Beaches are romantic settings and can be perfect wedding backdrops, but there is a lot to consider before committing to a surfside ceremony. By their nature, sand and water can be inhospitable, so planning the time of year, as well as day, to be gathered on the beach with your betrothed, family and friends, is key to a successful start of any union.
Yet even if you schedule a wedding outside of hurricane season, there are other considerations to ensure things go smoothly and the bride doesn't trip in the sand in her overly styled gown meant for a cathedral.
An ideal location for a ceremony is a quick walk from a house or inn where the wedding party gets ready and guests gather in comfort before the ceremony. Both places also make quaint and convenient reception venues, as well as ceremony backups in case of bad weather or high wind so the couple won't have to relinquish their beach-wedding dreams.
Beach weddings should be casual, but unless you want people to show up in flip flops and shorts, be sure to suggest a dress code in the wedding invitations, like "smart casual", "Gatsby summer", or whatever tone you hope to strike, including whether hats are suggested to protect from the elements. Be sure to note if the ceremony requires walking in sand so guests might bring a spare pair of shoes or be ready to go barefoot.
In picking what to wear, the couple should think of their comfort first and that of their wedding party. Beach weddings speak to cotton, linen and sheer silk fabrics, tea-length gowns and open collars with either pastels or a bold color like apricot or turquoise, contrasted with a deep ivory.
Avoid scheduling the ceremony during the heat of the day. But if sun is ever present, provide some kind of shelter for guests, ranging from Japanese paper parasols to a low-profile tent that won't obscure the view. If sweltering temperatures are a factor, provide fans. Also note: calm weather in summer often occurs before noon. Consider a mid-morning beach wedding, with a jazz brunch reception, leaving the afternoon for relaxing at the beach or sightseeing.
It is crucial to become familiar with the local ocean tide table so the ceremony area won't be underwater when guests arrive. Likewise, there's less ocean noise at low tide. In any event, beforehand be sure to groom the sand in the ceremony area using a heavy metal rake to achieve as even a surface as possible.
So everyone can hear, situate guests in a semi-circle around the wedding couple, with enough space in the middle for an aisle. Put chairs in the front two rows for the couple's immediate family and those who cannot stand during the ceremony. Decorate the back of the chairs with tulle and flowers.
With all these details considered, your beach wedding will appear effortless - and be one to remember.
Feeling inspired? Shop our exclusive selection of beach wedding invitations.