How to prepare for a beach wedding that will [figuratively] blow you away

Summer has finally arrived in Ontario and that has me dreaming of beach weddings. After all we are host to some of the most beautiful rock and sand beaches in the country, and getting married on the shores of the greatest body of fresh water in the world is simply romantic. Not so simple, however, is planning for a beach wedding.

If you have your heart set on a waterfront ceremony you’ll be at the mercy of some very temperamental elements and footwear. I’ve addressed a few issues below which you’ll want to consider when putting the final touches on your special day. I’ve also thrown in some photos from my favourite beach weddings over the years for some inspiration.

Before the ceremony

Choose your ceremony time wisely. Mid-afternoon on a sunny day is not ideal for your beach wedding for a couple reasons. First, you’ll be subjecting yourself to what could be a very hot day (which I hear is not ideal in a wedding dress). And second, and worse (for me, anyway), you and your guests will likely be squinting in all of your photos. Instead, consider a ceremony time of 1 to 1.5 hours prior to the sunset so that you (and your photographer) can enjoy some beautiful lighting.

Have a backup plan. With any outdoor ceremony you’ll have a backup venue in the event of inclement weather. Be sure to include directions to your backup venue with your RSVPs and have a plan to notify your guests and vendors last minute should it literally rain on your parade.

Research permits. Especially if you intend to hold your wedding on a public beach. A good place to start is with the town or municipality. You should also ask about noise bylaws and neighbouring property lines you and your guests shouldn’t cross.

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Wardrobe do’s and don’ts

Use sunscreen. In the months prior to your wedding be sure to apply ample waterproof sunscreen when you are going outside whether you will be in the sun or not. This goes for your bridesmaids and mother of the bride and groom as well. Be sure your makeup artist is using concealer with sunscreen and lather your ears, neck, shoulders, and back (and any other exposed skin) with a high SPF to keep from burning on the day of.

Dress appropriately. A long train is not your friend at a beach wedding. Nor are any fabrics which pick up beach debris easily, a veil, or your fiancé’s favourite Italian leather shoes. If you’re going with a long train be sure you can easily bustle it. Have your hair pinned securely to your head. And suggest your hubby-to-be go without his expensive footwear. You might also want your groom and groomsmen to go without jackets and welcome your guests to dress reasonably casually.

Tread lightly. Your choice in footwear can be particularly problematic on sand. Have you ever tried walking on sand in heels? Consider a shoe station or valet service. Welcome your guests to go barefoot or offer flip flops to wear during the ceremony to save them from carting the beach home at the end of the night.

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When the day finally arrives

Batten down the hatches. Beach weddings can get windy. And I don’t mean the perfect breeze catching your dress windy. I’m talking hair in your face, decorations flying everywhere, marriage license disappearing into the bay windy. Choose heavy chairs for a seated ceremony, anchor your decorations and all your paperwork, and don’t adorn your arbour with any fabrics which could turn it into a kite mid-ceremony.

Use a sound system. While waves are a hoot to splash around in they can seriously complicate your wedding vows. Being as speaking those words to each other are the reason you’re planning this whole shindig, you’ll want them to be heard. Rent a sound system with a microphone for your officiant. Your DJ should be able to help you with this prior to the ceremony.

Expect spectators. People love the beach. People also love weddings. Don’t be surprised if some beach goers hang around to watch the festivities and offer you their congratulations.

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Have any beach wedding tips from your own experience? Share them in the comments!

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