Tips for your beach wedding ceremony

Tips for your beach wedding ceremony

1. Imagine your ceremony.

Do you see yourself and your friends in formalwear, strolling
along the sand? Or do you have a handful of flowers, bare feet,
and a short dress while your partner rolls up his pant legs and
you get wet? How formal or informal your ceremony is will affect
your choice of everything from ceremony location to invitations
to bridal party wear. Keep guest comfort in mind and choose save-the-date
cards and invitations that express the degree of casualness in
their dress-you don’t want people showing up in floor-length silk
dresses if they are going to be standing near the water line with
their feet wet.

2. Establish a theme — or
not.
Some beach weddings strive to retain a formal, elegant
air-perhaps seashell or starfish motifs on the invitations, programs,
and small touches during the reception will make the statement
for you. Other beach weddings choose a theme-sailing, Hawaiian/tropical,
New England clambake casual. Use this to determine the rest of
your choices.

3. Think about how many guests
you have.
If you have fewer than 50 guests, you may want to
have them stand in a circle or semi-circle while you and your
sweetheart exchange vows. More than 50 guests requires seating-it
will take longer for everyone to arrive and guests grow restless
and tired. Make sure you have chosen a location that will allow
chairs on the beach, and don’t forget to check on rental costs.

4. Make sure guests are comfortable.
Larger, more formal weddings mean you need to rent flooring for
people to walk on and to be seated. Remember that for people with
disabilities or weakness, walking on the sand can be challenging,
if not impossible. Remember to make arrangements so these guests
can watch the ceremony, too. Parasols are also a thoughtful gesture,
and they make for great photos.

5. Consider the roar of the
waves.
The great thing about the ocean is that it provides
background noise that helps drown out sounds of traffic or construction.
The downside is, it can also drown out your ceremony. Look into
renting a small public address system so your guests can hear
your ceremony. Some wedding officiants have these available for
a nominal fee-make sure to ask.

6. Decide upon the best time
of day.
Morning weddings lead to brunch or luncheon receptions.
The beach is usually quieter and more private, and the rising
sun makes for preferred lighting. Guests appreciate the less-intense
sun, too. Mid-day weddings on the beach should be kept shorter
and shade should be provided, often in the form a tent for guests.
Check with your ceremony site and your party rental provider for
suggestions on the best way to accommodate your guests. Evening
weddings also provide a break from intense sun, and the lighting
can make for wonderful photographs. Some places will be still
filled with beach-goers, though, so keep that in mind when you
choose.

7. Mark a distinct location
for the ceremony.
If you are having a small ceremony, you
may wish to place large seashells, candles, or luminaries around
the edge of the space so guests know where to stand. Consider
raking the sand to smooth it out and create a strong visual impression.
For larger ceremonies, the aisle can be marked with seashells,
candles, luminaries, or torches (many party rental providers offer
these and can guide you in the best choice). You may also want
to rent a chuppah or an arbor for you and your partner to stand
beneath for the ceremony itself.

8. Select music and readings
that fit your beach style.
Consider how formal or informal
you decided your ceremony and reception will be and fit the music
and readings to those ideas. An instrumental version of “Under
the Sea” from The Little Mermaid may be a good recessional
choice if you are creating an informal, party atmosphere. Acoustic
guitar or piano music may fit better if you have chosen a more
formal affair. Readings can also be suited to the location: Anne
Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From the Sea provides excellent choices
in prose readings, and poetry such as “Enough” by Sara
Teasdale, “Sonnet 75” by Edmund Spenser, or “Dancing
Toward Bethlehem” by Billy Collins. If you are not marrying
in a particular faith, choose an officiant who can guide you toward
appropriate readings.

9. Plan for the sea breeze.
While the ocean breeze is refreshing, it also blows sand. Seat
your guests so the breeze it at their backs, if possible. Unity
candle ceremonies, while lovely, tend to disappoint outside because
it is hard to light the candles or to keep them lit. Sand ceremonies,
where the bride and groom combine two small vials of sand into
a single container, are appropriate to the beach theme and are
less likely to be interrupted by the breeze.

10. Remember the environment.
Birdseed, while safe, will also encourage sea gulls to disrupt
your wedding, much to your guests’ dismay. Consider bubbles or
real flower petals (check with your ceremony site) instead. Make
sure you send someone around to collect anything handed out to
guests to be sure you don’t leave anything behind, including plastic
bubble bottles.

 

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