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A beach wedding is one of the most beautiful wedding venues you could ever have, but before you put on your sunscreen and run through the sand to say "I Do" there are many things to keep in mind while planning your very own beautiful beach wedding.
As a wedding photographer, more than half of my weddings have been outdoor and beach wedding venues, and along the way I have seen all of the things that have gone perfectly, and all of the perfectly good ideas that have gone completely wrong. Here are some helpful tips, wedding advice and ideas for brides and grooms planning their special day with a beach wedding ceremony.
After you decide that you want to have a beach wedding, and you have found the perfect beach for your ceremony, the next thing you will need to do is check with the town or city that the beach is located in to be sure that you can have your wedding on this beach. Some towns or cities may require rental fees, permits or may have policies on beach weddings that may make or break your decision on having your wedding ceremony at any particular beach.
The next thing to consider is the number of guests that you are inviting. The more guests that will be attending your beach wedding will require more parking spaces in the area. Since your wedding ceremony is taking place on the beach, the public may also be using some of the parking spaces, so does it seem there is plenty of parking for your guests? If not, maybe you should consider shuttle service?
For smaller, or private wedding ceremonies this won't be an issue, but for larger weddings with fifty or more guests, and if you are having a wedding reception following your ceremony, with a nearby reception venue, maybe you should consider having your guests park at your reception venue and use a shuttle service to transport your guests to and from the beach for your wedding ceremony.
When choosing the time of day for your beach wedding, there are some factors you will want to keep in mind. For earlier times of the day, and really for any time of the day you should first look into the high and low tides for this time of year. Earlier times on the beach tend to have less people from the public around, and if this is a big concern of yours, this may be a better time.
For mid-day and early afternoon beach weddings, this is normally the time of day when the sun is at it's hottest temperatures, and there's usually many more people from the public on the beach sunbathing, swimming, etc... Since mid-day weather is normally hotter, when planning your beach wedding a couple good tips would be to either plan on having a shorter wedding ceremony, or look into the option of a tent or canopy to provide shading for you and your guests.
Late afternoon and early evening beach weddings are the perfect time of day to capture those scenic sunset photos. Since it's later in the day there will be less people on the beach, but the weather may be a little cooler by the water, and the winds may pick up a bit. So be sure to suggest your guests dress accordingly since the later in the day, the cooler it will get by the water, unless it's August.
On the topic of weather and winds, an important beach wedding tip is to always plan for things as if they will happen. Even if the weather forecast calls for clear skies, you never know when a gust of wind will come through, and there are some things you should do to prepare for this.
First, consider which hairstyle you want. It's best to have an up-do of some kind, since the wind can and will blow your hair in your face. Think ahead of time for your wedding photos... do you want your photos coming out looking like your husband is marrying 'Cousin It'? If you are going to wear your hair down, consider using lots of hairspray or hair clips to prevent your hair from blowing into your face.
When planning the decorations for your beach wedding, be sure that your decorations are secured. The more common decorations for beach weddings include a floral arch for the ceremony to take place under. I was just recently at a wedding where moments before the wedding ceremony was set to begin, the wind picked up and the arch blew over... three times. Sometimes it's not enough to just plant each end of the arch in the sand, unless it's more than a foot deep, otherwise consider sandbags on each side of the arch, which can be hidden with loose flower petals or fabric.
Other decorations like flowers should be tied down tightly against seats or other objects. If you are thinking about having candles, this is a great idea and makes a beautiful setting for your beach wedding, but make sure that you put your candles in large holders that will prevent the candles from blowing out, and also prevent a disaster if knocked over or a guest coming too close to one with a loosely flowing dress.
While on the topic of clothing, make sure that you, your wedding party and guests realize that with a beach wedding ceremony you will more than likely be on the sand or a grassy area next to the beach. The women should wear shoes appropriate for this, and heels are out of the question since they will easily sink down into the grass or sand and you could easily lose your balance. Plan on wearing flat shoes, sandals or no shoes at all, but let your guests know they should wear flat shoes too, or at least to the ceremony venue on the beach.
Other beach wedding tips on the topic of dress to consider include thinking ahead of time about your wedding dress. Beach weddings mean the bride will walk down the aisle in a sandy or grassy area, and unless you want sand, mud or grass stains on your dress, look into options for aisle runners if you have a longer wedding dress that you want to keep looking nice.
One thing that many brides seem to forget when planning a beach wedding is that while the beach may seem like a peaceful and beautiful setting, this is also a wedding venue that comes with noise. You have the sounds of the water, the winds, other people on the beach, and whenever outdoors you could hear other noises such as passing cars, trucks and boats. Look into getting wireless microphones and speakers, otherwise your guests may not hear anything being said when you're at the altar.
What about music? Beach weddings are more than likely going to be a wedding venue that will have limited or no access to connect to a power source, and while you could use a generator, this will come with some additional noise. To maintain the peaceful atmosphere of a beach wedding, look into a small classical band, or string instruments like violins or a harp player, again keeping in mind the issue of electricity, make sure they won't need a power source - piano or keyboard players may need power unless they can run on batteries, which you should request that they have plenty of backup batteries just in case.
How many guests will be attending your beach wedding ceremony? For private weddings or weddings with few guests, they can stand in a circle around you or stand behind an arch, but for larger beach weddings with fifty or more guests, look into chair rentals. Larger weddings means there will be more time needed for all of your guests to arrive, and between your guests waiting for everyone to arrive, and also the time of your ceremony, it will not take long for people to be uncomfortable or restless from standing for a long period of time, especially anyone older or disabled.
If you are only having your wedding ceremony on the beach, you and your guests should avoid food, and also avoid throwing bird seed. By having food present, this could be an invitation to some unwelcome guests like birds and seagulls. However, I would suggest you consider having a water cooler or two nearby to offer beverages to your guests who will be out in the sun. The last thing you want is someone falling ill from dehydration.
There are many more things to consider for a beach wedding, but the last of the beach wedding tips that I will leave you with is to look into securing a Plan B for your beach wedding venue. If the weather fails on you last minute with rain or stormy weather, you will want to already have another venue for your wedding ceremony thought out in advance. It would be a disaster to be rained out on your wedding day and not having anywhere else for your guests to go for your ceremony.
Remember, that while beach weddings are the most beautiful and scenic wedding venues, they always come with risks, and the more you think about all of the things that could go wrong, the more things you can prevent from happening to ensure that your wedding day will be just as amazing as you imagined it being. Congratulations to you and good luck planning your beach wedding!
For beach wedding venues in Massachusetts or New England, Including Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, Phillip Brunelle offers affordable wedding photography packages. Get more info at www.PhillipBrunelle.com