I do, on the beach
November 1, 2010 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Wedding ceremony on a sandy beach, help with logistics.

So Miss Wicked and I are getting married this coming August. We plan on having the ceremony on a beach and then heading to a nearby location for the reception. We are having trouble figuring out what we need to prepare for in terms of logistics for a beach ceremony. Here is the info:
-150-180 guests
-Good sized beach late afternoon
-Soft sand
-Probably need a sound system of some sort not sure where we would get power
-Shoes? What the hell do people wear?
-Options for less mobile people?

Willing to listen to any good tips or tricks for a beach ceremony.
posted by WickedPissah to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sandals from the car to the beach, then barefoot on the sand. Think about where you will be standing, shadows from palm trees and the angle of the sun.

dress light. "traditional" wedding clothes like a tux or heavy wedding dress are gonna get HOT.

Although, you don't specify where the wedding is, so.. it could be on a cool beach i guess.
My husband and I got married in Hawaii, but it was just the two of us so we didn't need to consider other guests or chairs. You might want to consider scoping out some wedding companies if possible, they will have experience with all the sandy details.
posted by HMSSM at 6:26 PM on November 1, 2010

What time is high tide? A damp beach is more easily negotiated than a dry one. If it's only a short walk to the site, it shouldn't be a big deal. Let guests know the wedding is *on* the beach and let them plan footwear accordingly. Guests with mobility issues will need an usher with a strong arm, and a chair. Chairs for the grandparents. I went to a really nice seaside wedding this summer; no sound system for the ceremony, and not really a problem. There are boom boxes with mic ports, for a little bit of amplification. Beaches are big, and decorations can get lost. A chuppah is a nice idea.
posted by theora55 at 6:44 PM on November 1, 2010

We attended a beach wedding several years ago. Here's what I remember: being hot; being pummeled by wind; having sand in my hair/nostrils/teeth/eyes; not being able to hear the ceremony AT ALL; being very glad when it was over. People mostly wore what you usually see at weddings, but this was a rather prim and proper southern affair. (We did, however, all look completely disheveled even just mere seconds into the ceremony.) So, you know, just a few things to keep in mind as you plan.
posted by onepot at 6:50 PM on November 1, 2010

I went to a beach wedding a couple years back. As a guest, I was very pleased with myself for bringing wedding flipflops. Ooh la la, jewels :) They had thicker soles than cheapy ones, and they coordinated with my outfit.

However, for those who did not do the same (particularly the ladies of various ages who wore nylons that day), the wedding party had helpfully provided a basket of socks to put over one's nylonned feet. They were super simple low-cut ones, like these. They put them at the "entrance" to the beach, sort of where the ushers were. Then there was a place to put your shoes (with so many people, you might want to get one of your younger cousins to guard 'em).

The men in the wedding party wore regular dress shoes. The women wore soft, very flat slippers. You could probably get away with sandals, too, as long as you still had those flat soles.
posted by Madamina at 7:00 PM on November 1, 2010

Have a Plan B - speaking as someone who has been invited to two rained-out beach weddings.
posted by contessa at 7:01 PM on November 1, 2010 [4 favorites]

This isn't meant to discourage, as a beach wedding can be a gorgeous thing, but be aware going in that there are challenges.

If it's an ocean-y beach (as opposed to a lake-y beach) it will be windy. It will be very windy. People attending the ceremony will not be able to hear, even if you are miked, because it will be windy.

If you've picked your locale already, local sound guys have already miked it a hundred times and can tell you what you will need. They've run power there before and can help you.

The wind will interfere with any pieces and parts of your ceremony (we did a wine/bread/knotted-cords/vaguely pagan thingy, and it was all complicated by wind, and we were on the DUNE side on a lawn - still very windy).

If you have older folks/folks with limited mobility, sand will be very hard for them. This will be very tough (if not impossible) to mitigate - something boardwalk-y will be your best option - some folks on the sand, some folks on the boardwalk. Some locales will let you erect a temporary floaty boardwalk thing, but it will be expensive.

You might choose to provide a basket of flip flops or sandals for folks to wear on the beach if you or they struggle with the idea with barefoot, but that's a LOT of shoes (literally) to fill.
posted by ersatzkat at 7:08 PM on November 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh: also, I got the absolute worst sunburn ever. I'd worn a dress with a low V neckline, and my boobs were high and tight. So when we got back to the hotel, I unhooked myself, and I didn't even have a red V -- when my cleavage came apart, I had a W. It stayed burnt in for over a year. Huzzah!

There will be a LOT of waiting around. You have no idea when the first guests will want to sit down, and there will be absolutely no shade. So please consider 1) handing out parasols, even the cheap ones you can get at Asian stores, 2) having and encouraging giant hats, and 3) perhaps even having a tent set up at the back/on the side so people can hang out. And if you wanted to have a sunscreen and bottled water station near the socks-and-shoes spot, that would also be very, very much appreciated.

If you have a grandma and/or another older relative, you MUST make them sit under a parasol or hat.
posted by Madamina at 7:08 PM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: All great info so far, thanks everyone.

Some more info:

It is an ocean beach so wind could be an issue.
It is in New England so late August can be really really hot or can be very pleasant.
It will be late afternoon, so the sun will be waning.

The sound thing is definitely something that we need to figure out.

Shoes, well we will let attendants know well in advance that it will be on sand.

As for a backup yes we do have one.

General suggestions on layout, seating, walkways etc still very welcome.

posted by WickedPissah at 7:38 PM on November 1, 2010

Wow, lots of negatives in this thread! I love beach weddings.

I've been to lovely weddings by the water, and didn't get sunburned at all, but then I'm from Florida and pretty much have a year-long tan, and we all wear makeup with sunblock as a given when we're going to be outside. So, if you have guests that are not much outdoors in the sun and especially if you have elderly guests or toddlers, make sure everyone knows to wear sunblock, hats, etc.

Definitely have a "staging" area before the ceremony. Could be a tent or some canopies set up, just someplace in the shade. I'd have a long table with bottled water available in this area.

I would lay an aisle runner down on the sand for the bride (and guests) to walk down.

Noise could be a problem, as stated above. Hard to hear above the wind. But then, the vows are more for each other than the guests, really.

posted by misha at 8:16 PM on November 1, 2010


I've been in a beach wedding, and it was great. It was on Martha's Vineyard in late summer. They had lots of speakers, so it was actually a bit on the too loud side. We bridesmaids wore sundresses and the groomsmen wore linen suits, it looked great.

The aisle runner didn't work for the one I was in, it just got all wrinkled and looked cheap and lame. We wore sandals, and one of the girls took hers off, only to regret it very much when she found the sand to be too hot to stand on.

Giving little water bottles, fans and socks at the entrance will be greatly appreciated by your guests.

Last note, lacquer the hell out of your hair. Like, three times as much as you think you'll need. It won't be super soft and touchable, but it won't look like you just got out of a convertible either.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 9:29 PM on November 1, 2010

Headset microphones for you two and the minister, headphones for the audience - that'll look good in photos, right? But otherwise, you're going to have a mime wedding because no one will hear it. Friends and family in wheelchairs can watch from far way. Sand in your mouth and eyes. Anybody else on the beach that day? You bet, and they're not your friends or your family but they're at your wedding too. And freelz, no one will hear it.

All this and more at the last beach wedding I went to, but it was also very nice in parts.
posted by eccnineten at 3:32 AM on November 2, 2010

For decent, portable sound...

I'm a minister on the side. And when I do outdoor weddings where power isn't available I have an ipod, a set of 2 channel PC speakers with subwoofer, and a Black and Decker car jump start/battery pack dealie.

I forget the model of the B&D battery thing - but I know I got it at Wally World in the automotive section. Primary function is a car jump starter, but it also has two AC outlets and a built in converter. About the size of a small boombox, maybe 20 lbs. It was around $100. And it's truely awesome as both portable and back-up power. If all you power from it is sound - you'll get at least 6 hours out of it with a full charge (depending on the sound set-up). I keep the thing charged up all the time. Really nice to have too when the power goes out - I can charge phones, laptops, etc. multiple times as well as power a few small lights.
posted by thatguyjeff at 10:20 AM on November 2, 2010

Response by poster: Jeesh tough crowd. Although after thing about the logistics and then hearing some of your stories, I have to say, we are now reconsidering. It would be one thing if it were just us and 20 or so family members and friends but with that many people, it may be more trouble than it is worth.

But still keeping our options open. If anyone else has something to share, would love to hear experiences both positive and negative and any tips or tricks.

posted by WickedPissah at 11:38 AM on November 2, 2010

Beach sand can really bog things down, and even though the procession is supposed to be slow and stately you don't want people tripping. I strongly suspect that just putting aisle runner down won't work - it will push itself down into the sand once walked on and start lumping up bigtime.

My suggestion (if you do go ahead with the beach) would be 4' x 8' plywood sheets down the main aisle and covered with a couple of inches of sand. Nice and wide; won't deform or trip anyone up.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 11:54 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

We saw a cool beach wedding while vacationing last year. The "aisle" was two rows of tiki torches stuck in the sand leading out from a house with a deck. It was at sunset, the sand was not hot. Guests were all dressed casually, guys in khaki shorts and beach shirts, women in summer dresses, everyone barefoot. Bride and groom were dressed up, but barefoot. The music was set up on the deck, as was the reception afterwards. It was very pretty and very casual and looked like a LOT of fun. It looked as if the beach rental for the weekend was substituted for the venue rental, which probably came out to about the same if it was used for the honeymoon location also. But there were only about 50 guests, not the big crowd you are expecting.
posted by raisingsand at 10:56 PM on November 2, 2010

Is there anyplace you could be on firm ground overlooking the beach? My friends got married in Hawaii a few years ago on the grounds of a golf course at the top of a hill, so we had chairs, beautiful views, and no one got sand in their toes. They took their wedding photos down on the beach in between the ceremony and the reception.
posted by MsMolly at 11:48 AM on November 5, 2010

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