The Experts at Ever After know a thing or two about planning the perfect beach affair – whether Southern California, Mexico, Hawaii or a Caribbean island – here are some of our favorite tips to make sure your beach wedding goes smoothly.


  1. Ditch the heels. Even with an aisle runner, you will sink in the sand in heels. Flats, or even wedges are a better choice.
  2. Consider a light, simple dress. A large dress and train can be tough on the beach. Intricate lace and a long train can pick up sand, making your dress heavy and awkward.
  3. Plan your tan lines. As you choose your summer swimwear, be sure you know how your tan lines and dress will appear on your Big Day.
  4. Hire local vendors. Customs can be tricky, so utilize local supplies and vendors when you can. You don’t want your extra-special DIY reception centerpieces that you spent hours creating to get lost along the way.
  5. Do a trial run of your hair style. Whether you are considering an up-do, or wavy beach locks, your hair may take on a life of its own in a tropical climate. Do a trial run a day or two before the wedding to make sure your look is going to be what you envisioned.
  6. It could be hot: provide shade, water and fans. Unless you want your guests using your program as a fan (yes, we’ve seen it happen too many times), thoughtfully provide refreshments, fans, and perhaps even a simple structure for shade over the ceremony site.
  7. Plan for wind: When considering your veil, hairstyle, decorations – have a plan for wind. You don’t want to have your hair and veil blowing in your face during the recitation of your wedding vows, so have a plan to tie them back if necessary. Tie down or anchor decorations and the aisle runner for the ceremony. Avoid tall glass centerpieces unless you are sure they won’t tip in the wind, and be sure that menus and napkins are either tied to something or anchored.
  8. Make sure your guests can hear you: Yes, crashing waves are a lovely sound, but not when your wedding guests are struggling to hear you recite your wedding vows. Depending on the size of your wedding party, you may have to rent sound equipment to ensure everyone can hear you declare your love to one another. Test how your voices carry before the event, and if you do need audio equipment, be sure to do a sound test before the ceremony.
  9. Research the level of privacy at your beach ceremony: Many beaches are public property, and may have limited privacy. If privacy is important to you, avoid crowded holiday weekends or consider renting a private residence or estate for a private beach.
  10. Know the rules: Here’s some things you should research about your ceremony beach location: do you need a permit? Are there noise ordinances? What is the mandatory ending time? Are there public restrooms nearby? Save yourself any day-of headaches (and fines) by knowing the answers to these questions.
  11. Time the event for optimal lighting: There is nothing more gorgeous than a sunset on the beach, so we recommend ending your ceremony about an hour before sunset. The lighting for photography is magical at that time, and leaves plenty of time for sunset photos of the newly married couple. Please note: ceremonies with the sunset behind you only happen on the West Coast (California, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, some Hawaii). Couples getting married in Cancun and the Riviera Maya will have the sun set over the jungle – still gorgeous.
  12. Speaking of photos, be sure to have a shot list: Your wedding photographer will do a better job for you if they understand a list of shots that you consider “must-haves.” Is this the first time your entire family has been together for a while? Be sure to plan a family shot. Ask the photographer about their favorite shots from previous weddings – they might have an idea you haven’t thought of.
  13. Have a back-up plan: Even with the best planning, Mother Nature might have a rainstorm in mind. Keep a close eye on weather reports, and if at a resort, make sure they have an alternate indoor location ready in case of inclement weather. Alternatively, you could have a tent ready, although that can be an expensive option.
  14. Plan for your guests’ comfort: Whether it’s flip-flops, sunscreen, bug spray, or a nice wrap after the sun goes down, be sure to think through your guests’ needs. Having a good time at your wedding will create memories for a lifetime.

Photography by Melissa Mercado