10 Unique Tampa Bay (ish) Venues

We are so lucky to have so many amazing types of venues here in the Tampa Bay area! We’ll be doing features on rooftop, museums, beach, waterfront, and farms as well. So, for today we’re going to focus on 10 (otherwise this could be a long blog posting:-) of our favorite really unique non-hotel venues that we’ve photographed weddings at in the Tampa Bay (ish) area and how you can find out more info about them! In no particular order………

I remember when this building was full of junk with holes in the ceiling. (It actually made for one of my favorite engagement sessions ever which was 7 years ago with Tara & Matt). Now it’s a public market, work space, and multiple event spaces. There’s exposed red brick everywhere, hardwood floors, and each space has a unique look with very cool light fixtures. We’ve recently done 2 weddings in the largest space which is the Gathering.
Fun Facts:
1. Number of guests up to 700
2. Style - Modern Industrial
3. Originally, it was the TECO streetcar warehouse, until in 1946 the streetcar system was abandoned for automobiles.
4. It was is disrepair for years and years, but has been turned into a 73,000 square foot mixed use space.
5. Right on the Hillsborough River there’s really pretty views of downtown Tampa and sunset from the docks on the river


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In the heart of St. Pete, Nova almost feels like you’re in the warehouse district of Chicago or New Orleans. The bamboo garden is a stunning spot to have your ceremony both day or night. I’m posting a night time ceremony so you can see how it looks with the market and up-lights. Inside, it’s a 2 story brick walled space with hardwood floors, wrap around bar downstairs and the second floor and DJ booth overlook the 1st floor. Space aside, Michael and his team are amazing to work with. Check out weddings and this fabulous styled shoot to see more!
Fun Facts:
1. Number of guests up to 270
2. Style - 1920s Modern
3. It use to be a 1920s five-and-dime store
4. The upstairs balcony has a DJ booth that overlooks the main floor
5. There are so many different ways you can use their spaces for ceremony, cocktails, and reception. Indoor, outdoor, Michael Novilla’s vision was to create a fun and unique space with not a ton of rules.


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Just south of St Petersburg tucked away on this beautiful property with ancient oaks and a tudor style reception venue lies Bakers Ranch. The owners, Alla and Boris, dreamed of, and built this venue taking into account everything that makes a wedding amazing. They have 4 totally different styled spots to have your ceremony. Under the pergola, on the love lock bridge, in front of outdoor chapel, or under the ancient oaks. One of our favorite things is the humungous chandelier in the middle of the room that is retractable and can be raised and lowered for a super dramatic effect. It is also all inclusive except for photo, video, and hair/makeup so their staff literally walks you through choosing every detail and is there to make sure it’s perfect on the day of! Check out these weddings and these 2 different styled shoots to see more at Bakers Ranch.
Fun Facts:
1. Number of guests up to 200
2. Style - European Tudor
3. They say “when you’re here, your family” which is totally true and we love working with their team.
4. Alla invented her own fabulous Little Tipsy Cakes which (literally cake and alcohol in a jar) that you can order for wedding favors or just because they are so freaking delicious!
5. The guys getting ready space is upstairs with a pool table, and lounge chairs so they can relax while the girls are getting ready downstairs in the bridal suite (which is also really awesome:-)


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Carlouel Yacht Club is the very north end of Clearwater beach, which by the way was named number 1 in Trip Advisor’s list of top beaches 2019. It is the only private stretch of Clearwater beach that there is, so you have the beauty of Clearwater beach without all the people. There’s a long boardwalk that goes out to the beach for the ceremony which makes for a nice dramatic entrance for the wedding party. Inside the club is a nautical Tommy Bahama vibe, with the white wood and navy. In the foyer they have a white brick fireplace that leads out to the pool deck and marina. You can even arrive or leave on a yacht! We’ve been photographing weddings there for gosh, 9 years now - check out these weddings to see lots more of Carlouel Yacht Club.
Fun Facts:
1. Number of guests up to 400
2. Style - Historic Resort
3. Founded in 1934, when naming the Club was discussed, it was easily solved by combining the first syllables of the names of the founders’ wives - Caroline Hobart, Louise Palmer, and Eleanor Randolph. The Club was thus named Car-lou-el. 
4. It’s across the street from the Gulf and the pool deck is on the inter-coastal so you have both the sand and docks.
5. Some of the prettiest beach sunsets you’ll ever see


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This giant gorgeous house was built in 1896 by Orlo J. Spafford, the president of the Tampa National Bank. In 1922 he sold it to the Tampa Women’s Club and they added a dance hall to host extravagant parties. The house and dance hall have both been restored and are literally stunning! It’s also relatively new, opened within the last 2 years, so definitely a unique find. It’s located right in Hyde Park, so very close to lots of great things to do, the hotel, and the Tampa Airport.
Fun Facts:
1. Number of guests 20-295
2. Style - Historic but modern
3. The bridal suite is to die for and so is the stairwell and the amazing windows with beautiful light.
4. You have your choice of approved caterers and then bring in all the vendors you want
5. Options for ceremony and reception
Check out this wedding we did there and this engagement session to see more of the Orlo!



Just minutes from St. Pete Beach and St. Petersburg Isla has all the perks of a private club, but you don’t have to be a member to get married there. One of our favorite things about Isla is that they only do one wedding a weekend and the beach there is totally private. It’s also a golf course so while the girls are all getting ready early in the morning the boys can go and play a round of golf. There’s also so many different place there for photos, on the golf course, the beach, the docks, and if you have enough time they will allow you to take golf carts and get some stunning views under the bridge.
Fun Facts:
1. Number of guests 60-250
2. Style - Coastal, Beach, Nautical
3. You can do your exit on a catamaran or boat (weather permitting of course:-).
4. The space for the guys to get reads is nautical themed with big couches and places to hang out.
5. The backup space if the weather is not cooperating is landing of the winding foyer stairwell with 2 stories of windows, it’s really pretty!
Check out these weddings to see all the different and cool locations that Isla has to offer!



Avila is an exclusive country club that is mediterranean in style with vintage chandeliers and as you walk in there is a 30 ft atrium that is perfect for an indoor ceremony and dance floor. Upstairs they have a really room for the girls to get ready in and downstairs a room for the guys as well. The 2nd floor makes for a beautiful spot for a first look and they will take you around the golf course for photos with mossy trees, ponds, and bridges in the background. Their staff is amazing to work with and literally if you needed to stay inside for everything you totally could with all the amazing natural light that comes through.
Fun Facts:
1. Number of guests 40-200
2. Style - French, Vintage, Mediterranean
3. You can do your ceremony in the atrium or even on the front steps we’ve done both and it’s so pretty.
4. The 2nd floor is such a cool vantage point to get different perspectives of the ceremony and reception.
5. There’s really great rooms for both the girls and guys to get ready in.
Check out these weddings for some inspiration and different locations that Avila has to offer.


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This is not quite in the Tampa Bay area, but not too far! About 2 hours south in Boca Grande but it is a great destination location that isn’t too far and it’s named after the Pirate, Jose Gaspar, who is legendary for plundering the seas and stashing them on Gasparilla Island. The Inn has been serving guests since 1913 and also has the beach club that is right on the Gulf of Mexico. It has a spa, golf course, tennis courts, and is on a huge property with multiple options for an indoor or outdoor ceremony. In the lobby are several different rooms decorated in old Florida style that are gorgeous for photographs.
Fun Facts:
1. Number of guests up to 250
2. Style - Old Florida
3. It’s within walking distance to the little town of Boca Grande and one street is called Banyan St. because it is lined with huge historic banyan trees.
4. There’s several different options for ceremony and reception whether you want Golf Course view, the Inn, or Gulf View at the beach club.
5. In the lobby there’s several really cool rooms with old Florida style furniture and wallpaper, with huge doors and window light.
Here’s a wedding we did there where they got ready at the Inn and then did their ceremony in Boca Grande and reception at the Beach Club.


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The Collier Inn on is on the limited access, 100 acre Useppa Island, which is only accessible by boat or air. It’s actually just south of Boca Grande and north of Cape Coral. It truly feels like a private island because there’s no cars allowed and it’s definitely one of the most unique and memorable experiences your guests will have. We photographed Jessica and Jon’s wedding there at the foot of the steps of the Collier Inn. There are really amazing banyan trees, a gorgeous dock for sunset, and their reception was family style inside the Collier Inn.
Fun Facts:
1. Number of guests up to 80
2. Style - Old Florida
3. The island itself is a private club so you don’t have to be a property owner to be a member.
4. There’s a private beach, historic Collier Inn, or even a more casual option at their Tarpon Bar.
5. The walkways with twisty banyan trees are palms are so pretty!


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Powel Crosley Jr. was from Cincinnati Ohio and is known for radios, broadcasting, and owning the Cincinnati Reds. Powel Crosley estate in Sarasota, happened to be his summer home called Seagate and interestingly enough we have photographed a wedding at his original home in Cincinnati, that is also a venue called Pinecroft at Crosely Estate. The house itself is a 1920s era estate with a huge patio and lawn right on the water. Check out more weddings and inspiration from the Powel Crosley Estate.
Fun Facts:
1. Number of guests 20-1000
2. Style - Roaring 1920’s theme
3. The sunsets on the lawn are stunning
4. The Romeo/Juliet balcony, stairwell, archways, vintage furniture, and light fixtures are beautiful especially for photos.
5. It’s right in between Sarasota/Bradenton and located near the Sarasota/Bradenton airport.


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Groom & Groomsmen Gifts Ideas

 We love sharing fun and unique ideas and these are some great ones for your groom and groomsmen gifts, as well as some tips for making your guys happy and thanking them for standing by your side:

1. Getting them something they can wear or drink lol seems to be some of the most loved gifts. Custom cufflinks, socks, a money clip, or of course a flask and their favorite liquor are always a favorite.

2. Be sure to have them open them while you guys are getting ready and have your photographer capture that moment when they open them.

3. Meaningful is always the best! It doesn’t need to be expensive or anything crazy but these are your best friends in life there for you in thick or thin so thank them with something cool!

I love gifts that can be incorporated into the wedding details. This wooden engraved watch from Groomsday.com you can engrave a custom message to your groom or each of the guys and it comes in this custom wooden box as well. Socks have been a long time very popular gift, especially fun socks. Plus, that’s one less things they guys have to remember. These socks also have a custom message and you can choose different ones to go along with your guys style.

These custom gifts from Groovy Guy Gifts are some of the coolest that we've seen.  The cufflinks/money clip, and flask also come in a personalized wooden box and the pocket knife has a custom wood panel on it as well.  The very last photo is one I hadn't seen before.  They are custom whiskey rocks that you put in the freezer and then in your whiskey (or wine if I was using them:-) and it keeps it cool but doesn't water it down.  Stop on by www.groovyguygifts.com to see all their cool custom guy ideas!!! 

Bridesmaid Gift Ideas

What are you getting your best gal pals for being by your side throughout the wedding planning process to when you walk down the aisle? We've got some really awesome ideas for you! A few months ago we did a post on unique groomsmen gifts, so now it's your turn ladies! Here’s some tips to think about:

1. It doesn’t have to be expensive, meaningful is the most important! Some of the most special gifts we have seen haven’t been expensive ones but things that a personalized and especially with a hand written card thanking your girls for being by your side.

2. If there is some specific detail that you want your girls to wear give them that as your gift to them. Jewelry, a clutch, shoes, and one of our favorites is a bridal survival kit

3. Give it to your girls while you’re getting ready and make sure that you have your wedding photographer capture that moment of fun and excitement.

For more bridesmaids ideas head over to https://www.pinterest.com/bridebopgifts/bridesmaid-gifts/ 

This quilted makeup bag from Bridesmaids Gifts Boutique comes in lots of different colors and what a great way to thank you bridesmaids as well as have a bag for all the important stuff for getting ready!

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Love Wine Tumbler from Bridebop.com. Simple, fun, and what girl doesn’t want to keep her wine nice and chill? 2nd is this Wrap and Write Gift Box.  It has a beautiful wrap in 13 different colors with a custom engraved initialed wooden box and matching notebook.  2nd is a Custom Heart Charm Necklace that is fancy enough to go with your bridesmaid dresses but could also double with jeans and a fun tee! Last but not least is a Leather Clutch that comes in brown, navy, or pink, and personalized with their name or initials.  Thanks to our friends over at Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique for these awesome ideas! 

How to Tie a Bow Tie and Advice for Your Groomsmen

We’ve been doing a really fun series called Wine Knot Wednesday on our Facebook Page Live so I’m going to start posting them here too! It’s all the latest buzz in weddings from cool people:-)

This week we had Brent Kraus who owns Ella Bing Haberdashery on to talk all about tips and tricks to have well groomed groom/groomsmen. He also demoed a super easy way to tie a bow tie (starts at about 9:17). Here’s some of our favorite tips he shared and if you tune in below you can see the whole episode!

For a timeless look for a more formal wedding is a fitted black tux with a bow tie (made me think of James Bond:-). A tux black tux should always have suspenders and no belt. For a more casual wedding like on the beach or destination opt out of a jacket and wear a vest and choose a simple lapel flower or carnation.

In choosing an overall look start with your jacket and then pick one detail that is the focal point like a bowtie. Ella Bing custom makes wooden bow ties that are really amazing gifts and art pieces that Brent’s dad actually carves himself. Then add things like cufflinks, socks, and pocket squares. Pocket squares should never match the same material as the actual tie.

When styling your groomsmen, measure their neck sizes. Bow ties come in standard lengths and thicker necks are not standard measurements.

Shoes! Try dress slippers, they’re modern and fit well with tailored pants when your ankle shoes. Remember, no socks!

Protect Your Love

It’s hurricane season here in Florida. Many people don’t realize that it actually runs June 1st - November 30th which is totally during the most popular time for weddings here in Florida. I’ve been in Tampa 11 years now. We generally haven’t had to worry about hurricane’s much, but last year Irma was definitely a threat and made us re-think what we would do if there was a hurricane. A wedding is such a big investment and while it may feel like you have all of the major details of your wedding covered, there are some things you just can’t plan for. Though it may be hard to think about your special day being anything less than perfect, the reality is disaster can strike. Whether it’s a damaged gown or a last minute cancellation, an unexpected setback can put a damper on your wedding day. The good news is there are several things you can do to make sure that your special day goes just as expected! Check out these helpful tips below.

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Protect Your Carat

From the moment your partner gets down on one knee and pops the question, chances are you’ll be rocking a shiny new addition on your ring finger. While it may be the last thing on your mind during such an exciting and happy time, it is important to take the proper steps to ensure that your ring(s) is protected forever. While anything happening to your engagement ring or wedding band is heartbreaking, knowing that it has been properly insured can make the situation less stressful if you happen to lose your ring or it is stolen.

Ring insurance works just like any other type of insurance, but covers engagement rings and other valuables. There are several different ways that you can insure your engagement ring. If you already have renter’s or homeowner’s insurance you can go through your existing policy to cover your jewelry. However, keep in mind that having a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy does not mean that all of your jewelry is covered automatically. In order to make sure that your engagement ring is adequately covered you will need a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance “rider”. This is an optional add-on that will provide higher coverage limits and protection from more kinds of risk.

The other option is to buy jewelry insurance. An engagement ring is a huge investment so it is important to insure your ring as soon as possible. Many jewelers, such as Blue Nile, not only make it easy to purchase an engagement ring online, but also provide you with important information on how to insure your jewelry directly on their website. Many jewelers have relationships with insurance providers, so they can help you start the process of insuring your ring.

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Protect Your Special Day

It’s easy to plan for the things that we know and expect, but what about if the unexpected happens? While it may be difficult to think about, accidents such as a sudden cancelation or accidental damage to your venue, or even a hurricane can happen on your wedding day! Rather than spending your big day worrying about the unexpected happening, you can purchase wedding insurance. Wedding Protector is a great online resource and affordable!

Examples of coverage include:
Cancellation/Postponement can provide coverage for certain deposits listed in the policy in the event of a necessary cancellation or postponement of the wedding.

  • Wedding venue suddenly goes out of business or inaccessible,

  • Sudden illness prevents the honorees, parents, grandparents or children of honorees from attending,

  • Unexpected called to duty.

Additional Expense can provide coverage for certain unexpected expenses you have to incur in order to avoid a cancellation or postponement of your wedding. For example, if a caterer or transportation company suddenly becomes unavailable for your event and you can find a last minute replacement, this coverage can reimburse you for the difference in cost up to 25% of the original contract price.
If catastrophic weather causes you to cancel or postpone the wedding, we can provide reimbursement for non-recoverable expenses.

As equally as important, make sure all your vendors are professional, licensed, and insured. While this may sound a little nerve wracking, it is always better to be over prepared than underprepared!! Marry Me Tampa Bay also published a great article on this exact topic, check it out HERE for more detail!