Should you have your wedding on the beach?

Are you dreaming of a beach wedding? Us, too (like, a lot!). It’s no wonder that so many couples want to get married on the beach—between the sun, the sand, and the ocean breeze, a seaside ceremony can seem like a truly magical event. The appeal is obvious: the gorgeous scenery, the stunning photo ops, the warm weather, the casual and carefree vibe, and—of course—the unique decor opportunities. If you can swing a destination wedding, or are lucky enough to have a beach nearby, there’s endless beach wedding inspiration out there.

So, how can you keep up with all these pretty possibilities? We’ve got some great ideas for planning a beach wedding. Okay, a lot of great ideas…

Things to Consider If You’re Planning a Beach Wedding

Is the beach public or private?

Since most beaches are public property, anyone can tie the knot in the sand. But other beachgoers and sun tanners can access the space, too. If you want privacy and seclusion, consider finding a private property, or asking a resort to reserve an area of the beach for your event.

Do you need special permits?

Not every public beach requires a permit for a wedding, but you should check with the city regardless. Some beaches have rules about the guest count, alcohol, bonfires, and music. If you do need a permit, make sure to understand the fees, approval process, liability insurance, and other important factors. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Wedding Specials

What type of dress should I wear?

When it comes time to choose your dress, keep in mind that you want a design that looks like it fits in with the beach theme. Forget that satin mermaid gown or that beaded ball gown you’ve been dreaming about since you were a little girl. A beach wedding calls for a lightweight, airy look, and it’s a great opportunity to opt for a casual dress instead of the traditional bridal gown. When selecting your bridal gown fabric, choose something soft and breezy such as chiffon. As much as you may love lace, you don’t want your dress to be clumped with wet sand at the bottom, and lace can attract grains of dirt and sand with ease. While a long gown blowing in the breeze can look stunning in person and pictures, you may want to consider trying on some short styles and tea length silhouettes as well.

What will you do in the event of bad weather?

Many seaside celebrations take place in warm climates. But while tropical temperatures come with the territory, guests may become uncomfortable in the sweltering heat and beating sun. Consider scheduling your ceremony for the morning or late afternoon to avoid the worst of the weather. Also, make sure your ceremony site has sufficient shade, especially if many children or older people will be in attendance. 

Consider the noise.

You may love the sounds of the sea when relaxing on the beach, but do you want crashing waves to interrupt your vow exchange? Prepare for natural noise by getting a professional sound system and finding a way to power it. We also recommend getting a windscreen for your microphone so breezes won’t affect the sound output.

Is it accessible to guests?

The half-mile walk to your oceanside altar may seem dreamy, but can everyone make the trek? When choosing a site, keep all guests (even your wobbly grandma and five-year-old nieces) in mind. Also make sure that rentals, such as chairs and tables, can be easily delivered to the site.

Make sure your flowers can handle it.

Thanks to the high heat and humidity of tropical climates, some flowers won’t survive until the first dance. If you’re having a beach wedding, stick with blooms that tolerate tropical weather without wilting, such as chrysanthemums, calla lilies, king protea, or orchids. You can also break away from flowers and decorate with fresh fruit, seashells, or other nautical elements.

Think about where food will be stored.

Nobody wants to eat cheese that’s been sitting in the blazing heat for an hour. If you have a buffet, choose foods that can handle some temperature, and avoid anything that will melt or spoil easily. The same advice goes for cake; buttercream may not stand up to sweltering weather.

Select complementary décor.

Envisioning lush flowers, elegant candles, and dangling ribbon at your reception? The infamous beach winds may have other plans. Choose decorative elements that will stand up against unexpected gusts, and steer clear anything lightweight or breakable. If you’re worried about place cards, vases, photos, or other elements blowing away, secure them with string, adhesives, or heavy objects.

What other tips do I need to know?

Beach wedding ideas, just like traditional event ideas, depend on upon the type of affair you’re having and where you have it, but it’s always a good idea to arrive at your destination at least one day before your guests. It’s a great idea to plan a preliminary trip to check everything out for yourself before everyone else arrives, assuming that you have room for it in your budget.

The Pros and Cons of a Beach Wedding

Outdoor weddings, in general, have existed for centuries, but the ability of a couple to personalize their alfresco vows has evolved exponentially in the last few decades. When people hypothetically refer to what type of open-air wedding they want, exchanging vows on the beach is often a top choice. Many reasons that engaged pairs desire to host an oceanside event come down to subjective, personal points – perhaps the sea has sentimental value to you and your partner – however, there are a few big arguments for and against this setting for a couple’s “I dos.”

The Pros

The Perfect Backdrop.  

Whether you elect to exchange your vows under deep ocean blue skies, against a coral sunset, or on a bright starry night, the ambience of the beach is a splendid and serene setting. Surely, this is one of the top draws of getting married on the beach.

As mentioned above, the beach provides a beautiful, natural backdrop to your special event. This is great not only for a gorgeous aesthetic—but all of that natural beauty is also good news for your wallet. The glimmering water and sandy landscape are enough to wow guests and take your breath away, which means that you won’t need to spend much on decorations, which is a great perk. (And depending on what beach you marry, you may not have to pay anything to use the space.)

Photo of a bride and groom posing in front of Brighton Beach with the bride's dress flowing in the wind

Great Venue for Your Ceremony and Reception.  

Assuming this is permitted, the wide-open space of a typical beach can accommodate a number of guests for both a ceremony and a reception, so there is no need to shuffle guests from one location to another.

Less Decor Needed. 

The natural beauty of the beach is usually enough to compensate for any lack of decor. In some locations, the beach is hugged by majestic cliffs, in others by lush greenery or tropical flowers and in others by charming wooden piers. Whatever the scenery, it will likely be more than enough to yield stunning photos, without the aid of decorations.

More Savings. 

Even if there are permits or fees to get married on your chosen beach, it can still be more affordable than a venue wedding because you’ll likely save on items like decorations, lighting and sound equipment, electronic installations, an over-the-top wedding gown, and other add-ons that wouldn’t fit a wedding on the beach.

More Comfortable Attire.  

Because you’ll be spending the day on the sand, you and your guests can most certainly get away with less formal attire, if you desire. You can swap suits and ties for khakis and polos or multi-layered ball gowns with stilettos for a simple sundress and rhinestone sandals. Your guests will love the fact they could wear simple items from their closet and can even go barefoot if they want to.

Stunning Pictures. 

With the natural daylight and landscape of the beach, your wedding photographer will need little else to produce breathtaking photos of your big day.

Everyone wants to walk away from their wedding day with gorgeous photos that they’ll treasure forever. Once again, the beach is a beautiful backdrop, and that means that it provides the ideal setting to capture those moments on film. Your photos will also be versatile, as you can pose by the water, near vegetation bordering the beach, and with the changing colours of the sun as the day and night goes on.

A More Relaxed Atmosphere.  

The beach vibe will quickly put everyone at ease. In an instant, guests will feel more like they’re on vacation than attending a formal wedding, bringing out their most fun, laid-back side.

Although wedding planning can be stressful, the big day should be relaxing. And some couples prefer something with a less formal and more laid-back vibe, which is understandable after all of the hustle and bustle of actually preparing for your wedding day. A beach ceremony and reception provide that luxury. Allow the sound of the waves and breezy salty air to wash your worries away, permitting the sole focus to be on the beauty of this special day.

Along the same vein, beach weddings also mean that couples and guests alike can dress in a more laid-back fashion. From linen suits for men and flowy maxi dresses for women, this makes for a comfortable day that gives way to killer dance moves and all-around happy guests! Ladies can also feel good about ditching heels (the bride included) and can sport comfortable sandals or go barefoot, which is the ultimate luxury.

Go Gaga on DIY Projects.  

No one expects a beach wedding to be extravagant, making it the perfect excuse to let your inner crafter come out. Let your personality, creativity and DIY skills shine through homemade party favours, place cards, invitations, gift tables, signage and more.

Beach weddings aren’t one-size-fits-all. While one couple may make their beach wedding nautical and preppy with anchor motifs and a navy and white colour scheme, another couple may make their beach wedding have a more boho feel, using a mix of patterns and colours, and oversized pillows to use as seating for guests. The options for beach weddings are limitless, making this a great way for brides and grooms to make their special event their own.

A Great Place for Your Honeymoon.  

Most couples say that the wedding day passes by in the blink of an eye. Luckily, the honeymoon is often a whole week long! And if your heart is set on a sandy ceremony, you might as well choose a spot that’s also fit for a vacation. 

The Cons

No Such Thing as Perfect Weather.  

No matter how perfect the year-round weather typically is in your chosen location, there are no guarantees when it comes to the beach. After all, you’re outdoors. There is always a chance you’ll experience rain, lightning storms, strong winds, blazing heat, and sometimes even hurricanes (God forbid). To combat this, research seasonal weather forecasts so you can pick a date that’s the least risky. Also, consider having a Plan B; an indoor or tented space should the weather take a turn for the worst.

And if you can’t stomach the idea of your wedding day is left up to change? I recommend considering a property that can give you a little bit of both – a sightline of the beach with the security of an indoor backup option.

beach wedding

The Tides.  

When planning anything on the beach, one must always be aware of the low and high tides. Get educated about the times that the tide is expected to come in and go out on your wedding day because the timeline of your soiree will be impacted by those – including your photo sessions, the time you say your vows, time for eating, and more. What’s more, tides tend to become especially volatile after a hurricane, so you’ll want to stay informed about the weather leading up to your wedding.

The Sand.  

The powdery sand is good if you’re only thinking about you and your guests’ attire and footwear. But apart from that, sometimes, the mere fact of having to deal with sand becomes a disadvantage. It may sweep into your eyes right in the middle of speaking your vows, fly into your guest’s food as they eat, or even soil clothes and belongings.

The Uninvited Guests.  

I’m not referring to gate-crashers or wedding crashers here. On the beach, it’s the animals, insects, and other wildlife that may pester you and your guests while you celebrate. Because you are outside in nature, expect to have flies, mosquitoes, birds, and more.

You likely expect to have some audience at your wedding: your guests! However, beaches usually have people besides those that you’ve invited to share in your special day. This means you’ll have to consider whether you’re willing to allow your event to be less than 100 per cent private, as you may have some onlookers that enjoy watching you exchange vows by the water.

Intense Heat and Sunlight.  

As I have already mentioned, timing your beach wedding is everything. Natural lighting is great for photos. But if we’re talking about too much sun, heat, and glare, then it becomes a disadvantage. Attendees risk hyperthermia, dehydration and sunburn if exposed to the heat and sun for too long.

The largest con associated with beach weddings is the fact that it raises concerns surrounding the weather on your big day. If it rains or is colder than normal on your wedding day, you’ll be worried about your beach wedding going off without a hitch. That means that you’ll need to consider a contingency plan in case of inclement weather, adding another layer of planning to your plate. This is a drawback that you’ll want to think through before you commit to a beach wedding.

Rules and Permits to Comply With.  

Even if a beach is public, many local municipalities require permits to be acquired and environmental fees to be paid in order to conduct a legal beach wedding. Although the fees are usually inexpensive and the permits simple to obtain, it’s important to get your ducks in a row so that your beach wedding has no delays.

Not That Private.  

Well, let’s face it; unless you’re willing to rent a private island for your beach wedding, you can likely expect to see some strangers while exchanging your vows. They could interrupt ceremonial traditions with loud music or yelling or wind up in wedding photos. And, as is the case with any public place, guests should be mindful of their personal belongings to avoid theft.

Accessibility Issues

If you have elderly individuals or some with mobility limitations attending your wedding, consider whether they can maneuver around in the sand for your wedding before you commit to this type of venue. Even though the wedding is centred around the bride and groom, you’ll undoubtedly want your guests to be comfortable and capable of attending, too.

Beach weddings are beautiful, but nature does provide an element of uncertainty. Careful planning on your part will eliminate most of them. Just remember…

If every hair is not in place due to the ocean breezes or a seagull drops off his “wedding gift” a little too close to the punch bowl…

These are not flaws or imperfections in your day. They are “memories”! Cherish them and have fun!


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