Getting Hitched on the Beach

The ultimate in romance, beach weddings are gaining in popularity and options

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Sand, sun, surf and vows. Beach weddings have become one of the favorite ways to say “I do”, and the range of options for beach weddings grows as the concept of destination weddings broadens. Time was that a beach wedding invariably meant the Caribbean, Mexico or Hawaii. But contemporary brides and grooms, especially those marrying for the second time, are using their imagination and letting the word “beach” mean much more than a tropical paradise. A beach wedding can take place at virtually any beach in the world, from the small beach at your summer cottage to the big beach at Surfers Paradise in Australia to the black beach at the Cape Forchu Light Station in southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada.

All beach weddings, regardless of location have one thing in common: beaches are in the outdoors. And the outdoors can be outrageous! One of the key points to having a successful beach wedding is to have a weather-ready “Plan B”. What happens if it rains, is too windy, or even snows! Ensure that there is a nearby indoor location where the nuptials can be moved at a moment’s notice.

Beach weddings tend to be less costly and less formal that conventional weddings. There is no rent to pay for a church or reception hall, and because they are on a beach, the clothing is often much more casual, which equals much less money spent. Some beach weddings are way more lavish than others, and if the traditional roles are assumed, the bride’s parents may end up footing the airfare and accommodations bills for guests (keep the list small!), but the great advantage of a beach wedding is the lack for formality and expense. And the romance!

There are, of course, pros and cons to any destination wedding, some that go beyond the basics of weather. If the beach where you plan to marry is within the country where you live, there should be no issues with passports, visas or marriage licenses, but off-shore nuptials need to be carefully planned to ensure all required paperwork is in place well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Beach weddings tend to be more participatory for guests than ones in churches where everyone is in orderly pews, separated by a central aisle. In other words, more relaxed and fun, with a lot less structure. Often the ceremony and reception take place within a few feet of one another. The décor is simple; what could be prettier than a beach next to blue water, and a few flowers for decoration! And here’s a great tip: because electricity cannot always be found on a beach, hire a musician, perhaps a classical guitarist who uses acoustic equipment, to play. It will be all the more romantic!

It is important to plan ahead for a beach wedding, just as it is for any type of marriage ceremony. Ensure you have a permit to use the beach if local authorities require one. Determine well in advance who pays the cost for guests to travel and keep the invitation list in line with that decision. Be aware of tides and other hazards that could damage your big day. If children or elderly people will be present, be sure there is shade in the immediate vicinity, and if there isn’t, arrange for a few large beach umbrellas. If you are dining al fresco after your event, remember that seagulls, squirrels, and many other small animals and birds have no compunction about stealing food; protect your meal with nets and have someone in charge of monitoring the food table. Make sure the chairs you have on hand are sturdy, and won’t sink into the sand and topple over.

The popularity of beach weddings has sprouted a new crop of business: beach wedding planners. These companies have made it their business to research every last detail of destination beach weddings, be they in your own neighborhood or half way around the world. If your wedding will involve a lot of detail, these people are worth their expertise.

Weddings, like vacations, are about memories. A beach wedding will be romantic and memorable if you spend a little time ensuring the details are in place and your day goes smoothly. Look around the region where you live; there may be a beach right there that suits your desires. Or maybe it’s Phuket Beaches in Thailand, or Abruzzi Beach at Silvi Marina in Italy. Perhaps consider the turquoise waters surrounding the charming Greek island of Corfu and one of its many beaches, or that pretty pebble beach with the rustic wooden dock on Lake Muskoka in Ontario, Canada’s cottage country.

A beach wedding is limited only by your imagination!

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