Every weekend in the summer you’ll find me officiating non-denominational wedding ceremonies in some of the most beautiful locations found in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. While most of those ceremonies take place at venues with spectacular views of the ocean, occasionally couples want to actually have their ceremony on the beach.
Beach weddings evoke romantic images – and they can be romantic – if you plan sensibly. The key word in that last sentence is sensibly!
Whether you believe in climate change or not the reality is – temperatures are rising! Family and friends love you – dearly – and I promise you that they will love you even more if you don’t plop them in the middle of a beach without some thought and care!
Having officiated upwards of a hundred sweaty, salty SoCal beach weddings,
here are my tips for having a festive wedding ceremony on beach sand!
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 the ceremony spot in a Mardi Gras procession of color. And if not umbrellas then paper fans.
Provide cold water. Buckets of cold water. Trust me on this!
You will have “lookie-loos.” If you’re getting married on a pubic beach, you should expect some folks to watch – or gawk! 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 ceremony 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 – you’re not having a traditional ceremony. Be creative in every aspect of the ceremony – from what you wear to how you exchange vows and rings. Here are some creative and engaging ceremony touches. . .
Rather than setting up rows of chairs, have your guests circle around you in a tight knit circle of love.
I’ve officiated at beach weddings where couples 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. So not romantic! You’re not in a church – 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.
Virtually everyone has their own pair of sunglasses so if you are providing sunglasses as a wedding favor make sure they’re unique.
When I officiated the wedding of reality show Survivor sweethearts Rob & Amber at the Atlantis 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 moment.
Simple – festive – Creative.
Keep these three words in mind as you plan for your memorable beach wedding ceremony!
If you want to learn how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner – during wedding planning and beyond –
check out my book,
Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me.