Cerabino: Have a wild time at Palm Beach County’s future wedding venue

News item: The Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County has long been a haven for bird watchers and nature lovers. But it may soon expand its recreational activities to include hosting outdoor weddings.


Dear Future Wedding Guests:

Welcome to the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge. We trust that your wedding experience here in the last remnant of the northern Everglades in Palm Beach County will be a memorable one.

The misson of the refuge is to preserve and protect Florida’s native wildlife and landscape, and lately to provide visitors with an expanding menu of recreational opportunities, including weddings.

Keeping these two sometimes conflicting pursuits in mind will be a challenge. Through better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, environmentally sensitive land is supposed to last forever. And like marriage, it doesn’t always work out that way, especially when it’s stressed by outside influences with other agendas.

So we need your help to make this new arrangement work, because while some marriages end up being “for the birds,” we here at the refuge are always “for the birds.” And we’d like to keep it that way.

With this in mind, we’re asking that you and your wedding guests observe the following 15 rules, guidelines and helpful hints while you are here in the park celebrating.

1. Please don’t select the color orange for the bridesmaid’s dresses. We don’t want any confusion between people in the wedding party and hunters who may be nearby.

2. If you hear a loud popping sound, don’t assume it’s an uncorked champagne bottle.

3. If you’re using one of the park’s approved photographers, be advised that he or she may miss a key photo opportunity (i.e. first kiss) if an endangered snail kite flies by.

4. To help combat the problem of invasive plants in the parks, flower girls will be required to use pieces of Brazilian pepper and Old World climbing ferns during ceremonies.

5. If your wedding involves any dancing, please instruct the dancers to be especially aware of sudden movements near their feet.

On a related note, the state of Florida will pay $50 for the first four feet of any captured and killed Burmese python and $25 for each additional foot of snake.

6. The bride and groom will be entitled to one hour of tent camping following the reception.

7. There is no open bar on the Great Florida Birding Trail.

8. Electronic dance music, bagpipes, and uncles singing “My Way” will be prohibited in an effort to not scare the nearby wildlife.

9. In the event the wedding ring is dropped during the ceremony, recovery efforts will not include draining the swamp.

10.No small pets will be allowed at the wedding. (For more information, refer to Rule No. 5)

11. If you choose to get married on an airboat, the park assumes no responsibility for veil/blade mishaps.

12. Those who wander away from the wedding party do so at their own risk.

13. A strict 10 p.m. curfew will be put in place in the park for all search parties looking for missing wedding guests.

14. Floral decorations may not include floating candles in the park’s waters.

15. Signed and notarized liability releases will be required for all participants and guests for sunset weddings during mosquito season.

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