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Jessica Photography


Weddings Newsletter




Getting married on the beach is one of the great romantic scenarios. The women's magazines seem to feature them all the time.

Big stars on television seek the sun, the sea, the straight simple romance of the shore and the waves. The sun is always shining, there's just a little breeze, the celebrant reads the words, the couple pledge themselves at the edge of the endless ocean and the photos of everyone look great. Why doesn't everyone do it that way?

Photograph by Liz Cadogan, Otago

Lets look at the plusses of the beach wedding.

The beach is free, it will be easy for your guests, if you want any, to park. There is no need for flowers except maybe for the bride. The look is great. And there is a hidden benefit - the beach wedding is usually going to be the choice of the bride and groom rather than their parents. It's a young thing, a cool look, it offers the choices of grunge, wiccan and indeed gothic. For music you can take the portable CD player/ghetto blaster. You could have a band or a string quartet, its all possible.

There are things to watch out for:

One is the weather. If it's raining or blowing too hard no one will hear anything and the couple will look sodden. The tide may be out or in, you will need to check. If there are small children among the guests one can disappear and drown in moments. There are lots of insects on beaches - you need repellent. Shoes can get ruined, bare feet can get cut on hidden things in the sand, sandals may not be the look you seek. On a nice day others may be using the beach as well. They may watch you or they may ignore you and go on with their noisy activities. They may walk right up and join you, they make take photos, they may make loud comments, they may not turn their music down.

It will be hard for anyone to hear what is being said. The people using cameras may have difficulty taking pictures because of the angles. If you also want candles to be part of the ceremony the big problem is keeping the alight. Even in a candle holder the wind has a tricky way of getting in a blowing out the flame.

So make sure you have another place for the ceremony if the rain does come - details of this alternative will need to be mentioned on your marriage licence and included with your invitations. Really suss out the beach to see how things are with tides, wind, and others on the beach.

Keep the ceremony short, for a simple ceremony go to e-vows.com and download the free sample - it has an ideal ceremony. 

Remember that sand is enemy number one of electronic equipment. The sand that gets into the CD player sticks with the salt and the beautiful machine may never be the same. 

Check that there is parking. Even if there is a parking area, will it be full of other cars for your big day?

Photograph by Liz Cadogan, Otago


Plastic chairs are a good idea for anyone who may need a seat. There is unlikely to be shade so the bride should be on time to prevent really nasty sunburn of the guests and celebrant. Mark out beforehand where the cameras should be, they need to see the action to take the photos yet they should not block the view of the guests.

At the end of the ceremony there are papers which need to be signed. Can you take a table and chair or should the celebrant have a hard covered folder or a clip board for the signatures. Do get everything filled in except the signatures before the ceremony, standing around trying to fill in all the spaces while a brisk salty sandy wind gets up can be a real pain for all involved.

On continents like Australia and America the wind picks up in the afternoon on the West Coast. Living on islands as we do in New Zealand the wind is usually a morning thing and dies down in the late afternoon, the wedding at dawn may be quieter in terms of people but much wilder when it comes to wind.

The big drawback of the beach wedding is sand, go to the beach of your choice even when there is a little wind and think of the effect on hats, dresses, smart clothes and electronics and cameras. Shoes sink, children escape, the wind means no one can hear and if there is another issue, it is this:- there is no such thing as a comfortable beach wedding. Wild, blissful, romantic, dramatic, great visually, certainly, the beach wedding is all of these. Whether it is worth all the possible drawbacks is your call. Analyse the things that appeal to you about that beach wedding. It may be possible to achieve them without the downside.

If you want the "one with nature" thing without the sand, try public gardens, most towns and cities have them. Ask a professional photographer where they like to take photos, maybe that would be a good venue for the wedding ceremony as well. And for the gothic look outside of a church, there are lots of historic cemeteries with dramatic headstones with the added benefit of an absence of sand.

Hilary Hudson, the author of this article, has conducted many wedding ceremonies at beaches and has for the last ten years lived in a sea side village.
Photograph by Liz Cadogan, Otago

Related Article:

Click here to check out a photographer's suggestions for making sure that your beach wedding is perfect.