Beach weddings are alluring for more reasons than one; and being out in the open, in a romantic oceanfront setting while the wind and waves sing their praises over your union, is one of those. They are far from the typical traditional wedding, which is often hosted within a church, or another elaborate indoor setting. That is not to say there aren’t other outdoor wedding types that aren’t appealing, like the garden wedding for example, but beach weddings are definitely in a category of their own.
Tip: Planning a beach wedding in the Caribbean? Get to a gorgeous beach in paradise within a few hours from US shores! Check out some of the best beach wedding venues Beaches Resorts and Sandals Resorts offer. Stay 3 nights or longer and get a free wedding!
Picture: Beach front wedding at Beaches Turks & Caicos.
The draw of the intimate beach wedding has much to do with the fact that it allows you to execute your day in relative simplicity, though some beach weddings can be extravagant. You’ll get to choose for your beach wedding how dressed up you want to be, what elements you want to leave out or incorporate from a traditional wedding, and you’ll have plenty of room to explore beach and oceanside themes.
In this article on the Beaches blog:
6 things to consider while planning a beach wedding
7 things to consider for your attire
12 things to consider for the ceremony
4 things to consider when selecting the venue
Things to consider when picking a vendor
There are a few things you’ll need to find out before walking down the aisle at your beach wedding. If you’re traveling for a destination wedding and staying at an all-inclusive resort like Beaches or Sandals, you can ask your wedding planning team most of these questions ahead of time. They will tell you all you need to know about how to get married on the beach and help you get all the details in place ahead of your big day.
Wondering how to plan a beach wedding? Below are some of the things you need to keep in mind:
Many people overlook the accessibility factor once they’ve found and fallen in love with a beach wedding location. Don’t forget to think about your guests’ convenience, and how easy or difficult it is going to be to make it to the location, from a main road. This can also affect the ease of setting up and transporting chairs, tables, and even food delivery. Make sure your site isn’t too out of the way, and if it is, ensure you make the right preparations.
There’s nothing quite as magical as the waves crashing against the shore while taking a romantic walk down the beach. When you’re trying to exchange vows, this is a completely different story. To work around this, get a professional sound system, and look into ways to get it powered up out on the beach. You can also rent or buy a wireless microphone and speaker for use by the officiant. Another option is to invest in a windscreen for your microphone, which will ensure the wind isn’t louder than what you’re actually trying to say. Before you rent or make these purchases, find out if your wedding planner or resort has them available.
You’ll need to tweak your décor to suit the outdoors, especially in windy locations. This means you may want to think twice about super lavish flowers, towering candles, and even windy ribbons and balloons, which may just end up getting blown away by the wind. Use sturdy décor and avoid breakable items. Anything you can’t live without (like name tags, photos, etc.), secure with adhesive, spring, or place something heavier over top to hold them down. In terms of flowers, you also want to make sure you choose varieties that stand up well against high temperatures, that won’t wilt before the ceremony even begins.
Expert tip: Chrysanthemums, calla lilies, king protea, and orchids do well on the beach. Not convinced flowers will fit your theme or just don’t want to risk it? Go for things like fruits or even shells to add some color to the event.
Picture: Wedding reception at Beaches Turks & Caicos.
Just as important as covering for rainy weather, you’ll need to keep in mind that outdoor environments usually mean guests will be exposed to the elements. Especially in hot climates, ensure you keep everyone cool by scheduling your ceremony at a time when the sun is most mild – morning or late afternoon is best. You’ll also want to make sure shade is factored in as well, especially for the sake of older people and children. With beach or outdoor weddings, it’s best to monitor the weather so you know what to expect. You can source a canopy to cover the seating area or get some bamboo poles which can be draped with light, white fabric to help keep everyone cool.
If you aren’t getting married at a resort, food storage is a serious consideration. Food that’s supposed to be refrigerated will spoil quickly in high temperatures, so you’ll need to pick wisely. This is also worth keeping in mind for cake selection – cakes made with buttercream may fight a losing battle against the heat. As a rule, don’t pick anything that’s going to melt or spoil fast.
Expert tip: If you’re concerned about food, you can also consider getting married on the beach, and having the reception at another location, like a nearby restaurant.
Your wedding day is the most important day of your life and you’re going to want to dress like it; except that you’re on the beach, so you’re also going to want to wear something that doesn’t cause you to overheat. Here are some tips on staying cool, and still looking beautiful:
Long gowns may present challenges out on the beachfront. They may look dreamy, and you may even be able to get down the aisle mostly without issue, but the trouble may start when you try navigating the beach to take photos. If you’re wearing a super long train this can be a nightmare. Look for something lighter, or at the very least, ensure your dress can bustle easily.
The last thing you want is to wear a dress with a lace trim and finding out only when you get to the altar that your dress has picked up all sorts of debris from the beach along the way. It’s better to go with fabrics like chiffon or charmeuse, which will give you an airy feel, as your gown will be able to flow freely.
Veils aren’t worn by all brides, but they are an absolute must for brides who want to keep it all the way traditional. In windy temperature, an extra-long veil can have you fighting a not so cute windy battle. Avoid this by going for fresh flowers, or a fascinator instead.
Fancy updos have a way of changing your entire look. They go with just about everything, and for a beach wedding an updo will help prevent your hair from taking on a life of its own during the ceremony. If you’re really set on wearing your hair down, think about hiring a stylist who will be on location throughout, just in case you need a touch up.
Avoid the hassle of wearing heels in the sand; look into getting the perfect espadrilles or wedges for your beach wedding. If you plan early enough, you’ll be able to customize your shoes, so they’re fancy enough to make you forget that you aren’t wearing heels.
Expert tip: No matter which shoe option you choose, getting the right aisle runner will help keep your feet cool on the way to the altar. Thick flower petals or fabric work like a charm.
Tan lines can be a nightmare especially on a wedding day when you really can’t do anything about them. Protect your skin ahead of your wedding by wearing sunscreen (waterproof sunscreen recommended) every time you’re out in the sun. Sunburn or tan lines are two things you don’t want on your wedding day, and the same goes for your bridal party. To avoid tan lines, you and your wedding party can plan bathing suits for the trip according to what everyone is wearing on the big day.
Out on the beachfront it’s less important to be fancy, and more important to stay cool. Let the groom and his best men opt for a more casual look; think lightweight cotton pants or even Bermuda shorts.
Though this isn’t always required, it is worth your time to do some research, so you avoid any unnecessary problems down the line. Find out about noise regulations in both private and public settings, so you can make the proper arrangements.
Picture: Beach front wedding at Sandals Barbados.
One of the things you should seek to find out in advance is when the beach is the most crowded. You’ll want to avoid this time to ensure you have enough privacy, so your wedding doesn’t turn into a circus. Usually you’ll find beaches quieter outside of weekends and holidays. Some beaches in Hawaii for example don’t allow event set ups on public beaches. In places like this, you’ll need to instead rent a beachside villa, so you’ll still be able to take photos on the beach after your ceremony.
Aluminum chairs, wooden benches, other types of folding chairs and even stylish waterproof ottomans will add to the comfort of guests. All of these are sturdy enough to not be blown away by the wind or sink in the sand and collapse. In some cases, you may not need to have seats for everyone – just the elderly and children. It all depends on the type of wedding you want and how long the ceremony will be.
The beach is beautiful enough as it is, so you won’t need to go overboard here. Instead, focus on accentuating the natural features in a way that will help bring your wedding to life. It doesn’t all need to be seashells and palm leaves; you can use the various hues of the ocean or sand to create a theme, adding in elements like stones, dune glasses, and more.
If you’re wondering what colours are best for a beach wedding, we recommend adding some color which will contrast with the sand to make the setting more vibrant. Think green, orange, or coral tones.
When sourcing your décor for a destination wedding, try to purchase things from local vendors. This can help you avoid hefty importation fees, or delays that can happen if your items get detained by customs for any reason.
If it can blow away, it might. Prepare for a windy day, even when not expected. Secure everything you can beforehand to avoid this. Use heavier items to weigh things down, like programmes and place cards, or just get heavyweight stands. You can also tie programmes neatly to chairs. If you plan on tossing dried flower petals, wait to do this, once guests arrive.
No one wants to spend the day with sand in their shoes. With a shoe rack, guests can trade their fancy shoes for flip flops. Make provisions at the station for guests to be able to wipe or wash the sand off their feet before making the swap. You’ll want to include a seating area, towels, a place to store shoes, and a bucket of water.
Beat the heat with cold drinks. A table set up with lemonade, ice water, or a signature cocktail will go a long way in keeping guests satisfied and refreshed.
You’ll want to keep insect repellant close at hand for any outdoor ceremony, particularly beach weddings. Try to get a good brand with ingredients that aren’t harmful, that won’t stain your dress.
You’ll want to ensure everyone is informed about where the wedding will be taking place. This will help your guests plan accordingly. Just in case anyone comes less than prepared, you can include items like travel sized sunscreen, hand towels and fans, and bottled water in a fun welcome package.
Beach weddings are best kept short and sweet. Just in case the weather changes, have a backup plan. Always have a canopy or tent at hand to keep everyone cool and dry or ensure your plan B option is somewhere indoors.
When it comes to choosing your wedding venue, you’ll need to decide if you prefer something closer to home (perhaps somewhere you’re familiar with but never gave much thought), or whether you want to travel, and have a destination wedding.
If you’re travelling with family, this is likely to be a discussion you’ll need to have in a comprehensive way, incorporating breaks from schools, etc. Once all the details are ironed out, you’ll be able to pick a venue that is most convenient for you, in terms of being able to get everyone there, and considering whether the venue will be able to accommodate you and your family comfortably.
Are you getting married on a public beach, or is the beach you’re planning on using part of a resort? If the beach is part of a resort, you’ll need to request a wedding information packet from the resort, especially if you’re planning on staying there. If it’s a public beach, you can get information from local authorities wherever that beach is located.
Don’t just get your heart set on a location based on word of mouth alone. Do your research; ask questions, check reviews, watch videos and search for photos online if it’s a foreign location, tour the venue if you are close enough to do so.
The last thing you want with a beach wedding is to arrive on the day and start setting up, only to realize you didn’t go about securing permissions in the right way. Particularly if it’s a resort, you’ll need to book the venue in advance.
Need some help getting your beach wedding organized professionally? Get in touch with a beach wedding vendor. There are plenty of options inside and outside the US!
Before choosing a beach wedding vendor you’ll want to ensure the venue will help facilitate the process of acquiring your marriage license and certification, especially when organizing a destination beach wedding. You’ll also want to find out if they can support 24/7 communication, if there is a guest limit or restrictions to do with scheduling; find out which days are available.
Some vendors charge extra for sunset weddings or weekends, so make sure this information is clear. Find out if your prospective vendors charge additional fees for meetings, conference calls, or emails. You’ll also want to know whether their package includes professional photography and video.
Expert tip: Some beach wedding vendors give discounts for active military, firefighters and law enforcement personnel. Even a 10% discount can save you quite a bit of money on a big expenditure like a wedding.
The perfect beach wedding requires planning, and that’s what you can expect once you book a wedding-included (with conditions) vacation with Beaches. For one thing, you’ll have someone there with you to walk you through the entire process, which helps so you never feel overwhelmed. Here’s what you can expect along your wedding planning journey with Beaches or Sandals.
See what’s included in your beach wedding at Beaches.
One of your first points of contact will be a Beaches wedding concierge agent, whose job it is to collect all the necessary information from you, so your wedding experience can begin. The agent will speak to you about your beach wedding ideas and help you choose a resort and a venue within the resort to have your wedding. Don’t worry, there’s nothing rushed about the process, you’ll be able to take your time to make the best decision for you and your family, over multiple sessions. Based on availability, the concierge agent will make booking arrangements on your behalf for your dream Caribbean wedding.
Good to know: All Beaches and Sandals resorts are located on a beautiful white sand beach with turquoise waters. Some couples choose to get married with the family at one of the Beaches resorts and spend their honeymoon in a Sandals resort afterwards.
Close to Beaches Ocho Rios, you’ll find adults-only resorts Sandals Ochi and Sandals Royal Plantation. Nearby Beaches Negril, you’ll find Sandals Negril - both located on the beautiful Seven Mile Beach in Jamaica. Beaches Turks & Caicos is the biggest Beaches Resort featuring one of the largest water parks in the Caribbean and the world’s most beautiful beach - but doesn’t have a Sandals Resort nearby.
Once the initial process is complete, you’ll be introduced to your wedding planner. You’ll be able to make your first appointment at this time. Expect to receive a welcome letter by email.
You will revisit some of your beach wedding ideas and revisit the finer details of your wedding with your wedding planner, who will help you make any final decisions. Your wedding planner will also give you documents and tools, some of which will highlight all the services available for your Beaches wedding. The goal is to achieve perfection in your wedding, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
At this point you’ll also be able to book accommodation for you and your group. Ask about available add-ons or wedding inclusions, which can enhance the classic free wedding package available with your booking. You can also choose to trade your free wedding (if you qualify for one) for $500 worth of credit towards your customized wedding. This credit can be used for décor, the reception, entertainment, activities, photographer, DJ, and other wedding preparation including select options at the spa.
The ‘hard’ work is done when it comes to the venue, and you can now focus on your guests and attire for your blissful Caribbean wedding. All you need to do is make sure everyone else is ready for the trip of a lifetime. Once you and your party arrive on property, everything else will be handled from there.
Tip: Book at least 60 days before your wedding to receive a complimentary garment bag for your wedding dress shipped right to the doorstep of your room!
The ‘big event’ is only just beginning, once you arrive at the resort. The team will be anticipating your arrival, and once you and your family get there, they’ll do everything in their power to ensure your vacation and your beach wedding goes as planned.
In addition to seeing all the details of your wedding going smoothly, you’ll feel pampered at Beaches with your spouse, while the kids have the times of their lives, with activities galore and the water park (it’s all included in your stay after all!). With Beaches, the more people you bring with you for your destination wedding, the more perks you stand to receive from the resort.
What better way to start your honeymoon than waking up in an all-inclusive resort - where everything is taken care of! With unlimited 5-Star Global Gourmet dining at up to 21 specialty restaurants per resort, unlimited cocktails, spectacular swimming pools and water parks, just about every land and water sport you can think of, and luxurious suites, Beaches is the perfect place for your honeymoon. Remember: it’s all included in your stay!
Prefer to have your honeymoon at an adults-only resort designed for couples? Book one of the amazing luxury honeymoon suites at one of the nearby all-inclusive Sandals Resorts. While the kids and family are having a blast at the beach and in the water parks, you can have a romantic time off and get pampered.
Sandals guests are welcome to enjoy all amenities (including restaurants) at their nearby Beaches Resorts, so feel free to spend a few days with family as you wish.
Expert tip: Sandals Ochi and Sandals Royal Plantation are both a 15 minute drive from Beaches Ocho Rios. Sandals Negril is located on less than a 3 minute drive from Beaches Negril, both located on the beautiful Seven Mile Beach in Jamaica.
Whether you choose a simple and intimate beach wedding close to home, or an extravagant beach wedding in the beautiful Caribbean, you can’t lose when you plan a beach wedding. There is nothing as unforgettable than a beautiful ceremony on the sand, surrounded by the ones you love. It’s what dream weddings are made of.
Call Beaches’ bridal team at 1-877-232-2437 to start planning your dream wedding today.
You will not always need a special permit to organize a beach wedding. It is still worth finding out to be sure. Though you may not need a permit, you should find out about limitations or restrictions that may exist relating to alcohol, music, the number of guests, and bonfires. If you do have to get a special permit, find out what it covers, and how far ahead you need to get approval. If you’re staying at a beach resort, these details will typically be arranged by your wedding team.
Bad weather is a big seaside consideration. It’s important to ensure you have tents or another type of covered section where guests can shelter if the weather takes a turn for the worst. Also consider having a plan ‘B’ option of another location just in case an outdoor beach wedding isn’t conducive on that day.
Beach weddings can be much cheaper or much more expensive than church or hotel based weddings - it all depends on where the beach is and who it is owned by - plus all those additional extras, like decor, food and drink, the dress and the size of the wedding party! At Sandals, if you stay 3 nights or longer your beach wedding is free!
It depends. Most beach wedding locations are free. If they aren’t, the fee is usually small.
Early morning weddings are considered non-traditional but seem to work well for many couples. Getting an early start means that things can flow effortlessly, and the ceremony won’t finish well into the night. For beach weddings, most beaches are less populated early in the morning and you may even find that it’s cooler at this time of day. With less than blazing temperatures, you and your guests will be more comfortable, and you’ll be able to move smoothly either into a brunch or lunch reception.
One of the pluses with a mid-day ceremony is that not only will you get to wake up a little later, you’ll have more time to get ready in the morning. For people with large wedding parties, this is a better option compared to the early morning ceremonies as it gives everyone time to get their hair and makeup done, and to get the little ones dressed and ready to go. If you’re planning a dinner reception afterwards, the mid-day ceremony allows for a break in between that isn’t too short nor too long, so things will flow as they should.
The scorching sun has gone down a bit by this time, and in its place will be slightly softer rays and less intense temperatures. You’ll have some of the same benefits of the mid-day ceremony, with a bit more of a party atmosphere towards the end as sunset approaches. For many couples, later afternoon ceremonies are seen as traditional, and allow you to head straight to your dinner reception.
Start your ceremony at least an hour before sunset, so you can ensure there’s enough time for photos. Try to get some action shots, as well as sunset portraits. The benefits of sunset ceremonies include softer lighting (great for more intimate and romantic photos), cooler temperatures and an amazing view. With this type of ceremony, you can also head straight to dinner afterwards with friends and family.
In recent times, there has been less of an aversion on the part of guests in wearing white to weddings. Even more so with beach weddings, which are usually a lot more casual. If you’re really set on wearing white, wear something that is not going to take away from the bride’s moment in the spotlight. It’s her wedding after all, and you’re there as a show of support. If you’re not certain, you can go with off white, or perhaps try something with a white lace overlay.
Usually there isn’t any issue with wearing black to a wedding, but at a beach wedding you may quickly regret this choice. Black tends to seem a little bit more formal in some cases, and you may feel out of place out on the beachfront. There is the common school of thought that black clothing is not ideal for staying cool in hot weather, so you’ll need to determine this for yourself.
Biodegradable options are most ideal. You may have to check with your resort (if you are staying in one) to see which options are available. Popular choices for couples include bubbles (a party favor bottle for each guest), biodegradable/sugar confetti (you can DIY), dried flowers (lavender/rose petals, etc.), bird seed (complete with a cute carrying sack), or mini beach balls.