Best tips for planning a small beach wedding

When it comes to planning affordable beach weddings, the key is to know where you want to host them and what to expect when you do. The good news is, beach weddings are beginner-friendly options for DIY event planners (with a little help, of course). 

In this article, we’ll go over all of your most burning questions, get specific about numbers, and provide some locations to help you plan the wedding of your dreams. 


Large vs. Small

Small beach weddings are easier to plan due to the mere simplicity of them. Less invitations, less managing of people, less money spent on catering to guests. So less really is less in this case. With large, traditional weddings you must deal with hotel room blocking, increased meal cost (the night before or reception), more phone calls/emails with family members/friends to answer travel/lodging questions and increased overall stress. So if you want a clear cut, stress-free wedding, a small Victoria beach wedding is just the ticket! With our beach wedding company, you can plan every detail from the comfort of your living room. 

How “small” is “small?”

When deciding your guest list, your first big decision is, are you inviting any guests or are you eloping as a couple? The term Small Beach Wedding or Micro-Wedding usually means up to 50 people. An elopement is usually just the two of you. It’s a big decision to elope as a couple, especially if you come from a big family with expectations or a large network of friends. So, the first thing is to do some research and ask yourself, “Is a beach elopement right for me?” However, remember “small” beach wedding does not have to mean elopement! You can have a smaller, romantic wedding that is fully decorated with the latest on-trend decor such as a geometric wedding arch.

Wise selection of location and wedding dress

When selecting the location for your beach wedding, be wise and discerning. Most beaches are usually windy. Hence, try to pick a cove or an area sheltered from direct winds for your ceremony. Be on guard for the tides and take prior information regarding the same. Remember that depending on the time of the year, beaches can be quite hot, even during the evenings, especially if you’re planning beach wedding ceremony ideas during summers. Choose your wedding attire accordingly. For a summer beach wedding, you might choose to wear something light. Many couples on a tight budget even prefer to stay away from full gowns or skirts and go with airy and sand-friendly dresses or even casual beach wears. Sometimes, they even ditch the shoes and go barefoot. Remember, not all dresses, style and fabrics will work for a beach wedding. Pick a dress made of easy-breezy and lighter material that allows movement. Pale pink and pale blue colours are perfect for a beach wedding. However, don’t forget to experiment with colours if you wish so. Keep everything fuss-free for a memorable and pretty look! 

Consider a limited wedding guest list

When you’re thinking of how to plan a beach wedding on a small budget, your guest list of invitees is something you should consider first. Decide first-hand about how many guests will be attending your wedding. Most beaches don’t require special permits for small budget informal weddings; however, always check with local authorities to be absolutely sure. Consider small beach wedding tips from wedding websites and wedding planners and companies, who can advise you on planning a small and customized guest list. Thinking small will not only allow you to have an intimate experience with people you love and cherish the most but also help you out to keep your budget under control and spend more on the things that are more important to you, like the wedding cake, wedding outfits and even your honeymoon vacation. 

Location, Location, Location

Choose a location based on your wedding style and nonnegotiable guest list (if that’s important to you). If you live near a beach, you might already have a favourite spot in mind. A few types of beach locations:


A restaurant, hotel or club located right on the beach can give you the water views you crave and a reception venue complete with a full staff to help you pull it all off. This option might be pricier than pulling it off yourself, but vastly less stressful.

Public beach 

A beach where anyone can swim, sunbathe or yes, get married. Start early when planning this type of affair—you may be able to reserve a section of the beach for your wedding. Look into the permit requirements of the state or town. For example, some public beaches’ parks commissions may require you to detail explicitly all pieces of equipment you’ll be bringing to the site, as well as all food and beverages to be served there. Remember you’ll also need to have a plan in place for clean-up. 

Private beach

If you—or a generous friend or family member—has a home on a private beach, you’re in luck. This option offers seclusion and possibly fewer regulations. You may also have the option of renting a villa or other space along a private beach where you can host your nuptials. If you’re marrying on a private beach, look into any permit fees, container laws and clean-up charges.

couple at beach wedding

Find a local beach wedding officiate to perform your wedding ceremony: 

For beach wedding ideas on a budget, going for a local wedding officiate to the beach of your choice can be quite easy on your pocket. They often specialize in beach weddings, providing important tips along with the package deals within your means. These days, wedding packages are becoming popular and ideal for busy couples. These packages often include everything from the bouquet to photography and even filing of your marriage license. Also, consider cutting down your reception expenses by planning a sunset ceremony followed by a simple yet stylish wine and cheese beach reception right on the beach.

Wedding Planner

While it may seem like getting married on the beach will be a figurative breeze, we recommend hiring a planner to handle the unforeseen logistics of a beach wedding. Whether you need a permit for a specific area, or you need someone to handle hordes of sunbathers plopped down where your altar will be, it’s good to have a pro on hand to help with these sticky situations.

 Work with a bridal consultant who specializes in beach weddings, since they’ll have the know-how you need to pull off this type of shindig.

For a destination wedding, it’s important to get a wedding planner based in the area where you’ll be married to help you navigate a particular beach’s requirements (since these can vary by county and within towns). Planners also serve as expert eyes for finding—and overseeing—local vendors.

Try a different wedding cake

Wedding cakes are essential for many weddings, but can be quite expensive too! So why not try a different kind of cake and save yourself from paying a hefty sum? With a cupcake wedding, you can very well keep your beach wedding ideas on a budget, and avoid splurging on something that your guests might just nibble on. These days, you have an array of beautiful and creative cupcakes, which your guests can even carry on their way out and savour it later. 

Lighten the invitation load

When considering how to plan a beach wedding on a small budget, skip the standard printed wedding invitations, reception cards and envelopes. Since you’re having a non-traditional beach wedding, try sending your wedding invitations by email and invite your guests to RSVP online or via email. There are many websites handling RSVP online at low costs, and you save a considerable amount of money, unlike the traditional way and lessen the burden of sending out invitation cards. 

Budget in advance and stick to it

You can expect a romantic yet affordable wedding if you have planned and budget ahead, stick to small beach wedding tips. It’s not hard as you think and you don’t have to sacrifice on grandeur if you follow your budget. Choose the date cleverly so that you can save big. Try to avoid busy seasons and weekends and opt for an off-season beach wedding. Apart from inexpensive wedding attire, go for casual hairstyles and makeup and local reasonable priced flowers. Also, leave out professional photographer and band and tell your relatives and friends to bring their cameras and stereo players. There are many things that you can DIY. Just following these simple ideas will save you a lot!

Back-up Plan

We can’t stress this enough: Always have a back-up plan for any type of outdoor wedding.

We know the last thing you want to do is scrap your wedding fun in the sun at the last minute, but sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. Renting a tent is always recommended in case of light rain or needed shade. For back-up in the event of a complete washout, make arrangements in advance with a nearby hotel or hall as an alternate locale. 

Also, don’t feel compelled to organize the day on a drill sergeant’s time schedule. If you need to be on a rain delay for a couple of hours, the rest of the day can still proceed as planned.

What to consider when planning a beach wedding?

Make sure the beach is accessible for everyone involved

Many people overlook the accessibility factor once they’ve found and fallen in love with a beach wedding location. Don’t forget to think about your guests’ convenience, and how easy or difficult it is going to be to make it to the location, from the main road. This can also affect the ease of setting up and transporting chairs, tables, and even food delivery. Make sure your site isn’t too out of the way, and if it is, ensure you make the right preparations.

Don’t let the sound of waves drown out your vows

There’s nothing quite as magical as the waves crashing against the shore while taking a romantic walk down the beach. When you’re trying to exchange vows, this is a completely different story. To work around this, get a professional sound system, and look into ways to get it powered up out on the beach. You can also rent or buy a wireless microphone and speaker for use by the officiant. Another option is to invest in a windscreen for you microphone, which will ensure the wind isn’t louder than what you’re actually trying to say. Before you rent or make these purchases, find out if your wedding planner or resort has them available.

Make your décor windproof

You’ll need to tweak your décor to suit the outdoors, especially in windy locations. This means you may want to think twice about super lavish flowers, towering candles, and even windy ribbons and balloons, which may just end up getting blown away by the wind. Use sturdy décor and avoid breakable items. Anything you can’t live without (like name tags, photos, etc.), secure with adhesive, spring, or place something heavier over the top to hold them down. In terms of flowers, you also want to make sure you choose varieties that stand up well against high temperatures, that won’t wilt before the ceremony even begins.

Make sure there’s some shade

Just as important as covering for rainy weather, you’ll need to keep in mind that outdoor environments usually mean guests will be exposed to the elements. Especially in hot climates, ensure you keep everyone cool by scheduling your ceremony at a time when the sun is most mild – morning or late afternoon is best. You’ll also want to make sure shade is factored in as well, especially for the sake of older people and children. With beach or outdoor weddings, it’s best to monitor the weather, so you know what to expect. You can source a canopy to cover the seating area or get some bamboo poles which can be draped with light, white fabric to help keep everyone cool.

Wedding Specials

Finger food storage: keep it cool!

If you aren’t getting married at a resort, food storage is a serious consideration. Food that’s supposed to be refrigerated will spoil quickly in high temperatures, so you’ll need to pick wisely. This is also worth keeping in mind for cake selection – cakes made with buttercream may fight a losing battle against the heat. As a rule, don’t pick anything that’s going to melt or spoil fast.

Expert tip: If you’re concerned about food, you can also consider getting married on the beach, and having the reception at another location, like a nearby restaurant.

Select proper beach wedding attire

Your wedding day is the most important day of your life, and you’re going to want to dress like it; except that you’re on the beach, so you’re also going to want to wear something that doesn’t cause you to overheat.

Time of Day

Afternoon heat can be brutal in many seaside locales. But even if you’re okay standing there glistening, think of your guests. High temperatures are not for everyone, especially older folks and young kids. To avoid the heat (and crowds), consider a morning or sunset ceremony. Can’t schedule your ceremony at one of these times? Go ahead and have it in the afternoon, but find a shady spot on the beach that’s likely to catch a cool breeze. Check what the weather will be like, and inform guests on your wedding website so they can dress accordingly. Also, check the tide schedule online: Tides coming in are noisier than going out—not to mention the risk of water creeping up on you as you wed.

Ceremony Smarts

If you’ve chosen a relatively unknown section of beach, make sure guests know how to find it and can traverse any boardwalks, rocky areas or grassy dunes. Consider accessibility for differently-abled guests. Is there somewhere close where they can be dropped off?

  • Place a welcome table at the entrance to your ceremony site. It can contain:
  • Items to make guests more comfortable, such as sunscreen, bug spray, parasols or cozy beach blankets.
  • Refreshments, such as homemade lemonade or ice water, to stay hydrated.
  • A basket to deposit shoes so that they can go barefoot in the sand.
  • Baby powder—it helps get the sand off their feet post-ceremony.
  • Plan to arrive at your site a few hours early to be sure the setup goes off without a hitch. Try to relax and stay hydrated yourself—you don’t want to start wilting during the ceremony.

Décor Elements

A fun part of planning a beach wedding is choosing décor elements that complement your seaside setting. Seashells, starfish, nautical ropes, anchors, lanterns, sea glass and driftwood are all pretty and on-theme touches. A few considerations as you choose yours: 

  • Ceremony: If the ocean is your ceremony backdrop, there’s no need to get too fussy with the décor. A simple chuppah or arch can do the trick, or just let the beauty of the water speak for itself. Forget the unity candle and consider combining different-coloured sand, or even sand and water.
  • Reception: If tables are outside, consider the wind. Tablecloths and other lighter items, like place cards, should be weighted, so they don’t blow around. Candles and ribbons should probably be avoided completely.

Will all your friends and relatives be able to afford to travel to your dream beach, to share in your special moment? An option to consider is to have a small wedding on a distant beach, and hold a large reception for all your friends and family when you return home. Because there are often many complications involved in getting a foreign marriage license, many couples choose to have a civil wedding ceremony at home, and then have an elaborate ceremony on their dream beach, just for show. Whichever way you decide to go, the beach is almost guaranteed to provide a memorable, romantic setting for your nuptials.


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