By Ivette Manners
Just got engaged over the holidays? Congrats! It’s perfect timing to start planning your beach wedding. While you’re envisioning saying their vows with the sun, sand, and surf as a backdrop, keep in mind that these picture-perfect elements can spoil a dream wedding if all of the logistics aren’t well thought out. But fear not, here are some expert tips to help you plan an amazing wedding on the beach.
The Right Time and Place
Of course, when and where you choose to wed has significant meaning to you, but consider being open to picking a season and destination that will help you avoid bad or uncomfortable weather. If possible, consider a location that typically has sunny and dry weather during your wedding date if you’re worried about the chance of rain; and try to stay away from the peak summer months so that you and your guests aren’t sweltering on the beach. Saying your vows at the right time of day also helps you accommodate your guests, as well as create a beautiful setting. “Don’t hold the ceremony when the sun is at its strongest and keep it to 30 minutes, as environmental elements can be challenging and constantly changing,” says Vanessa Michelle, owner and principle planner of Vanessa Michelle Co. “And think about saying your vows one to two hours before sunset, so you can take advantage of the dazzling light for dreamy photos and an outdoor reception.”
Whether your wedding style is classy and chic or fun and relaxed, incorporating the beach’s beautiful natural surroundings and resources will make your décor unique. Keep in mind that some design options don’t always translate well to an outdoor setting, such as tall vases and pedestals that can topple over in the breeze. Opt for low floral arrangements and lanterns of different sizes and shapes, shepherd’s hooks with floral balls, and flowers attached to the backs of chairs. Use flowers to create a breathtaking aisle or add a bit of whimsy to where you’ll stand to say your vows by spelling out the word “love” or forming a giant heart with flower petals. Native tropical fruits paired with vintage-like dinnerware make a stunning table presentation. “Regardless of the floral design you choose, ask to have them installed as late as possible so that they won’t wilt before the ceremony,” says Michelle.
While shopping for your dream dress, keep in mind where you’ll be saying your vows and partying afterwards. Don’t choose something too complicated or difficult to walk or dance in; you’ll want to feel comfortable and confident. Galia Lahav’s gossamer tulle and delicate lace ball gowns go from beachfront vows to indoor after party. If you’ll be celebrating outdoors the entire time, a gown that offers two looks like GALA’s beaded slip dress with a long-sleeved sheer overlay dress will give you a little coverage after sunset.
Create a welcome atmosphere on the beach for your family and friends. “Include pretty baskets of parasols, flip flops, and paper fans for guests to use, which will also cleverly double as charming touches to your event,” says Michelle. “And don’t forget blankets or throws for when the sun goes down.” Remember that the sand can be hard on older guests, so appoint ushers to help them to their seats. “Also, have refreshments available down on the sand, so that guests won’t have to wait or leave to get something to drink if they get thirsty. Then serve appetizers right after the ceremony to encourage guests to stay and enjoy the beach,” says Michelle.
“For a dinner reception on the sand, set up a king’s or U-shape table facing the water to keep guests close and give each one a great view of the beach,” says Adriana Echegollén, group and weddings sales supervisor for Excellence Group Luxury Hotels & Resorts. “If you’re looking to host something a little different, throw a cocktail dînatoire—an evening buffet where smaller dinner-like portions are served while guests mingle in an elegant, but relaxed lounge area on the beach.”
Be prepared with an alternative plan in case of bad weather. When scouting out venues, check if they have a great indoor event space that you love just as much as their outdoor spot for your celebration. “Also be prepared to enjoy the moment with a little water,” says Echegollén. “Don’t let the rain ruin your special day.”