How to Survive Planning Your Beach Wedding

Having a smooth and stress-free wedding day is every couple's goal, but there are some wedding locations that have extra bumps to smooth out before taking that sigh of relief - and a beach is one of those locations. Whether a fabulous destination wedding on an island or the beach your families grew up visiting every year, a well-designed beach wedding comes across as naturally beauty and effortless, as long as you work through the logistics long beforehand. So how do you create that effortless look without pulling your hair out? Grab your partner and start working through this list!

Ceremony, Reception or Both?

Photo by Care Studios

The logistics completely change based on if you decide to have just the ceremony on the beach, or if you want the whole event to take place on the water's edge. A smaller guest list - we're talking 30 or less - may be able to dine on the beach, but any more than that and you're talking about taking up a lot of coast line. The popular option (largely for sanity's sake) is to have a stunning beach ceremony followed by a reception at a nearby venue, but we'll be happy to work with you through whatever option you choose!

If a beach wedding feels like a complicated dream, consider a spot near the water - but not on the sand. If there is a nearby pier or grassy area that overlooks the ocean, you may want to opt for that spot, as it will allow your guests and bridal party to walk down the aisle with less difficulty, while still providing a beautiful backdrop.

Main Logistics to Consider

Photo by Kyle John

The logistics to take an empty field and transform it into a functional wedding space are complicated enough, but when you're looking at a beach that partly disappears as the tide rolls in, there are more aspects to consider.

  • If the wedding is on a public beach, do you need to get a permit to reserve the stretch of sand? If you need a permit, be sure to chat with your wedding planner to find out the logistics.

  • Is there a loading zone nearby where your decor can be delivered?

  • Is there parking nearby for guests?

  • Can we rope off the area so there are no wedding crashers?

  • How early can setup begin?

  • Can we bring a sound system so that there is a microphone for the officiant and vows? (That way, the wind doesn't carry off your words.)

  • What restrictions are there? (Be sure to check about noise ordinances and alcohol!)

  • When is high tide?

  • If opting to have the reception at the beach, where will your caterer set up?

  • Is there a curfew?

  • Where is the closest public restroom? Will we need to rent facilities?

  • If anyone is handicapped, can we bring a golf cart on the sand?

Keep it Comfortable

Photo by Paul Johnson Photography

One of the most important things to consider when planning your beach wedding is how to keep everyone comfortable. Step number one? Dress accordingly! This includes the bride and groom, her bridal party, and the guests. The bridal dress best suited to the location will probably not be a heavy ballgown or a dress with a lot of lace and beading for sand to get stuck in. To ensure that the groom and groomsmen don't overheat, be sure to consider more casual attire in breathable fabrics. And please, please make sure that the ladies aren't in heels! The last thing anyone wants is for someone to get hurt while walking down the aisle. Other attire concerns, for the bride in particular, are to nix the veil and to wear hair in an up-do so that the wind doesn't instantly destroy the bridal look.

Be considerate to the fact that your guests may be sitting in the sun for a while before the ceremony starts, so you'll want to keep them comfortable. Consider providing a shoe station where they can ditch their shoes, trade in for flip flops or wipe down after so they don’t have sand in their shoes all day. Also remember to keep your guests hydrated - not just with alcohol - and to provide shady spots so everyone is comfortable. This can include a drink area set up near the ceremony so guests can take a drink to their seats. If you're having the reception in the same location (e.g. still in the sun), you may also choose to set up a shaded lounge areas for the reception - we’re totally a fan of bringing couches and rugs onto the beach, with a shady tent overhead. If you'll be on the beach all evening, keep in mind how chilly the ocean breeze feels after the sun goes down, and set out some blankets for guests who get cold.

Be Aware of Your Decor Choices

Photo by Melissa Schollaert Photography

For any decor that you set up at the beach, be incredibly mindful of the wind; if something can blow away, it will. Simplify your decor, especially when it comes to floral elements, and make sure everything is secure. Candles will blow out, tall glassware can blow over and break, and paper products won’t stay still, so consider this when thinking about wedding programs and decor. For your bridal party and color palette, opt for colors that beautifully contrast with the beach’s natural colors, or compliment without getting lost. Corals and reds stand out beautifully against the sand, while sea greens and light blues make for an elegant and romantic setting.

Throughout your reception space, use natural beach elements in the decor, such as tall grasses or driftwood, to tie your bright summer blooms into the theme. If the reception is outside, shells, sand dollars and sea glass can add a tasteful touch to your decor, especially when used as heavy escort cards to anchor your napkin and menu at each place setting.

Want help designing and executing your dream beach wedding? Let's chat!

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