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California Beach Weddings

Three Tips For a Festive Beach Wedding Ceremony

I live in southern California—land of surf, sand, and beach weddings. Beach weddings evoke romantic images—and they can be—if you keep these 3 tips in mind:

  • Provide shade.  During the summer, the sun can be brutal, especially if you’re wearing something other than a bathing suit!  A festive way to offer guests some shade is by providing colorful paper umbrellas—your guests even could lead you to your beach wedding in a Mardi Gras procession of color.
  • Remember you will have “lookie-loos.”  If you’re getting married on a pubic beach, then you should expect some folks to watch—or gawk!  And know that some of these folks will pop up in your video/photos.  And some of those folks probably should be arrested for wearing Speedos!  Check out your intended outdoor beach spot a week or so before your wedding.  When do crowds thin out?  Is there a stretch that is less populated?  While it will be hard to find a private spot, you at least can reduce the number of unwanted guests.
  • Be creative—an outdoor beach wedding is not a traditional ceremony. Be creative in every aspect of the ceremony—from what you wear to how you exchange vows and rings. 
  • Rather than setting up rows of chairs, have your guests circle around you in a tight knit circle of love. 

  • I’ve officiated at several beach weddings where folks actually dragged string trios onto the sand—only to have the music blown out to sea.  Why not have a horn, trumpet or steel drum shout forth the joy of your day? 

  • I’ve seen brides clomp through the sand in puffy dresses, complete with veil and train.  You’re not in a church, so why imitate a church setting? 

  • I feel for older guests and relatives who trudge through the sand in shoes—wanting to remain “proper.”  Consider alternatives.  Have folks switch into flip-flops before heading off to the ceremony spot. Perhaps you can provide a station where people can remove socks and shoes and then, after the ceremony, have moist cloths ready so they can wipe their feet before putting their shoes back on.

  • Sun glasses make for a fun beach wedding favor.

  • When I officiated Rob & Amber’s wedding in the Bahamas, their rings were presented on a seashell.  Before exchanging rings, they washed their hands in a conch shell and had their mothers dry their hands.  It was a poignant symbol that tied us to both the ceremony and the beach.

Simple, festive, fun.  Keep these three words in mind as you plan for a memorable beach wedding ceremony!

Wedding Ceremony