By Steve Pike
South Florida beaches are multi-use destinations. Check out any beach – from Palm Beach to South Beach and chances are you’ll see people sunbathing, running, playing volleyball and yes, even getting married. Surrounded by surf, sand, sunshine, and friends and family, there is nothing like a beach wedding.
One of the more popular destinations for beach weddings, particularly for LGBT weddings is the B Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale. With a private beach located on the tip of Fort Lauderdale Beach, the wedding party and guests can live the “B’’ mantra, which is all about self-expression.
“We’re very self-expressive and open at B Hotels and Resorts as a company,’’ said Mark Semple, director of catering for the 484-room hotel and one of South Florida’s top wedding planners. “The important thing is every guest feels welcome. We’re also very open in terms of employment. Our chief engineer, for example, is transgender.’’
“One of our programs is just ‘B You,’’’ said Kenneth Barr, the hotel’s B Experience manager. “We did t-shirts for Pride Month to further express our cooperative culture.’’
Formerly the Yankee Clipper, B Ocean Fort Lauderdale is active in the LGBT community’s Gay Pride Month and in the Gay Chamber of Commerce. It’s also Ground Zero for such popular beach music events such as Tortuga and Riptide.
B Ocean Resort last year debuted a multi-million-dollar renovation that included an overhaul of each guest room, a bright, built-out lobby with ocean views and the Naked Crab restaurant. The hotel’s exterior design still resembles a cruise ship – as it did when it opened in 1956 – and the iconic Wreck Bar, featured in several movies, still has its popular mermaid shows on weekends.
The Wreck Bar even has been known to host a few weddings, although most bridal parties prefer the beach just a few hundred feet away.
“That’s what makes us unique,’’ Semple said. “We’re one of only two resorts in Fort Lauderdale to have a private beach.’’
Understand that couples basically can get married on any stretch of Fort Lauderdale with the proper permits, but B Ocean’s private beach eliminates much of the red tape.
“You don’t always have to worry about who is lying on the beach and who shouldn’t be lying on the beach,’’ Semple said.
B Ocean Resort can accommodate wedding parties of up to 200 people – on the beach and inside its meeting room that overlooks the beach. Semple said weddings at B Ocean average between 80 and 130 people. The hotel offers a variety of weddings packages for LGBT and straight couples and only celebrates one wedding per day to keep each ceremony as exclusive as possible.
“It’s a little higher premium, but most couples like the exclusivity,’’ Semple said.