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Want a beach wedding but not sure how to pull it off? Use these tips to help you create a signature beach wedding that you’ll never forget.
The sun’s shining.
There’s a salty breeze.
Shells are scattered around.
It’s no wonder couples choose to have a beach wedding. It’s the perfect blend of casual and elegance mixed with romanticism. (Some couples and their guests even go in the ocean after the ceremony!)
It’s safe to say that, if planned right, a beach wedding can be both fun and romantic. That said, this type of wedding calls for different accommodations compared to more traditional weddings.
High heels that are fine on concrete will now sink into the sand. Without sunglasses, guests may have to squint to see the ceremony.
What about the proper permits and liability insurance if the wedding is on a local beach?
These (and more) are factors you need to consider and plan for when doing a beach wedding.
So, we’ve compiled 5 tips to provide you with the solutions. That way, you can enjoy your wedding minus the stress.
1. Beach wedding attire
Since the wedding is outdoors on the sand, with high potential for wind and sun, the wedding attire will differ slightly from your traditional wedding garb.
Say no to ball gowns and lace trains.
Because, as beautiful as they are, they’ll pick up sand. And they will become dirty within minutes.
You don’t want wedding photographs where one-quarter of your dress is a darker colour than the rest. Instead, stick to lighter, billowy dresses. In fact, beach weddings normally have a laid back feel.
Why not go for something to reflect that atmosphere? Think fewer sequins, lace, and jewels?
While we’re on the subject, ditch the veil. This will minimise the chance of it flying off if it’s windy.
Also, veils are more traditional, which may not go quite as well for a beach wedding.
Tuxedos are restrictive and stiff. Not to mention, that in the heat, the groom and groomsmen are going to sweat.
If it’s really hot, you could even risk heat stroke. Instead, match with the bride’s casual wedding gown.
Go for a rolled-up white dress shirt with a vest.
When it comes to shoes…
Again, less is more.
You and your significant other may want to consider ditching the shoes and go barefoot.
If not, strappy sandals are a great option. Opt for shoes that do well in the sand.
Dress shoes will get dirty. And heels will sink, making it difficult to walk.
For your guests
Because this is a beach wedding, consider notifying your guests about recommended attire.
That means light, airy, even casual clothing.
So to minimise heat stroke, excessive sweating, and discomfort.
Colour of attire
Opt for colours you’d see at the beach. Like turquoise, coral reds, salmon pinks, and greys.
2. What about hair and makeup?
If you’re the bride, again, go along with the beach casualness.
This means wearing a loose, messy bun. Or those beach waves.
As for makeup, don’t overdo it. It may look awkward to have a full face and then some when the rest of the wedding is casual.
Yes, chances are, you’re going to need a permit. Especially if you want your ceremony to be on a beach.
Our recommendation: do your research early.
No beach, public or private, is alike. The prices may vary. Some may be fine with alcohol. Others won’t allow it.
Also, the more guests you have, there might be a higher cost.
To give you some perspective, let’s say you wanted to go abroad for your wedding, perhaps California. A local beach in Southern California (Huntington Beach) requires a permit for a beach wedding on its premises. In addition to this, they require liability insurance, with the name of the city added to the insured section.
And, if there are more than 25 guests and you have a setup, that’s a couple hundred more.
So, expect to shell out £117-£330 in permits and liability insurance for your beach destination.
Crowds and the weather
Also, keep in mind that you’ll face crowds if your wedding is in beach season—aka summer.
This is something to consider, as you might not be able to have a fully private wedding. On the other hand, you could opt for a wedding during the low seasons—fall and winter.
But the weather may not be as nice.
In respect to permits, it may be more during the beach season. Or the same. Again, it depends on the beach.
You might also want to settle this early, as beach weddings are popular. And the date and location may already be booked by another couple.
Are you having the ceremony, reception, or both at the beach?
This may determine the price, as you’ll be spending more time at the beach if the ceremony and reception are held there.
You may consider having the ceremony at the beach. And then going to a restaurant for the reception.
This will definitely help keep the beach wedding private.
Some other factors to consider
Do your research if your beach wedding will be in the states. If you want your wedding to be in Florida, for instance, know when the hurricane season is. And plan around that.
If you want something more local(-ish), perhaps Bournemouth Beach? Again, you’ll want to check out the average weather, especially since drizzle is a factor.
And, on top of this, know what time the beach closes. Even if you’re having a beach wedding, you may not be able to celebrate it past the beach’s close time.
Vendors: Bring your own or go local?
This depends on the kind of beach wedding you’re having.
If it’s a destination wedding, you may want to hire local vendors.
The reason being, you’ll have to pay for the travel and lodging expenses (plus the service or product) if you bring your own vendors. Plus, local vendors have experience with beach weddings at the destination. They are indeed from there.
The exception though is if you want something specific such as flowers from your hometown. Or you’ve known your photographer for years.
In that case, if you have the extra cash, why not?
Most brides have at least one DIY element.
To limit your expenses and add a personal touch, a DIY wedding project or two can make your beach wedding more unique.
Pinterest has some great ideas. Like collecting or buying seashells and sprinkling them to mark the aisle. Also, you could create fish bowl centrepieces with sand, rocks, and seashells in them.
5. Guest treatment
Especially if this is a destination beach wedding, you’ll want to let your guests know in advance. We’re talking even further in advance than traditional weddings.
Guests need time to book the flights and hotel rooms and schedule the time off work.
Try to minimise the hassle and cost by asking the resort for a discount. Especially if more than 25 guests are coming and staying at the hotel.
If you do have the extra money, you may want to consider paying for the travel and lodging expenses of closer family members (i.e. parents, siblings…)
What to pack
Besides letting them know about the wedding, tell your guests what they should bring. Recommend sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses to reduce the chances of a sunburn.
And advise them to pack a swimsuit and sandals so they can enjoy the resort before and after the wedding.
Before they get there
It’s a good idea for you and your significant other to go to the destination at least a day before.
This will allow you some time to tie up loose ends. Get the centrepieces together and check out where you’re getting married.
When they get there
Greet your guests when they arrive with a goodie bag filled with sunscreen, mini fan, and water bottle.
If you booked all the rooms, give them their room key and show them to their rooms.
The small types of hospitality will convey to your guests that you appreciate them being there and celebrating this hallmark moment.
6. Bonus: Have a plan B
It’s not abnormal for at least one thing in a wedding to go array.
A beach wedding is no exception.
There could be a drizzle (or downright pour) on the special day. Or it’s especially windy.
Maybe a vendor had to cancel on you last minute. Or they’re running late. It’s all about preparation.
That means having a tarp or canopy handy should the rain pour.
Perhaps it’s carving out some extra time for drinks and appetisers so the late vendor has time to set up.
Have the mindset that this isn’t your typical beach vacation packing. Yes, pack your swimsuit and sandals. But also make sure the gown, rings, and legal documents are there too.
If the ceremony is on the beach, consider hiring an upscale portable lavatory service for a couple of hours.
Also, have multiple tables with water bottles. Or, if you have servers, have them serve water. This will reduce that chances of dehydration.
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Sasha Durant is a professional writer specialising in weddings / photography / the broader leisure industry. She works at one of the top hotel wedding wedding venues in the North East, Newton Hall which specialises in unique outdoor weddings.
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