How to celebrate a beach wedding
Imagine one of the most romantic and relaxed scenarios for the celebration of a wedding… the probabilities of that scenario being a beautiful beach are very high! It could be a luxurious tropical beach or a white sandy beach with large cliffs, framed by the waves and set to the sound of the ocean. If this sounds like something you’d like for your wedding, than why not take the risk and have a beach wedding?! If the answer is yes, don’t forget your sunscreen!
Although nobody can guarantee a beautiful day, you can raise the probabilities of celebrating your wedding on a sunny day by consulting the weather patterns for the beach you have in mind on your local weather site before setting the date. If possible, choose a time of the year when the weather is more consistent and less unpredictable. Take into consideration other factors concerning the location’s weather and climate, such as: how windy is the beach during different times of the year, month and day; or how are the tides during that time of the year, so that you can plan the ceremony and avoid unpleasant situations, such as a rising tide that surprises and wets all the guests.
During high season, traffic towards the beach could get crazy and it’s also important to think about where guests will park their cars – send them information with maps, alternative routes and possible parking locations. Reserve a section of the beach for the guests’ cars. If possible, make an itinerary for the guests and make sure you have signs on scene, so that guests will make it to the right place.
Let your guests know that the wedding is going to take place on the beach, so that they may dress accordingly. Your invitations such also reflect the place where the wedding is going to be held and contain a phrase such as: “ceremony by the sea” or “ceremony on the sand”.
For this type of ceremony, high heels and a very over the top look with sequins and heavy fabrics should be avoided, by the bride and by the guests – wear something more casual and lighter, such as linens, crepe or organza; avoid wearing silk because besides being damaged by the humidity, it also raises the body temperature. Go barefoot or wear sandals. The bride should wear flowers in her hair as opposed to a veil, especially if the location is windy. If the bride chooses to wear a veil, flowers or other decorative elements such be placed at the bottom of the veil so as to avoid that it flies all over the place because of the wind. The groom’s outfit should match the bride’s outfit, in style and formality. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen under your makeup and… don’t even think about wearing socks!
How many guests?
Do you wish to have a small group of guests or celebrate a large and traditional-style wedding? Although it is perfectly possible to have a successful traditional wedding on the beach, a limited group of guests permits greater flexibility for the organization of the ceremony.
If you’ve always dreamed of getting married at an exotic location and your budget, as well as that of your guests, permits it, why not consider having the wedding at a location where the climate and all-around conditions are more favorable? You might consider a destination wedding, held outside your country, at an exotic resort that may also double as your honeymoon destination. However fantastic that may sound, it is best not to plan a wedding that is not in accordance with your guests’ financial situation. A smaller budget requires some limitations but also a lot of creativity – having the wedding on a public beach is a great possibility.
The natural setting of a beach wedding is a dominant and very powerful element, which means that the decoration should be minimal. It is important to use colors and materials wisely, such as light green, various shades of pink and blue, and even different shades of beige and light brown. Although common, seashells and starfish are very appropriate decorative elements, as are small boats, anchors, etc. Decorating the aisle the bride and groom will walk down with flower petals, hanging lanterns or torches will make the ceremony even more romantic, especially if it is held at sunset. When decorating with flowers, these are the most recommended for a beach wedding: cymbidium, dendrubium and mokara orchids; proteas (sugarbushes); amaryllis; arums; lotus flower and green foliage.
Time of day
When they dream of a beach wedding, many brides and grooms picture it at sunset. It is surely one of the best times of the day for a beach wedding – beachgoers are heading home and the beach becomes more deserted, more private. If you want pictures taken at sunset don’t forget to inform your photographer. Mornings are also a wonderful time of day – the beach is usually still pretty empty, it’s a great time for taking pictures and it’s also cooler. Since they are constantly changing, don’t forget to check the tides – for obvious reasons, it is best to have a beach wedding with a low tide, but also because the beach is less noisy.
You can’t control the weather but you can have an idea about the upcoming forecast. Try to find a beach that is not very windy, but if that is not possible, put up some decorative panels that will also double as protection for your guests. It is also very important that you have a plan B – a tent, just in case it rains! Heat attracts mosquitoes so don’t forget to line the space with citronella torches or candles to ward them off.
Floor or no floor?
Formal ceremonies such as a wedding – even if they are held on a beach – require a secure surface that can be placed on the sand. If you decide you want a “floor” for your beach wedding, you can have one made in wood, which will make it easier for all the guests to access the beach. If your wedding guest list includes seniors or people in wheelchairs, this is especially important. A solid “floor” placed on the beach will also avoid that chairs sink into the sand, which could cause unnecessary accidents.
Where to sit?
Chairs placed on the sand can be very dangerous (especially if you have senior citizens on your guest list) because they easily sink into the sand. If you decide to place chairs directly on the sand, choose chairs with wide legs. At these type of informal weddings, guests usually stand during the ceremony; if you decide to do it this way, make sure you have on hand some chairs, just in case they are necessary.
Because of the ocean’s natural sound, you should opt for portable instruments which mimic high notes, without drowning out the sound of the ocean. The violin, flute, saxophone, harp, cello and guitar are some good choices.
If the ceremony is held at a resort or hotel beach, you should inform the guests where the bathrooms are located. If the ceremony is held at a more remote location, you might want to consider the possibility of renting portable bathrooms.
Licenses and legal issues
The best place to start when deciding to have a beach wedding is with your local coast guard office. If you’re going to decorate the beach, add a wood floor, hire musicians or have fireworks, additional licenses may be necessary – get all the necessary information at your local city hall.