When it comes time to “tie the knot,” many brides and grooms love saying “I Do” to a destination wedding at Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks. Waterfront views, scenic overlooks and a wide array of amenities and accommodations mean that happy couples can plan their dream wedding at a fraction of the cost of traditional destination weddings without sacrificing any of the beauty, fun or memories.
“There are hundreds of destination weddings held at the Lake of the Ozarks each year,” says Jen West, group business development manager for the Lake of the Ozarks Tri-County Lodging Association. “There are so many incredible venues and talented wedding professionals at the Lake that planning a dream wedding can be a breeze. And, guests can come to the Lake for a wedding and also enjoy a vacation before or after the ceremony. It ends up being a fun and memorable wedding for everyone involved!”
Whether the happy couple is looking for a traditional venue or something a little unusual – indoors or outdoors – they can find it at the Lake of the Ozarks. Unlike traditional destination weddings, a wedding at the Lake of the Ozarks doesn’t have to break the bank. Located in the heart of “America’s Heartland,” the Lake of the Ozarks’ central location makes travel convenient and affordable for guests and everyone in the wedding party. More importantly, the Lake of the Ozarks has activities and accommodations that meet the needs of all those planning and/or attending the wedding.
When it comes to out-of-the-ordinary wedding venues, it’s difficult to top the Lake of the Ozarks’ Bridal Cave and Thunder Mountain Park. In fact, when Glamour Magazine compiled a list of the “10 Crazy, Awesome, and Unexpected Places to Say ‘I Do,’” Bridal Cave was the only Midwestern venue to make the cut. According to local legends, the first known wedding ceremony to take place in Bridal Cave was between two members of the Osage Nation in the early 1800s. Bridal Cave hosted its first official registered wedding in 1949, less than a year after officially opening to the public. Since then, more than 4,250 couples have said “I do” amid the stalactites in the cave’s naturally-adorned Bridal Chapel and many more couples have renewed their vows in this beautiful underground chamber. Additionally, receptions can be held at the newly renovated Thunder Mountain Park Event Center overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks.
For nature lovers, the Lake of the Ozarks’ two area state parks offer a perfect setting for exchanging vows. At Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton, the castle ruins and the park’s stunning views of the Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks make a beautiful backdrop for a wedding ceremony. Lake of the Ozarks State Park also offers areas that make for enchanting outdoor weddings. Wedding ceremonies in state parks can be arranged by contacting the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, a minimum of three weeks prior to the ceremony. The request must be submitted to the park in writing and contain details about the ceremony. Contact information for all of the parks can be found at www.mostateparks.com.
How about a wedding on the water? Couples can book one of the Lake’s three 150-passenger yachts for the ceremony, as well as the reception or rehearsal dinner. Celebration Cruises and The Tropic Island yachts can seat as many as 100 guests comfortably and offer dining options on board. Beautiful scenery and a relaxing cruise make this a memorable wedding option. Or, couples can rent a boat of their own from one of the many marinas at the Lake of the Ozarks.
One of the most beautiful views at the Lake belongs to the historic Willmore Lodge, which boasts a panoramic view of the first seven miles of the Lake of the Ozarks. The 6,500-square-foot, Adirondack-style lodge was built of white pine logs during the construction of Bagnell Dam in the 1930s and offers inside space that will accommodate approximately 80 guests. Brides will easily be able to imagine a stunning processional along a flower-lined path with the groom waiting in a gazebo at the water’s edge.
Convenience and beauty combine to make a perfect celebration of love at one of the Lake of the Ozarks’ full-service resorts. Camden on the Lake Resort, The Lodge of Four Seasons, Margaritaville Lake Resort, Old Kinderhook Resort, The Inn at Grand Glaize, and The Resort at Lake of the Ozarks have everything needed by brides and grooms. All six of the Lake’s full-service resorts offer a variety of venues for the ceremony, indoors and out. Brides’ “to-do” lists are checked off easily as on-site wedding coordinators handle details like accommodations, catering and audiovisual assistance. The result is a wedding that is customized for the happy couple, with little for them to do before the ceremony but relax.
A LITTLE MORE LAIDBACK
Numerous locally owned event venues provide an array of options when it comes to choosing the best setting for that special day. From industrial-chic to rugged elegance, there are options to suit every style. Some of these venues are located lakeside while others boast the quiet of country settings.
Lake Breeze Terrace offers indoor and outdoor event space with a lovely wooden arch overlooking the tranquil waters of the Lake. La Roca Event Venue and Cocktail Bar provides a classy venue complete with a large open ballroom and private enclosed outdoor courtyard, full kitchen and bar, A/V equipment and couples can even take lessons for their first dance as a wedded pair from La Roca’s professional instructors. The Hawthorne Inn provides comfort and charm in a quaint, private setting. And, Waterfront Weddings offers an intimate indoor/outdoor lakefront venue perfect for micro weddings, elopements and vow renewals.
For more intimate elopements or smaller ceremonies, as well as rehearsal dinners, vow renewals and honeymoons, the local bed and breakfast inns offer the perfect location. At
The Hummingbird Inn in Camdenton couples can exchange vows under a decorated pergola with the serene waters of the Lake as a backdrop. The Hummingbird Inn also can provide fresh flowers and custom-made bouquets and, to sweeten the day, they offer small wedding cakes, too. The Lake’s other three local bed and breakfasts – Bass and Baskets and, The Garden House have been known to host intimate ceremonies as well.
Pick one of the Lake of the Ozarks area’s wineries – Dale Hollow Winery & Vineyard, Mathany Family Vineyards, Seven Springs Winery and Shawnee Bluff Winery and Shawnee Bluff Vineyard – for a rehearsal dinner, reception or wedding. Or, all three! Casual or elegant, indoors or outdoors, these wineries can help brides and grooms plan the perfect celebration for an intimate few or an ultimate party for hundreds. Each offers something different, but all offer help to make the day easy and special for the bridal party.
Arguably, the Lake area’s most breathtaking scenery can be found at its championship golf resorts. These resorts expertly bring together all the elements of beautiful weddings overlooking manicured greens and rolling hills. Osage National Golf Resort, Old Kinderhook Resort and The Club at Porto Cima are three venues that make wedding planning as smooth as a perfect golf backswing. Year-round venues offer plenty of options for brides in any season.
Wedding assistants at the clubs coordinate deliveries and details for effortless “I dos.” While these three clubs specialize in wedding event planning, a
number of other clubs on the Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail offer banquet and other facilities for events such as rehearsal dinners, weddings and receptions. And of course, they also specialize in golf outings for the wedding party. Visit www.GolfingMissouri.com or the courses’ individual websites to learn more.
The number and types of wedding venues at the Lake of the Ozarks are as limitless as the imaginations of the brides and grooms. Planning is made easy by Jen West and the Lake of the Ozarks Tri-County Lodging Association. A visit to www.FunLake.com or a call to Jen West at 1-800-FUN-LAKE (5253) provides an invaluable source for those planning a Lake destination wedding, honeymoon, vow renewal or anniversary celebration. Anyone planning a wedding at the Lake of the Ozarks will find all they need on the Fun Lake website, including a list of wedding planners, venues, officiants, caterers, bakeries, florists, photographers/videographers, hair salons, spas, transportation, and formal wear boutiques. Additionally, interested parties can fill out and submit a simple form on www.FunLake.com outlining their needs for wedding planning. That form is then submitted to Lake venues that match the criteria. The venues will respond to the brides and grooms with proposals to host their big event.
Wedding attendees can choose from full-service luxury resorts, family-owned resorts, charming bed and breakfasts, rustic cabins, campgrounds and RV parks, spacious vacation rental homes and condominiums, as well as hotels and motels to complete the perfect Lake stay.
The nation’s “Best Recreational Lake” and “Best Lake for Water Sports” has activities and events for every age and interest. To learn more about these, plus dining and accommodation options, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) at
1-800-FUN-LAKE (5253), or visit the CVB’s award-winning website at www.FunLake.com.