What’s it going to be? Fiji or Florida?
“Romantic” sure, beach weddings are the way to go if you like burying your toes in the sand and wearing just a two-piece with a veil. Make that a bandana. Beach weddings have come full circle though, they don’t necessarily have to look like they were created and designed only for beach bums.
Beach weddings have attained respectability; lawyers and nuclear scientists have gotten married on the dock, so if that’s your idea of a romantic union, go for it. The idea, of course, is to plan it carefully – preferably with someone who’s been doing this kind of thing for years. If you want a beach ceremony that will go flawlessly and operate like clockwork, it’s best to hire a pro.
Whether you choose a formal or informal beach wedding, there are at least five things which you’ll need to mull over if you decide to marry au naturel. Assuming you’ve already chosen the beach where you will be exchanging rings, vows, and whatever else there is to exchange to prove your love and commitment, some key considerations loom large in the horizon.
- Tide – Tide’s the name of the game, and we’re not talking about the household detergent. We’re talking about high and low tide. Would you really like the officiant to be gulped down by a gigantic wave as he’s about to pronounce you man and wife? We think not. Ask your wedding planning company if they keep a close eye on the tide.
- Weather – a lot of people are going to end up wet if you decide to hold both the ceremony and reception outdoors. Yes, it is a gorgeous backdrop when the sun sets and the seagulls make it back to their nesting places, but what if it rains? It may be a smart idea to make alternative arrangements with your wedding planner if the weather should change in a matter of hours. You could wake up to a warm, glorious and sunny morning only to find that as the wedding hour nears, it clouds over and menacing gray skies appear.
- Photography – taking pictures outdoors versus indoors is a situation you must factor in when you choose to be married on the beach. You’ll expect your photographer to have experience taking photos on the beach and still bring out the best in everyone. This is why we think that holding the ceremony on the beach but the reception indoors (or vice versa) could give you the best of both worlds. At any rate, if your photographer knows his job like the back of his hand, you should have nothing to worry about.
- Public attention – in a traditional wedding, only your invited guests get the chance to oggle at you or participate in the joy and happiness of your union. In a beach, every Tom, Dick and Harry will be watching, and you can’t really shoo them away because you don’t own the beach.
- Accessibility for your guests – if you have a beach wedding, there’s the possibility that all your invitees may not be able to make it. If the beach is out of town, some of your guests may not have the financial means to make a special trip. Or else, you may have some elderly guests who don’t particularly savor the idea of standing for an hour in the sun and get sand blown on their face. You have the added ritual of providing detailed maps and temporary accommodations for out-of-towners who may be tired from the long drive or the circuitous plane ride.
- Food handling – oh goodness, we forgot about the seagulls! Watch out. When there’s food spread out on a long table outdoors, your caterer will have to provide special food covers. Food can’t be exposed to the sun for very long, plus seagulls will come down in droves to taste what’s for dinner. How would your guests’ feel if they’re about to reach for the guacamole dip and a seagull or some other sky creature is perched on the edge of the table ready to attack the same dip?
If you hired a professional beach wedding planner to handle all aspects of your special event, there’s very little detail for you to worry about. But in addition to the wedding wardrobe of everyone in the wedding party, shoes, bags, jewelry and accessories, favors, copies of the program, copies of the readings, there are other things that should make it to your list as well:
- First aid kit – this comes in handy when the beach is on a remote island, and the next clinic is about 30 miles away.
- Sunscreen/windscreen – this is the only way not to end up with a red nose and a burnt back
- Beach umbrellas – specify these items to your caterer or wedding planner
- Comfortable beachwear for guests who want to romp around in loose-fitting clothes as they tour the beach area. Have as many flip-flops in as many sizes as possible
Beach Weddings – “Leave it with Us”
They aren’t called professionals for nothing. Beach wedding planners – especially the seasoned ones – have the varied experience to back them up. By the time they’re on their fifth year of business, they’ve seen and heard everything. They’ll fulfill the oddest request and not bat an eyelash. Some of them advertise their services so that you’ll have nothing else to fidget about. “Just tell us your dream and we’ll take it from there” was what one planner says online.
When beach weddings take place, the entire program usually takes close to a day. If guests are travelling three to five hours to join you, they’re not going to drive back after a couple of hours. Hosts have to feel that it was well worth the trip. So apart from the ceremony and the reception, think of your guests’ comfort and convenience as well. It’s part of intelligent planning.
For example, the beach itself will probably not be sufficient diversion. Guests may be itching to do something else apart from skinny dipping. Ask your wedding planner if the beach area is close to a public park, or if there’s a poolside in the resort. Ask what kind of amenities nearby resorts offer. Can you charter a boat and take your guesrs around the island? Is the boat equipped with sufficient life vests and is the captain licensed? Are there volleyball and tennis courts nearby? Avid golfers usually appreciate it if they can run to the adjacent golf course after the reception to play a few rounds. These are details you may want to inform your guests about so that they can bring their golf clubs if they want to.
By the way, if you’re going to be having musicians who will provide the outdoor sounds, you or your planner may want to warn them ahead of time how loud the waves are going to be or whatever outside disturbances there might be. Violins produce great melody but if they are going to be dwarfed by the sound of the giant waves, you lose a bit of the dramatic effect.
A woman who had a yacht wedding recently said the whole exercise would have been 99.99% perfect except that when the wedding party had boarded the yacht, there were other yachts that made sea traffic so congested. As they cruised past the other vessels, people there were drunk and calling out to them, cracking obscene jokes, making the minister wince, the bride blush, and the guests de-focus.