Beach weddings continue to draw more couples to the water’s edge for their ceremony.
With a little planning, your beach ceremony can be the wedding of your dreams.
Here are 10 pro tips for making your seaside dreams come true:
1. Imagine your ceremony. Do you see yourself and your friends in formalwear, strolling along the sand? Or do you have a handful of flowers, bare feet, and a short dress while your partner rolls up his pant legs and you get wet? How formal or informal your ceremony is will affect your choice of everything from ceremony location to invitations to bridal party wear. Keep guest comfort in mind and choose save-the-date cards and invitations that express the degree of casualness in their dress-you don’t want people showing up in floor-length silk dresses if they are going to be standing near the water line with their feet wet.
2. Establish a theme — or not. Some beach weddings strive to retain a formal, elegant air-perhaps seashell or starfish motifs on the invitations, programs, and small touches during the reception will make the statement for you. Other beach weddings choose a theme-sailing, Hawaiian/tropical, New England clambake casual. Use this to determine the rest of your choices.
3. Think about how many guests you have. If you have fewer than 50 guests, you may want to have them stand in a circle or semi-circle while you and your sweetheart exchange vows. More than 50 guests requires seating-it will take longer for everyone to arrive and guests grow restless and tired. Make sure you have chosen a location that will allow chairs on the beach, and don’t forget to check on rental costs.
4. Make sure guests are comfortable. Larger, more formal weddings mean you need to rent flooring for people to walk on and to be seated. Remember that for people with disabilities or weakness, walking on the sand can be challenging, if not impossible. Remember to make arrangements so these guests can watch the ceremony, too. Parasols are also a thoughtful gesture, and they make for great photos.
5. Consider the roar of the waves. The great thing about the ocean is that it provides background noise that helps drown out sounds of traffic or construction. The downside is, it can also drown out your ceremony. Look into renting a small public address system so your guests can hear your ceremony. Some wedding officiants have these available for a nominal fee-make sure to ask.
6. Decide upon the best time of day. Morning weddings lead to brunch or luncheon receptions. The beach is usually quieter and more private, and the rising sun makes for preferred lighting. Guests appreciate the less-intense sun, too. Mid-day weddings on the beach should be kept shorter and shade should be provided, often in the form a tent for guests. Check with your ceremony site and your party rental provider for suggestions on the best way to accommodate your guests. Evening weddings also provide a break from intense sun, and the lighting can make for wonderful photographs. Some places will be still filled with beach-goers, though, so keep that in mind when you choose.
7. Mark a distinct location for the ceremony. If you are having a small ceremony, you may wish to place large seashells, candles, or luminaries around the edge of the space so guests know where to stand. Consider raking the sand to smooth it out and create a strong visual impression. For larger ceremonies, the aisle can be marked with seashells, candles, luminaries, or torches (many party rental providers offer these and can guide you in the best choice). You may also want to rent a chuppah or an arbor for you and your partner to stand beneath for the ceremony itself.
8. Select music and readings that fit your beach style. Consider how formal or informal you decided your ceremony and reception will be and fit the music and readings to those ideas. An instrumental version of “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid may be a good recessional choice if you are creating an informal, party atmosphere. Acoustic guitar or piano music may fit better if you have chosen a more formal affair. Readings can also be suited to the location: Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From the Sea provides excellent choices in prose readings, and poetry such as “Enough” by Sara Teasdale, “Sonnet 75” by Edmund Spenser, or “Dancing Toward Bethlehem” by Billy Collins. If you are not marrying in a particular faith, choose an officiant who can guide you toward appropriate readings.
9. Plan for the sea breeze. While the ocean breeze is refreshing, it also blows sand. Seat your guests so the breeze it at their backs, if possible. Unity candle ceremonies, while lovely, tend to disappoint outside because it is hard to light the candles or to keep them lit. Sand ceremonies, where the bride and groom combine two small vials of sand into a single container, are appropriate to the beach theme and are less likely to be interrupted by the breeze.
10. Remember the environment. Birdseed, while safe, will also encourage sea gulls to disrupt your wedding, much to your guests’ dismay. Consider bubbles or real flower petals (check with your ceremony site) instead. Make sure you send someone around to collect anything handed out to guests to be sure you don’t leave anything behind, including plastic bubble bottles.
10 Tips For Your Beach Wedding Ceremony Compliments of Jennifer Ansbach, Wedding Officiant/Ceremony Writer, Tailored Ceremonies