Woodland Fields Photography
Woodland Fields Photography Needom Wed 393 Needom Wed 192 Modernmade Weddings

New Coastal Cool

Couples forsake seashells in a new wave of beach trends

By Rebecca PadgettPhotos by Woodland Fields Photography and Modernmade Weddings

Photos by Woodland Fields Photography and Modernmade Weddings


Northwest Florida claims some of the most coveted beaches in the world — beaches that provide beautiful backdrops for weddings that feel like vacations. As far as beach weddings go, you either love them or you would never dare; but it’s clear that beach weddings won’t blow away with the sands of time.

“Couples will always be drawn to the beach. I don’t think that will ever change,” said Cheryl Walton, Senior Wedding Sales & Services Manager at St. Joe Club & Resorts. “The views are stunning, the sounds are tranquil and the sunsets are breathtaking. The beach is a happy place for many people.”

With sun shining down upon your ceremony, you’ve already got beauty on your side; but how do you make your wedding stand out in a sea full of shells, seafood and blue hues? The world is your oyster, so open your mind and discover some amazing trends that are perfect for your coastal wedding.

Rather than the typical Florida beach vacation-style wedding, why not consider a chic fishing village or Caribbean escape? Both allow for unique décor incorporations that are easy to find and execute.

“The trend has shifted, slightly, from beachy to coastal chic,” said Walton. “Think less shells and sand and more driftwood, white coral and sea fans. Bring in things like old fishing carts, and nautical fabrics for the guest tables. Use old vintage postcards from the beach for your guest book, and leave in a vintage beach Jeep or Bronco.”

Typically, the ceremony will take place on the sand, which caters to a relaxed, fun and inclusive atmosphere. Invite guests to ditch their shoes for complimentary flip-flops, and if the vows are said midday, hand out sunglasses, so they won’t be blinded by the sunshine and your love. For a whimsical photo opportunity, allow guests to throw brightly colored beach balls as you exit the ceremony or reception.

If you want the beach vibes but don’t want to risk temperamental Florida weather, the theme is still possible indoors.

“Any beach décor can be brought inside, excluding the sand,” said Carol Juneau, Weddings & Special Events Manager at Hilton Sandestin. “Driftwood, lanterns and bamboo arbors will definitely give ballrooms a beach vibe.”

Buoys, fishing nets and seashells can make their appearances, but let statement-makers like pineapple-and-floral centerpieces, beach umbrella lounge-spaces and sandcastle “cakes” steal the show.

Paddleboards or surfboards, propped up table-style, make for excellent serving stations. Jerk chicken, kabobs, pineapple-cured ham, plantains, poke (a Hawaiian salad made with raw fish), coconut cake and more make for an island-centric menu. But, quality seafood will always be in its best form at a coastal wedding.

“Incorporate seafood as much as possible, with crab cakes, tuna tartare, fish tacos or a stacked raw bar,” said Juneau.

One of the many beauties of a beach wedding is that it promotes leisure and lightheartedness. Crack open a beer from a rowboat that acts as a cooler and head over for some beach bowling, with pineapples as pins and coconuts as bowling balls. For children — or the kid at heart — sand pails and shovels provide entertainment and a takeaway item. Park beach cruisers outdoors and indoors, and fill the baskets with flowers. They can serve as décor, and then the happy couple can speed off on them at sunset.

Long after the color palette has been picked and the dress has been fitted, you will delight in knowing you have chosen a location where many decide to honeymoon. Your guests will be busy noshing on raw oysters and dancing under the stars, so be sure to sneak away with your partner to immerse your feet in sand and your hearts in happiness.