Every bride needs the inside scoop when planning her dream wedding. Here are 12 useful tips and a list of vendors for planning the must-haves every bride wants for her southwest Florida Gulf coast wedding.

1. Wedding Season

Late fall through spring months are the most active wedding season here to beat the heat, rain and storms of summer and early fall. If your heart is set on a date between June to November, plan and arrange for alternate accommodations in case of weather events.

2. One Detail Like No Other

Special restrictions and rules apply at many beaches during Sea Turtle nesting season, May 1st through October 31st. Ask the beach wedding venue or coordinator about any that may apply.

3. Ever-changing Environment

Keep in mind that outdoor, natural settings like beaches and state parks are subject to change over time and may not look the same on your wedding day as they do when you book it years ahead.

4. Customary Fees

Environmental permits and fees are mandatory for outdoor wedding venues in parks and on beaches. There is a six percent sales tax depending on the county. Customary food, bar and beverage are additional 20 percent gratuity for weddings or parties of 12 or more.

5.  Marriage License and Fees

Non-residents must provide a valid Florida marriage license to be wed in this state, and there is no blood test or waiting period for non-residents. Florida marriage license is good for anywhere in the state but must be filed in the court where it was issued. Marriage license fee in Florida is $88.50 as of June 2016. There is a 32.50 reduction for residents who present a valid certificate of completion for the premarital preparation course.

Wedding Vendors in Fort Myers and Surrounding Areas

6. Invitations

There is priceless pleasance in perusing albums at a table to see and touch available materials and work face-to-face with the printer of your wedding stationery. They will give you tips and listen to details to ensure you have the loveliest custom wedding announcements, invitations and thank-you notes to match your theme.

DM Paper Designs, 239-938-1421, is an upscale printer in Fort Myers with a gorgeous gallery of designs or to help you design your own.

Quickprint Business Center, 239-772-0600, in Cape Coral is a full-service printing company offering creative designs for trending concepts in the latest wedding invitations.

7. Caterers

You can find wonderful refreshments and meals to serve on any budget, but the hardest task in finding a caterer is narrowing one down!

Morton’s Gourmet Catering, 941-315-2108, extension 6, serves Lee and Charlotte counties.

October Catering and The Ravenous Rhino, 941-467-2802 features sumptuous traditional, ethnic and brunch menus for 25 minimum, and travels at no additional cost within Charlotte, Lee and parts of DeSoto and Sarasota counties.

8. Wedding Cakes

Most florists will coordinate wedding cakes so they matches flowers and overall theme. Order wedding cake 6-12 months ahead. The smaller the shop, the faster they fill their calendar. Plan a place where your cake can be assembled and set up once it arrives.

9. Florists

Florists like Charlotte County Flowers work with vendors whom they can refer for coordinating your flowers, wedding cake and catering. These florists serve wide geographic areas.

10. Photographers

You want even your photographs to be picture perfect on your wedding day. Nick Adams Photography, 239-395-7671, is a full-service photographer specializing in studio, photo booths, slow motion video booths, aerial filming and videos.

Frank Simonetti Photography, 239-565-4025, offers wedding and reception packages starting at $1,475.

11. Sound and Lighting

DJ Ron Rutz, 239-454-9999, is an award-winning, preferred vendor for dozens of popular wedding venues in Fort Myers, and all of southwest Florida.

DJ Jay Floyd at Islands DJ Service, 352-205-1007, based in Cape Coral, not only offers premium sound, lighting and music hosting for your wedding reception but also specializes in weddings, offering complete wedding planning to fully coordinate your reception.

12. On Sand or Surf

Dreaming of an off-shore wedding on board a ship? The vessel must be in Florida waters at the time of the ceremony. The three-mile rule you may have heard about applies to the Atlantic coast. On the Gulf coast, the ship must be within nine geographic miles of the coastline.

Fort Myers Beach, Lover’s Key, Cape Coral and Bonita Springs each present gorgeous backdrops for unforgettable weddings any time of day or night. Be your dream wedding at sunset or sunrise, beneath midnight stars or streaming noon sunlight, next to soft lapping of low tide or rolling and splashing of high, we wish you the very best on your special day.