couple embracing at their beach wedding

Beach Wedding Ideas You and Your Guests Will Love

Jun 12, 2023
By Wedding Spot

Summer is here, and it’s time to hit the beach! Beach weddings are a popular choice for couples who want a romantic backdrop for their special day. But just like any other wedding venue, it can be tough to find ways to add personality to your event. That's why we've put together a list of unique and interesting beach wedding ideas that are sure to make your day unforgettable.

Add some interest to your beach wedding with these unique touches

The first thing to consider when planning a beach wedding is the weather. While the beach might be a perfect location for a summer wedding, it can also be unpredictable. Wind, rain, and even extreme heat can all impact the ceremony. You’ll want to choose a date and time that is likely to be sunny and mild. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have a backup indoor venue in case of bad weather. A tent can also be a good option—while expensive, several modern options work in cooler weather or sprinkling rain.

Once you’ve chosen your date and secured your location, it’s time to think about the decor. A beach wedding can range from casual and barefoot to elegant and sophisticated. Consider incorporating natural elements, like seashells, driftwood, or starfish, into your decor. You could also opt for a nautical theme, with navy and white stripes, anchor motifs, and rope details.

When it comes to the ceremony itself, there are many ways to make it unique and memorable. What about having the ceremony on the beach with the waves crashing in the background? You could also incorporate a sand ceremony during which you and your partner will pour two different colored sands into a vase to symbolize your union.

For the reception, there are many ways to make the wedding feel a little more unique. Incorporate beach games—like cornhole and frisbee—have a seafood bar, or offer a signature cocktail that incorporates beachy flavors like coconut, pineapple, and hibiscus.

Don’t forget about photography! A beach wedding provides a stunning backdrop for photos, so be sure to hire a photographer who knows how to shoot outdoor and beach weddings.  Maybe take some photos of the photos at sunset when the light is soft and golden. For a fun touch, bring plenty of glow-in-the-dark accessories to light up photos at night when you’re boogying down on the beach!

The final important factor to keep in mind when planning a beach wedding is the attire. Beach weddings often call for more casual attire, such as sundresses and sandals for women and lightweight suits for men. But beachy still works with a more formal look. Just use a seashell to secure the veil or incorporate a starfish into the groom’s boutonniere.

28 beach wedding ideas for the perfect wedding day

Choose the perfect beach wedding venue

When it comes to selecting the perfect beach venue, you’ll want to consider a few key factors.

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1. Prioritize location. First and foremost, you’ll need to make sure that the location is accessible and easy to reach for your guests. You’ll also want to check on what amenities are available, such as restrooms, parking, or catering services, and ensure that they are a reasonable distance from the celebration.

2. Consider venue and beach size. Evaluate the size of the venue and the beach space available. Can it accommodate your guest list? How much of the beach will be blocked off for your event and how much will be left for tourists and beachgoers? These are all important questions to ask if you don’t like the idea of a stray beach ball interrupting your vows!

3. See if backup is available. Outdoor weddings come with risks and complications since you can’t control important factors such as weather. For that reason, we highly recommend a beach wedding venue that offers an indoor location and pop-up tents just in case.

Ceremony and reception ideas for a dreamy beach wedding

4. Host a barefoot ceremony. One of the simplest beach wedding ideas is to go barefoot for the ceremony. This creates a relaxed and casual atmosphere that is perfect for a beach wedding. Your guests can also join in the fun and take off their shoes to enjoy the sand between their toes.

5. Hold the ceremony on a sailboat.

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If you want to add a bit of adventure to your wedding, consider having your ceremony on a sailboat. You and your guests can sail out to a beautiful location on the water and exchange your vows surrounded by stunning views. This is a great option for smaller weddings, and you can hire a professional captain to handle the sailing.

6. Plan a beach bonfire reception. After the ceremony, why not continue the celebration with a beach bonfire reception? This is a great way to keep the party going and create a cozy atmosphere. You can roast marshmallows, share stories, and dance the night away under the stars.

7. Hold seashell bouquets.

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Instead of traditional flowers, consider using seashells for your bouquets and boutonnieres. This is an elegant way to incorporate the beach into your wedding theme. You can collect your own seashells or purchase them online, and there are plenty of tutorials available to help you create your own seashell bouquets. And if you don’t want to go the whole way, adding a seashell here or there with your flowers still imparts a beachy touch.

8. Give out beachy wedding favors. Give your guests a piece of the beach to take home with them with beach-themed wedding favors. You have plenty of options, including personalized seashell candles, mini bottles of sand, or beach-inspired jewelry.

9. Create a beach picnic reception. For a more casual and intimate reception, consider having a beach picnic. You can lay out blankets and cushions on the sand and serve picnic-style food like sandwiches, fruit, and cheese. This is a great way to enjoy the beautiful beach scenery while keeping things relaxed and comfortable.

10. Send watercolor invitations. Set the tone for your beach wedding with watercolor invitations. Choose shades of blue and green to represent the ocean or pinks and oranges to mimic a sunset and incorporate seashell or starfish designs. Watercolor invitations are a great way to introduce your guests to your wedding theme.

Decor and flower ideas for a beach wedding

When it comes to beach wedding decor, less is often more. You don’t want to overwhelm the natural beauty of the beach with too many decorations. Instead, consider focusing on a few key elements that will enhance the setting.

11. Line the aisle with seashells. Collect enough seashells for the desired length of the aisle. Lay down a strip of fabric or tulle along the center of the aisleway, then arrange the seashells on either side of the fabric. Use hot glue or double-sided tape to secure the seashells in place, and sprinkle sand or rose petals around the shells for an added beachy touch. If you want to keep it simple, just lay the seashells down on either side of the aisle—perfect for a barefoot ceremony.

12. Hang lanterns or fairy lights from palm trees. If you’re DIYing it, start by using outdoor-rated lights and extension cords. Make sure to avoid wrapping the lights too tightly around the branches and leave enough slack to allow the tree to move in the wind. And be sure to plug the lights into a GFCI outlet and use a timer to turn them off after the event.

13. Opt for hardier flowers.

Blooms from orchids and proteas can withstand the heat and dryness well.

14. Include tropical beauty.

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Hibiscus, frangipani, and bougainvillea are all popular tropical flowers that can add vibrant color to your beach wedding flower arrangements.

15. Add beach wood. Use a large piece of driftwood as a centerpiece and place flowers and greenery around it, or you can use smaller pieces of driftwood to create a rustic table runner. You can also pair driftwood with sea glass or shells to add extra coastal charm.

Select the right beach wedding music

Music is an important part of any wedding celebration, and it can set the mood and tone for your beach ceremony. When selecting beach wedding music, think about the natural sounds of the beach – waves crashing, seagulls calling – and how you can incorporate them into your big day.

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16. Go instrumental. Consider acoustic guitar or ukulele music, which have a mellow vibe for pre-ceremony and transitional music during cocktail hour.

17. Hire live bands. If you prefer something livelier, you could opt for steel drum bands or reggae music for the reception.

18. Party island-style. Calypso, reggae, and soca are all great choices for creating an upbeat tropical atmosphere.

19. Consider covers. Transform your favorite radio hits into the perfect playlist for the beach with acoustic covers. Ask a live guitarist or your wedding DJ to stick to the acoustic versions of requested songs.

20. Choose beach-themed classics. Include songs that evoke a coastal feel, such as "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys, "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding, or "Under the Boardwalk" by the Drifters. These classic tunes can add a fun, nostalgic element to your beach wedding playlist.

Ideas for beach wedding photography

Beach weddings provide a stunning backdrop for your wedding photos, with endless possibilities for beautiful shots. Here are our best tips for creating stunning beach wedding photos.

21. Hire someone with beach or outdoor experience.

There are some unique challenges, such as the bright sun and the reflective sand, that can be tricky to work with. Make sure your photographer has a plan to address these.

22. Add props. Consider adding some fun props--think beach umbrellas, shells or rustic beach furniture--to enhance your beach wedding photos.

23. Use your reflection. Take advantage of the reflective qualities of wet sand and capture some stunning reflection shots. The couple stands in shallow water or on wet sand during the golden hour, and frame the photos to include their reflection in the water.

24. Get some aerial shots.

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Hire a drone operator, or a photographer that includes a drone option, to capture some stunning aerial shots of your beach wedding. A drone can provide a unique and breathtaking perspective of your ceremony and reception, and can capture the expansive beauty of the beach and ocean. Make sure to check with your venue and local regulations to ensure that drone usage is allowed first!

Beautiful beach wedding attire ideas

The dress code for a beach wedding can vary, but most keep things light, floaty, and comfortable.

25. Keep it easy and breezy.

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For the bride, think flowy dresses or a more casual beach wedding dress. For the groom and his party, light-weight linen suits or shirts and slacks are ideal.

26. Order custom sun protection. Don't forget the sunglasses and sunscreen for all members of the bridal party on this important day under the sun. Add your wedding date or color-coordinate the products to suit the rest of your décor, since they’ll likely end up in your wedding photos.

27. Lean into long hems.

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A long maxi dress in a light and airy fabric, such as chiffon or cotton, is perfect for a beach wedding. It's comfortable and easy to move around in, and the flowy fabric adds a romantic and feminine touch. It’s also ideal for protection against the sun during the day and warmth after the sun sets at night.

28. Opt for convertible dresses. Convertible dresses are a great choice for a beach wedding because they can be styled in a variety of ways, making them versatile and practical. Your bridesmaids can wear them long for a more formal look or tie them up in a halter style for a more casual beachy vibe. Plus, they can easily change up their look throughout the day, maybe from the ceremony to the reception.

Now you’re ready to plan the perfect beach wedding!

These are just a few of the unique and interesting beach wedding ideas that you can incorporate into your special day. Whether you want a casual, relaxed ceremony or an elegant celebration, there are plenty of ways to make your beach wedding unforgettable. With a little creativity and some thoughtful planning, you can create a wedding that truly reflects your personalities and your love for each other with crashing waves and beautiful sunshine as the backdrop.

Up next, get even more inspiration from these bookable beach wedding venues in Southern California.

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Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.