Tips and Tricks for a Memorable Event
Your wedding will be one of the most momentous occasions in your life, so you need it to be special. While you could have your wedding in a traditional space like a church or high-class venue, beach weddings are becoming more and more popular. It makes sense - what's prettier than the beach? However, although a beach wedding will create some stunning memories for you, your spouse-to-be, and your guests, you will need to spend some extra time on planning and preparation.
Fortunately, we're here to help. In this article, we'll guide you through the various steps and considerations you'll have to make to ensure that your ceremony goes off without a hitch. Here is everything you need to know about creating the perfect beach wedding.
Selecting Your Beach Wedding Location
First and foremost, you want to make sure that you choose the right beach to host your ceremony and, possibly, reception. However, there are many variables to consider when making your decision, so you'll want to visit as many of these places first if possible. Here are the most vital things to think about when making your comparison.
As is the case with all outdoor events, Mother Nature may have plans of her own. However, hosting a beach wedding comes with some added considerations. Not only do you have to worry about elements like wind and rain, but you could have to contend with more serious events, such as hurricanes or thunderstorms. Also, be aware that the beach is typically cooler than the rest of the mainland, so watch daily temperatures in your spot of choice to get an idea of what to expect.
Accessibility - Public or Private
Ideally, you'd host your beach wedding on private property so that you don't have to worry about random people showing up and photobombing the wedding party. If you don't know anyone with a private location, you could consider hosting it at a resort. While that may be easier for a lot of reasons (accommodations, reception area, catering, etc.), you do want to think about the cost for guests. Will people have to stay at the resort, or can they stay elsewhere nearby, just in case it's cheaper?
Another thing to consider with accessibility is how guests and vendors will get down to the beach itself. In some cases, you may have to worry about stairs, steep hills, and other obstacles. If that is the case, make sure to plan accordingly. Again, visit your locations beforehand if possible to get a sense of the layout.
If you're not having your wedding at a resort, then you will probably have to get a permit. Also, if you're hosting the ceremony in another country, you'll need to lookup local laws and regulations as well. We highly recommend getting this process started as soon as possible so that you're not scrambling with just a week or so left. Remember that bureaucracies can take a long time to issue permits and other documentation. Not only that, but you may be limited in how many guests you can invite, so you need to have a plan if that is the case.
Time of Day
Since your beach wedding will be outdoors, you will want to have the ceremony during the day. However, depending on where you are, that can be problematic because of the sun and heat. Ideally, you can create covered areas for guests to cool off, as well as avoid too much direct sunlight. Typically, the early afternoon is an excellent time, or a morning ceremony might work out better, temperature-wise.
Another thing to consider regarding the time of day is how it will affect your wedding pictures. In most cases, taking photos during the "golden hour" of sunset is best, but you probably don't want to have your ceremony at that time, since it will be harder to see what's going on. If possible, you can have an earlier ceremony and take pictures later in the day as you like.
Realistically, you will have to taper down your guest list for a beach wedding. While you can bring chairs for large groups, you'll also have to worry about the wind blowing them over, or getting sand all over your guests. Again, having your ceremony at a resort can help alleviate some of these problems, but you're still limited compared to having your event inside. Along with the chairs themselves, you'll want some kind of cover and protection for your guests if possible.
Depending on where you plan to host your beach wedding, your guests may have trouble finding spots to park. For example, if you have a small private beach on someone's property, most parking options will be on the street, which means that people may have to walk for a while to get to the destination. Another potential issue could be if you have the wedding at a resort and guests have to pay for parking on site. In some cases, it might be best to arrange for a shuttle service to facilitate a smooth arrival for most of your guests.
Even if you have a small, intimate ceremony, you will need to contend with waves, wind, and other beach noises. Because of these elements, you'll need to invest in a sound system. While you don't have to go all out with a multi-speaker setup, you'll need something that can make it easier to hear what is being said. You don't want your vows drowned out by a particularly ornery seagull. When looking at a sound system, you'll have to consider where it can be set up, as well as how it will receive power. In most cases, you'll likely have to run an extension cord from a portable generator.
Selecting Your Beach Wedding Vendors
Once you have your location set, now it's time to get everything else. Hosting a wedding is already challenging, but it's even more overwhelming when you have to factor in all of the various beach elements. Here is what you should be thinking about when choosing vendors - also, ask if they have any experience with beach weddings. If possible, you want vendors with a lot of experience so that they won't become a liability on the day of the event.
Decor + Flowers
Realistically, your wedding decor will have to be minimal for the occasion. However, that doesn't mean it can't be gorgeous. For many beach weddings, vendors will incorporate beach-style elements into both the decorations and the floral arrangements. For example, you could build a small gazebo out of driftwood. If you're having the ceremony in another country, you can find local flowers and cultural designs to add to the display. Overall, simple and elegant should be your priorities. Remember, whatever you get will have to be brought in and set up on the sand.
If you plan to have your reception on the beach as well, then you'll need to consider catering options. Unfortunately, the beach isn't always ideal for buffet tables and open-air setups, so you might have to make some adjustments. Again, you'll want to work with a vendor who has done beach weddings before, since they will know what to anticipate. Some issues that can come up with catering on the beach can include:
- Bugs - flies and other insects could be swarming around the buffet table or cake display
- Heat - cold food will likely start to sweat, including the cake itself
- Sunlight - you'll need to keep everything out of direct sunlight so that it doesn't spoil or get too messy
- Sand - if the wind picks up, then sand will likely get into some of the food. Protect it as much as possible.
Photographer + Videographer
One of the primary reasons to have a beach wedding is so that you can get incredible pictures of the whole occasion. So, you want to hire a wedding photographer and videographer team that can capitalize on the gorgeous scenery as much as possible. Once again, experience counts, as you don't want someone who will be figuring things out on the fly. Also, if the team is taking videos, they will have to be prepared for a lot of background noise. In most cases, you'll have to use various mics to avoid most of the sound getting drowned out in the final cut.
Another point to consider is how shadows can affect photos. If you want to take pictures during the golden hour, you need a photographer who can do that effectively without ruining each shot.
We already discussed the need for having a small sound system at the ceremony, but you'll also need a full DJ setup for the reception. Unfortunately, sound equipment and sand don't mix, so you'll have to consider how and where the music will be placed. Not only that but if you want a dance floor, that's something else to set up beforehand. Finally, if you're too close to the water's edge, ocean spray can get into electronics, ruining them for good. Saltwater is probably the worst thing for speakers and mixers, so be hyper-aware of the DJ placement.
Since your wedding is such a special occasion, you'll want to make it as memorable as possible. While hosting the event on the beach is already pretty incredible, you can jazz things up by adding some unique extras. For example, what if you and your new spouse rode off into the sunset after the ceremony? Since you'll be outdoors, what about a fireworks display over the water during the reception? If you want something a bit more fun and extreme, how about riding onto the beach on a couple of jetskis?
It's your wedding, so now is the time to get creative. Whatever you decide, though, be sure to do your homework beforehand. Reach out to potential vendors to see if they offer any custom packages or if they've done something like that before. In some cases, you may be creating a new experience, so you'll have to figure it out as you go.
Beach Wedding Tips: Clothes and Personal Accessories
Now that we've taken care of the location and the vendors, what about you and your guests? Yes, a beach wedding is going to be beautiful and stunning, but you also want to make sure that everyone is comfortable the whole time. Here are some considerations to make to ensure that your event is both gorgeous and relaxing.
Even if you have portable tents and shelters put up, you and your guests will need to wear sunscreen. Ideally, you'll be able to have some that will last all day and won't create too much of a glossy effect on your skin. The worst-case scenario is that you and your spouse wind up with severe sunburns on your body the next day. Also, your wedding party will likely need more coverage than average guests since they'll be outside most of the day as well.
Light and Comfy Clothing
Beach weddings are not the time or place for dark, drab outfits. The bride has it easy since she will be wearing white, but the groom shouldn't have to suffer. Your location is ideal for light, pastel colors and shades, so lean into them as much as possible. Also, you can go with a much more casual look for everyone involved. For example, instead of a full-size dress and black tuxedo, you can opt for a slimmer, shorter dress (remember, sand), and a button-down shirt with khakis. When you're on the beach, the standard rules for formality are no longer a necessity.
Just as you'll want to ditch the stuffy clothing, you'll need to avoid uncomfortable shoes. Instead of heels or high-end loafers, you can both get away with flip-flops or bare feet if you want. Also, consider the needs of your guests. If possible, you can create a shoe depository so that everyone can experience the ceremony bare-footed without having to worry about tracking sand back.
Yes, you'll want to take most of your pictures out in the direct sun, but what about when it's time to change memory cards or positions? A beach umbrella is an excellent accessory to have so that the happy couple can get some respite from the heat and sunlight. Not only that, but it's easier to reapply makeup or do touch-ups in the shade. Also, it can help keep the wind from becoming too much of a disaster.
Hair and Makeup
Since you'll be wearing sunscreen, you want to go light on the makeup. Also, your hairdo should be wind-resistant as much as possible. You want your photos to look stunning, not like epic fails. Tight buns and hair clips are going to be much better than long, flowing locks that can get into your face. Again, you'll probably have to do some touch-ups throughout the day, so make sure that your hair and makeup are easy to manage.
Beach Wedding Tips: Preparing Your Guests
For our final section, we want to share some tips and tricks for ensuring that your guests have a blast. Weddings are unique because they feature a wide assortment of people - kids, grandparents, teens, young adults, single people, and couples. Because your guest list will be so diverse, you have to accommodate everyone accordingly. Here are some extra factors to consider when planning your perfect day.
Number of Guests
As we mentioned, you'll likely have to taper down your guest list for the ceremony, depending on how much seating you can arrange. If the reception will be in another location, you can bump up your numbers there if necessary. Also, if you plan to have food on the beach, keep in mind how many people will be dining since that can affect everything from table placement to the amount of food sitting out at any given time.
Walking on sand can be difficult for anyone, but particularly for senior guests. Also, if the walk down to the beach is a bit treacherous, see if there are any ways to make it easier. Realistically, you'll want to inform all of your senior guests about the arrangements so that they can give themselves plenty of time to navigate the scene. If you have anyone in a wheelchair, keep that in mind as well, as most beaches are not accessible for them.
Freebies and Gift Bags
While it's tempting to think that everyone will come prepared for beach weather, it's rarely the case. So, to make your guests more comfortable, you could offer some freebies for the ceremony. Hand-held fans, complimentary sunscreen, water bottles, bug spray - all of these elements are good to have on hand just in case. Also, if the weather will be particularly hot, consider creating a cool-down station with water-cooled fans and ice packs.
The Perfect Beach Wedding Happens When You Plan Accordingly
Now that you're prepared and know what to expect, you can be sure that your event will go smoothly. That being said, it's always a smart idea to have backup plans and alternatives (i.e., what happens if it rains?), just in case. Beach weddings are special and momentous occasions, but the right plan will be the difference between a glamorous event and a total disaster.