Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Your Picture Perfect Beach Wedding: Sun, Sand, Surf, and I Dos (and Don’ts)

Image copyright Joshua Walker Photography - www.joshuawalkerphotography.com

Nothing embodies romance more than a beach wedding. Warm sun, a cool breeze, bare feet in the sand, and waves crashing in the background as you say ‘I do.’ A true storybook scene. Yet as simple and carefree as a beach wedding may appear, there are a number of important details to consider and a few steps one can take when planning to ensure your seaside ceremony goes off without a hitch and is truly picture perfect.

1. The most important detail to consider when planning a beach wedding is the time of day that it will take place, early morning or late afternoon are best. Midday should be avoided if at all possible. In addition to being the warmest part of the day, the midday sun directly overhead is less than ideal for photography. The intense glare and harsh shadows it creates are very difficult to avoid. Keeping in mind that an evening reception follows most ceremonies, late afternoon is typically the clear choice. You and your guests will be more comfortable and you will certainly be helping your photographer capture the best possible images.

2. Shade is good, particularly for the bride and groom. Even at the most ideal time of day, direct sun can create shadows and cause squinting. A little bit of shade provides a nice, even light and eliminates hot spots, which are magnified by perspiration. Palm trees are the ideal natural source of shade and certainly add to the ambience of a beach ceremony, but aren’t always present in the desired location, especially if the ceremony is taking place close to the water. A small canopy or, better yet, a chuppah draped with white cloth is a simple alternative and provides ample shade for the bride and groom in addition to contributing to the light, breezy feel of the beach setting.

3. Most beach weddings are more casual than traditional church ceremonies, which the choice of clothing should reflect. No heavy bridal gowns or black tuxedos. Not only will you look out of place, but you will undoubtedly be uncomfortable as well. Light materials and colors are more pleasant to wear and more fitting to the scene. And don’t forget to remind your family and guests. If you and the rest of the wedding party are comfortable, everyone will enjoy himself or herself much more and it will certainly show in the photographs.

4. Remember, Mother Nature is always in control. The very things that make a beach wedding so appealing can also spell disaster. Weather, wind, blowing sand, and extreme high tides are just a few of the many elements beyond one’s control that can put a serious damper on your ceremony. Research the local weather when planning and choose the most stable month if possible. Unfortunately Mother Nature isn’t always predictable, so definitely be prepared with a plan B.

5. Sand, sand, and more sand. If you intend on having the entire wedding party stand for the length of the ceremony, it’s best to keep it short, particularly if there will be seniors in attendance. If, on the other hand, you are considering the use of chairs, their legs tend to sink in the sand, causing them to become unstable. You certainly don’t want your guests tipping over into the sand or onto each other. Some rental companies offer flooring that the chairs can be placed on, but that increases setup time as well as cost and complicates things considerably. If you do plan on having a large wedding party with a more extensive setup, find a grassy area at a park or overlooking the ocean. True, it isn’t the same as being on the sand, but it will be much easier to deal with.

6. Crowds. The very same tranquil, romantic spot that you scouted during the week will be crawling with sunburned tourists on the weekend, even more so if your wedding date is on or near a holiday, so plan accordingly. Try to find a secluded spot off the beaten path if possible and have someone stake it out earlier in the day so that it doesn’t get overrun before you arrive. Nothing kills romance more than a rowdy bunch of drunken revelers cheering you on during your ceremony and they certainly don’t make a very appealing backdrop for photographs either. Don’t forget about traffic and parking either, which will certainly be an issue on the weekend. Give yourself plenty of extra time and warn the rest of the wedding party. You don’t want to throw the entire schedule of your wedding off because you or family members can’t find parking.

7. Keep it simple. The true charm of a beach wedding lies in its simplicity. All that is inessential is stripped away leaving friends, family, you, and the love of your life surrounded by the beauty of sand and sea.

Article submitted by Joshua Walker, an award-winning wedding photojournalist based in San Diego, CA. Visit Joshua's website at


Jeff said...

The perfect addition to a well planned beach wedding is the Heirloom Hourglass Unity Sand Ceremony. Found exclusively at http://www.heirloomhourglass.com, this is the only hourglass that is designed for you to fill yourself with real beach sand or colored sand. The hourglass is the ultimate symbol of the passage of time, and it becomes an heirloom that gets passed down for generations. After the ceremony, Husband and Wife have a beautiful hourglass that they can turn over each evening and watch their sands blend more and more. A deeply symbolic and touching part of any Wedding, Heirloom Hourglass is handcrafted in upstate NY in limited quantities. It is a stunning addition to any decor, and it is the ideal nautical design element.

Tom Young said...

You may want to check out T & K Young where Tom Young has been making hourglasses since 1975.

Tom has offered custom filled and personalized hourglasses for several years. Rather than novelties Tom's hourglasses are of a quality that you will cherish for years to come.

Tom’s Wedding Hourglass selection includes both Basic Wedding Hourglasses as well as Sand Ceremony Wedding Hourglasses.

Not only does Tom offer hourglasses that you can fill yourself, he is able to personalize your hourglass with in-house laser engraving of your choice of the entire wedding invitation, the wedding vows or another personal message on one side. On the other side your names along with your wedding date are laser engraved creating a stunning keepsake.

Amber said...

Just got engaged and was trying to decide on a typical church wedding or beach wedding...until i found this site - the pictures are awesomw and I have now made up my mind to do a beach ceremony. My "husband to be", Russell, will be thrilled- that's what he wanted. The date is not until 2009, so not much planning done yet, so any advise posts would be great! I checked out both "Wedding Hourglasses" above and have to say the Heirloom Hourglasses are beautiful & the website is great - also has great pictures. I'm really excited to start planning with the beach theme - Thanks Stray Weddings- it's a great service you provide! - Amber & Russell

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