bride and groom kissing during beach wedding

How to Plan Affordable Beach Weddings

Jan 29, 2020
By Wedding Spot

When it comes to planning affordable beach weddings, the key is to know where you want to host them and what to expect when you do. The good news is, beach weddings are actually beginner-friendly options for DIY event planners (with a little help, of course). 

In this article, we’ll go over all of your most burning questions, get specific about numbers, and provide some locations to help you plan the wedding of your dreams. 

Where Is the Cheapest Place to Have a Destination Wedding?

Cheapest is a relative term, especially when it comes to wedding locations. What’s considered cheap for a beach wedding venue might not be the same as an affordable backyard wedding. 

The key is to pick and choose which part of your wedding will get a bigger investment. Maybe you keep your guest list slim or opt for an hors d'oeuvres heavy reception instead of a sit-down meal. Whatever you choose, just know that there are lots of ways to make your wedding gorgeous no matter what budget you’re rocking. 

In general, though, you can count on certain types of locations to be more affordable (backyards, parks, and yes, even beaches) and cities (smaller oceanside towns and cities located on lake beaches versus ocean beaches). 

But, if you’re looking for specific recommendations, experts say that Mexico, New England, and California (which is heavily featured in our suggested venues below) make up the best cheap destination wedding spots in the world. 

Are Destination Weddings Cheaper?

Like any wedding type, it’s all about how you plan it. If your wedding party is intimate, destination weddings can be a very affordable alternative to hometown ones, depending on where you live. When you begin your search, have your total guest count in mind and look for package deals (some places offer wedding ceremonies combined with discounted lodging and catering for groups). 

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One of the budget areas where destination weddings will save you some money is the decor because the location itself becomes your backdrop. This is especially true for beach weddings where all you really need are some chairs and an archway or podium for the ceremony. 

And, given the laidback feeling of a beachside wedding, the rest of your wedding choices (like food, attire, and reception activities) will lean more toward the casual side of things, saving you the cost of the more formal and overpriced options. 

As an added bonus, your destination wedding location can also serve as your honeymoon location. So you’ll save on the extra travel and grab some longer-term hotel or vacation package discounts while you’re at it. 

Is It Free to Have a Wedding on the Beach?

Unlike traditional wedding venues, the best part about a beach wedding is that you all you really need to host it there is a permit. These permits can cost as little as $20 or as much as $500, depending on the beach itself, the time of year, and affluence of the surrounding area. 

So while it’s not free, it’s certainly one of the most affordable places to get hitched. Then, after the ceremony is over, you can move your party to a reception venue on the water. 

How Much Does It Cost to Have a Wedding on the Beach?

Here’s what you have to pay for when you host a wedding on the beach.

  • Beach wedding permit: $20-$500+ 

  • Marriage license: Anywhere from $10-$200 depending on the location

  • Chair rental for 50 guests: About $500 for rental and delivery

  • DIY or rental wedding arch: Anywhere from $50-$300 depending on the material and craftsmanship required

  • Flowers: Fresh flowers cost an average of $700 for weddings in the U.S. 

All things considered, your beach wedding ceremony could cost as little as $1,280. You’ll also have to pay your officiant, wedding attire, and possibly add some extra decor items to the chairs or aisle.

Where to Find Affordable Beach Wedding Venues

Use these tools to jumpstart your search. 

1. Yelp

Do a simple search for beach wedding venues in any given location or cross-check your top choices with event planner reviews

2. AirBnB

You may be able to rent a home on the water to host your ceremony, honeymoon, or even out of town guests. 

3. Wedding Spot

Our search engine has detailed location highlights, commitment-free estimates, and a variety of beachfront locations all over the world. 

15 Affordable Beach Wedding Venues for Ceremonies and/or Receptions

Here are some of the most cost-effective beachfront venues Wedding Spot has to offer. 

1. The Pinecone Resort

Price: Starting at $4,115 for 50 guests

Location: Zephyr Cove, Nevada

Situated right on Marla Bay, The Pinecone Resort offers the rustic appeal of nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains mixed with the breezy feel of a waterfront wedding. 

2. The Hastings House Garden Weddings

Price: Starting at $1,900 for 50 guests

Location: Half Moon Bay, California 

One of this beach wedding venue’s standout features is its gorgeous woods area and year-round blooming landscapes. 

3. Lyford House

Price: Starting at $3,823 for 50 guests

Location: Tiburon, California

A national historic landmark, the Lyford House boasts acres of manicured grounds as well as a wide variety of bird species. 

4. The Royal Kona Resort

Price: Starting at $7,250 for 50 guests

Location: Kailui-Kona, Hawaii

The Royal Kona Resort has multiple locations for your ceremony, including its Private Lagoon, which is surrounded by a landscape of lava rock and waves from the Pacific Ocean. You may even encounter a few sea turtles!

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5. The Woodbound Inn

Price: Starting at $1,133 for 50 guests

Location: Rindge, New Hampshire

Located along the shores of Lake Contoocook and overlooking Mount Monadnock, The Woodbound Inn offers the ideal setting for your beach wedding.

6. The Old Custom House

Price: Starting at $4,158 for 50 guests

Location: Avila Beach, California 

The Old Custom House also has a wine cellar, so wine enthusiasts will have plenty of top-quality options to choose from for their reception. 

7. Point San Luis Lighthouse

Price: Starting at $4,290 for 50 guests

Location: Avila Beach, California 

Located just around the corner from our last location, this venue boasts 1890’s Victorian-era charm and is perfect for super romantic wedding day photoshoots. 

8. Long Cove Resort & Country Club

Price: Starting at $2,575 for 50 guests

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Long Cove Resort features four stunning venue spaces where couples say “I do” as the sun sets over the water.

9. Breakers Cafe Stinson Beach

Price: Starting at $6,062 for 50 guests

Location: Stinson Beach, California 

Located just a few blocks from the sandy shores, this venue has a beer garden and a dance floor all ready to go for your reception! 

10. Illinois Beach Resort

Price: Starting at $5,369 for 50 guests

Location: Zion, Illinois

Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, this is one of the best beach wedding venues Illinois has to offer. Whether your guest list is large or small, you’ll be able to accommodate the perfect celebration.

11. Ventana Grill 

Price: Starting at $7,349 for 50 guests

Location: Pismo Beach, California 

Their oceanfront lawn is perfect for the ceremony and later, for the reception, you can move the party inside to their restaurant to kick back and enjoy the view. 

12. The Oceanview of Nahant

Price: Starting at $7,671 for 50 guests

Location: Nahant, Massachusetts

Situated on 720 feet of oceanfront and featuring a gorgeous rocky shoreline, the Oceanview of Nahant offers breathtaking sweeping views of the Atlantic.

13. Gar Woods Grill & Pier

Price: Starting at $7,213 for 50 guests

Location: Carnelian Bay, California 

This beachfront location offers a charming dock, patio and Old California-style restaurant (complete with exposed wooden cabin beams and floor to ceiling windows showcasing the view) where you can entertain your guests after your ceremony. 

14. Ocean Sky Resort

Price: Starting at $8,281 for 50 guests

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Hold a scenic outdoor wedding where you walk out to a seafront balcony and perform your vows under an altar while the waves crash behind you. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

15. Moonraker Restaurant

Price: Starting at $15,000 for 50 guests

Location: Pacifica, California 

The priciest venue on our list, Moonraker Restaurant is still very affordable for small weddings (under 50 people) that want dolphins and sailboats to make up the backdrop for their nuptials. 

Save money on your beach wedding!

Check out these cheap wedding reception alternatives for dinner as well as how to save money on wedding flowers for a gorgeous and totally within-budget celebration! 

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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.