WTGKW: In The News

Weddings To Go! Key West wins the 2009 Bride’s Choice Award
WeddingWire, the nation’s leading wedding technology company, just announced that Weddings To Go! Key West has won the 2009 Bride’s Choice Awards™!
In its inaugural year, the Bride’s Choice Awards recognizes and honors vendors from the WeddingWire Network that demonstrate excellent quality of service, responsiveness, professionalism, value of cost and flexibility. This year’s recipients represent the top three percent of WeddingWire’s vendor community, which includes over 100,000 wedding vendors from across the US. That means Weddings To Go! Key West is one of the very best wedding companies.
Unlike other awards in which winners are selected by the company, the Bride’s Choice Awards are determined exclusively by recent newlyweds through surveys and reviews.
“We are excited to launch this annual award program to honor high-performing vendors based solely on the experiences of our WeddingWire community,” according to Timothy Chi, WeddingWire’s Chief Executive Officer. “This year’s recipients have set the bar high, exhibiting excellent service and expertise in the wedding industry.”
Weddings To Go! Key West would like to thank our past clients for speaking on our behalf and helping us win the 2009 Bride’s Choice Award!
In December 2008, the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum was so impressed with the value added services that Weddings To Go! Key West provided to their clients when performing ceremonies here at the Hemingway Home that we asked them to create a Hemingway Home Wedding Package, to offer to their clients through their website. We look forward to the partnering of a National Historic Landmark venue with this highly respected and professional Key West based wedding service company. The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum combined with Weddings To Go! Key West is a great marriage, let us make yours great too!
Dave Gonzales, Events Director
The Hemingway Home & Museum
Featured Story in the “Offbeat Bride”, May 6, 2008
Lea’s heavily inked beach wedding/vow renewal
May 6th, 2008 ·
The offbeat bride: Lea Vendetta, Tattooist/Artist
Her offbeat partner: Dave “Bastard” Archer, Tattooist
Location & date of wedding: Smathers Beach, Key West, Florida. April 1st 2008
What made our wedding offbeat: We got married in 1995 at the courthouse with no ceremony and no pictures. It was just the two of us, we were broke, and it was lame. Our 13th anniversary was coming up and I wanted to do something to finally be able to remember our wedding as a fabulous real wedding day! Of course we decided to do something 2 weeks before, so we improvised and everything ended up working perfectly! …like it was meant to be…
Our biggest challenge: To plan it in 2 weeks! I ventured to Goodwill and found a $20 wedding dress exactly my size! A friend of mine helped me to jazz up the dress with black accents, and made me a gorgeous custom veil.
My whole wedding outfit ended up costing less than a $100: dress ($20+$25.50 dry cleaning), custom veil+black bows accents on dress$25) shoes (payless$16.95). We worked on my dress 3 nights after work and it was done, my husband rented a tuxedo here in the only tuxedo rental place in Key West.
I contacted weddingstogokeywest.com 10 days before our wedding, and they made it happen! Easy and simple for us and took care of everything. We got the simple “buy it now” wedding package with a click of the mouse. God, I love technology.
We even got to release a dove! That was pretty awesome in its own cheesiness.
We kept it simple and it was just both of us just like our first wedding but this time it felt like a wedding and we have some real wedding pictures to prove it.
My favorite moment: The ceremony itself. It was intense and we both had teary eyes.
My offbeat advice: I personally had a lot of fun not spending tons of money on the clothes and ceremony — I thought it relieved a lot of the stress people end up having when they spend tons! In my case, finding my dress at Goodwill for $20 made it unbelievably fun to play with.
Key West Citizen
Letters to the Editor
December 22, 2007
Caring professionals saved the day for couple
I am writing to thank three Key West business professionals — Ray and Eileen Jensen of Weddings to Go! Key West! and their photographer, Patty — who recently came to the rescue of two young friends of mine, Michelle and Graham.
Last weekend, Michelle and Graham traveled from North Carolina to Key West to be married — only to be stood up by their destination wedding vendor. They arrived at the pre-arranged and paid for location and discovered they were alone — very alone, without flowers, photographer or an official to marry them.
Ray and Eileen were on the beach performing another wedding ceremony and noticed the distressed bride and groom. Eileen immediately offered to perform the wedding ceremony for Graham and Michelle and called her photographer Patty, who agreed to come and take wedding photographs for the distraught couple. They even gave the couple a ride to their hotel and came back the next morning with a CD of the wedding photographs.
Thanks to Ray, Eileen and Patty, a gale force disaster was avoided for these two young people. The professionals from Weddings To Go! Key West! all donated their services to the couple. The payment they asked? “Do something nice for someone.”
It is so refreshing to hear a story like this and to know that there truly are caring individuals willing to go out of their way to help, as the saying goes, to “pass it forward.” I have never had the pleasure of a visit to your beautiful city but I can tell you one thing, I wouldn’t hesitate to visit a community that truly cares for its visitors.
Thanks Eileen, Ray and Patty for saving Michelle and Graham’s big day. What a lovely and generous Christmas gift you gave them.
Susan Culler Soden, Columbus, Ohio
See Michelle and Graham in the news by clicking here.
Key West Citizen
December 25, 2007
Wedding day disappointment averted when Good Samaritans stepped in for no-shows
BY MANDY BOLEN
Citizen Staff
Michelle and Graham Smith were not leaving Key West until they got married on Smathers Beach.
Mission accomplished. Although it did not go as smoothly as expected, it turned out better for the couple and the island.
Despite four weeks of planning, the North Carolina couple nearly had to forsake their “I dos” when their wedding coordinator failed to show up at Smathers Beach at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 15.
The flowers and photographer that were included in the wedding package for which they already had paid were nowhere to be found either.
“When we got to Smathers Beach, there were other weddings going on, so we thought one of those officiants was ours, and just waited,” Michelle McCarthy-Smith said.
As it became obvious they were all dressed up with no one to marry them, Michelle grew concerned.
“She was visibly upset,” said Ray Jensen, who owns Weddings to Go with his wife, Eileen.
The Jensens were performing another ceremony at Smathers Beach and, upon learning of the young couple’s plight, immediately offered to perform their ceremony for free once they finished with their contracted ceremony. Coordinators from Fanta Sea Weddings in Key West also made the same offer, Michelle McCarthy-Smith said.
“Eileen and Ray Jensen said they’d do our ceremony for free because they didn’t want us to walk away from Key West thinking negatively about it and the people here,” she said, still shocked by the generosity. “They did say they would see if their photographer could take pictures, but that they would have to charge us for her services.”
But photographer Patty Kemp refused to accept a dime from the newlyweds.
“She just told us to do something nice for someone else,” said Michelle McCarthy-Smith, a real estate appraiser in Lumberton, N.C.
The couple was enjoying breakfast at Camille’s the next morning when Jensen called and dropped off a CD filled with wedding pictures, along with a letter for them to send to the credit card company disputing the charges from their former wedding coordinator Ron Scott, owner of Chapel by the Sea, who apologized profusely when he learned of the error.
This was the first wedding he had missed in 16 years, he said, attributing the oversight to a recent relocation of offices.
Scott also said he thanked the Jensens, and has been in a similar position several times when an officiant or photographer is missing, and he has covered the bases for distraught couples.
Jensen wanted no credit for the donation he and his wife made to a young couple with lilting Southern drawls.
“It was no big deal, really, anyone would have done the same thing,” he said. “Something like that can be a black eye for Key West, and we’ve got enough black eyes. It’s not always all about money. It was just the right thing to do.”
mbolen@keysnews.com
Published on P&E: Daily Gossip Column
December 26, 2007
MAJOR PRAISE to RAY and EILEEN … WEDDINGS and COMMITMENTS to GO… see their ad here on P AND E… if you missed the FRONT PAGE FEATURE ARTICLE in the CITIZEN on CHRISTMAS DAY… you missed the BEST about GOOD SAMARITANS ON GOOD SMATHER’S BEACH… You are GREAT PEOPLE! And the TRUE SPIRIT of “ONE HUMAN FAMILY!”
news
Ray Jensen
Cubans Land In Boat Built From Mercedes
POSTED: 2:21 pm EST February 23, 2008
UPDATED: 2:33 pm EST February 23, 2008
KEY WEST, Fla. — Authorities say 24 Cuban migrants built a boat out of a Mercedes Benz and washed ashore across from the Key West International Airport on Friday.
Ray Jensen, a wedding photographer on assignment nearby, grabbed pictures of the makeshift boat being pulled from the water and hauled away.
The two dozen Cubans arrived on the eve of historic change in their country as longtime dictator Fidel Castro announced he was stepping down. Elections will  be held Sunday, and Castro’s brother, Raul, will take control of the nation.
The U.S. has a “wet foot/dry foot” policy regarding Cuban exiles. If the migrants
make it to shore, they are allowed to stay in the U.S.  If they are discovered en
route, the Coast Guard returns them to Cuba
Copyright 2008 by NBC6.net. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

New Adventures Highlight What’s New in the Florida Keys & Key West for Fall 2013

FLORIDA KEYS — While leaves are falling around the United States, visitors are falling in love with new activities, enhanced attractions and marinas, cultural and historic experiences, and more in the Florida Keys & Key West. Explore the highlights here.

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Keys Experiences

Visitors to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory can now observe a pair of flamingos and their behavior as well as more than 60 species of live butterflies in the facility’s climate-controlled, 5,000-square-foot glass-enclosed tropical butterfly habitat. The two flamingos, a male and female, were bred in Toronto and “migrated” to Key West after their breeder worked closely with conservatory founders Sam Trophia and George Fernandez to ensure that the birds would acclimate to their new home. Coincidentally, since the species is often associated with love and romance, the prized wading birds were born on Valentine’s Day 2012. For more information, visit www.keywestbutterfly.com.

 

Keys Environment

Scuba divers can become “citizen scientists” and join the efforts of Key Largo’s Coral Restoration Foundation, dedicated to creating offshore nurseries and restoration programs for threatened coral species, during four 2014 coral restoration workshops. Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort is offering specially priced stay-and-dive packages for coral restoration programs Thursday through Sunday, May 15-18, June 12-15, Sept. 11-14 and Oct. 9-12. Dates are subject to change based on availability. For pricing and reservations, call Amoray Dive Resort at 800-426-6729. For more information about the nonprofit CRF and its volunteer and Adopt-a-Coral opportunities, visit www.coralrestoration.org.

 

The Key Largo Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor Center now serves as a trailhead for the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. The trail, a multiuse bicycle and pedestrian facility still under development, is to traverse the entire Florida Keys, with 106 miles of scenic trail extending from Key Largo to Key West as an alternative cycling transportation corridor and recreational pathway. For more information, including a planned e-map of the Key Largo–area Trail-Friendly Zone, visit www.keylargobikes.info.

 

Keys Accommodations

Key West’s Suite Dreams Inn has completed extensive renovations that provide enhanced comfort and amenities for guests of the property. The locally owned boutique hotel can accommodate up to 20 guests in one- to four-bedroom suites with private entrances, living rooms with new furnishings and flat-screen televisions. Units also feature kitchens or kitchenettes and one or two bathrooms. All bedrooms have king or queen beds with designer linens. For those seeking additional luxury, the property’s Hemingway Suite has a private pool and formal dining quarters. Other amenities include a lagoon-style dipping pool that can be heated year-round and a tropical garden. For more information and reservations, visit www.suitedreamskeywest.com.

 

Keys Weddings

Love can be a scary affair at Key West’s Civil War–era Fort East Martello, where couples can pledge their vows during haunted ceremonies offered through April 2014 by Weddings to Go Key West. Dating back to 1862, the brick fortress-turned-museum contains exhibits highlighting the intriguing, eclectic and haunted side of the island. The most famous object on display is Robert the Doll, a straw-stuffed doll dating back to 1904 who has been dubbed a “paranormal pop star” for reportedly committing eerie and mischievous deeds. Weddings begin just before sunset and packages can accommodate up to 30 guests. They include a private haunted ceremony in the fort’s Citadel Chapel and fort tours amid dark shadows and sinister corners. For more information, visit www.weddingstogokeywest.com/our-wedding-packages/new-key-west-haunted-weddings.

 

Keys Boating

Stock Island Marina Village has opened on the Lower Keys island adjacent to Key West. The overnight and long-term dockside community offers marine services, charters, yacht brokerage, engine repair and even carpentry in a deepwater marina acclaimed as the largest in the Keys. Amenities include a dog park, fitness center, laundry facilities, bathhouse with showers, wireless Internet, 30-, 50- and 100-amp electric power, pump-out services, 24-hour security and on-site management. For information, visit www.stockislandmarina.com or call 305-294-2288.

 

Keys Culture

Visitors to Marathon have a new art school to explore where they can express themselves in various media. Offerings include workshops to learn painting in oil, watercolors and acrylic, as well as sculpting and painting pottery. The Art Studio opened in October and is filling a much-needed Middle Keys creative niche. The studio is to specialize in workshops and classes, many spanning two-hour time slots for a two-week period. Subjects include throwing clay, fusing glass, creating jewelry and painting and glazing self-selected ceramics. For information, visit www.theartstudiomarathon.com or call 305-289-9013.

 

Keys History

Islamorada’s Florida Keys History of Diving Museum is launching a new “Dive Into History” quarterly series of three-day family friendly commemorations related to diving and its heritage. Each is to feature elements such as film screenings, receptions, contests, special guests, children’s activities, educational opportunities and more. Upcoming “Dive Into History” topics are expected to include “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” a commemoration of 60 years since the release of the Disney film classic, planned for February 2014. In May 2014, the museum is to honor military divers and August’s “Deep Diving into the Abyss” spotlights deep oceanic exploration. Open daily, the History of Diving Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving and displaying artifacts, antiques and photographs that relate to diving and its heritage. For information, visit www.DivingMuseum.org

Photo by Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau

November 6, 2013 · admin · Comments Closed
Posted in: United States SouthEast

I Do” on 10•10•10

ByJosie Koler| Oct 09, 2010 | Features |

Islands to be Slammed with Newlyweds

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!”

The Hotels 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.”

The Bouquet “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.

11•11•11 Outlook 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

Buffalo News.com

Planning a wedding, with money left over for the marriage

By Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Published:July 13, 2009, 8:50 AM

Michele Guzowski had already paid the deposit for her wedding reception when the picture changed.

Her fiance, David Oakes, lost his job in customer service, meaning the June 12 nuptials they had planned would have to be postponed.

“We sat down and looked at the numbers and realized we couldn’t do it,” said Guzowski. “We had no idea when he would get another job.”

It was like life was rejecting their plans, sending them back stamped “insufficient funds.”

Oakes has since gone back to work, but wedding preparations for the rescheduled date have taken a decidedly different tack.

“We’re definitely doing everything on a budget,” Guzowski said. “I have been all over Craigslist, chasing down people who are just starting out and offering discounts.”

By shopping around, the bride has found a rock-bottom wedding planner, 40 percent savings on a photographer and unique favors consisting of honey from a local beekeeper.

And the Town of Tonawanda woman isn’t the only one cutting back. Frugal brides abound in the new economy.

“They’re sticking to a budget and paying more attention to where their money is going,” said Dawn Schregel of Distinctive Occasions event planning and design. “They’re really researching vendors and finding ones that are more willing to make a deal.”

Considering that the average American wedding runs $29,000, according to industry statistics from the Wedding Report, the cultural trend toward bridal bargain hunting may have come at the perfect time.

Here are a few MoneySmart tips for brides on a budget:

Don’t call it a wedding. Identifying yourself as a bride is like begging to be overcharged. When talking to vendors, stick to calling your wedding an “event” or “party.” That way, you won’t be steered toward overpriced “bridal packages” or other overly inflated costs.

Call a white dress a “bridal gown” and watch the price go through the roof. Broaden your search to include prom, Quinceanera and bridesmaid gowns that can be ordered in white, ivory or cream. Most dress Web sites will even allow you to search by color.

Right now, post prom, you can snag a gorgeous A-line gown for less than $60. Even the cheapest dress at David’s Bridal usually runs $99.

Sure, food and drink for 200 of your closest friends can cost a fortune, but just getting all your friends into one room can break the bridal bank. Traditional invitations — with their envelope within an envelope within an envelope excess — are not only murder on your pocketbook, they’re bad for the planet. Use that eco-friendly angle as your excuse to scale back.

Seal and Send-style invitations have everything contained in one long strip of card stock that is folded up, sealed with an embossed sticker and mailed. No envelopes involved. The RSVP is a perforated postcard at the bottom of the invitation, so the guest just tears it off, fills it out and drops it in the mail. That way you’re not stuck opening, paying for and shipping additional envelopes, reception cards and RSVPs.

You’ll save on return postage, too, since it costs just 28 cents instead of the standard 44 cents to mail a postcard. Just make sure you can get your hands on wedding-appropriate postcard-priced stamps if that’s something you care about. While the collection for standard first-class postage offers several designs depicting hearts, wedding rings and wedding cakes, postcard stamps might limit you to a picture of a polar bear or tropical fruit.

Visit the U. S. Postal Service’s Web site,

www.USPS.com

For many brides, the cake is a central piece of the fairy tale wedding, whether it’s an elegant, towering confection or a sculpted, fondant-covered affair. But at prices of up to $7 per serving, the wedding cake can blow any bride’s budget in a heartbeat.

Sure, you can cut back on the size and intricacy of your cake to get a lower price. Foregoing fondant or substituting sugar flowers with real ones, for example, will save a few bucks. But there are other ways to have your dream cake and eat it to.

Rent The Cake of Your Dreams in East Aurora has a collection of ornate wedding cakes available for rental. You get a genuine-looking, opulent cake to display ($30), guests get a delicious dessert, sliced from sheet cakes stored in the kitchen ($1.75 per slice, 20 cents extra per filling) and no one is any wiser. Each cake even has a little slot to fill with real cake for the ceremonial cutting and photo ops.

And don’t worry about missing out on that top layer of wedding cake you’re supposed to freeze and eat a year later. The company throws in a prewrapped, freezable “anniversary cake” free of charge.

Call 655-1407 or visit

www.RentTheCakeOfYourDreams.com for more information.

 

Of course any truly Money- Smart consumer will tell you to elope. If that’s more your speed, Weddings to Go! Key West may be right up your alley.

The company conducts dreamy, tropical weddings on the beaches of the Florida Keys. But get this: the most expensive package tops out at $575!

That price covers the ceremony officiant, marriage license filing, bouquet, boutonniere, professional photography, a bottle of champagne, transportation as well as two memento champagne flutes and a souvenir picnic basket. You can invite as many guests as you want. To top it off, you can return as often as you want to renew your wedding vows for free as long as you both shall live.

Call (877) 933-8646 or visit

www.WeddingsToGoKeyWest.com

Weddings To Go! Key West wins the 2009 Bride’s Choice Award

WeddingWire, the nation’s leading wedding technology company, just announced that Weddings To Go! Key West has won the 2009 Bride’s Choice Awards™!

In its inaugural year, the Bride’s Choice Awards recognizes and honors vendors from the WeddingWire Network that demonstrate excellent quality of service, responsiveness, professionalism, value of cost and flexibility. This year’s recipients represent the top three percent of WeddingWire’s vendor community, which includes over 100,000 wedding vendors from across the US. That means Weddings To Go! Key West is one of the very best wedding companies.

Unlike other awards in which winners are selected by the company, the Bride’s Choice Awards are determined exclusively by recent newlyweds through surveys and reviews.

“We are excited to launch this annual award program to honor high-performing vendors based solely on the experiences of our WeddingWire community,” according to Timothy Chi, WeddingWire’s Chief Executive Officer. “This year’s recipients have set the bar high, exhibiting excellent service and expertise in the wedding industry.”

Weddings To Go! Key West would like to thank our past clients for speaking on our behalf and helping us win the 2009 Bride’s Choice Award!

In December 2008, the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum was so impressed with the value added services that Weddings To Go! Key West provided to their clients when performing ceremonies here at the Hemingway Home that we asked them to create a Hemingway Home Wedding Package, to offer to their clients through their website. We look forward to the partnering of a National Historic Landmark venue with this highly respected and professional Key West based wedding service company. The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum combined with Weddings To Go! Key West is a great marriage, let us make yours great too!

Dave_Wedding

Dave Gonzales, Events Director

The Hemingway Home & Museum

Featured Story in the “Offbeat Bride”, May 6, 2008

Lea’s heavily inked beach wedding/vow renewal

May 6th, 2008 ·

The offbeat bride: Lea Vendetta, Tattooist/Artist

Her offbeat partner: Dave “Bastard” Archer, Tattooist

Location & date of wedding: Smathers Beach, Key West, Florida. April 1st 2008

What made our wedding offbeat: We got married in 1995 at the courthouse with no ceremony and no pictures. It was just the two of us, we were broke, and it was lame. Our 13th anniversary was coming up and I wanted to do something to finally be able to remember our wedding as a fabulous real wedding day! Of course we decided to do something 2 weeks before, so we improvised and everything ended up working perfectly! …like it was meant to be…

Our biggest challenge: To plan it in 2 weeks! I ventured to Goodwill and found a $20 wedding dress exactly my size! A friend of mine helped me to jazz up the dress with black accents, and made me a gorgeous custom veil.

My whole wedding outfit ended up costing less than a $100: dress ($20+$25.50 dry cleaning), custom veil+black bows accents on dress$25) shoes (payless$16.95). We worked on my dress 3 nights after work and it was done, my husband rented a tuxedo here in the only tuxedo rental place in Key West.

I contacted weddingstogokeywest.com 10 days before our wedding, and they made it happen! Easy and simple for us and took care of everything. We got the simple “buy it now” wedding package with a click of the mouse. God, I love technology.

We even got to release a dove! That was pretty awesome in its own cheesiness.

We kept it simple and it was just both of us just like our first wedding but this time it felt like a wedding and we have some real wedding pictures to prove it.

My favorite moment: The ceremony itself. It was intense and we both had teary eyes.

My offbeat advice: I personally had a lot of fun not spending tons of money on the clothes and ceremony — I thought it relieved a lot of the stress people end up having when they spend tons! In my case, finding my dress at Goodwill for $20 made it unbelievably fun to play with.

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Key West Citizen

Letters to the Editor

December 22, 2007

Caring professionals saved the day for couple

I am writing to thank three Key West business professionals — Ray and Eileen Jensen of Weddings to Go! Key West! and their photographer, Patty — who recently came to the rescue of two young friends of mine, Michelle and Graham.

Last weekend, Michelle and Graham traveled from North Carolina to Key West to be married — only to be stood up by their destination wedding vendor. They arrived at the pre-arranged and paid for location and discovered they were alone — very alone, without flowers, photographer or an official to marry them.

Ray and Eileen were on the beach performing another wedding ceremony and noticed the distressed bride and groom. Eileen immediately offered to perform the wedding ceremony for Graham and Michelle and called her photographer Patty, who agreed to come and take wedding photographs for the distraught couple. They even gave the couple a ride to their hotel and came back the next morning with a CD of the wedding photographs.

Thanks to Ray, Eileen and Patty, a gale force disaster was avoided for these two young people. The professionals from Weddings To Go! Key West! all donated their services to the couple. The payment they asked? “Do something nice for someone.”

It is so refreshing to hear a story like this and to know that there truly are caring individuals willing to go out of their way to help, as the saying goes, to “pass it forward.” I have never had the pleasure of a visit to your beautiful city but I can tell you one thing, I wouldn’t hesitate to visit a community that truly cares for its visitors.

Thanks Eileen, Ray and Patty for saving Michelle and Graham’s big day. What a lovely and generous Christmas gift you gave them.

Susan Culler Soden, Columbus, Ohio

Key West Citizen

December 25, 2007

Wedding day disappointment averted when Good Samaritans stepped in for no-shows

BY MANDY BOLEN

Citizen Staff

Michelle and Graham Smith were not leaving Key West until they got married on Smathers Beach.

Mission accomplished. Although it did not go as smoothly as expected, it turned out better for the couple and the island.

Despite four weeks of planning, the North Carolina couple nearly had to forsake their “I dos” when their wedding coordinator failed to show up at Smathers Beach at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 15.

The flowers and photographer that were included in the wedding package for which they already had paid were nowhere to be found either.

“When we got to Smathers Beach, there were other weddings going on, so we thought one of those officiants was ours, and just waited,” Michelle McCarthy-Smith said.

As it became obvious they were all dressed up with no one to marry them, Michelle grew concerned.

“She was visibly upset,” said Ray Jensen, who owns Weddings to Go with his wife, Eileen.

The Jensens were performing another ceremony at Smathers Beach and, upon learning of the young couple’s plight, immediately offered to perform their ceremony for free once they finished with their contracted ceremony. Coordinators from Fanta Sea Weddings in Key West also made the same offer, Michelle McCarthy-Smith said.

“Eileen and Ray Jensen said they’d do our ceremony for free because they didn’t want us to walk away from Key West thinking negatively about it and the people here,” she said, still shocked by the generosity. “They did say they would see if their photographer could take pictures, but that they would have to charge us for her services.”

But photographer Patty Kemp refused to accept a dime from the newlyweds.

“She just told us to do something nice for someone else,” said Michelle McCarthy-Smith, a real estate appraiser in Lumberton, N.C.

The couple was enjoying breakfast at Camille’s the next morning when Jensen called and dropped off a CD filled with wedding pictures, along with a letter for them to send to the credit card company disputing the charges from their former wedding coordinator Ron Scott, owner of Chapel by the Sea, who apologized profusely when he learned of the error.

This was the first wedding he had missed in 16 years, he said, attributing the oversight to a recent relocation of offices.

Scott also said he thanked the Jensens, and has been in a similar position several times when an officiant or photographer is missing, and he has covered the bases for distraught couples.

Jensen wanted no credit for the donation he and his wife made to a young couple with lilting Southern drawls.

“It was no big deal, really, anyone would have done the same thing,” he said. “Something like that can be a black eye for Key West, and we’ve got enough black eyes. It’s not always all about money. It was just the right thing to do.”

mbolen@keysnews.com

Published on P&E: Daily Gossip Column

December 26, 2007

MAJOR PRAISE to RAY and EILEEN … WEDDINGS and COMMITMENTS to GO… see their ad here on P AND E… if you missed the FRONT PAGE FEATURE ARTICLE in the CITIZEN on CHRISTMAS DAY… you missed the BEST about GOOD SAMARITANS ON GOOD SMATHER’S BEACH… You are GREAT PEOPLE! And the TRUE SPIRIT of “ONE HUMAN FAMILY!”

Cubans Land In Boat Built From Mercedes

POSTED: 2:21 pm EST February 23, 2008

UPDATED: 2:33 pm EST February 23, 2008

KEY WEST, Fla. — Authorities say 24 Cuban migrants built a boat out of a Mercedes Benz and washed ashore across from the Key West International Airport on Friday.

Ray Jensen, a wedding photographer on assignment nearby, grabbed pictures of the makeshift boat being pulled from the water and hauled away.

The two dozen Cubans arrived on the eve of historic change in their country as longtime dictator Fidel Castro announced he was stepping down. Elections will  be held Sunday, and Castro’s brother, Raul, will take control of the nation.

The U.S. has a “wet foot/dry foot” policy regarding Cuban exiles. If the migrants

make it to shore, they are allowed to stay in the U.S.  If they are discovered en

route, the Coast Guard returns them to Cuba

Copyright 2008 by NBC6.net.All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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