This August, I planned my first ever on the sand, beach ceremony. One of the first questions my couple asked me when I first met them was, " Do you know how to plan a sand ceremony?"
"Of course!" I responded. And of course, I was honest and told them I had never actually done a wedding on the sand, but I had, in fact, helped plan the behind-the-scenes (aka paperwork) aspects of sand ceremonies in the past....we will get to all of that later.
Now it may seem that it is all the same, except on the sand. So what's the big deal? Well let me tell you, there is a whole lot more to it than you expect.
And so, here are the Do's, the Don'ts, the Ifs, Ands, and Buts about planning a ceremony on the beach.
And did I mention, you HAVE to have a wedding planner?? Well, you don't really, but I would highly recommend it, as always ;)
(Keep in mind, the laws, rules, and regulations will be different depending on your location. So make sure you check your city laws.)
How to Plan A Beach Wedding
1. Know that your venue coordinator is the city.
You will be dealing with city workers, not wedding planners. So don't expect much advice...all you'll get is paperwork.
2. You cannot book until 30 days before your wedding.
Yes, here in Southern California, you cannot book further out than 30 days so that means you have to plan your ceremony, without actually having a venue. Scary right??
3. Try your decor out beforehand.
The second sand ceremony that I did this October, used large flags as part of their Balinese decor. As it turned out, the flags would not go deep enough into the sand to stand AND it got windier than we thought! Of course, we made it work (because that is what a wedding planner is for) but being prepared and trying out the decor in advance is highly recommended.
4. Prepare for weather...any weather.
Wind, fog, scorching sun, rain, snow, tornadoes, and who knows what could happen on your wedding day whether or not you are on the beach. So all I am going to say, is be prepared for the worst and prepared for the best.
5. Know the tide.
Simply put, you don't want your ceremony to end up in the water. Know where the tide will be during the time of your ceremony, and you won't have to be moving chairs out of the water last minute, or have waves crashing over your heads as you say your I Do's.
6. Prepare your guests.
A woman in stilettos or a grandparent with difficult mobilization needs to come prepared. They may need to bring an extra pair of sandals, not wear leggings that may tear from the sand, or get there a bit early to make the long trek to the ceremony site.
7. Leave plenty of time for set up.
This one was a HUGE surprise for me. Think about how difficult it is to walk in the sand. Now think about how long it takes to walk from a beach parking lot all the way to the ocean. Myself and just one intern had to carry every single chair and every single decor item to and from the car, parked a fourth of a mile away from the ceremony site. It wouldn't have been that bad on flat ground, but it took twice the time just because we were in the sand! So make sure you or your coordinator double that set-up time :)
Don't get me wrong, beach weddings are stunning and I absolutely LOVE planning them now that I know the ropes! So this article is not there to scare you, but to prepare you.