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A Practical Guide to Planning Your Beach Wedding (10 Tips)

Bride and groom getting ready for a beach wedding

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Beach weddings are a popular wedding venue and with good reason – they’re often free to use, have a wonderful relaxed vibe and you get to have the beauty and grandeur of nature as your backdrop. However, careful planning and being prepared is important if you want to pull off your beach wedding successfully.

Here’s our practical guide to help you plan your beach wedding.

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Why Have A Beach Wedding?

Before we start talking about how to plan a beach wedding, let’s first go over the reasons to pick the beach as your wedding venue. In brief, these are the reasons that make a beach venue so attractive:

  • A beach wedding is easier to plan, and you’ll need minimal décor.
  • It’s cheaper and in many states, there’s no charge for using the beach.
  • It’s more fun and relaxed without the stuffiness of an overly formal wedding.
  • The beach is a romantic, natural setting with an ambience that you won’t get anywhere else
  • Beaches are perfect for an intimate wedding with a small number of guests, although it can accommodate large weddings too.
  • They’re perfect for a destination wedding.
  • Beach venues are perfect for a couple with a sense of adventure.

These are only some of the reasons that make choosing a beach venue a great idea. If you’re still on board, let’s look at how to plan a beach wedding.

Planning Beach Wedding

Book Your Beach Venue

Beach wedding setup venue

Like I mentioned before, beach weddings are typically cheap or free. If you live near a beach, check if your state requires a permit and what the regulations are like surrounding using the beach for your wedding ceremony. There may be rules regarding things like consuming alcohol on the beach or throwing rice.

You could also use the private beach of a resort. Although this sounds pricey, resorts often do really good package deals for reception, honeymoon and accommodation for guests so don’t write it out without checking.

One important point to note is that beaches aren’t always private, so you might end up sharing the beach with sunbathers and screaming kids who could end up in your videos and photos. If you’re using a resort beach, check with the resort about this.

If you’re traveling for your wedding, spare a thought for your guests and whether they would be able to attend. And make sure they know that the wedding will be on sand so they can dress accordingly.

Pick Your Dress

Bride and groom holding hand

Beach wedding dresses should ideally be of breathable, comfortable fabric especially if your wedding is going to be held in the warm months. Large ballgowns and dresses with long trains, can be annoying, get dirty and make you sweat. Having said that, a traditional princess style wedding dress will still look amazing on the beach but be prepared for the difficulties that come with it. You might want to have it altered so that it’s not as long and doesn’t drag in the sand.

Skip the Veil

Bride and groom kissing at the beach

A veil on the beach can be a major headache if it’s windy on the beach. It can make you look unkempt and result in messy photos. A heavy veil can usually stay its ground but why risk it when there are lots of options out there like flower crowns or hair vines?

Pick the Right Shoes

Barefoot sandals for beach wedding

Barefoot sandals for a beach wedding by Fancy Feet Team. See it here.

Heels on sand is a recipe for disaster, and just won’t work together. Ditch the heels and instead choose wedges or flats. You could also go barefoot, or wear barefoot beach sandals, for a comfortable, free-spirited vibe. Note that the sand could be hot and may be uncomfortable for your feet, so consider having a fabric runner or carpet set out for you to walk on if necessary.

Time it Right

A sunset beach wedding might seem tempting, but the problem is that as soon as the sun drops, the beach turns black and your pictures will not have the ambience that you’re after. Instead, choose a time when the sun is still up and the colors and sights of the beach are perfect for photography.

The downside? It’ll be hot so don’t forget the practical things like sunscreen or a parasol and also choose flowers that won’t wilt easily in the burning sun. And consider your bridal party and guests. It’s not fair to make them stand or sit in the heat for prolonged periods of time or this could happen:

Have a Back Up Plan

Beach weddings (or any outdoor venue) are exposed to the elements so preparing for the unexpected is a wise move. Have a plan B just in case things don’t go the way you’d envisaged.

Gazelle: I always wanted to have a beach wedding and I picked what I thought was the perfect date. But on the day of my wedding, we had an unexpected downpour that lasted right through the ceremony time. It was unlucky because the day before and after the wedding were perfect sunshiny days. Luckily, we had a back up plan and moved everything inside to where our reception was going to be. I ended up wearing my heels all day, instead of going barefoot like I had planned for the ceremony and the entire event was held in one venue. But we were able to capture a beach photo shoot before the rain began so at least I have some beach photos.

Consider the Groom’s Attire

What dress to wear for beach wedding

Black tuxedos and the beach aren’t the best combo and can be hot and stuffy to wear. It’s best to stick to more comfortable clothes, with fabrics like linen or cotton. Lighter colors like whites, browns and grays, tend to suit a beach venue and also keep the groom cool and comfortable.

Have a Shoe Station

Have a shoe station near the venue where your guests can leave their shoes, so they won’t have to worry about sand getting in them. Have a little sign that signals where the shoes are to be kept. This could be something as simple as a bench with small towels for guests to wipe the sand off their feet with later on. It’s a considerate touch and one that your guests are sure to appreciate.

Keep Your Guests Refreshed

Do not forget cool drinks when planning beach wedding

Beach venues are typically hot, so try to keep your guests refreshed with water and drinks. You can have a table set up with icy drinks so your guests can keep cool while they wait for the ceremony to start. Also, try to keep the ceremony short as a long ceremony under the sun can be unbearable.

Have a Microphone

You’ll have to either speak up or use a microphone at the beach, because the background sounds of the waves and wind can really drown out human speech. What’s worse than planning and preparing your vows only to have no one hear them properly because of the volume?

Some Other Things to Consider

  • Bugs: Don’t forget the bug spray because you might be fighting off mosquitoes and flies. Insect repellent is always handy at the beach.
  • Wind: It can get quite windy at the beach so ensure that the decorations are fixed firmly in place and that precautions are taken against things flying off in the wind.
  • Length: Keep your ceremony short to make sure that everyone is comfortable.
  • Toilets: Most popular beaches and beach resorts have public toilets but you might want to consider hiring a portable lavatory for the event.
  • Shade: Provide your guests with some shade if possible, by having a canopy set up or if nothing else, having parasols on offer.