The venue of a bridal shower is typically a reflection of who the bride is, and for water, summer, or nature lovers, a beach setting is a perfect choice to celebrate an upcoming wedding with friends and family. But while bridal showers at the beach certainly sound idyllic, they can also be a little tough to pull off and need to be carefully planned. Why? Well, hosting any kind of event outside runs the risk of encountering inclement weather, and this is especially true for sandy shore celebrations.
What's more, given that the beach can be seen as a casual spot for bridal showers, you'll need to find the right location to fit the exact vibe you're trying to achieve. You will also have to take into consideration the dress code, theme, and other little details to ensure this special day feels memorable for everyone involved.
With all this in mind, we spoke with three experienced experts about how to plan the perfect bridal shower at the beach no matter the bride's personal style and aesthetic. Read on to learn more.
Meet the Expert
- Neillie Butler is the owner and executive planner of Mariée Ami, an event planning, production, and design firm.
- Michelle Madison is a Miami-based event planner and lifestyle expert who has worked with celebrity clients like Oprah Winfrey.
- Ryan Abney is an event planner and the founder of RA Event Design.
How to Plan a Beach Bridal Shower
When kicking off the planning process, your first order of business should be to establish the overall vibe. Are you going for a more casual event where guests will have their toes in the sand (maybe with a cool picnic type of atmosphere)? Or are looking to create a more elevated experience or even host something that takes place at a specific beach venue? Settling on the type of atmosphere you want allows you to easily decide on other big key details. "From there, you can delineate whether it will be a breezy, open-air soiree, or if you need to style a sailcloth tent to enclose the celebration," says Neillie Butler, owner and executive planner of Mariée Ami.
According to Michelle Madison, Miami-based event planner and lifestyle expert, and Ryan Abney, event planner and the founder of RA Event Design, it's also important to consider the below details when planning this big bridal day. "The answer to these questions will set up the host/planner for success," Abney says. "They provide a great starting point for the planning process."
- The time of year of the event.
- The anticipated guest count.
- The overall budget.
- The time of day (since temperatures will be high in the early afternoon).
- Whether or not you want to use a tent for shade.
- Any permit requirements.
- A rain contingency plan.
How to Choose a Theme
A bridal shower becomes a little easier to plan when you begin to focus on one specific theme, as this will help narrow down your options. And with the beach as your backdrop, whether you're doing the shower on the sand or in a venue, it makes sense for the theme to be somewhat related to the location. That said, it's also imperative that it aligns with the bride's aesthetic.
"No matter the location of [a] bridal shower, your theme should always be centered around the bride, her love, and whatever lights her up the most," Butler says. "Just because you’re celebrating on the beach does not mean you must opt for a sea-inspired theme."
More specifically, some fun theme ideas for a beach bridal shower include:
- A bohemian aesthetic: This option works well with the beach as a backdrop, especially if you're going for a more casual vibe on the sand. Butler suggests focusing on neutral colors and adorning the space with pampas grass.
- A "fun in the sun" theme: Perfect for the bride who loves summer, sunshine, the beach, and spending time outside, this is a fun choice for the location. For this one, Abney loves the idea of a monochromatic yellow color story with pops of blue/teal or coral. "Some inclusions could be a s'mores vignette, a beach-themed selfie station, and a display area for the bridal party gift bags," she says.
- An Italian-inspired theme: If the bride loves Italian, wine, films, and the Amalfi Coast, Butler recommends a theme that taps into that. "You can incorporate terracotta, lemons, and beautiful hand-painted ceramics into the table settings," she suggests.
- A picnic-inspired vibe: If you're planning on having the shower on the actual beach and not in a venue, Madison says a picnic theme is a fun boho chic option. "This gives a chill, girly vibe," she says. Think low tables with cushions on the sand and an Instagram-ready tablescape.
How to Choose a Location
When trying to decide on a location, you should first decide whether you want this to be an outdoor affair on the actual beach, or if you want to do a beachfront venue, like a restaurant or catering hall. Keep the time of day, the time of year, and potential weather in mind, to boot. For example, if you're in an area where the weather is almost always beautiful and sunny, you should probably be fine doing an outdoor event. However, if you're choosing a location or time where the weather could be questionable, a beachfront venue with the option for indoor or outdoor seating may feel safer.
Butler also recommends prioritizing the guest experience, especially if you're doing the shower outside. "Is the beach easily accessible by all guests?" she says. "If some guests or family members are flying in, will you be able to provide accommodations? Is parking available near the beach? Are there restrooms nearby?" You want everyone to be comfortable no matter where you are. Madison also recommends an intimate setup to keep the headcount small if hosting outside. "The logistics of transporting, setting up, and breaking down of any of the necessary rentals can be time-consuming and laborious," she notes.
Avoiding public beaches is also a good idea, if possible. "If the space is open to the public, then you often cannot control the crowd around you," Butler warns. "A private beach will likely also have an estate or cottage nearby, which you can use for staging, food storage, and keeping additional items on hand to make sure the decor set up is exactly what you envisioned."
How to Choose a Dress Code for Guests
The theme and choice of location will most likely be the deciding factors in the final dress code, as well as the bride's preferences, the weather, and whether guests will be indoors or outdoors. "An outdoor location would lend itself to sundresses and sandals (especially if there is an opportunity to put your feet in the sand); while an indoor location could be more tea-length dresses with wedge espadrilles or heels," Abney says.
Once you choose a dress code, be sure to write it on the invitation, especially if the event is being held outdoors on the sand "Maybe your dress code is set by the theme itself, or maybe you want everyone to be ready to take a dip in the sea—just be sure to make the bridal shower’s agenda and aesthetic clear so that guests can arrive appropriately dressed and prepared for the festivities," Butler notes.
What to Wear as the Bride
The bride's look will generally follow the dress code, although in many cases, the bride usually wears something a little more formal than everyone else. "Brides should wear something that makes them feel beautiful," Madison adds. "Most brides wear white, and depending on the formality of her bridal shower, she can wear a flowing maxi dress to sit at a picnic or a cocktail dress for a more formal setting."
For those exclusively planning a shower on the bride's behalf, you may even want to fill her in on the colors used for décor. "I am always 'team coordinate' with the event color story," Abney says. "This does not mean matching with the linen, but an outfit selection that will complement the design choices when standing next to or in front of them." Lastly, be sure to let the bride know whether the shower is inside or outside since this can also switch up her look.
How to Prepare for Weather Issues
If your beach bridal shower is being held outdoors, you absolutely need to be prepared for the possibility of wind, rain, extreme heat, or an unexpectedly chilly day. Abney strongly recommends incorporating design elements like market umbrellas, tented structures, or a gazebo, so that you have shelter for people just in case you need it.
All of the experts also recommend using a tent for an outdoor shower, regardless of the weather forecast. "Bubble tents are increasingly popular and are a chic alternative to a traditional tent," Madison says. No matter the style you select, though, tents are a great way to get shelter from the rain, but can be ideal for very sunny conditions as well.
Furthermore, if you're worried about the heat, you can make guests feel more comfortable with some extra amenities. Butler suggests putting out sunscreen, bug spray, and a foot bath to cleanse the feet of any excess sand, while Abney recommends a hydration station and handheld fans. Of course, having an indoor backup plan will make everyone feel a little less stressed too.
Though a beach bridal shower, especially one held outdoors, can require a lot of effort and time, it's definitely not impossible to pull off. Following these tips will make the planning process a lot less overwhelming and more enjoyable for all.