture those smiles at the photo finish line. As for her take on same-sex weddings, she doesn’t see it any differently than planning a heterosexual wedding. “No matter who you are, a wedding is simply a celebration of love,” says Barbier, “and I’m there to create their perfect day.” Because she maintains a strong professional relationship with vendors in South Florida, Barbier’s contacts for florists, lighting specialists, and entertainment are exhaustive and can meet the needs of even the most high-maintenance couples.
CEREMONY & RECEPTION VENUES
|Miami Event Space
Gallery-perusing, environmentally friendly and budget-conscious couples will find their ideal wedding venue at the Miami Event Space (MES; don’t confuse it with Miami Art Space, which it’s decidedly different from, but associated with). Located in Miami’s Upper Eastside MiMo District, MES is a dynamic green campus of innovative mixed-use space in a cool urban setting. MES is able to accommodate events and productions for 10 to more than 1,000 attendees and offers ample parking. Spacious with more than 6,500 square feet, MES boasts contemporary finishes, high-end designer bar and reception stations, a floating glass staircase leading to a mezzanine. Couples can choose to rent the entire space for the evening, or choose various combinations of the spacious outdoor piazza, the airy first floor show room, and the open second floor that provides a perfect view of the couple’s first dance below.
Built in 1920 and completely renovated in 2000, the Moore Building is an exceptional space in the heart of Miami’s trendy Design District. With floor-to-ceiling windows facing the neighboring cafes, boutiques, and galleries, this location is both airy and bold with a timeless, stunning style. The four-story venue can hold up to 10,000 of your closest friends. Or, for smaller celebrations, you can rent the first and second floor for a lesser rate. Additionally, if you’re looking to have an indoor-outdoor occasion, a zen-like garden sits directly next door to the Moore Building, and they’re often rented out together.
The Moore Building/Design Miami
3841 NE 2nd Ave., Suite 400
Miami, FL 33137
For the truly swanky at heart, head to South Beach for Miami’s latest endeavor in sophisticated indulgence. W Hotels brag about their “world of wow,” and this location lives up to that sentiment to the fullest. Everyone from visiting celebrities, foreign dignitaries with their bejeweled mistresses and impeccably dressed families who’ve decided to “escape” from the Hamptons for a weekend create an ambience of beauty, decadence, and … money. And it will take a decent amount of dime to secure this spot for your celebration, but once you do, rest assured that the staff will cater to your every whim. The W Hotel also offers a variety of ceremony and reception options: Go from a casual beach ceremony to the urban garden area for a quirky cocktail hour. Once you’ve re-applied your make-up and taken those wedding party photos, walk your honey into the large and totally unique take on the classic ballroom (seriously, check out the lighting on the ceiling!). Another bonus? Guests of the wedding get added convenience by staying at the venue. Less stress equals more happy times.
|Red the Steakhouse
Photo: Todd Scott Ballje of Beautiful Day Images
If you’re a lover of red meat and red wine, there’s only one place to have your rehearsal dinner: Red The Steakhouse. The second location of the Cleveland, Ohio original, Red is a sexy, modern take on the classic steakhouse, and its unique venue can cater to your every need. For large parties (up to 250 seated guests), book a rooftop terrace overlooking the city lights of downtown and the rolling waves of South Beach. Head inside for smaller gatherings, equipped with sleek room dividers to make your affair all the more intimate.
The culinary experience is sultry and supremely satisfying, with each cut of fresh certified angus beef undergoing rigorous tests before landing on your plate. And if your wedding guest list includes a few vegetarians here and there, the fresh seafood and hearty sides can stand on their own. The truffle macaroni and cheese is an undeniable crowd pleaser, and the creamed corn with cornbread crumbs serves up comfort food with a touch of class. RED’s professional, friendly and knowledgeable servers will make all of your guests feel welcome (not to mention insanely lucky to have been invited!). If you’re mother-in-law still isn’t impressed, just open up the wine list and invite her to partake in one of the 400 wines available.
Red the Steakhouse
119 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139-7229
For a more moderately priced rehearsal dinner, take your more worldly guests to Miami’s newest high-end Mexican haunt in the trendy Midtown district: Mercadito. Encourage your guests to overlook the slightly dicey surroundings, and settle in for a surprisingly accessible culinary journey through modern takes on classic Mexican dishes.
Once you’re nestled into long, white, leather booths and surrounded by elegant lighting that makes anyone and everyone look stunning, take a moment to study the extensive list of creative cocktails, but don’t discount the delectable margarita traditional made with fresh lime juice and organic agave nectar. Starters include a trio of innovative guacamoles made with jicama, apple or plantains. Small but substantial soft tacos are plump with your choice of mouth-watering chorizo, braised pork or shrimp. But be warned! If your rehearsal dinner guest list includes more than seven of your closest friends, family and out-of-town guests, there is a mandatory sharing menu that, while delicious, will limit your ordering choices.
3252 NE 1st Ave.
Miami, FL 33137-4085
For those readers who are both tragically hip and budget conscious, check out the newly minted Hotel Urbano. A unique and modern mix of art gallery and pocket-friendly hotel, Urbano offers easy access to many of Miami’s popular neighborhoods and nightlife staples like Coconut Grove, Mary Brickell Village, Design District and South Beach. With 65 guest rooms and full-service restaurant and bar, Hotel Urbano provides a unique and convenient experience for all of your guests.
2500 Brickell Ave.
Miami, FL 33129
For an upscale throwback to 1960s and 1970s version of Miami Beach, plus, the added advantages of modern spa treatments and fresh cocktail concoctions, The Standard’s your spot. The lobby is decked out with a groovy combination of Danish vintage furnishings and sexy sectional sofas. Off the impeccably landscaped path toward the infinity pool overlooking Miami waters, the view is unbeatable. The Standard’s scene is both serene and urban, and the poolside restaurant serves up raw-, vegan- and carnivore-friendly dishes.
If you’re looking to book rooms for your out-of-town guests, you’ll need to block off a minimum of 10 rooms at a $199.00 (plus tax) rate. The price tag might be a little high, but the ambience is far from pretentious. The Standard is about simple, clean elegance that radiates an environment of relaxation and well being with a healthy side of indulgence. Last but not least, leave the kiddies at home: The hotel does not allow children younger than 14.
40 Island Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139
|Adrienne Langford Photography|
Patty Nash Photography combines photojournalism and fashion to portray its wedding couples as stars of their own show. Patty Nash is an artist and a caretaker all in one. She works hard to convey all the strong emotions that surround a wedding. “Capturing the essence of the couple’s relationship is what is most enjoyable,” she says. “Once we connect with our couple, we are able to capture the love between them … a kiss, a hug, a holding hand, a supporting shoulder, a big loud laugh, a tear in the middle of a ceremony.”
Adrienne Langford provides an approach to wedding photography that very much mirrors her approach to life: easy going and non-intrusive with a keen eye for intimate detail and beauty. The photographer approaches every shoot with her clients’ desires at heart and is committed to capturing their special moments through a unique and customized perspective. “At the end of the day, when the presents are opened (or returned), the cake has been eaten, and all the guests have gone home, what’s left are the pictures,” she says. “I remind myself of that fact before every shot. I want my clients to still be as in love with their images, as they are with each other.”
Priscilla of Boston in Coral Gables can get lost along the string of bridal salons and suit shops on Miracle Mile, so if you’re easily distracted by frilly, shiny things, keep your head down and plow through the rest for a truly classic and refined bridal service. From the moment you walk in, you’re treated like royalty, gay or not, and the ambience is most definitely suited for a queen. Thee salon is well-appointed with white marble floors, spotless white walls, and row upon row of awe-inspiring wedding gowns from some of the top designers in the biz.
The seamlessly professional staff doesn’t waste any time helping you find your gown. You and your following of close friends and family will receive a private area outfitted with plush chaise lounges and large floor-to-ceiling mirrors (so you can admire yourself from every angle, of course!). But don’t be too mislead by all the warm smiles—they are talented salespeople who are running a business, so don’t make your appointment here if you’re just looking to play bride for a day. As with most high-end bridal salons, pictures are strictly forbidden.
Priscilla of Boston
348 Miracle Mile
Coral Gables, FL 33134-5820
|Nicole Miller Bridal Collection
For a more low-key, intimate and personalized experience, head to the Nicole Miller boutique on South Beach. The one-on-one customer service will make you feel important without feeling self-conscious as Daniel, the boutique’s fabulous bridal specialist, takes you through the racks of gorgeous gowns in the store. The boutique and staff are as easily elegant as the gowns, welcoming you and your mother (or your entire posse of bridesmaids and best men) with grace and warmth. There’s plenty of seating in this funky, understated spot on Collins Avenue, and your party can peruse the designer duds while you fiddle with those stubborn buckles on the borrowed heels. They allow pictures, so bring your camera to record the moment.
Whether it’s for your fiancé, fiancée, best man or bridesmaid who would rather vomit all over the guestbook than wear a dress, Hugo Boss provides a welcoming and attentive service for everyone looking for a luxurious and flattering suit or tuxedo. The store at Merrick Park specializes in men’s apparel only. Be prepared for some higher end prices, but just think about all those black-tie fundraisers you’re invited to every year. Now you’ll have a gorgeous Hugo Boss at the ready for your dashing entrance to the soiree.
358 San Lorenzo Ave. Suite 3000
Village at Merrick Park
Coral Gables, FL 33146
19501 Biscayne Blvd.
Aventura, FL 33180
For those of you with deeper pockets and an affinity for break dancing wait staff, cocktails infused with liquid-nitrogen, and food presentation that might just be prettier than your linens, Aaron’s Catering is the company for you. A full-service caterer, Aaron’s is well stocked with elegant and cutting-edge resources for everything from flowers to entertainment to decor. General Manager Eric Kern provides seamless, professional and knowledgeable assistance to create a tastefully innovative event for you and all of your guests.
The folks at Catering Concepts mean business, and their business is about creating a menu and providing a service that is fresh, unique, and customized to your tastes. Catering Concepts has always focused on pricing its services within the industry norm, and often well below its competitors, which makes a delicious and impressive menu accessible to brides and grooms of varying budget levels. Their motto is “Make It Happen,” and whether it’s meeting your tastes, budget, dietary restrictions, or coordinating your event, they’ll work hard to make your event a success!
|Pistils & Petals
For a luxe floral feel to your wedding, whether it’s a casual affair on on the sandy beaches of Miami or a black-tie event at the swankiest ballroom you could find for the big day, Pistils & Petals has you covered. With some of the most exotic and exquisite arrangements in the business, your guests might actually want to catch your bouquet, not just because it’s beautiful and smells super nice, but also because it’s probably worth more than their shoes. Pistils & Petals can do simple really well, but if you have the budget for the truly fantastic, this is a “go big or go home” haunt for the haute.
If you’re looking for a more moderately priced florist, but don’t want to be shorted on the customer service or attention to detail, call Jorge at Nevot Flower Designs. A beloved florist with tons of good customer reviews, Jorge also is highly recommended by Miami wedding planners in the know, so book his services sooner rather than later.
Nevot Flower Designs
122 SW 57th Ave.
Miami, FL 33144