With the weather getting chillier by the day, the beach may be the farthest thing from your mind — unless, of course, you’re planning a beach wedding! The beach is a classic as far as wedding locations go, but logistically, they can be tricky to navigate. Since the South is blessed with some seriously beautiful beaches (including one of my personal favorites, Virginia Beach!), sit a spell and let’s chat about planning a Southern seaside wedding!
1. Get a permit. Permits are not always necessary, depending on your location, but this is one logistical detail you won’t want to overlook if you do end up needing one. When getting your permit, you’ll also find out the specific guidelines your beach has for weddings, from what types of equipment can be used to guidelines for decor.
2. Reserve a spot. Avoid having to wander up and down the beach the day before your wedding searching for the perfect ceremony spot! Pick out a location well in advance, and find a way to make sure it’ll be free on the big day. At Virginia Beach, you can even reserve the exact spot in the sand.
3. Consider the weather. As with all outdoor weddings, it’s important to think about how the weather will affect your day. For example, if you’re getting married in the summer, plan to have lots of water and fans available. If it’ll be chilly (we love the idea of a winter beach wedding!), pass out pashminas and set up a hot drinks station.
4. Come up with a backup plan. A detailed backup plan is another outdoor wedding must-have. As well as planning for rain, think about what to do if you’re faced with a particularly windy day, which can affect beaches more dramatically than other outdoor areas.
5. Work with the natural beauty of the beach. The number one reason I imagine couples choose the beach for their big day? The scenery! Take inspiration from the colors and textures of the beach and choose details that complement that for a beautiful, cohesive look.
6. Plan your attire. We are certainly in favor of brides wearing whatever they desire on their big days, but taking location into account is helpful in more ways than one. Along with choosing an outfit that fits your wedding’s style, you’ll also want to consider how comfortable you’ll be. On the beach, this may mean something like a lightweight dress, a short veil, and wedges or sandals.
7. Be clear about the dress code. One of the most gracious things you can do for your guests is to make sure they know how to dress appropriately for your wedding. Let them know that you’ll be on the beach, and inform them about your dress code. If you don’t want to go into too much detail in your invitations, direct them to a more in-depth explanation on an information card or your wedding website.
8. Consider noise levels. Between the wind and the waves, there is quite a bit of noise to account for during a beach ceremony. Particularly if your guests will be more spread out or there are a large number of them, consider using microphones for your officiant and any important speakers.
9. Provide shade. Beaches rarely have much natural shade, and even on the mildest day, some of your older guests may not be able to sit in the sun for long. Parasols or sun hats at your ceremony can help, but be sure to designate a shady spot where people can sit if they really need to.
10. Keep guests comfortable. Southern hospitality is always a priority to us! Along with a few of the things we typically recommend having on hand for outdoor weddings (namely water bottles and bug spray), we also suggest stocking up on sunscreen, fans, or even sunglasses for your guests to use. This is where thinking through your wedding as a guest comes in handy–what would you need to be comfortable if you were attending?
Friends, this is only a starting point–there are so many amazing tips and tricks for beach weddings out there! Beach brides, what would you add to this list that was helpful to you?
This post is brought to you by Virginia Beach Tourism. Many thanks to all of our wonderful sponsors!