The waves as your backdrop, the sand as your dance floor: What could be better than a beach wedding? With such a beautiful, built-in atmosphere, all you need to provide for this self-made celebration are friends, food, and a loving partner-in-crime.
There are lots of ways to throw a beach wedding; you can have just the ceremony on the sand and move inland to a tent or deck for the reception, or do the whole thing with the water lapping at your toes. Read on for some suggestions to make the party great
Beach House “Home Base”
Renting or borrowing a beach house or cottage big enough to accommodate a crowd will make your wedding go smoothly. Depending on the house and the weather, the party can extend from the beach itself to the deck of the house, or even the inside. You might have the ceremony and a picnic dinner on the beach then move to house for dessert, drinks, and dancing after.
Seaside Details to Consider
- Weather: At the beach, you should always plan for wind. That long veil you have your heart set on might be in your face for all your photos if the breeze whips up. The chuppah will have to be more minimalist (and/or more sturdy) than it would indoors, so it doesn’t fly away. You’ll also need a contingency plan for rain.
- Bathrooms: The beach house may not have enough bathrooms to accommodate all the guests. Plan ahead and rent portable washrooms if needed.
- Permits: Beaches, both public and private, have rules about special events and large gatherings. Many don’t allow bonfires. Check with the neighborhood association or town hall for any special permissions well in advance.
A beach menu is necessarily casual. There may be no tablecloths, or even any tables! And sand in your food is part of the charm. This works in your favor at a DIY wedding, because a big, casual feast is much easier to throw together than a formal sit-down meal.
How about a barbecue? You can set up buffet tables along the boardwalk or deck, and guests can serve themselves then carry their plates to blankets on the beach. Sample menu:
For fun and budget-friendly alternative to the full bar, select a signature, beachy cocktail such as frozen fruit daiquiris or margaritas on the rocks, in addition to beer, wine, and soft drinks. To serve, prep ingredients in advance and ask a friend to man the blender (or stir up big batches) at the house. Carry pitchers of cocktails to a serving table where guests can help themselves; fill buckets with ice and bottles of beer and wine, and others with sodas and sparkling water.
New Spin on Dessert
Instead of the predictable wedding cake, why not go with the casual, summertime mood and serve Ice Cream Cake Pops. Or, skip the cake altogether and hire an ice cream truck! Your guests will hear that familiar, tinkling music and know the sweet course has arrived.
Extra Beachy Touches
Lighting: Fill glass hurricanes or mason jars with sand, then tuck candles inside. Protected from the wind, they’ll flicker for hours.
Sand Ceremony: Instead of trying to light a unity candle in the wind, give the bride and groom each have a small container of sand, and at the prescribed moment pour them together into a larger container. Good luck ever separating those grains!
Shoes: Even if the bride and groom go barefoot, it’s nice to provide the wedding party and guests with colorful flip flops. Have a basketful (in various sizes and hues) at the entrance to the beach, along with baskets to stow the shoes they arrived in.
Forget the Flowers: Instead of pricey blooms that will quickly wilt on a hot day, the bride and bridesmaids can carry pinwheels—they are super affordable and pretty when they blow in the breeze—or paper fans, which can also help beat the heat.
Singalong: In addition to whatever music you have planned, coax a friend with a guitar to bring it along for after-dark crooning around the bonfire.
If you’ve got a crowd of out-of-towners arriving for your nuptials, greet them with tote bags filled with beachy treats: sunscreen, salt water taffy, bottled water, and a guide to local attractions. For kids, fill beach buckets with shovels and other sand toys, plus some candy and snacks. They’ll remember those buckets long after they’ve forgotten your wedding!