The blue sea, the sky, the sun and the sound of the waves… without a doubt, the beach is the perfect place for two people to promise to love one another forever. So many couples dream and fantasise about getting married on the seashore, with its magical, romantic atmosphere that makes it ideal for such a special moment. And it has always been a favourite for the more adventurous, and less traditional bride and groom, who want a more unique ceremony. Although Britain has some gorgeous beaches – Porthcurno in Cornwall for example, and the infamous Chesil Beach from Ian McEwan’s bestselling novel – most couples tend to go abroad for their seaside ceremonies, citing the weather as their main cause of concern, and popular destinations include Hawaii, the Bahamas, and more recently, Chile.
Many dream of marrying on the beach, but not everyone looks into it as a real possibility for their big day. To organise a beachside ceremony, there’s a series of steps to follow, and tasks to be completed to ensure that your wedding is not only a beautiful event, but that you’re not breaking the law whilst doing it! So to ensure success, and to inspire you if you’re hesitant to really pursue it, here are Zankyou’s five top tips for getting married at the seaside.
- Get permission from all corresponding parties
- Get down to organising
- Choose your decorations
- Go looking for the perfect dress
- Select the perfect menu
A beachside wedding can be a marvellous thing, but you have to obtain certain legal documents before it can take place, which vary from country to country. For example, if you want to get married along the picturesque Chilean coastline, you must ensure that you have permission from the maritime authorities and the local council. We recommend that you do this with plenty of time to spare, as these organisations can be slow to respond, and often have to be reminded to get back to you.
We also recommend that for a wedding abroad you contact and hire an appropriately-skilled wedding planner to advise you on legal issues, with which they will be well versed. Aside from legal requirements, wedding planners are also fundamental pillars in many wedding-planning projects, and can be excellent guides for people completely new to the industry.
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These kinds of weddings require a lot of effort, with more attention for even the most minute details – will you be able to wear heels on sand? Will you need waterproof mascara is there’s a strong breeze? Will it be accessible for disabled guests? There are many more things to be conscious of, and so it is vital to stay on top of your planning, and dedicate sufficient time and funding towards it.
One incredibly important thing to take into consideration is timing: you should avoid high seasons, and the times of year when the beaches are full of tourists. Aside from being uncomfortable, it can create a stressful environment, and also ruin your photos! Ideally, look to smaller, less well-known beaches – if you’re getting married abroad, check with family and friends if they know anyone in your destination country that you can get tips from. Alongside choosing the right time, take the weather into consideration – places like Chile and Australia are on the southern side of the Equator, and so your dream of the perfect summer wedding is likely to be drowned out by rain if you have it in July!
Another significant aspect of the planning process is accommodation. Most beaches are surrounded by hotels – but in a place as popular as Melbourne, for example, these are likely to be fully-booked months in advance. Don’t leave anything to chance – and make sure you’ve booked enough spaces for all of your guests!
The beach is a decoration in and of itself – the sand, the shells, that unbeatable view of the sea – but it’s always nice to bring in some special features. In this case, we would recommend taking a simpler approach so that your guests aren’t too distracted by the setting, but adopting a kind of bohemian style can be very attractive, as is playing with patterns with a white base. And as ever, flowers can be used to dress up the place where the ceremony will be held – often an arch is implemented for a beachside wedding, not just for the aesthetic, but to protect the bride’s hair from any unexpected breezes!
For evening weddings on the beach, the importance of lighting cannot and should not be underestimated. But this is also an opportunity to really make your mark on the ceremony – use torches to illuminate the beach, or hanging lamps, garlands of lights, lanterns, balloons… There is a multitude of options, for people with varying tastes and styles. Find what you like, and take advantage of it!
The beauty of the sea offers you the chance to look fabulous in a more relaxed style of gown than would be expected at a traditional wedding in the countryside. These looks are often looser, lighter, more delicate and to an extent, more romantic.
The most common style of dress adopted by a beach bride is a bohemian or vintage piece with lace features, shorter skirts, or made up of lighter materials like linen. Amongst the fabrics we would recommend are cotton, organza, and even silk tulle if you still want to bring a certain kind of elegance with you. Accessories vary in line with the taste of each bride. However, we have become accustomed to seeing brides with flower crowns, often styling their hair into soft curls or relaxed waves. Remember that the look you want to achieve at a beach wedding is a reflection of purity, freedom and peace – all the feelings that we are moved to feel by the ocean.
With regard to bridal beauty, make sure you take humidity into consideration – primarily thinking about what effect it’ll have on your makeup! To make sure you avoid mascara tracks in your photos, find yourself a professional makeup artist who will ensure that the quality of their products protects your makeup from melting. At the same time, think on the look you want to create – most brides choose a more natural look for beachside ceremonies, to adhere to the theme in place.
We recommend a buffet-style selection of food for the evening meal – a cocktail menu, with finger foods that can be easily transported, and are not too heavy for guests in the sun. Amongst the food you choose, popular choices include fish, seafood, rice dishes, exotic meals that you wouldn’t normally be able to try (make the most of where you are!), and you could even have a barbeque! These kinds of foods are more easily organised, and are often more suitable for this kind of ceremony.
At the same time, you could opt to contact a local restaurant, or a hotel that offers culinary services for external events. And if you’re not keen on risking sand-sandwiches, these establishments will all likely hire out rooms for receptions, which often have beautiful views over the beach or the coast, and almost always gardens and terraces for the ideal party.
We hope that with our advice, you’ll be able to start planning your perfect wedding by the sea. Though it can be a very demanding process, we promise that it’ll be worth the effort – and of course, don’t forget to enjoy your day with your loved ones and your new spouse!