One of the most romantic and naturally beautiful venues for a wedding ceremony in Australia is on one of our many stunning, sandy beaches. On a sunny day, there is an atmosphere of freedom and fun that is hard to replicate in any other setting.
That said, with the experience I’ve had conducting beach ceremonies over the last 7 years, I have learned a lot about the difference between a successful, enjoyable celebration and those that have proved to be challenging at best. With a little planning you can be sure to get the most from your beachside location while avoiding some common pitfalls.
1. First impressions (still) count
Keep in mind that most of your guests are likely to arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the ceremony start time. Unless your friends and family are very familiar with your chosen ceremony venue, be considerate and arrange for an outgoing friend or family member (1 usher to around 50 guests) to greet them, hand out any favours and/or order of ceremony booklets, let them know where to stand/sit and the facilities available to them. Welcoming and stylistically appropriate prelude (pre-ceremony) music also really helps to set the mood and let your guests know that they’re in the right place at the right time.
2. Make your guests comfortable
It is thoughtful and hospitable to provide your guests with as many venue-specific comforts as possible so they enjoy the beach you’ve chosen as much as you and your fiancé do. Consider offering one or more of the following as ceremony favours;
· mini tubes of sunscreen
· disposable thongs
· an order of ceremony that doubles as a hand-held fan
· personalised bottled water
· coloured disposable sunglasses
· insect repellent.
3. A smart venue choice can reduce stress
Try to find a beach ceremony location in a naturally sheltered area. Some foreshores have cliffs or coves which offer protection from high winds. Also keep in mind the age and mobility of your guests – can they make it easily and safely across 30 metres of soft sand or will it be embarrassing, confronting or difficult for them?
Alternatively, if you can compromise and hold the ceremony on a grassed area above the beach, some councils offer public shelters or sail shades as permanent fixtures. That way, you can still have your photos on the sand afterwards and your guests are more likely to enjoy (and hear) your ceremony.
4. Bad weather can mean more than just rain.
Even if you are lucky and the temperature for your wedding day is forecast to be moderate (20-30 degrees Celsius) it is harder to anticipate the UV rating or wind speeds. It is not just smart to put strategies in place to mitigate the effects of inclement weather, but for your peace of mind and the enjoyment of your guests in general, essential.
5. Keep on the right side of the local council
If you want to put up market umbrellas or a marquee, most local councils will require you to apply for a permit and (for OHS&W reasons) to advise them how you will be weighing them down. In some beach and garden locations, local councils do not allow tents or marquees to be tethered with ropes and in-ground pegs due to the possibility of piercing irrigation pipes or other underground fixtures. Make sure you check with your local council before you start comparing marquee hire prices.
6. Work with, not against, your surroundings
Choose your hairstyle, floral arrangements and dress keeping your beachside venue in mind. A loosely tousled, up-style will work better than wearing your hair down. All floral arrangements should be low-line (not so tall that they catch the wind and fall over) and have weights or stones in the vase or base. Flower stems or sprays attached to canopies, chairs or other displays need to be securely tied or taped so as not to come loose as the afternoon breeze picks up.