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Want a Beach Wedding? No Sweat.

Expert-Approved Steps to Planning Your Perfect Beach Wedding

By Chay D. Baxley // Photos by Candice K. Photography

If you have a hard time imagining anything more romantic than the glow of a pink and coral sunset or if the sound of gentle rolling waves has been humming in your ears since he got down on one knee, than a beach wedding is definitely for you.
Kudos are in order if you’ve landed in this sunny spot. So congratulations. You know what you want! Not all newly engaged couples can say as much when they start venue hunting. But beware: Once you’ve decided to take your event al fresco, naysayers will abound. They’re right in part. You can’t control Mother Nature. However, there are a few tried-and-true steps to pulling off a dreamy, beachy affair.
Beach weddings, like all events, take a bit of finessing to make them look effortless. Fear not, though. These easy steps will have you frolicking in the sun faster than you can say, “I do.”

1 Laying out the Logistic
At the start of the planning process, you want to be as flexible with the date as possible. Do your research. A beach wedding during the height of college spring break might be fun for the groomsmen, but your wedding photos won’t have the ethereal vibe you’re going for as hordes of coeds line the coast. Meanwhile, finding nearby guest accommodations on the heels of a major spike in the tourist season can also be complicated. Stay open-minded. Your wedding date might look different than you originally thought but better than you ever hoped for.

2 Coordination is Key
Beach ceremonies are gorgeous. They’re also practical, because the average ceremony takes approximately 20 minutes. Beach receptions are a tad more rare because of their length and the legalities surrounding having a private event on public property. Glass and adult beverages are often not permitted — a major letdown for some couples.

“More than likely you can’t have the reception on the beach,” admitted John Gandy, owner of the award-winning John Gandy Events. Nearly half of Gandy’s brides incorporate some form of coastal celebration into their wedding. “It’ll have to be on an adjacent property.”
Once you two decide on a coastal community that speaks to your needs, see what types of resorts and other proprieties are situat
ed there. When venue shopping commences in that neighborhood, don’t be shy asking the local event coordinators questions. Make sure wherever you sign has a clear plan in case of inclement weather. Tents can do the trick if skies are just a little gray, but indoor space is crucial if there’s an actual downpour.

3 Oceans of Style
The next step is to decide how you want the ceremony to look and feel. The possibilities are endless, but articulation comes first. “I have a lot of brides that reach out to me wanting a beach wedding without a beach theme,” laughed Gandy. “That’s always interesting. But you know, it’s totally doable. We’ve had beautiful black tie weddings on the beach.”

Just remember, while there’s no such thing as a perfect wedding, a wedding that’s perfect for the two of you is always on the menu. “Be true to yourself,” added Gandy. “If you love it, that’ll translate to your guests.”

4 The Considerate Host
Couples should always strive to make their wedding as comfortable as possible for guests. That’s especially true when hosting outdoors. Be as courteous as you can be on the big day, and pay special attention to partygoers’ most basic needs. Have cool water, sun protection and even lightweight blankets or wraps close by to make sure everyone stays happy and healthy throughout the night.
“This will be the first time you’re entertaining as a couple,” noted Gandy. “You want to make sure that your guests are having a good time. I know a lot of people who say it’s the bride’s day, but it’s really the bride and groom’s time to entertain. That’s the biggest thing.”