Tips & Tricks: Things to Consider for Your Beach Wedding or Elopement - sherimcmahonphotography.com

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Tips & Tricks: Things to Consider for Your Beach Wedding or Elopement

Thinking about having your wedding on the beach or eloping to a sunny seaside destination? 

I don’t blame you! 

Saying, “I do,” amidst turquoise waters and white sand beaches sounds so very dreamy. And it is!… But there are a few extra things you need to consider when planning a beach wedding or elopement.   

Unlike typical outdoor spaces, the beach comes with its own set of unique circumstances. There are more factors involved, and in turn, more to think about. 

But this shouldn’t deter you from exchanging vows by the sea. 

To make sure everything goes smoothly for you and your guests, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind while you plan a memorable beach wedding experience. 

1. Public or Private Beach Wedding

One of the first things you want to consider when planning a beach wedding or elopement is whether you want to have your celebration on a public or private beach. 

Depending on if you’re hosting your wedding in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand (wherever!), you’ll probably be able to find plenty of beautiful public beaches. You can usually reserve a section of the beach for special events, but you’ll also need to be okay with people passing by, onlookers, and background noise. 

If you prefer seclusion and don’t want to worry about random people showing up in your photos, a private beach is your best bet. 

Hotels, resorts, AirBnBs, and private communities typically offer direct beach access. You’ll have the area to yourself, gorgeous views, unique spaces to host your ceremony (and/or reception), and no worries about photobombers. 

Perfect.

Another thing to consider is how accessible the beach is for guests, particularly handicap and elderly guests. If your dream beach isn’t as accessible as you need it to be, you can always host your ceremony in an outside venue near the ocean. This way, you and your guests will still be able to enjoy the oceanside atmosphere.

Outdoor beach wedding ceremonies in Thailand and Australia
Bride and groom portrait on the beach at destination wedding in Phuket
Thailand destination beach wedding elopement
Summer cliff and beachside ceremony at Coffs Harbour

2. Research Permits and Ordinances

Research what beaches you can legally use as your ceremony and/or reception space. In some locations, such as Phuket, you’re not allowed to get married on a public beach. In that case, you would need to find a private beach via a resort or private venue. 

If you do find a public beach that’s available for weddings, you’ll still need to inquire about permits and if there are any ordinances in place. Consider how much the permit costs, what it covers, how many guests are allowed, etc.  

3. Tide Conditions and Weather

On certain beaches, especially around Port Stephens, you need to consider the tide and time of day you’re holding the ceremony. After all, you don’t want to get washed away! 

Before you book a venue, check out:

  • High and low tide times
  • Wind conditions
  • Seasonal factors (are bugs more prevalent?)
  • Sunlight versus shade

Most couples and guests love having a seaside view, but sometimes with the direct sun shining down on everyone, it’s not the best solution. 

I recommend scouting out the location at the time you plan on having your ceremony so you can see where the sun is positioned. You may find that you need to schedule the ceremony during the morning hours or around sunset to avoid the afternoon heat or the sun shining directly in your eyes.

Whatever time you choose, just make sure there’s a shaded area (natural or created) to keep guests cool and comfortable.

4. Beach Wedding Decor

Another thing to consider when planning a beach wedding is your decor because seaside conditions will factor into what kind of decorations you’ll have and how you’ll display them.

If you’re walking down a sandy aisle, you’ll probably want some kind of rug or carpet. My recommendation? Choose an earth-toned fabric. They look absolutely beautiful. 

For your arbour and floral decor for your ceremony, consider something sturdy in case there’s a gust of wind. Also, keep in mind that direct sunlight and high temps can affect your flowers. So, talk with your floral designer about hardier plants like pampas grass, sun palms or succulents and flowers like orchids, lunaria, or protea. Otherwise, flowers like hydrangea will wilt in the heat of the sun.

And to be safe, find out if your chosen beach has any rules around decorating. Some public beaches have restrictions against things like confetti and glass in an effort to keep the area clean and eco-friendly. 

Thailand beach elopement ceremony and reception.jpg -
Ceremony decor at outdoor beach wedding in Phuket, Thailand
Wood chuppah with greenery outdoor beach ceremony decor
Outdoor sweetheart table and reception decor on the beach
Beach inspired bridal bouquets.jpg -
White and pink beach wedding bridal bouquet
Neutral color beach bridal bouquet
Natural, earthy and beach themed bridal bouquet
Intimate beach wedding elopement in Phuket.jpg -
Natural and earthy beach wedding theme and decor in Phuket, Thailand
Outdoor Phuket destination wedding ceremony setup
Bride and groom portrait during destination beach wedding at the Aquila in Phuket, Thailand

5. Beach Wedding Attire

It’s important that your attire fits the beachside scene, so consider what will keep you the most comfortable and cool throughout the day. 

Wedding Dress: You can dress as formal or as casual as you like, but be mindful of the kind of fabric you choose to wear. Breathable fabrics, like organza, chiffon, cotton, and crepe won’t weigh you down and make you hot. They also provide a more cohesive look that fits with the beachy environment.

The kind of silhouette you choose also makes a difference. Consider shorter lengths, A-line, strapless/halter, backless, and shifts. 

If you dream of wearing lace, try and stick with a lace bodice and forgo lacy skirts, as they can pick up sand and rip easily. You might also want to avoid mermaid silhouettes (restricted movement) and ball gowns (too heavy). 

Hair: Shorter-length veils (or no veil) are good choices for a beach wedding. If it’s windy, a long veil and/or wearing your hair down may become a distraction, as you’ll constantly be having to hold it town. 

Updos are also a great way to style your hair so that you don’t have to move your hair out of your face if it’s a windy day.
Shoes: Sand isn’t solid, which means it doesn’t provide the most stable walking ground. If you plan on a sandy ceremony, you’ll want to walk the aisle on a fairly flat foot. Think flat sandals and dress shoes. Or make it a barefoot wedding and feel the sand between your toes!

Beach inspired bridal bouquets.jpg -
White and pink beach wedding bridal bouquet
Neutral color beach bridal bouquet
Natural, earthy and beach themed bridal bouquet
Thailand Koh Yao Noi destination beach wedding elopement bride with natural flower bouquet.
Bride and groom beach attire.jpg -
Grooms natural, linen suit for outdoor beach wedding in Thailand
Bride and groom portrait at Coffs Harbour Byron Bay
Hawaii beach destination wedding.jpg -
Beach wedding bridal portrait of flowy bridal gown and bridal bouquet

Beach weddings are my absolute favourite. If they’re your favourite too, let’s connect!

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Whether your love story is one blossomed from elegant romance or one of epic proportions, I am so excited to be a part of this journey with you and can’t wait to get to know you more. I am a fine art photographer providing my services all throughout NSW, Australia and destinations worldwide. Passionately devoted to capturing the beauty of your special day. 

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