This is an article for best practices when planning a beach wedding containing expert tips from a wedding officiant professional in Jacksonville, FL who has done countless beach ceremonies.
Imagining the perfect wedding set along the romantic shores of a beach?
What we see in our minds can be very different than the reality of the day.
Weather – You absolutely, positively must have a rain backup. It might not be a rainy day but bad wind can be just as miserable. Do you really want to take your vows with a mouthful of hair and Auntie Matilda’s best Sunday bonnet carried off on the wind? It is essential to have a backup plan that you can execute quickly and cleanly if you decide to change the location at the last moment. The day of the ceremony don’t just check the weather for rain; make sure the wind is within your acceptable range. If it’s a 15 MPH wind with gusts up to 19 MPH, that is incredibly windy down at the beach. Everything (and I mean everything) will fly away.
- Sound – this is a big issue for beach weddings. Between the wind (even on regular, not especially windy days) and the constant thrumming of the waves breaking on the shore usually means spoken words are darn near impossible to hear. Tiny weddings of 10 folks or less are fine. Everyone can gather around. Anything more than that, get a sound guy to come “mike” the ceremony. Usually DJs can provide this as a part of their service to you but there are also providers who will come take care of this as a standalone service.
- Flower girls – it is a big no-no here in Florida to throw things down on the beach including paper or fabric flowers (too non-biodegradable), real flowers or flower petals (covered in pesticides) or other items that don’t biodegrade rapidly. Here’s a novel concept…you’re at the beach….have her throw seashells. It will establish you as an eco-friendly bride and a cool trendsetter. DON’T THROW BIRDSEED, RICE OR OTHER TYPES OF FOOD….unless you are particularly fond of bird poo as you will attract every shore bird within a mile of the ceremony.
- Decorations – If you put them up, secure them super duper well. It’s windy. Everything wants to blow away. It’s a real bummer when shore patrol interrupts your ceremony to give you a ticket because all your purple and teal streamers are now littered along the beach. NEVER EVER PERFORM A BALLOON RELEASE! It is totally verboten now in Florida because it’s incredibly damaging to the ocean and its creatures when they burst and fall into the water.
- The permit issue – okay here’s the deal. I’ve done weddings of up to 60 people (with chairs, arches, decorations…the whole shebang) and I’ve never had a problem with shore patrol coming to see if we had a permit. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen but with dozens of beach weddings under my belt, it hasn’t happened yet. However, I have had clients tell me that when they mentioned getting married on the beach while at the courthouse getting the license, the courthouse people sternly tell you to get the license. My take on the subject is this. If I were having a small(ish) wedding on the beach, personally I wouldn’t sweat it. If I thought 50 people were going to show up and I wanted all the bells and whistles (chairs, decorations, arch, etc.,) I’d paid the $50 or whatever to get the permit. After all the hard work, why risk having your ceremony interrupted by Baywatch on his ATV stopping by in the middle of your ceremony to write you a ticket?
Hopefully this information proves helpful for you in planning your beach wedding. If you have any great tips on this subject to share, please email them to me so I can update this entry.
-That Wedding Lady, April 25, 2013