The bride didn't wear a dress with a long train and the groom didn't wear a tuxedo. Attire was eco-casual. As I watched the couple exchange vows, my bare feet sunk into the soft sand as the Gulf of Mexico surf washed over them. Last month I had the opportunity to witness a vow renewal ceremony which began at Don Pedro Island State Park Land Base. Warren Resen and his bride, Jeanne O'Connor, have been married for about 8 months but when I told Warren about this new service, he and Jeanne were game to renew their vows. Chris Warren, owner of Phoenix Rising, fixed us up with kayaks and we paddled the Intracoastal Waterway for Don Pedro Island State Park, which is only accessible by boat. As we made our way across, fish occasionally splashed and an osprey soared overhead. A dark gray snout popped out of the water, it was a manatee making a brief and surprising appearance. Arriving at the park, we walked along a trail through native vegetation and met two gopher tortoises who were happier going about their business than posing for the camera. We reached the beach and with the surf washing over their feet, the couple renewed their wedding vows. It was definitely a chamber of commerce type day with a stunning blue sky, blue-green waters and a light breeze. Under the shade of the park pavilion we enjoyed fruit and cheese before heading back to the mainland. A pit stop was made in a secluded lagoon which required a paddle through the “Tunnel of Love.” No, it didn’t have a tacky neon light. It was a tunnel formed by the joining of mangrove trees and was just wide and deep enough to navigate through.
The trip also included a champagne toast (off the island, because on state park property is not legal) while floating in our kayaks. Yeah, definitely beachy-bliss. Hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity for something new, different and romantic. Don’t worry, if you’re not ready to take the plunge into “I do,” local outfitters offer a variety of kayaking options for all skill levels.
Note: Phoenix Rising is no longer in business.