If you are looking for a romantic and affordable wedding, then consider getting married at the beach.
You’ve decided to tie the knot by a beach. Congratulations! You’re in luck because there are plenty of things you can do for your wedding day, and we want to help you with your planning.
Your beach wedding is coming up, and you are feeling overwhelmed with all the planning. That’s okay! You can do this! There are so many great ways to plan a beautiful, stress-free event that doesn’t even involve sand in your toes.
The key to any successful event is making it personal for you and your spouse. So here are some of my favourite tips for planning an unforgettable day on the shore.
There are plenty of beaches to choose from, and they offer everything you need for an unforgettable experience. The first thing you’ll want to do is find the perfect location that will fit your needs and budget. If you’re looking for something affordable but still memorable, try renting out a pavilion on the beach or arrange to have chairs set up along the shoreline.
Most beaches even provide free permits! From there, it’s time to think about what kind of food and drink options will work best for your guests (think grilled seafood or gourmet sandwiches), as well as decorations like flowers or coloured rice, depending on which country’s culture inspires your nuptials most.
If you are looking to have a beach wedding, you need to know the important factors that will affect your decision. First off, do not plan your wedding too close to high tide.
If it rains on your wedding day and the sand is wet, make sure that guests wear appropriate footwear or risk damaging their shoes. Lastly, if there are any sharks in the water where you’re getting married, be sure to warn guests of this before they enter the ocean for photos!
Planning a beach wedding is an exciting time but can also be stressful. With all of the planning and details to consider, it’s important to take care of some things early on, so you don’t have any last-minute surprises. So here are some tips for having your dream beach wedding!
Whether you’ve been dreaming of your wedding day since childhood or if this is your first time planning one, there’s something for everyone in our list of tips below!
Top Tips for Beach Weddings
1. Have a Plan B
Wedding planner Lindsey Shaktman of Mavinhouse Events advises all couples to have a backup plan in place that they love just as much as their initial plan.
“Anticipate, and be as excited about, your Plan B as you are about your Plan A. Beach weddings require very specific conditions, so you should be ready to move to a Plan B at any moment,” she suggests.
She goes on to highlight the importance of working with your vendors, notably rental and tent companies while solidifying your Plan B.
“If you’re installing a dance floor and string lights, you’re most likely already working with a tenting company. Make sure that you have a solid Plan B that includes a fully constructed tent that may even include covered walkways to connect paths for the caterers.
Ask your tent company and all of your vendors about their experience with beach weddings. Make sure that the tenting company knows how to anchor the structure properly.”
2. Communication is Key
Expert Loren Petrowski of Marry You in Hawaii stresses the importance of communication, paired with a strong vendor team when planning a beachside big day. “Communication is key. I know that every region is different, but Hawaii’s weather can change very quickly.
I’ve had couples look at the weather forecast ten days out and ask about moving the date or the backup plan. After living on the mainland, I understand that the weather forecast is, in fact, pretty accurate.
However, in Hawaii, it can be raining one minute and sunny the next. Or raining on one part of the island and dry on the other. Having a great local wedding team can help you plan for the next steps,” they advise.
3. Know Your Locale’s Rules and Regulations
Wedding planner Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events reminds couples that they need to do proper research surrounding their venue’s local regulations. “Just because you’re planning a beach wedding doesn’t mean you can assume that you can get married on the beach.
Some locations require a beach permit to have a wedding, some are private property, and some don’t allow any actual chairs or furniture. Make sure you look into the beach’s rules and requirements you want to get married at so you don’t end up in a sticky situation,” she suggests. Petrowski agrees, sharing that couples “cannot assume anything and especially that all beaches are the same.
For example, in Hawaii, there is no alcohol allowed on the beach. If you want to have a ceremony on the beach, a permit is required and only allowed on specific beaches with restrictions on what and how many people are allowed. Involving a professional helps you to navigate this easily.”
Tips for the bride
1. The wedding dress and hairstyle
The bride is and will be the centre of the wedding. Therefore, for your wedding dress, you should choose an attire that keeps you beautiful and fresh. Unfortunately, most brides choose a designer in their place of residence and pack the dress to take it to the beach… where they never tested the weight of the fabric and how hot it can turn… or the behaviour of the fabric in front of the sea wind…
It would be best if you analyzed the length of the dress that you will drag through the sand when you walk down the aisle and opt for gauze that, besides being lighter, is fresh and extremely elegant.
The veil is another element to consider. Many brides who celebrate their wedding on the beach omit it because the wind can play against them and choose to change it for tiaras or crowns with more appropriate and extremely beautiful flowers because they harmonize with nature in which the ceremony will take place.
It is also especially important to do hairstyle tests with the headband or the flower crown. Keep in mind, always, that the wind from the beach is a factor that we cannot foresee, so those tied in an elegant bun are a good option to control how your hair looks.
We recommend local stylists who can be present at the ceremony and at the party, so you can always count on the help of a professional, not only for the arrangement of your hair but also for your makeup. This will wash away the worries caused by the weather.
Plus, a local makeup professional knows the secrets to keep you looking fresh and very stylish without making your makeup look like a puffy mask.
Forget about heels… There is no way you can have a pleasant experience wearing heels on the beach. Today, the footwear industry has countless options for espadrilles or wedge shoes that are ideal for moving on the beach.
You can have at least a couple of ideal options for the occasion that combine with the fabric and decorations of your dress because, with the heat, your feet could swell. Also, consider that you will stand for longer and you will dance.
We, as wedding planners, advise setting up a path to the altar made with thick fabrics, covered with many flowers that will help you wear a pair of shoes with wedges or platforms for the ceremony, or even high heels.
Many brides consider a second pair of espadrille-type shoes or open floor sandals enhanced with rhinestones that harmonize really well with your dress for the party. In addition, they look elegant and are very visual when dancing.
3. Sun tanning
Protect your skin from the sun. If you arrive at your destination a few days before your wedding, try to keep your skin highly hydrated and protect it from the sun with sunscreen.
If you rather have a very pronounced tan that contrasts with the white of the dress, then allocate more days for the colour of your skin to change gradually and carefully… We do not want shrimp-coloured tones, sunburns that make you uncomfortable, or skin marks. Swimsuits that have higher necklines than your wedding dress can ruin the image.
The ceremony schedule
A beach wedding will always be a delight for everyone, and thinking about the best timing for the ceremony is crucial for this experience to be magnificent.
Since the sun is one of the major factors to analyze, the best moments can be in the morning or the afternoon. This way, you will take advantage of the sunset and the spectacle of colours in the open sky.
Always ask for a weather forecast because the weather can change in a blink of an eye on the coast.
Also, check out for the sunset time to match perfectly with the moment you are pronouncing your vows, and it becomes a magical space. As we have mentioned, nature plays a fundamental role in the ceremony, and we can take advantage of it to make the most of this incredible experience.
Do not forget to offer shady spaces for guests who do not want to be exposed to the sun and for the elderly and children who are more prone to suffer from long sun exposure.
We have installed fresh tents with light and vaporous fabrics that are amazingly effective and give a unique touch to the ceremony.
Furniture and decor
Another one of the significant advantages of a beach wedding is that nature is a beautiful decor by itself. We always have this on top of our minds and suggest accessories that are harmonious and wind-resistant decorations, flowers that better tolerate heat and even fruits that are incredibly attractive and add colour.
This not only goes for the ceremony but also for the reception.
As experts, we always recommend heavy furniture that the wind cannot drag away and matches the decoration.
Wooden benches, bamboo or woven palm ottoman chairs are ideal and blend well with all the natural scenery. Remember, it is not about moving the church to the sand… but about recreating spaces with unique environments where your ceremony becomes a dream come true.
We recommend the same for the banquet. That is why I always make this reflection with my clients: imagine that you are at dinner, everything is going wonderfully, and, suddenly, a powerful wind blows. What do you see flying? Then, we immediately put off those items from the list.
That includes programs, cards, and place customizers, rose petals on tables, bows on chairs, candle and crystal centrepieces, and a long list of things that can complicate everything.
We do not want to see your guests running away behind none of this!
In addition, there is always the option that both the ceremony and the banquet take place on a terrace near the beach. This way, you can enjoy the weather and the incredible view and control much more other aspects such as the furniture, the dance floor, and the wind.
Decor Ideas and others
1. Tropical Bar Décor
Serve up classic summertime sips like margaritas and Aperol spritzes and deck out your bar with tropical foliage. This setup at a Hawaiian beach elopement features colourful accoutrements like dragonfruits and birds-of-paradise.
2. Nautical Wedding Favors
Navy-and-white-striped miniature bottles of Champagne with nautical bowties make for the perfect favour or groomsman gift at your seaside wedding. Cheers to that!
3. Palm Leaf Table Markers
Tropical leaves are the perfect budget-friendly touch to inject some beach inspo into your day. Here, blades of palm leaves were used to differentiate tables by name (you can use numbers if that’s more your jam).
You could use the same idea for place cards, seating charts, or even menus—all you need is a gold pen and some neat handwriting.
4. Tropical Drinks
What’s a beach theme without coconuts? Go all out and treat your guests to delicious signature cocktails, or keep it real with coconut water, served in coconuts engraved with your names, the wedding date, or a hashtag. Bonus: They make the best photo prop.
5. Woven Basket Lanterns
Woven baskets are a surefire win for a beachy theme. These gorgeous basket lanterns keep with the vibe and maintain the airiness of the clear tent without weighing everything down.
6. Cozy Reception Seating
Plush seating and comfortable cushions create a comfortable lounge area and an informal vibe while eclectic throw rugs anchor the space and keep guests from getting too sandy.
“We love to transform areas on the beach into unique spaces using furniture and decorative items to create cozy and blithe surroundings, whilst still being respectful to and integrating the local nature,” says Grosset.
7. A Nautical Ring Cushion
Don’t forget about the little ones! Have your ring bearer carry the wedding bands down the aisle on an adorable nautical pillow—tied with twine for added security.
8. Driftwood Signs
Driftwood is quite possibly the poster child of beach-appropriate finishes. This couple used it to create Mr. and Mrs. signs hung on the back of bamboo chairs at their destination wedding in the Bahamas. You can also use driftwood to decorate reception tables or create signs pointing guests in the right direction.
9. Repurposed Surfboards
Surfboards are the epitome of laid-back, cool beachy vibes and make for great wedding decorations. This surfer groom transformed his personal collection into a unique guest book.
10. Decadent Shells
Did someone say dessert? These blue-toned oyster shells were filled with rich, chocolatey goodness and topped with sea salt. Doesn’t get much more on-theme than that.
11. A Botanical Escort-Card Display
This captivating escort-card display is bursting with all the tropical trimmings. A simple seating chart is framed by a lush, verdant frame of natural ferns, monstera leaves, and gilded touches. Bright pink blooms add a pop of vibrancy to the scene.
12. Local Fruits and Blooms
Go local! Give the nod to your carefully chosen locale by using local flora and fruits in your décor. This deliciously tropical tablescape is flush with pineapples and papayas that deftly blend with the ivory blooms, straw chargers, and palm-leaf accents.
13. Sea-Inspired Tableware
Be inspired by the sea when choosing your tableware. This couple incorporated plates featuring a starfish and seashell design for their Nantucket wedding. They kept with the theme by using similarly designed menus and origami sailboat place cards.
Food & Beverages
If you choose a hotel to get married to, you will have all the infrastructure needed to keep food and drinks in optimal conditions. However, if you choose to celebrate your wedding on a beach, away from civilization, food must be kept at a temperature that allows its consumption.
As professional wedding planners, we know the best suppliers to guarantee that the menu is delicious and fresh and can bring joy to your guests.
Of course, it will be necessary to remove all the ingredients that can decompose quickly because of the heat and immediately leave out the cream, butter, chocolate, among other products.
For example, a fondant cake is much more heat resistant than a meringue or butter-based frosting. The same goes for the fillings: choose tropical flavours such as coconut, passion fruit or pineapple.
One solution that couples who do not want to abandon their dream of getting married on a lonely beach have chosen is to carry out the ceremony on the beach and transfer the guests to a place with the needed infrastructure for the banquet, such as a hotel terrace by the beach.
In Los Cabos, there are plenty of wedding venues with amazing views of the ocean where you do not have to step on the sand if you do not want to.
As professionals, we recommend having refreshing drinks from the start of the ceremony regardless of your chosen time. But, of course, the best thing is that your guests feel fresh and well hydrated to install hydration stations from the religious ceremony.
This way, we eliminate any discomfort and even reduce the possibility of dehydration and fainting.
As expert beach wedding planners, we can prevent situations that the naked eye cannot see, and the quality of the sound is one of them: all the guests are impatiently waiting to hear the person who is officiating the ceremony and not miss a word from the couple at the crucial moment of the vows.
We work this out using professional sound equipment, windshield microphones and wireless speakers that prevent the ambience natural sounds, like the sound of the waves, do not become an inconvenience, but a perfect harmonious background.
Other unforeseen events
We will always suggest to our clients that they consider offering the guests a kit that includes sunscreen, wet towels, organic water-based insect repellents, and even fans as part of the planning process.
There is always someone who forgets to take these items with them, and they are of great help to make your guests comfortable.
Beach Wedding Cocktail Hour Ideas
A beach wedding inherently feels a bit more relaxed than an indoor ballroom reception. So let guests kick back and enjoy the salty air with a fun cocktail hour setup.
1. All-White Lounge Furniture
“The biggest mistake couples make when planning a beach wedding is forgetting the beach itself. The sand is something you think of when you think of a beach wedding, but couples forget that you need to plan for that sand.
That means taking care of the seating you choose, the decor you pick and the shoes you wear. In addition, you need to pick items that work with the sand to anchor it or remain on top, so you don’t sink,” advises Chang.
2. Boho Lounge Furniture for Beach Wedding
As you’re planning your beach wedding, “think about the luxuries enjoyed at an indoor venue and add them to the beach experience. Start by building out a full floor to level the surface and ensure that your guests won’t be getting caught in the sand all night. Then, check the tide schedule to make sure that all of your plans aren’t going to be impacted by rising tides,” shares Shaktman.
Beach Wedding Reception Inspiration
Eating dinner on the beach is not a simple undertaking. From building out a reception structure and on-theme table settings to coordinating safely serving sand-free wedding cake, your beach themed wedding reception deserves to be planned exquisitely so guests can relax and enjoy celebrating the newlyweds.
1. Reception with Wood Canopy and Lights
“There are so many beautiful touches you can add to a beach wedding to make sure it is fresh and unique. First, consider aesthetic and functional lighting features by installing beautiful twinkle lights over the dining and dancing area that melt right into the stars in the sky. Then, add fun glowing orbs or fairy lights on the beach that light up down to the shore as the sun sets,” advises Shaktman.
2. Reception with Hanging Tropical Greenery
Even if your wedding venue happens to be landlocked, you can still have a beach-inspired wedding, as this reception evidences. Although the couple tied the knot at a vineyard, tropical decor instantly brought the beach to the space.
3. Reception with Bamboo Chairs and Woven Chandeliers
When planning your wedding, Petrowski advises that couples not overlook their lighting needs. “A big thing is the lighting. When a couple lets me know their ceremony time, and if it’s at an odd time, I ask them if they’ve already hired a photographer and if they have consulted them about their location.
Certain beaches are better for mornings and then late afternoon or sunset. As lighting can be tricky at the beach, I want to be sure that couples can get the best photos or at least be alerted in advance.”