Planning a beach wedding

10 Top Tips for Planning a Beach Wedding

In Beach Weddings by Ande Tongco

Beach weddings offer the quintessential relaxed and romantic experience. That magic combination of sun, sea, and sand spells holiday fun — no wonder beach weddings often spill over into wedding weekends! However, pulling off a flawless event requires an extra layer of planning (looking at you, ocean breeze). So, if you want to exchange your vows by the sea, here are some top tips to make everything run a little bit more smoothly …

1. Plan ahead

This is the most important aspect of a beach wedding! You’ll still need to tick off the regular holiday wedding checklist, while also considering any extra challenges a beach setting can bring.

Researching your location is the first step: the earlier the better to secure your dream date. Look for a region or venue that speaks to your style. Are you thinking island vibes or a coastal locale close to town? Would you be happy with a sheltered ocean-facing garden or are you set on sandy toes? Would you like guests to stay onsite or is it enough to have accommodation nearby?

2. Enlist a little help

Once you’ve shortlisted a few beach destination wedding venues, get into the details. What time of year will offer the best weather for an open-air ceremony? Will you get married on a private or public beach, and are there rules around this? What ceremony time will photograph in the best light? Are there activities for guests nearby? We could go on ….


It’s a lot. Which is why hiring a professional wedding planner who specialises in beach weddings or marrying at a resort or hotel with a dedicated wedding coordinator can help.
You’ll have local knowledge on your side, accommodation at your fingertips, and an all-important Plan B space in case of rain. You can also lob them all your questions and then rest assured every detail has been considered.

3. Scope out the accommodation

Castaway Island Resort Fiji - honeymoon setup on suite or bedroom
Image: Castaway Island Resort Fiji

If you’re inviting friends and family along for the ride, accommodation will be one of the first things they ask about. Hotels and resorts often offer discounted room rates as part of their wedding packages, just be sure to check if they require minimum numbers to score these prices. If your venue only has room for the happy couple, shortlist a range of options within easy reach.

4. Give guests the scoop

Mitzi & Wei’s Wedding | Discovery Shores Boracay

Okay, so you’ve locked in that dream beach venue, now it’s time to let everyone else know! With a destination wedding, your guests will appreciate a save-the-date (so they can request time off work etc.) followed by a more detailed invitation. Beach weddings require a little more detail. For example, even if you’re hosting at a resort, guests may wonder if you’re having a garden ceremony or a toes-in-the-sand event. So, be specific about the ceremony location, dress code, and options for accommodation.

5. Say yes to the dress

Beachside Dojo

Yes, you can have your dream wedding gown. Just be realistic about how it will look and feel on the big day (and whether you’re ready to haul it through the airport!). A simple slip dress can work a treat in high winds, but a full skirt can also look amazing as you twirl across the sand. Remember that a long train will pick up sand (and other beach bits), and if you opt for a more dramatic dress, at least consider a light fabric to allow movement and comfort. Oh, and leave the stilettos at home if you’re heading down a sandy aisle.

And your guests? They’ll be looking to your level of formality when locking in their wedding finery (e.g., Is it Beach Formal, Cocktail, or Casual?). Our top tip? Wear sunscreen! And encourage your bridal party to do the same. Burnt sun lines and bright red faces aren’t a good look, especially in wedding photos.

Related: 10 Beach Wedding Dresses to Make Your Day Perfect

6. Dial down the décor (and up the audio)

Pullman Port Douglas - wedding venue by the beach
Image: Pullman Port Douglas

The ocean will provide the most incredible backdrop, but what about the rest of your ceremony site? There are no rules but it’s hard to go wrong with natural materials and tones that complement the setting. Maybe an accent colour to contrast with the sand. Looking local for décor and flowers will help bring an authentic touch (and minimise packing) so chat to your planner about options.

The main consideration when styling a beach wedding is, you guessed it, the wind. A soft breeze is beautiful, but even it can carry paper programs out to sea. Anything stronger will wreak havoc with tiny styling items, aisle runners, and pretty much anything not weighted or tied down. A couple of statement pieces or floral installations tend to work best because they have impact and can hold their own in the weather. Also, ensure there’s a microphone system in place so guests can actually hear your vows above the waves.  

7. Make that big decision (hair up or hair down?)


It may seem like a dreamy scenario: your hair loose and slightly tousled, blowing behind you in the breeze. In reality, beach hair can get wild. Depending on the day, you could have the dream scenario or a wind-blown mess that sticks to your lipstick and constantly flies across your face at photo time.

An updo or a slicked bun will help negate some of the potential issues and look elegant right through to the reception. If you want to keep it loose, consider a luxe headband or a half-up/half-down style to keep any airborne tendrils off your face.

8. Keep everyone comfortable

destination wedding guest list

There are many ways to make your beloved guests feel welcome. But at the ceremony, it’s all about comfort. Check a few basics: is the ceremony site accessible and well-signed? And, are there enough seats? We also love the addition of rugs underneath the seating area to prevent sand from blowing up. A welcome station is always a winner: equip with cold water, fans, cute sunnies or parasols, and a place for shoes where guests can park their shoes in favour of bare feet or flip-flops. If your ceremony and reception are open-air events, create a shaded area for cocktail hour to give everyone a breather.

Related: How to Keep Your Guests Comfortable at Your Destination Wedding

9. Be on board with Plan B

Let’s be honest, the weather has a mind of its own and can alter the plans of even the most relaxed beach wedding. Work with your planner to lock in a Plan B, just in case. Your day-of coordinator will also help keep the run-sheet on track to avoid the ocean creeping up on your ceremony spot or the sun disappearing before you wed! Having an approved plan in place will give you peace of mind before (and on) the big day.

Deciding where to hold your destination wedding? These legality guides to some of the most popular wedding locations in Asia-Pacific might help you narrow down your choices!