A Practical Guide to Planning Your Beach Wedding

Your wedding is a day that will be filled with happy memories. You want to make sure you have everything planned perfectly, and the beach is a perfect location for your wedding!

Planning a beach wedding is an exciting and fun experience. But, no matter how you envision your day, there are many things to consider before you say “I do.” This blog post will give you practical tips for planning your wedding and help guide you through the process.

Many people choose to get married at the beach, but not everyone knows how to plan a wedding on the sand.

Planning a wedding is hard enough, but planning a beach wedding can be even more challenging. The sand gets into everything, and you have to make sure that your guests are comfortable in the heat. So first things first: where will you get married?

If there’s no building or gazebo on the beach, then it’s time to find one! First, you’ll want to contact local hotels and see if they offer any options for weddings. Then, once you’ve found the perfect spot, it’s time to brainstorm some ideas for decorations with your partner.

Seashells are great decorative items because of their natural beauty and simplicity; don’t use too many because they may cause allergies! What about floral arrangements?

Here are some important questions every couple should think about before they say, “I do.” Where would you like your ceremony? What type of flowers or decorations would you like? How many guests can fit on the beach?

Do you want any special accommodations for anyone in attendance? For example, what kind of food do you want to be served at the reception?

It’s summertime, and it is time to start thinking about your beach wedding! Whether you’re just starting the planning process or need some practical advice, this blog post has got you covered.

Beach weddings are a popular wedding venue, and with good reason – they’re often free to use, have a wonderfully relaxed vibe, and you get to have the beauty and grandeur of nature as your backdrop. However, careful planning and preparation are important if you want to pull off your beach wedding successfully.

Whether planning your first wedding or you’re tenth, it’s always important to plan for the unexpected. To make sure you’re ready with a back-up plan when the time comes, we’ve compiled this guide of practical tips that cover everything from location considerations to budgeting and table settings.

We hope it helps!

Why Have A Beach Wedding?

Before we start talking about planning a beach wedding, let’s first go over the reasons to pick the beach as your wedding venue. In brief, these are the reasons that make a beach venue so attractive:

  • A beach wedding is easier to plan, and you’ll need minimal décor.
  • It’s cheaper, and in many states, there’s no charge for using the beach.
  • It’s more fun and relaxed without the stuffiness of an overly formal wedding.
  • The beach is a romantic, natural setting with an ambience that you won’t get anywhere else.
  • Beaches are perfect for an intimate wedding with a small number of guests, although they can accommodate large weddings too.
  • They’re perfect for a destination wedding.
  • Beach venues are perfect for a couple with a sense of adventure.

These are only some of the reasons that make choosing a beach venue a great idea. So if you’re still on board, let’s look at how to plan a beach wedding.

Planning a Beach Wedding

1. Find A Venue That Offers Privacy

The last thing you want is for dozens of unexpected beachgoers to photobomb your ceremony. Instead, look for a beach wedding venue that offers a little extra privacy so you can embrace paradise with your close friends and family. Anna Maria Island Venues has five unique beach locations to choose from, so you can find the best place to exchange your vows.


2. Book Your Beach Venue

Like we mentioned before, beach weddings are typically cheap or free. However, if you live near a beach, check if your state requires a permit and the regulations surrounding using the beach for your wedding ceremony. For example, there may be rules regarding things like consuming alcohol on the beach or throwing rice.

You could also use the private beach of a resort. Although this sounds pricey, resorts often do really good package deals for reception, honeymoon and accommodation for guests, so don’t write it out without checking.

One important point to note is that beaches aren’t always private, so you might end up sharing the beach with sunbathers and screaming kids who could end up in your videos and photos. If you’re using a resort beach, check with the resort about this.

If you’re travelling for your wedding, spare a thought for your guests and whether they would be able to attend. And make sure they know that the wedding will be on sand so they can dress accordingly.

3. Send Announcements to Give Guests Time to Plan

Most couples send out save-the-date cards within eight months of a wedding, but you may want to extend that deadline if guests need to travel to your venue. The more time you give guests to save for the trip, the more likely they will attend your big day.

4. Pick Your Dress

Beach wedding dresses should ideally be of breathable, comfortable fabric, especially if your wedding is held in the warm months. Large ball gowns and dresses with long trains can be annoying, get dirty and make you sweat.

A traditional princess style wedding dress will still look amazing on the beach but be prepared for the difficulties that come with it. You might want to have it altered so that it’s not as long and doesn’t drag in the sand.

5. Skip the Veil

A veil on the beach can be a major headache if it’s windy on the beach. It can make you look unkempt and result in messy photos. Of course, a heavy veil can usually stay its ground, but why risk it when there are lots of options out there like flower crowns or hair vines?

6. Pick the Right Shoes

Heels on sand is a recipe for disaster and won’t work together. Ditch the heels and instead choose wedges or flats. You could also go barefoot or wear barefoot beach sandals for a comfortable, free-spirited vibe. Note that the sand could be hot and may be uncomfortable for your feet, so consider having a fabric runner or carpet set out for you to walk on if necessary.

7. Set a Beach-Friendly Dress Code

Sand and high heels rarely go together, and your groomsmen might not appreciate wearing heavy suits in the middle of summer. Choose bridesmaid and groomsmen apparel that is light and beach appropriate — but still formal. Beach-appropriate clothes don’t have to be casual, but they should be comfortable for guests to walk and sit in.

8. Time it Right

A sunset beach wedding might seem tempting, but the problem is that as soon as the sun drops, the beach turns black, and your pictures will not have the ambience that you’re after. Instead, choose a time when the sun is still up, and the colours and sights of the beach are perfect for photography.

The downside? It’ll be hot so don’t forget the practical things like sunscreen or a parasol and also choose flowers that won’t wilt easily in the burning sun. And consider your bridal party and guests. It’s not fair to make them stand or sit in the heat for prolonged periods.

9. Provide Important Details In Your Invitations

While a save-the-date is valuable for letting guests know when to mark their calendars, your invitations convey the theme and serve as an introduction to your wedding plans. Think of your invites as the first impression for the rest of your wedding, so make sure they align with your colours and decor.

Use your invitations to direct guests to your wedding website, where they can learn more about the venue, dress code, transportation and other aspects of your wedding.

10. Have a Back-Up Plan

Beach weddings (or any outdoor venue) are exposed to the elements, so preparing for the unexpected is a wise move. Have a plan B just in case things don’t go the way you’d envisaged.

11. Consider the Groom’s Attire

Black tuxedos and the beach aren’t the best combo and can be hot and stuffy to wear. It’s best to stick to more comfortable clothes with fabrics like linen or cotton. Lighter colours like whites, browns and greys, tend to suit a beach venue and keep the room cool and comfortable.

12. Have a Shoe Station

Have a shoe station near the venue where your guests can leave their shoes, so they won’t have to worry about sand getting in them. Have a little sign that signals where the shoes are to be kept.

This could be as simple as a bench with small towels for guests to wipe the sand off their feet later on. It’s a thoughtful touch and one that your guests are sure to appreciate.


13. Keep Your Guests Refreshed

Beach venues are typically hot, so try to keep your guests refreshed with water and drinks. You can have a table set up with icy drinks so your guests can keep cool while they wait for the ceremony to start. Also, try to keep the ceremony short as a long ceremony under the sun can be unbearable.

14. Tap Into Local Cuisine and Light Meals

As you plan your beach wedding, look to local favourites to guide your menu choices. Your guests may not want a heavy meal, especially if the reception is outside. Consider serving light meals with a sushi or fruit bar to tap into the beach culture.

If you are serving a full sit-down dinner, you can still look to the location for menu inspiration! Guests travelling from out of town will appreciate the extra opportunity to get a flavour for the local cuisine.

15. Have a Microphone

You’ll have to either speak up or use a microphone at the beach because the background sounds of the waves and wind can drown out human speech. What’s worse than planning and preparing your vows only to have no one hear them properly because of the volume?

16. Match Your Decor With Mother Nature

Your venue already has some of the best decors on Earth — white sand and blue waves create a stunning contrast and set the stage for your vows. Add tropical flowers and other bright colours to keep the contrast going, or stick with whites and blues for a simple design.

17. You Don’t Have to Go Far to Find the Best Location

Your perfect beach wedding doesn’t have to be across the ocean in Maui or the Caribbean sands of Bermuda. Look for a clean, quiet beach near you that your family and friends can travel to. You can save money and celebrate your day with the ones you love.

Bonus: You can host your wedding shower, rehearsal dinner and wedding party brunch on the beach, too!

Beach Wedding Ideas from Industry Experts

1. Capture one-of-a-kind shots

To ensure a photo album full of festive summer photos, Liz Banfield, owner of Liz Banfield, encourages sneaking off with your photographer to capture sandy images that fully embody a beach wedding.

“Kick off your shoes and escape with your photographer at sunset for unforgettable beach photos!” she says.

2. Strategize complimentary features

Rather than compete with the tranquillity of your surroundings, find ways to incorporate complementary elements into your day-of design.

Bree and Freddie, owners of Rockrose Floral, agree that brides should “choose décor that doesn’t compete with the beauty of the beach environment but rather compliments it, such as ghost chairs and light, airy florals.”

3. Set the tone with your stationery

Kick-off your wedding weekend with stationery that showcases your day-of theme. “The invitation is the first clue to your wedding aesthetic that guests receive,” explains Lyndsey Hamilton, creative director of Lyndsey Hamilton Events. “Include a beautiful map and keep your colour palette consistent throughout the event.”

4. Spotlight decorative accents

An innovative way to feature décor without overwhelming your space is to integrate decorative accents within functional pieces of your design.

Matthew Robbins and Luis Otoya, owners of RobbinsOtoya, used this technique when adding flair to beachy ceremony chairs. The duo used custom chair covers in an ocean-inspired palette to bring pattern and texture to the space.

5. Forgo heavy foods

Choose foods that are light, flavorful, and can be prepared in a variety of ways. “Fish tacos are always a fan favourite during cocktail hour and, during the warmer months, a gazpacho is a great way to kick off a seated meal,” suggests Lauren Emerson, owner of Lauren Emerson Events & Design.

6. Raise the bar

Nothing says “festive focal point” like a custom beach bar. Sarah Kate, the owner of Sarah Kate Photography, suggests serving summer drinks with a show-stopping set-up. “This ‘Tequila Bar’ was such a crowd-pleaser,” says Kate. “Complete with several custom cocktails; it was a fun way to elevate beach décor!”

7. Add a touch of tropical elegance

Blair Peterson, a planner at SoCo Events, integrated natural simplicity by using dark wood against a sandy backdrop to set the scene for a palm tree-filled walk down the aisle. Her team chose dark wood chiavari chairs to add contrast against the soft white sand, and they also built a dark wood canopy.

8. Don’t shy away from colour

“Bright reds, greens, and corals contrast incredibly well with the sand, ocean, and blue skies,” explains Brian Leahy, owner of Brian Leahy Photography. “Don’t be afraid to mix and match some bold, solid colours to achieve breathtaking photos.”

9. Map it out

Depending on the geography, your décor can play a major role in the overall aesthetic of your event. Lynn Easton, the founder of Easton Events, opted for a palette of soft and airy textures, embracing terra cotta and seagrass as a nod to the location for a dinner on the Mediterranean coast.

10. Incorporate playful features

Blending themed beach elements into moments of your big day can make a big impact regarding one-of-a-kind style. Carrie Wilcox, the owner of Carrie Wilcox Floral Design, used a sailor’s knot to integrate beachy flair into a groomsmen’s colourful boutonniere.


11. Bundle your blooms

One of the best ways to let the vibrant colours of summer shine is through a beach bouquet. Sherene Hulugalle, the owner of Wisteria Lane Flowers, suggests letting your bouquet stand out with flattering pops of colour when blending an array of tropical shades. “Nothing says seasonal like sunny yellows, electric pinks, and a dash of lush greenery,” she says.

12. Get creative with escort cards

Decorative elements that are as useful as they are engaging, custom escort cards can enhance any themed celebration. Heather Lowenthal, the owner of Posh Parties, proposes having guest names calligraphed on sand dollars for a fun ode to the setting.

13. Embellish your aisle

Whether crafting a stand-alone focal point or complementing the design of your altar, the adornment of your aisle can transform the feel of your ceremony.

Charlotte Jenks Lewis, the owner of Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography, recalls a statement-making layout where “the height of decorative grasses created a visual anchor up against the seaside aisle.”

14. Embrace modernism

It’s easy to get swept into a frenzy of rich oranges, pinks, and yellows when strategizing a beach affair. However, Jeannette Tavaras, senior event planner and creative director at Evoke, covets personal style while integrating environment elements. Says Tavaras, “bringing in a modern aesthetic is ideal when designing within a complementary palette and adding seaside textures and colours.”

15. Spotlight striking details

One thing to remember when planning any event is the significance of details. Guests notice everything! Kent Drake, the owner of Kent Drake Photography, recalls a time when noteworthy place cards made a meaningful impact.

“These hand-painted and scripted place cards made out of shells were the perfect touch for a Jamaican beach wedding!” he says.

16. Utilize natural elements

Diana Venditto, owner and creative director at Eventi Floral & Events, suggests embellishing your tablescape with essentials derived from nature. “Consider using elements naturally found along the beach in your décors such as driftwood, sea glass or shells,” suggests Venditto. In addition, hues like soft blue, taupe, and cream can seamlessly integrate these components into any setting.

17. Optimize the view

To fully embrace the serenity of a beach backdrop, Isabella Sikaffy, owner of Florabella Studios, recommends comprising a minimalist approach to décor to embrace the setting’s picturesque amenities: “For a beach wedding, we opted not to use any decor that would obstruct the natural beauty of the Caribbean.”

18. Seek a range of terrain

With “toes-in-the-sand” as a perk to any coastal location, sometimes less is more for sandy ceremony sites. Laurie Arons, founder of Laurie Arons Special Events, agrees. “If there’s a grassy knoll or a wooden boardwalk nearby, the wedding party, guests and couple, will have a much easier time walking down the aisle,” she explains.

19. Consider colourful attire

Extending your coastal colour palette into your wedding wardrobe can add a quality of uniqueness that ties in the event’s overall theme. Ashley Kelemen, the owner of Ashley Kelemen Photography, advises the use of “blush, cream, and soft blues to enhance the colour scheme of your day-of look.”

20. Create areas of comfort

With beach seating often limited, hosting an oceanside affair can mean moments of extensive standing. To ensure guests are comfortable, Jennifer Haf, founder of BLOOM Floral Design, suggests “crafting cozy seating areas by the shore where guests can enjoy the beautiful view!”

21. Encourage stress-free furniture

When working with an airy backdrop, staying away from heavy furniture is an optimal way to tie in the softness of the setting. Sonia Hopkins, the owner of XOXO Bride Events, recommends using ghost chairs for an ethereal beach set-up.

“The chairs make for a light vibration on the sand and allows light to bounce to-and-fro naturally,” she says.

Some Other Things to Consider

  • Bugs: Don’t forget the bug spray because you might be fighting off mosquitoes and flies. Insect repellent is always handy at the beach.
  • Wind: It can get quite windy at the beach, so ensure that the decorations are fixed firmly in place and that precautions are taken against things flying off in the wind.
  • Length: Keep your ceremony short of making sure that everyone is comfortable.
  • Toilets: Most popular beaches and beach resorts have public toilets, but you might want to consider hiring a portable lavatory for the event.

Shade: Provide your guests with some shade, if possible, by having a canopy set up or, if nothing else, having parasols on offer.

Scroll to Top