Beach wedding etiquettes to remember.

I’m sure you’ve been to a church wedding before where “traditional etiquette” takes precedence but how familiar are you with proper beach wedding etiquette? The majority of my destination wedding brides don’t adhere to the standard way of doing things. They tend to be more relaxed and are looking for a stress-free wedding where they can still include friends and family. To help, we have put together some tips, so you are ready for your next wedding on the beach.

same sex marriage at wedding

The wedding is one of if not the most beautiful and memorable events in any individual’s life. It is the time when promises are exchanged, and the couple officially pronounced as husband and wife.

With a wonderful time such as this, you may be planning your wedding in a stunning location, such as the beach. Of course, you might have a rough idea of what to do at weddings, since you might have already attended many weddings in churches and different venues. A beach wedding, however, is a little different from the others. More specifically, beach wedding etiquettes are different from those in more “formal” venues.

Sure you’ve been to a church wedding before, but do you know the proper etiquette for a wedding on the beach? Here are some tips, so you’re ready for the big day.

Beach Wedding Etiquette

Sharing is Caring

Remember, even though this is your wedding, it is still a public beach. There may be other people on the beach during your ceremony or at picture time. It just adds to the character. Share the space, be courteous of others and please remember to clean up after your event.

Beware of Wildlife

Remember, your beach wedding will be surrounded by nature, and it is only fair to assume that wild animals might surround the area as well.

Be very aware of which months of the year you decide to have your wedding. For example, in some parts of the world, certain months are nesting seasons for turtles. With that in mind, always do ample research about the prospective wedding location. Find out what wildlife might be roaming the area or may cover the beach during the time of your wedding. That way, you can take the necessary precautions to keep you, your guests, and the animals safe.

Footwear and Attire

Don’t expect your guests to come to a wedding on the beach in formal attire, wobbling across the sand in heels. Generally, beach weddings are casual, and some guests will come in cotton dresses or shorts, flip-flops, maybe even barefoot. Let your guests know in advance so they will be comfortable in the sun and sand through the ceremony.

Always Think of Your Guests

Do you have any friends flying in for the destination wedding? Make sure you plan ahead! It is only polite to offer guests with transportation and lodging accommodation choices for your wedding, especially if they are coming from out of town! Though you don’t have to pay for every person to have a hotel suite (wouldn’t that be nice) you still should inform them of places to stay nearby and provide transportation if needed. Check out our list of accommodations for ideas.

To Stand or Not to Stand?

It is ok to ask your guests to stand for a beach wedding if it is a small, intimate affair. Due to the location being a casualty, most beach ceremonies are short, sweet, and to the point. If there is a larger number of guests or the ceremony will be long, provide seating.

RSVP Promptly

Do not wait until the day before the wedding to get back to the happy couple about whether you can make it to their wedding or not. Weddings are all-around stressful for most couples and planners. Late replies not only require them to change the headcount but to also shuffle around complicated seating arrangements. Alleviate that stress a little by replying early. If there are other questions attached to the invitation—such as your preference for an entrée—answer those as well and ASAP.

Bring a Plus One Only If Specified

Do not bring a plus one if it specifically says on the invite that they have reserved one seat for you at the reception. In the same vein, do not bring your entire clan if the invite-only includes you and your partner. Some weddings may also specify that they are adult-only events and that children are not to be included in the reception. While this is rare, you must respect the wishes of the couple and leave the little tots at home with a babysitter.

Do Not Wear White

You are not the bride. Today is not the day to steal her thunder. If you have absolutely nothing else in your closet besides black and white pieces, the better option would be the formal black dress. Better yet, why not go out and buy something new? Or borrow something from a friend. Take note of the motif and try to see if you can find something within that colour wheel. Also, dress appropriately. If the wedding is on a beach, light, flowy dresses and linen pants are acceptable. If, however, it is an indoor evening event, adjust accordingly. If the invitation states that a formal dress is required, please comply.

Do Bring a Gift

It is only proper to show up with a gift for the couple, and this is what the wedding registry is for. If you find that you cannot afford any of the items on their wish list, consider pooling your resources with common friends and sharing the cost of one awesome gift that is registered. If this isn’t possible, find the time to get them a personal, well-thought-out gift that’ll be appreciated. We’re sure just your presence would count to the couple, but a nice gift wouldn’t hurt.

Show Up on Time

The only person allowed to be late is, you guessed it, the bride. Show up a little early. This should give you time to greet other friends or members of the family you may know and to find yourselves seats in the church or venue. If you are part of the wedding entourage, you should be there way before the ceremony is scheduled to start. This is typically a time for official bridal party photos and other last-minute instructions. The wedding planner would have given the bridal entourage call times the day before, so set your alarm early and make sure you follow the schedule given to you.

Inform your guests

When you’re planning a beach wedding, especially one that will be held outside of your locality, your friends and family might have to fly to reach the place.

While you won’t be forced to pay for anyone’s accommodation or transportation, you should still inform your guests early on regarding the possible places to stay and modes of transportation near your wedding location. That way, the guests will be able to make the proper plans to enjoy your wedding ceremony fully.

Opt for casual wear

The beach is the last place you want to ever think of wearing formal attire. While that is still possible, it isn’t exactly the most comfortable and appropriate type of clothes anyone can wear, especially while at the beach.

Generally, if you’re going to a tropical beach to hold your wedding, you won’t have to worry too much about going formal. While you and your partner might still be sporting a gorgeous attire, let your guests know that they won’t have to wear anything close to you. Tell them to feel free showing up with sandals, t-shirts, shorts, and whatever else they deem comfortable on the beach. Remember, feeling comfortable and good is more important than looking good, especially when surrounded by such a beautiful setting.

Don’t own the beach

Unless you bought the whole beach throughout your wedding period, always remember that most beaches are open for public use. This means that your wedding will be surrounded by strangers and spectators watching the ceremony. When taking pictures or walking around, keep in mind that you will have to deal with those people as well. That said, be kind to everyone and thank them if they come and congratulate you. Don’t forget to clean up after the ceremony is over as well.

While a beach wedding might be different from a typical indoor wedding, it by no means is any less special! Beach weddings are genuinely astonishing, thanks to the stunning surrounding nature that will make this ceremony much more special. To that end, remember these etiquettes when you plan for a beach wedding. As a result, you ensure that everyone will have a good time and that you will have a memorable beach wedding. 

Stress Free Wedding tips

Beach Wedding Etiquette: Attire

Most brides who choose a beach wedding do so due to the relaxed and carefree atmosphere. More often than not, the outfit you choose to don will reflect this. Beach weddings are casual, which means cotton dresses, shorts, flip-flops, or even bare feet can be expected. A bride will usually let guests know in advance what the dress code will be so that everyone is comfortable in the sun and sand throughout the ceremony. 

Beach Wedding Etiquette: Where to Sit?

The side that everyone sits on in a traditional ceremony goes out the window except for the parents for beach weddings. Guests are generally told that “It’s open seating, so please take a seat on either side.” Some couples even opt to walk down the aisle together, which makes sitting on one side over the other a mute point.  

Beach Wedding Etiquette: Who Pays for What?

Guests are typically responsible for their hotel rooms, transportation to and from the destination, and any activities or meals outside of wedding events. The bride and her family traditionally pay for bridesmaids’ lodging, and the groom and his family pay for the groomsmen. Also, the bride’s family covers the cost of the reception and ceremony while the groom’s family pays for rehearsal. However, more often than not, couples opt for our All-Inclusive Wedding and Reception Packages and pay for it all themselves.

Beach Wedding Etiquette: Social Media

Social media wedding etiquette is constantly evolving with new apps, and technology comes new rules. There are several wedding apps like wed pics which allows couples to keep guests wedding photos in one place and Facebook groups are always a good secondary means of communicating with guests. There are many other outlets available to help convey wedding-related information like registry info, child-care issues, where to send gifts, etc. As a rule of thumb, whether hosting or attending a beach wedding is to be graceful and tactful at all times, even when using social media.

Beach Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Who should I invite to my beach wedding?

Destination weddings, unlike traditional weddings, are a more intimate affair. For this reason, most couples choose to keep the crowd small with only close family and a few friends. On the other hand, it is not unusual for couples to invite many friends and extended families. This would depend on the type of wedding they want to have. A key thing to note is that it would be rude to leave out anyone who attended the bridal shower.

How soon should you send out the beach wedding invitations?

Since most beach weddings, if not all, are more of a getaway thing; it is proper etiquette to send out your invitations way in advance. How in advance? No less than ten weeks before the wedding day. This is designed to give your guests adequate time to prepare.

What should you include in your beach wedding invitation?

Ok, so, you have made all the plans and want to send out the invitations, what should you include apart from the venue? The first thing to know is that beach weddings are about fun and fewer formalities than it is the case for traditional weddings in the church. Don’t forget to be creative and introduce the theme of your wedding in the invitations.

Another important thing you may want to consider including in the invitation is the dressing code. Among the things to note about dressing is the need to wear light beach wedding attire – assuming the weather is expected to be warm and pleasant. If you are looking for ideas, be sure to visit our collection of quality beach wedding clothes for men, women, and kids.

Is it proper etiquette to send the “Save the Date” with the invitation?

A “Save the Date” notification is usually sent earlier than the invitation and is aimed at giving the guests a heads up to make any necessary plans. The best time to send a “Save the Date” is immediately you set a date for the beach wedding after choosing the venue and coming up with the final list of invites.

Destination Wedding Etiquette Tips 

Give Guests Extra Notice 

When you’re planning a wedding, you typically send save-the-dates 6 to 12 months in advance. But how early should you send invitations for a destination wedding?

Depending on the destination of your wedding, guests may need time to plan and purchase flights, book hotel accommodations, get time off of work, and perhaps even get a passport. Because of this, you should give guests extra notice about a destination wedding compared to a wedding at home.

Send your save-the-dates as early as possible, once your date is set and destination and venue are booked. There’s no such thing as too early. For formal invitations, try to send them 3-4 months before the wedding. This should give guests ample time to make any necessary arrangements.

Help Arrange Travel Plans

When you send your formal invitations, you should also offer guests as much helpful information as possible about the destination and accommodations. This may include airport and flight information, customs information if your destination is out of the country, hotel information, and more.

Many couples who throw a destination wedding section off a block of rooms or offer different accommodation options for their guests. Try to offer a range of options so that guests can choose what fits their budget.

Try to provide as much information as possible so that guests can easily plan how they will attend your wedding day. Your wedding website is a great place to answer any questions guests may have and offer resources.

Be Transparent About Costs

Destination weddings can be expensive, not just for the bride and groom, but for guests as well. Be transparent with your guests about the costs they’ll have to take on to attend your wedding. Try to supply them with an estimate of the travel expenses before they RSVP so that they know what they’re signing up for. You should also be clear what they must pay for versus what is covered in the cost of the wedding.

Consider your Gift Policy 

Gifts are standard at a wedding, and there are certain rules about gift etiquette in place. For a destination wedding, however, you may want to reconsider your policy on gifts. Depending on your destination, guests will have to spend a lot of money to attend your wedding. You might consider letting your guests know that gifts are not necessary, or that their presence is enough of a gift.

Another option is to choose lower budget gifts on your wedding registry. This way, guests can choose to give smaller gifts rather than larger ones. If you don’t have a registry, tell guests that gifts are not necessary or make it clear what they can get you.

You should also consider that guests may not be able to fit large gifts with their luggage. If you do ask for gifts, try to keep them physically small or even virtual, like donations to your honeymoon fund or other online gifts.

Account for Cultural Differences

Destination wedding etiquette includes etiquette at your actual destination. You should be sure to account for the culture of the destination where your wedding will take place. For example, in some countries, tips are not customary and may even be considered rude. Research the culture of your location so that you understand local customs and practices.

Be sensitive to the culture of your destination so that you can respect their practices and values. You should also be sure to avoid cultural appropriation.

Consider destination wedding etiquette when planning your wedding trip! While destination weddings can be expensive, they’re also a great experience for the bride and groom and all of their guests.

Whether you’re the one getting married, or part of the wedding party, destination weddings require careful planning. If it’s your turn at the altar, these destination wedding etiquettes should help you flawlessly execute your wedding, and if you’re a guest, you’ll know just how to navigate this exciting and once-in-a-lifetime affair!


Scroll to Top