Must-Knows for Beach CeremoniesWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Hotel Casa del Mar
Destination wedding couples very often want to say “I do” on the beach and exchange vows with their toes in the sand. The truth is, holding your ceremony and/or reception on the beach can be more complicated than you think. To get the inside scoop on just what a beach wedding entails and tips for pulling yours off flaw-free, we reached out to an industry expert. As a certified wedding coordinator and the newly appointed Director of Catering at the seaside Hotel Casa del Mar and Shutters on the Beach, Krystal Moreno knows a thing or two about beach weddings. Here are her top things to remember and consider when planning your own beachfront nuptials:
- Consider several set-up options for a beach ceremony where you don’t actually have to have your feet in the sand.
- Build a riser or stage on the beach so your guests never touch the sand, but will enjoy the ambiance. You can set ceremony chairs right on top of the stage that way guests in dresses or heels won’t feel uncomfortable
- If you like the sand, have a shoe check on the beach and bring in benches for seating.
- Provide sunglasses and sunscreen when guests arrive to the ceremony
- As guests arrive, it’s great to have bottled water, parasols or decorative hand fans. This is a nice touch to let your guests know you are thinking of them and provide them a way to stay cool, especially for spring/summer weddings
- Stay connected to weather patterns and keep in mind the direction of the sun
- If you don’t want your wedding pictures to be of you and your spouse wearing sunglasses, consider helpful apps like Lumy and Sun Scout. They can help plan your wedding timeline in order to avoid the sun in your eyes during your ceremony or to capture the perfect sunset
- Most importantly, plan for the unexpected. Have a plan B in terms of weather. If your venue or hotel is located near the beach, talk about a weather back-up plan for the ceremony. Some venues will complimentarily block space for you as a back-up if you’re booking your wedding in the off-season. Others will require an additional rental fee to secure a back-up in advance, so always know your options!
- Remember that the beach is not always private. In Santa Monica our beaches are public. For public beaches, contact your city community/recreation and parks department to ensure you know the restrictions of a public beach.
Here are some possible restrictions for hosting your event on a public beach:
- Height and square footage of structures and tents
- Loading and unloading locations of trucks on the beach
- Keeping pedestrian walkways clear
- Keeping amplified sound within the allotted times approved. Consider renting a battery powered generator because you will need a microphone so that your guests can hear your vows. Make sure to communicate this with your officiant and any musicians you are considering
- Obtaining permits for food and beverage. And, as a general rule of thumb, alcohol is not permitted on a public beach
- Obtaining fire permits, if applicable
- Make sure to check how many guests can be seating on the beach before needing an additional permit. In Santa Monica, we aim for 150 people or less before you need to get a permit
- First come, first serve! Make sure to communicate with your vendors to ensure they stake their claim on the exact location of your ceremony first thing in the morning – that way you can avoid any potential conflict with another patron wanting to enjoy the same location
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