Bushwackers, Blue Angels, and a Baptist Church Bar in Orange Beach

As Mike mentioned in his last post, we were in Orange Beach, Alabama, recently for a destination wedding. It’s a small, laid-back community that sits on the border of Alabama and Florida with Gulf Shores on one side and Perdido Beach on the other.

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This is the first road trip we’ve taken in a while, which was a nice change of pace. However, we’ve completely forgotten how to pack for road trips; since we didn’t have any airline baggage restrictions, we just took all of the things.

We arrived in Orange Beach pretty late in the evening, but we lucked out with some terrific Gulf shrimp and housemade chips at The Flying Harpoon 2, which serves a full menu until 1 a.m. We thought we’d lucked out with their live music, too, until we realized that the lead singer was running late and the female drummer was filling in for him on vocals. She was fantastic … and we’ll leave it at that.

The following day’s pre-wedding festivities began at a cool restaurant and bar called The Gulf. Bright blue shipping containers are stacked and arranged into a beachfront compound with burgers, tacos, seafood, and a fairly solid bar menu.

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Sunny dining and shady lounging beachside at The Gulf in Orange Beach, Alabama.

The day of the wedding began with an early church service at the Flora-Bama Bar and Package Store. Yes, you read that correctly.

IMG_7262IMG_7261Every Sunday morning, this famous (infamous, perhaps?) beachfront establishment hosts two church services featuring bloody Marys and mimosas, an omelet station, a live band, and sing-along songs from its Honky-Tonk Hymnal emblazoned with “Thou shalt not steal” on the cover. 

The sermon was not unlike what you’d hear at many Protestant churches’ contemporary services, although the band’s selections included Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Simple Man and other Southern rock anthems I’ve never heard in a sanctuary before. Thankfully, the “sanctuary” was a large tent covering a breezy deck, rather than the bar’s bra-festooned main stage.

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Main stage at the Flora-Bama Bar and Package Store.

The church service was followed by the bride and groom’s double baptism in the ocean, which was beautiful and a fitting start to the nuptials themselves.

As the sun set over the gulf, the bride made her way across the sand, shortly followed by a flyover by the Navy’s renowned Blue Angels, who are stationed just up the road in Pensacola, Florida. Talk about fantastic timing!

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Blue Angels flying over the beach wedding (Photo: Rossi Speaks)

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In addition to the hors d’oeuvres, wedding cake, and champagne, the happy couple also served their guests bushwackers. The unofficial cocktail of the region is a frozen blend of coffee liqueur, dark rum, cream of coconut, creme de cacao, and half-and-half that resembles a boozy Wendy’s Frosty. (Try them at home with this recipe.)

Orange Beach itself was relaxing and enjoyable, but our Airbnb experience there was not. We’re learning that Airbnbs in the United States are very hit-or-miss, and this particular condo was a big miss.

We moved to the new Tides Hotel for an extra day before heading home, and we were delighted we did. Our room at this Best Western Premier property was lovely and much larger than we needed, with two queen beds and a separate kids’ space with bunk beds and an Xbox that would make it ideal for families wanting to stay together in one room. The hotel had a nice poolside bar and a hot breakfast buffet, and it was a terrific way to wrap up our visit to Orange Beach.

All in all, a wonderful getaway.

Congratulations to the happy couple, Kyle and LE, who have married adventure themselves!