Julia and Brian in Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Casual fun was the theme at this couple's barefoot beach bash

Julia's lifelong dream was "to get married barefoot in the sand," and so the Miami resident and her fiancé, Brian, chose to turn their big day into a tropical beach party. Once they found the perfect spot, the sugar-white sands of the Santa Rosa Beach Club 560 miles away on the Florida panhandle, the details started falling into place. "I collected different ideas and wove them into the theme," says Julia.

To underscore the informal beach-party atmosphere, tiny cocktail umbrellas poised in a mini sandbox were flagged with the names and table numbers of their 85 guests, many of whom traveled from as far away as Massachusetts. Flip-flops were attached to the chairs with raffia for the beach ceremony.

The couple's parents also played a part in personalizing the day. Brian's mother created a painting of an orchid, which was then incorporated into the invitations and menus, and inspired the floral arrangements. A family friend grows bamboo, so her father fashioned an arch for the ceremony, with additional bamboo stakes lining the aisle and festooned with streamers in the wedding's color scheme—fuchsia, lime and orange—to enhance the tropical mood. Another thoughtful touch: towels, with color-coordinated ribbons sewn on by Julia's mother, so guests could wipe sand from their feet before the reception. "I don't think anyone wore ties except Brian and my father," says Julia. Even the couple's tiny dog, Danny, dressed for the occasion in a Hawaiian shirt. —Gerit Quealy

Learn from Julia and Brian

Tame Your Tresses: "It can get very windy on the beach, so choose a hairstyle that will stay put no matter what the weather is," says Julia, who wore her hair pulled back in a sleek updo and adorned with three pink orchids.

Amplify Your I Dos: The elements can affect sound quality; Julia and Brian insist that a microphone is a must if you want your guests to hear you.

Make Photos a Snap: They suggest giving your photographer a list of poses, so you can make the most of the time between the ceremony and sunset.

Brian’s best woman, his sister Kasey, walked the festive outdoor aisle carrying a bouquet of orchids and wearing a simple strapless dress in vibrant fuchsia.