Are you thinking of planning a beach wedding?
Knowing how to have a beach wedding takes a little bit more than sun and sand. You love the beach, but it can bring more complications to your wedding planning than other venues. Plus, you’ll want to be sure you set it apart from other beach weddings, making it a truly special day.
The average cost of a wedding in America is more than $30,000. With a beach wedding, you can easily save money while still having a memorable, luxurious experience for you and your guests. Ready to learn how to plan the perfect beach wedding? We’ve got the tips you need right here – keep reading for more.
1. Choose the Right Dress
You might be tempted by the beauty of a long, flowing ball gown on the beach. However, while those gowns might look nice in photos, they’re not practical for the actual wedding at all.
Walking along the beach and getting great photos in a long dress can be next to impossible.
You should also avoid tactile, lacy fabrics that are likely to pick up beach debris. Think smooth satin or silk, so sand and other debris will roll right off. Lightweight fabrics are also a great choice – they make your gown flow elegantly in the breeze.
2. Avoid a Veil
Anytime you’re planning an outdoor wedding, a long veil isn’t ideal. If the wind picks up, it will get in the way, and your photographer will have a difficult time getting good pictures.
Instead, keep your look fresh with flowers or a creative fascinator.
3. Put Your Hair Up
An updo is absolutely the best choice for a beach wedding. You’ll want to consider how the elements will play with your hair. On the beach, there will certainly be a breeze, and leaving your hair down means getting it blown into your face throughout the ceremony. Not exactly ideal for pictures – or for the kiss!
When you decide on your hairstyle, do a trial run on the beach if you can to see how it will hold up. If you’re absolutely set on wearing your hair down, you should hire a stylist to stay on-site and do touch-ups throughout the day.
4. Avoid High Heels
High heels might be a traditional wedding footwear choice, but they don’t translate well to the beach at all. You’ll have better luck with flat-soled shoes, or at least a pair of thick-soled wedges or espadrilles. The goal is to have shoes that won’t sink into a sandy beach, making it difficult to walk.
You can hem your gown to the right length with your shoes or without them, depending on the height of your shoes. If you decide to go with minimal sandals or barefoot, don’t forget that the sand will probably be hot. It’s a good idea to use an aisle runner made out of fabric, or even a thick layer of flower petals, so your feet don’t get too hot while you walk.
5. Watch for Tan Lines
In the weeks leading up to your destination wedding, you’ll want to be careful so you don’t get a sunburn or tan lines that you don’t want.
If you’re going swimming, make sure to apply and re-apply waterproof sunscreen regularly. Don’t forget to remind your wedding party about sunscreen, too. The groom, bridesmaids, and the mothers of the bride and groom will all need to be cautious about sunburn. It’s always good to avoid sunburn for health reasons, of course – but it’s also important for the visual effect of your beach wedding photos.
Since everyone will already know what they’re wearing for the wedding, make sure to remind them to pack bathing suits that won’t create visible tan lines.
They can also avoid the sun’s damaging rays altogether and opt for a spray-tan, if that’s more appealing. However, chances are good that both you and your wedding party will want to soak up some rays while you’re at the wedding destination. There’s nothing wrong with that; just make sure you all take the right sun precautions.
6. Try Informal Menswear
If you love the idea of having your groom in a tux for the big day, a beach wedding might not be right for you. Heavy black suits don’t translate well to the beach.
For a beach wedding, have the men in light, beachy pants made of a material like cotton. Even Bermuda shorts can be a good look for a more casual beach wedding.
7. Keep it Natural
One of the best things about a beach wedding is that the decorations are done for you. You don’t need to add a lot – just let the beautiful backdrop of the beach speak for itself.
Your decorations can focus on traditional beach elements like shells. But another chic, modern option involves drawing color inspiration from the beach around you. Think of the colors of the beach grasses, sand dunes, pebbles, and water as you design your wedding colors and decorations. Keep the decor simple: too many elaborate decorations will overshadow the natural scene.
8. Try a Contrast
Another great approach to beach wedding colors is to contrast against the scenery with bold shades. Greens and corals will coordinate well with the natural beach colors while standing out from them.
9. Use Local Resources
With a beach destination wedding, you have plenty of local resources at your fingertips. Instead of paying extra to transport vendors, give your business to the people who are already on location.
Transporting things to a destination invites the room for trouble, such as delayed flights or decorations that didn’t make it through customs. You’ll save money and stress by hiring locally.
When you find your food vendors, try to hire people that work with the local foods for a truly unique experience. Don’t forget to hire vendors who are environmentally friendly and care about protecting your wedding beach for the future, too.
10. File Your Paperwork
Find out what permits or paperwork need to be done before you can have your beach wedding ceremony. If it’s a public beach, you’ll definitely need to get your paperwork in order. Don’t forget to check whether or not there are any noise ordinances, too, and follow them accordingly so you avoid fines and trouble.
11. Keep it Private
Chances are good, you don’t want to see the public sunbathing just feet away from your wedding ceremony. Part of what makes weddings special is that they’re somewhat private. However, public beaches can get incredibly crowded, especially during summer weekends when weddings are most popular.
In some places, such as Hawaii, all the beaches are public, so you’ll need to factor that into your planning. You might not be allowed to set up anything for a wedding on a public beach. Depending on the locale you choose, you might need to rent a waterfront estate so you can have privacy and the freedom to decorate.
12. Alert Your Guests
Make sure your guests know about the natural conditions where the ceremony is taking place. If you’re getting married right on the sand, for example, let them know so they can dress accordingly.
Make your plans clear on your wedding site or on your invitations. Add a few necessary beach items to the welcome bags to keep your guests ready, such as sunscreen.
13. Consider Your Timing
When taking wedding photos on the beach, the right lighting is important. Aim to have the ceremony timed so you get the best lighting.
For example, ending it an hour before the sun sets will give you that perfect “golden hour” lighting that photographers love. You’ll also get the natural daylight for the action shots of the ceremony.
14. Build a Shoe Station
You don’t want your wedding guests to suffer through the day and night with shoes full of sand. Create a shoe check station where they can trade out their shoes for beach-appropriate flip-flops.
Offer water and towels so they can clean their feet off when they’re done.
15. Don’t Forget Shade
Shade is crucial for making it through the ceremony without discomfort or heatstroke. Make sure you, your wedding party, and your guests will have plenty of shade available.
You can cover the seating areas with a canopy, for example, to make shade decorative.
16. Give Refreshments
Having plenty of fresh water available will also help everyone get through the ceremony unscathed, no matter how hot it is.
You can also offer lemonade, punch, and a signature cocktail to make the refreshments table special.
17. Make Signs Clear
You can direct your guests to the shoe station, refreshments, and more with beautiful signage from a brand like Rustic Decor Treasures that lets them know what’s available.
How to Have a Beach Wedding – Your Way
Knowing how to have a beach wedding is all about planning ahead so you and your guests will be comfortable. Beyond that, it’s all up to you, and there are plenty of ways to add personal touches to make your big beach day special.
Looking for more ways to add personality to your wedding look? Check out our guide to wedding dress accessories here.