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  • Writer's pictureJo Booth

My love/hate relationship with beach weddings

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

Jo Booth Celebrant

I love the water. I grew up by the beach (Coogee and Clovelly in Sydney to be exact) and I never want to live too far away from water.

But beach weddings – our Facebook status “it’s complicated”.

In theory it is a perfect setting. Sand between your toes. The sound of the ocean. A gentle breeze and warm sunshine.

If only. It’s you know…… nature. The outdoors. She’s can’t be tamed.

So, my advice to couples who want to have their ceremony on the beach? Let’s have a Plan B, Plan C and Plan D. And be OK if these have to be enacted.

I have done some absolutely gorgeous weddings and I have pushed through with less than stellar beach weddings. The couples were all married, regardless. It’s just about the comfort of you both, the wedding party, and your guests.

The PLUS side of beach weddings

  • Gorgeous, natural setting

  • Makes great photos with the sand and ocean

  • Wonderful laid-back vibe

  • Romantic locations that just scream MARRY ME

Totally agree that beach weddings are a wonderful idea, and if they come off, they are amazing. You will never forget it.

Now the DOWN side of beach weddings

  • Natural elements working against you – wind, sun, rain can totally ruin hair, makeup, outfits. Sand gets into everything

  • The ocean can be noisy – makes it hard for your guests to hear

  • Logistically to set up and get to they can be tricky – especially for those who have mobility issues (grandparents I am looking at you) the beach can be a terror. Wedding vendors (me included) hate the thought of equipment getting ruined by sand or salt water (but we’ll do it if we have to) but just lugging the equipment to the sand can be a pain

  • Some beaches are off limits and almost all require permits – so check with the appropriate council before you get your heart set on it

  • The public will enjoy your wedding too – no real way to keep them away but it’s usually not a big deal. Unless there is a big beach volleyball or cricket game or surf carnival going on (true story). That’s not going to be a good fit for your pics

  • Parking can be a pain – a big deal for vendors and guests and expensive

Not put off? Still want that waterside nuptials? Okie doke then think about this.

  • You MUST have a Plan B (and Plan C in case Plan B falls over) – but at least somewhere that you can easily switch to. A building or a terrace with a roof. Organise a temporary tent or shelter. Or move the whole event indoors to your reception venue instead. TRUST ME – having the Plan B (and C) will help you feel less stressed or freaked out cause I just KNOW you are going to be checking the weather forecast every hour on the hour in the lead up to the big day.

  • Purchase umbrellas – these are great for the rain AND for strong sun. Parasols look cute (for sunshine) and clear plastic umbrellas are less obtrusive in photos. You can always hire these from an event company or on-sell to another wedding couple post ceremony.

  • Do your research. Check with the local council first and get those permits. You will find most celebrants have clauses in their contracts stating if there is a fine for not having a permit that sits with the couple, not the celebrant

  • Do you have to be on the sand? What about a park adjacent to the beach? Or a headland with the water behind? These can be just as beautiful locations with the same amazing backdrop. Just check out what the wind and sun are doing at the time you want to have your ceremony though.

  • What about a photo shoot at the beach post ceremony? You can still get the pics you want without all the hassles mentioned above.

  • What about hiring a venue close to the beach (surf clubs/council buildings/restaurant/café/bar/pub etc)? You get all the benefits of being close to the water without all the hassles mentioned above.

  • Research the time of year and average weather. If you aren’t sure speak to locals. Ask the local florist who probably does wedding flowers for local weddings. Or speak to your friendly celebrant (#jobootheventcelebrant) as they will know who to ask if they don’t know the location personally.

And if you MUST have the sand/beach ceremony then give lots of thought to;

  • What you will do with your hair, veil and dresses if it’s super windy?

  • Consider that the witnesses will have to be right up the front to hear the vows (which is legally required) but how can we gather the other guests close too so they can hear the ceremony?

  • Will people stand or sit? Stand for how long? Sit on what? Who brings those and sets them up/picks them up?

  • Speak to your celebrant and other wedding vendors. Some will have a strict ‘no beach’ policy (they’ve been burnt/blown away before) which may make you have to reach out for new vendors or change your plans.

I do beach weddings and I won't them to work out just as much (sometimes even more) than you do but the couple have to be willing to go to Plan B and C if its needed.

As I said, I want to love beach ceremonies. They just make it so hard sometimes. And then sometimes they just take your breath away.


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