The most important question when choosing a beach wedding location is how many guests will be attending and whether you would like them all to be seated for the ceremony as this will affect the size of space required. Once you know this, you will need to decide whether you prefer sand, decking, a rocky plateau or grassed area as the setting for the ceremony. As online photos provide an indication of what each location looks like, we recommend developing a short list from this information and visiting your preferred spaces in person to get the best feel for each venue.
2. Conducting a site visit
The best time to visit short listed locations is on the same day of the week that you will be holding your wedding, at roughly the same time you would expect your ceremony to begin. This will provide a good indication of how private, quiet and shaded the space will be.
Check parking availability so if there is limited space you know you will need to consider transport arrangements or carpooling for guests. Knowing where the nearest bathrooms are located is also important for guest comfort on the day.
Make sure to take your camera and capture a 360 degree view of each area as it will be a lot easier for you to remember what space you are working with and communicate your needs to suppliers once a choice is made.
3. Booking a location
Whichever space you choose needs to be booked with the local council to guarantee availability. Terms and conditions vary between locations, so visit the relevant website below for helpful tips, costing and regulations. Restrictions can include maximum event size, time constraints and site accessibility.
4. Planning your timing
Even though you can’t predict what the weather will be on your wedding day, it’s important to gather as much information as you can so you are prepared for anything! Check if the area is affected by tides, the average temperature for the time of year and sunset times so you can determine the best time of day for your ceremony. Be sure to include at least an hour for photos at the location in your calculation.
As the public will have access to your location, check if any events are being held on your chosen date. Your photographer is skilled in making it look like you are alone on the beach, but not if there is a surf carnival!
The second part of our beach wedding guide covers everything you need to know to make the day fun for you and your guests. You can find Part 1 here.
Beach wedding bouquet
Include a map with the location of the beach and any landmarks as part of your wedding invitation so it is easy for guests to find the ceremony space. It is a good idea to also include the phone number of your wedding planner or person in charge of guest management on the day as they will be a helpful contact for anyone who has trouble finding the location. This map, along with any relevant contact details and site access times for setup and pack down, will also be a great resource for suppliers.
If the route to the ceremony space isn’t clearly marked, direct guests with some fun handmade signs. It’s also a good idea to assign extra ushers if the car park is some distance from the wedding.
Arranging a Plan B for your beach ceremony in case of rain is important as coastal weather can be unpredictable in any season. Check with your reception venue to see if you can reserve one of their other rooms as a backup and organise umbrellas for travel between locations and your photo shoot (at the very least they can be helpful for avoiding sunburn!). When it comes to the morning of your wedding, the best advice we can give is to delegate the implementation of Plan B to someone else and just enjoy getting ready.
Beach wedding ceremony
Setup and Styling
We recommend visiting your ceremony site a week before the wedding and then early on the day to check that the area is in good condition. If you choose to DIY your styling, make sure all arches, canopies, umbrellas and other decorations are well secured in case of wind. A PA system will also make it easier for your guests to hear your vows. As each local council has different regulations, it’s important to check their expectations regarding setup, noise levels and pack down before hiring items and organising delivery times and methods.
Check the location of the sun for the time of your ceremony and arrange seating so guests aren’t looking directly into the light. If your service will be short and sweet, you can save money and setup time by providing chairs for elderly guests and family and asking your other guests to stand.
Beach wedding ceremony sign
If it’s going to be hot or shade is limited, consider providing bottled water, a drinks station, fans or parasols to keep guests cool. If it’s chilly on the day, have some rugs available for elderly guests – your grandma won’t mind if it isn’t coordinated to your wedding colours, she will be just happy to be warm!
Planning to go barefoot on the sand? A shoe station with water dishes and towels to dry feet after the ceremony is a thoughtful idea. Beachside showers and taps can be difficult to use if guests are in evening clothes and fancy shoes!
Let you hairdresser know you are having a beach wedding so she can make sure your hairstyle is secure. If you are wearing a veil it can be weighted with beading to prevent it from billowing, though we have seen some spectacular wedding photos of veils picked up by the breeze!
There are always unique logistics to consider when planning a beach wedding, but we hope this guide helps you to prepare and enjoy the experience!