A wedding on the beach, whether held at an exotic destination or your summer getaway home, can be a great experience for both the couple and their guests. After all, it's like a mini-vacation for everyone involved. However, pulling off a flawless event at the shore isn't without its unique challenges. We tapped destination wedding designer Michelle Rago for her expert advice on the most important things to know about how to plan a beach wedding.
Have a Daytime Ceremony
"The ocean presents one of the most beautiful settings, so I always encourage couples to consider having their wedding during daylight hours," says Rago. "Once the sun drops below the horizon, the water goes black—and unless you have a full moon, the sea is lost."
But having a daytime wedding means you need to consider a few things. "SPF 50 is sexy," laughs Rago. "You don't want to get a crazy sunburn on your wedding day." Flowers also don't like the hot sun and can be tricky to work with. "Choose a ceremony design and flowers that can hold up in the heat," advises Rago. "A few options that work well are freesias, calla lilies, orchids, and succulents. Steer away from hydrangeas and roses, which have a tendency to wilt quickly."
Have a Sound System
"Between the wind and the waves, there's a lot of background noise at a beach wedding," Rago explains. "I always suggest using a microphone for the ceremony. Also, make sure you use a windscreen cover for the microphone so that your guests are not frustrated by the fact that all they hear is the wind and not your vows."
Public vs. Private
Many seaside resorts are anchored by beautiful beaches, but unless you "bought out" the property, you might have to share your wedding venue with hotel guests. "If the possibility of having little Sally splashing around and yelling during the ceremony concerns you, make sure you ask the resort if privatizing the beach for your wedding is possible before you book," says Rago.
Not all dresses, fabrics, and veil styles work for a beach wedding. An airy sheath is most sand-friendly, but if you want to wear a gown with a fuller skirt, make sure you choose a dress constructed of a lighter fabric that allows for more movement. Also, don't be afraid of trying a colored option, encourages Rago, who is partial to pale pink and pale blue dresses for the beach. "Lastly, keep in mind a veil is a bit like a sail in the wind," she says. "The less fussy your veil, the prettier your photos will look."
But If You Have to Wear Louboutins...
A barefoot beach wedding is gorgeous, but it's not realistic to expect every bride to ditch her shoes. "One solution to get you down the aisle in heels is to bury a wooden walkway that leads to the ceremony under the sand," says Rago. "It still looks like a sandy beach, but makes it possible to walk in heels."
Prepare a Wind Plan
"As much as you think the rain is your enemy at a beach wedding, it's the wind you need to worry about," advises Rago. "Windy afternoons and evenings can be chilly, sandy, or completely drown out the sound for the ceremony." Take time to learn about the typical weather for your particular destination and always have a backup plan. Choose a resort that has multiple areas that work for the ceremony so you have a built-in Plan B. If you choose to marry on a beach that's not associated with a hotel, you'll need to reserve an alternate backup location, whether or not you end up using it.