Five Things You Should Know About a Beach Wedding

Beach WeddingFor a certain type of wedding couple, nothing beats the allure of a beach wedding. To be outside in warm air, standing in front of the ocean that touches all, feet in the sand–what could be more romantic? What better witnesses to your day of bliss than the sun and the sea?

My wife and I recently got married in Pismo Beach, California. Though we had a wonderful ceremony and amazing reception, there were a few things we hadn’t thought about beforehand. Below are a few things that we have learned form our research.

It Won’t Be a Private Ceremony

When we pictured our ceremony it was just the wedding party, officiant and guests standing on a deserted stretch of beach. It was to be an intimate moment between the loving couple and our friends and family. But when we started scouting venues, we discovered most hotels don’t have a private beach, and even if they did, it’d still be open to the hotel’s other guests.

We ended up having quite a few curious onlookers on the day; thankfully, they were polite and kept out of the area where we had set up chairs and the wedding arch. But our pictures definitely include an obese tourist in a bathing suit or two.

You’ll Need Amplification

Our officiant was my father, who has a lifetime of training as a minister. Our music was provided by a band that regularly performs acoustically, and my wife and I are not quiet people. We figured that with a little bit of vocal projection, we wouldn’t need a P.A. system.

We were wrong. At the rehearsal, it became clear that our voices wouldn’t carry past the first row of guests, even for our small (30+ guests) setup. The processional music, a delicate acoustic guitar melody, was also swallowed by the ambient noise just a few feet from where the guitarist was standing. We ended up having to rent a couple of speakers, a microphone, and a guitar pick-up at the last minute, just to make sure our guests could actually hear what was going on.

It Won’t Necessarily Be Sunny–

We thought the middle of June on a northern California beach would be the perfect time for a bright, sunny ceremony. It was only after we had reserved the hotel that we started hearing the phrase “June Gloom.” For all its reputation as a land of golden sunshine, the ocean does weird things to the weather, and frequently a sunny day a little bit inland is pretty gloomy at the beach. Our wedding was darker and chillier than we imagined it would be. It was still an amazing day, but the sun didn’t break free of the clouds until the middle of the reception.

–But You Can Get Burned Anyway

There’s something about human nature that makes us think if we can’t see the sun, we can’t get sunburned. As many of our unfortunate guests learned, the sun is out even if it’s behind clouds, and those skin-reddening UV rays have no trouble breaking through the cloud cover. My wife and I applied sunscreen before the ceremony, but many of our guests ended up looking like boiled lobsters by the time the brief service was over. If we could do it over again, we would have had a basket of travel-size bottles of sunscreen at the top of the aisle and insisted everyone apply some.

Shoes and Sand Do Not Mix

My wife and I had planned on doing the ceremony barefoot, with our toes dug into the sand. Most of our guests, however, had on high heels and loafers. After watching stiletto heels sink into the sand during the rehearsal, we commandeered a luggage cart from the hotel for the wedding day, and had all of our guests drop their shoes off before they went down to the beach. We definitely should have specified casual wear for the wedding and suggested flip-flops or bare feet in our invitations.

Despite the unforeseen obstacles, our beach wedding was a magical, amazing time. I can’t imagine it happening any other way. With a little foresight and planning, your beach wedding can be just as wonderful as ours was.