It can be really romantic and lots of fun exchanging vows on a gorgeous sandy beach. If you plan to have this style of wedding, being married on the beach or at a beachside location, you will need to plan carefully. There are generally laws and guidelines regarding the use of beaches and they can vary widely according to location.
If you are planning a small, intimate ceremony…just you and your fiance, the officiant and two or three guests with a tropical sunset backdrop…then you likely will not have to work around as many restrictions. However, if you are planning a gala event with 150 guests, you will probably need to find out if an event that size is even allowed on your chosen beach. If it is, then you will still likely need permission. Some of the questions you need to ask when planning your beach wedding include:
- Is the beach public or private?
- Can it be used for private events, like a wedding ceremony?
- Is a special permit required to use the beach for such an event? If so, who issues the permit, where do you get it, and how much will it cost?
- Are there restrooms nearby that will be accessible to your guests? Be sure to keep in mind that most beachside restrooms are basically outhouses. Will your guests find these restrooms acceptable?
- Will your reception be held at the beach as well? Are there shelter buildings nearby that can be used for preparing the food, washing dishes or for shelter in case of bad weather?
- Are you even allowed to have food on the beach? Are there trash cans available or will you need to provide your own?
- Will you be allowed to put up tents for shade?
- What are the beach rules about smoking or serving alcohol? Most public beaches do not allow either. Private beaches are sometimes more lenient as long as you provide containers for the cigarette butts and alcohol bottles. Whether public or private, a wedding reception always requires someone to stick around after the party to clean up. Make sure you take into account the special nature of cleaning a beach when asking for help.
- Are you allowed to have a bonfire, tiki torches, lanterns, or candles on the beach?
- Are you allowed to section off a part of the beach, so that public beach-goers can not join the wedding festivities?
- If you choose to have recorded music, is there a power source nearby for the sound equipment?
- What is the tide schedule? How high does the tide get at your perfect beach?
- How bad are the mosquitoes? How can you control them and other insects?
- How windy is it on your beach? A breeze is good to keep the bugs away, but beaches with little vegetation or shelter can make for strong winds that could potentially cause problems.
One of the most important questions to ask yourself when planning a beach wedding…is what time of day do you want to get married? Sunrise? Sunset? Or in the early evening? It is best not to have your beach wedding ceremony during midday. Not only will it be uncomfortable for your guests, but public beaches tend to get crowded during this time of day. If you are considering an evening wedding, remember that the beach cools down quite a bit in the evening. Guests may need to bring a jacket.
Go to your beach during the time of day you want to have the ceremony. Check the noise level of local traffic, seagulls and crashing waves. These noise can drown out your ceremony. Also, you may want to test the smell. Some beaches have an odor during certain parts of the day and year.
And finally, the biggest question you might face during your beach wedding… How will you keep all that sand out of the food? The cake? Your dress?
If you make sure to get all these questions answered ahead of time, you can avoid some unpleasant surprises. Most couples do not realize how much work goes into planning a beach wedding. If you find you are having trouble planning the whole day on the beach, you might consider having just a few family members and friends at the beachside ceremony and then moving to an indoor location for the reception with the rest of your guests.
We know planning a beach wedding sounds like a lot of work for one day, but you stick with it and plan carefully, they can be one of the most memorable, romantic days in the lives of you and your guests.