Your ultimate beach wedding guide

In Beach Weddings, Wedding Guides by Ande TongcoLeave a Comment

We at Great Destination Weddings proudly present our ultimate beach wedding guide. From packing to planning, dresses to do’s – we’ve got your beach wedding covered.

Beach weddings are hugely popular with couples who opt for a destination wedding. Your big day set in a tropical paradise with stunning photo opportunities – what’s not to love? But remember that with this stunning setting comes some slight obstacles you may not anticipate.

Here are five tips to help avoid the most common obstacles you may experience with a beach wedding.

1. Beware the breeze
You may have imagined your dream oceanside wedding as you standing by the seaside, a gentle coastal breeze giving your hairstyle that cool supermodel-near-an-industrial-fan look. Don’t be surprised if a gentle breeze feels more like a gail force wind and your wedding photos feature your face hidden behind a curtain of hair. Consider a well-secured, summery up-do and think twice about a veil.

Keeping in the beach theme, anchor your decor and any loose items. Be creative and use shells or small pieces of driftwood as paperweights for things like ceremony programs.

beach wedding

The groom and groomsmen opted for no shoes at the Cook Islands wedding of Brianna and Matthew. Photography by William Tuiravakai

2. Be practical
No one wears a huge dress and heels on the beach any other time of the year, why should you on your wedding day? For the women, soft materials like chiffon are your friend. Unless you and your bridesmaids have the balance of a tight-rope walker and the calf muscles of a body builder, ditch the heels for a classy pair of flat sandals. Be aware of the fabric of your gown as well and take into consideration the fact you may be quite warm in the sun and sweating.

Dress the men in a pair of tan or white cotton pants with a classic white button-up shirt and perhaps even swap the dress-shoes for a cheeky pair of – dare we say it– thongs. They’re practical, a little bit kitsch and a good conversation starter.

beach wedding

Wedding of Valeria & Santiago. Photography by Milque Photography & Films

3. Be ready for uninvited guests
If the thought of a bunch of people crowding around your guests and taking photos of your ceremony sounds like a bit of a nightmare, maybe reconsider a wedding on a public beach. The beach is a public space so onlookers can be considered unofficially welcome guests. If you are having your ceremony overseas, look into their beach wedding policies. To minimise your chances of having onlookers in attendance, have your ceremony in a small, lesser-known beach, and consider having your wedding in the tourist off-season.

4. Know the legalities
Other than the obvious wedding legalities, research your beach of choice and get a permit if required. Most Australian beaches will have a guest limit in order to minimise impact on the environment and other beach users.If you’re having an overseas wedding, check any permits or guidelines in the months before you go. Be prepared to have a small, intimate ceremony and fill out some pre-wedding council paperwork.

A massive fine on your wedding day would definitely put a downer on the event and being told to move on by the local authorities would make your day memorable… in the worst possible way.

5. Have a back-up plan
Following on from number four, always have a back-up plan. Like any outdoor wedding there is always the possibility of rain. While not ideal, keep an eye out for any gazebos or shelters in nearby parks or plan a simple back-up ceremony at a nearby hotel or hall. If research and weather maps don’t frighten you, look up the weather patterns in the area from previous years and find a time of year that is mostly sunny but under 30 degrees celsius

beach wedding


The key to a perfect beach wedding is planning. And planning starts with packing. Being smart about what goes in your suitcase can go a long way.

Top tips

  • In terms of clothing, stick to the one colour palette. It is much easier to have a suitcase full of pieces that work together, you will find that you will have more outfits yet you won’t have to pack as much.
  • Pack appropriately! If you’re going to a beach destination, pack for the beach with light, summer clothing. It seems obvious but it is surprising how thinking about what you will actually wear on your holiday will help cull items from your suitcase. You could even plan your outfits day-by-day.
  • Invest in convertible pieces! These items can really save space in your case without culling the amount of outfits you have with you.
  • Most importantly, don’t stress about it! You are bound to have more luggage with you than normal, even if you need to pay that little bit extra to get it all there, it’s worth it to have everything you need for your once in a lifetime special day.

Transporting the dress
Transporting something so precious, delicate and usually rather heavy can be a bit of a challenge, especially when flights are involved. We asked some of our favourite bridal designers their advice for transporting a bridal gown for a destination wedding.

Wendy Makin from Wendy Makin Couture says they always pack gowns in plastic first to protect the fabric, then wrap it in acid-free paper before placing it in a flight box. Be sure to check the box you’re taking with you meets your airline’s carry-on size specifications.

Pina Fiorenza from Fiorenza Collections suggests wrapping your gown and veil with tissue paper in between the folds so the fabric does not touch itself, and to ensure your veil is always placed at the back of the garment bag behind your gown so the zip doesn’t snag the delicate tulle.

When you arrive, Gill Hulse from Paddington Weddings advises taking the gown and veil out immediately to allow any creases to fall out.

beach wedding

Wedding of Jenna & Ben. Photography by Zoomfiji


Obstacles can be amplified with a beach wedding, especially in the eyes of a hairdresser. It’s a bit of a challenge to hide from the sometimes undesirable outdoor elements and the irreversible frizz that can ensue.

Sand, salt and wind are the added extras of a beach package deal, so there is no use ignoring the possible effects they will have on your hairstyle. A typical wedding ceremony will last half a day with the reception celebrations continuing well into the night, meaning your hairdo needs to last the miles as well.

Most brides who wed on the beach opt for natural locks over a perfectly coiffed style as they have an easier flow in the wind. But, it does depend on your personal style and the theme of the wedding. Here are a few handy tips to beat the elements.


The ladies at the wedding of Helen & Justin rocking the braids and soft up-do’s. Photography: Nindka Photography

1. Breezy braids and perky ponies
Embrace the casual vibe of a beach wedding with a fun hairstyle that will stand strong against winds, keep pesky flyways off your face and fight the frizz. Flowers entwined in braids add a bohemian vibe, or a slicked-back pony with curled ends adds glam to an otherwise simple ‘do.

2. Uppin’ the ‘do
For a more formal wedding look, or to complement an elaborate dress, you may wish to have your hair swept up in an indestructible updo. A bun strengthened with super-hold hairspray is virtually bulletproof and no match for coastal winds, resulting in a stress-free hairstyle that will survive until the final twirl on the dance floor. Add flowers or bejewelled accessories or pearls in keeping with the theme.

beach wedding

Lillian looks stunning with her hair down but pinned off her face, with a bejewelled accessory. Photography: Three Two One Photography and Net Photography

3. Half up or half down?
If your heart is screaming out for hair down, but your head is trying to talk some beach-wind sense, opt for a loose bun for the sandy ceremony which can be easily unpinned for the indoor reception, making way for naturally curled locks. You could also try loose waves pinned securely off the face.

4. Let your hair down
If you are one of the lucky few who have long luscious locks that never frizz no matter the conditions, you may lean towards a relaxed style letting your hair roam free. An option is a half-up, half-down style, using accessories to pin hair and framing the face as desired.

Finally, a majority of brides opt for a beach wedding as a casual alternative, voiding the ‘need’ for a veil or bridal tiara, however you may consider a wedding hairvine as a whimsical, versatile alternative.


One of the most popular locations for a destination weddings is the beach. There’s just something about the feel of sand between your toes, and watching the sun go down over the ocean snug in the arms of your loved one.

But are you struggling to define a theme? Using a theme can help you trim down the flow of ideas and start narrowing the focus of your nuptials.

Why not try one of these four themes for your big day?

beach wedding

Wedding of Dana & Chris. Photography by Anne Sophie Maestracci

1. Summer days: focus on the gorgeous sun and sand
How? Use bright hues to really encapsulate the warmth of summer; think simple white furnishings to reflect that bright, sunny light.

Beach beauty: think beach glam!
How? Wear that soft flowing dress that catches the wind and team it with a loose beachy hair style. Incorporate shells and starfish into your decor with some diamantes for that ocean sparkle.

beach wedding

Wedding of Kathryn & James. Photography by Angie Schutt Photography

2. Tropical oasis: focus on the tropics!
How? Decorate your ceremony and reception areas with palm fronds and tropical flowers. Maybe even a flower in your hair? Let your destination be your guide: are you travelling to a country or island that has a unique culture? Try including some of that into your wedding day.

3. Relaxed beach fun: get into that relaxed beach spirit!
How? Simple loose clothing, bare feet and beach games. Get your guests involved with beach cricket or volleyball – this day is perfect for those who like simple and stress-free occasions.

beach wedding

Wedding of Alex & Edward. Photography by Studio Impressions

5. Beach eleganceLet the beach speak for itself
How? For a truly elegant beach affair, think romance; pastels and sweetheart necklines. Furnish your space with vintage pieces for the ultimate elegance.

One thing you always need to remember when you have a beach or tropical wedding is not to forget the sunscreen.


Jennifer Gifford gown, photography by Byron Loves Fawn


Choosing the right dress for your beach destination wedding is a bit more involved than choosing a dress for a wedding close to home. The same elements that inspired your choice of venue bring unique challenges to picking out a dress, but don’t worry, there are so many beautiful dresses that capture the right vibe and will meet your practical needs.

Coastal breezes
To put it simply, the beach is often windy. Whether that means a cooling breeze or a full-force gale is a variable. It’s better to choose a location with a reputation for consistently nice weather, like Fiji, as opposed to someplace prone to wild seasonal swings. Of course you’ll have to consider the time of year as well. Even with all the planning you do, there is no guarantee that your wedding day won’t involve a stiff breeze. For this reason, you’ll want to choose a dress without a wide, full skirt than can get blown around and tangle in your legs. You also want to avoid a veil long enough to blow in your groom’s face or back into your own. Many a bride’s hairdo has been pulled out by a blowing veil.

beach wedding

Kate wears a practical-length veil. Photography: Balipic

Sandy shores
Sand is of course notoriously hard to remove from clothing, shoes and perspiring skin, and you’ll want to remember that when choosing a dress. Ideally, you should choose a shorter length dress, one without a very long train or one with a light enough skirt to float over the sand as you walk down the beach. You’ll also have to choose coordinating footwear that is easy to walk in, won’t allow to much sand to creep in and are easy enough to clean out.

Ocean waves
The backdrop of the ocean, whether powerful or placid, makes for a beautiful experience and stunning wedding photos. Walking hand-in-hand with your new husband is another good argument for a tea-length or shorter dress and no train. Soaking wet skirts become heavy and cumbersome, and you probably don’t want yourself or your bridesmaid to be holding up your dress in every single photograph. You certainly don’t want a damp, salty, sandy hem to chafe against you for the rest of the festivities either, and of course getting the gown dirty isn’t ideal for its preservation.

beach wedding

We love the gorgeous soft layers of Bethany’s dress. Photography: Aht Yomyai

Tropical sunshine
A beach destination wedding can deliver you from cold and dreary winter weather in exchange for palm trees, tropical flowers and endless sunny days. However, there will also be heat, humidity and intense sunlight. Your comfort should come first.

Choose light-weight and breathable fabrics such as chiffon, crepe, cotton eyelet or organdie, organza, Georgette and voile. Fair-skinned brides should be aware that shoulder and chest baring designs might result in sunburn if they’re out in the sun for more than an hour. A light cover, loose sleeves, or a sun hat or parasol make good accessories if you’re set on a skin-baring dress. A shawl or wrap can be a smart idea for any beach bride, as sea-side temperatures can drop dramatically with changes in weather and after sunset.

Other considerations
Beach venues can be more suited for casual dresses, but by no means is that a requirement. Just keep all of these elements in mind when making your final choice. A tea-length dress for a beach venue is very popular, but you can go even shorter. If you do, beware the skirt may blow up in the wind.

As for colour, take your inspiration from the venue. You don’t have to commit to white or ivory, but if you do, accents of pale blue, mint green, and shades of coral are lovely. And lastly, remember, this is your dress – not your mother’s, your mother-in-law’s, your sister or aunt’s. It is certainly not the shop-keeper’s, your bridesmaid’s – or your groom’s. Pick with your comfort in mind first, but pick the dress that makes you feel as happy, serene and lovely as you deserve to feel.


Finally, here’s a selection of different wedding dress styles and cuts to give you a little bit of inspiration for your big day.

beach wedding

Ainsley gown by Pallas Couture

beach wedding

Aneela gown by Anna Campbell

beach wedding

N10001 gown by Angel Sanchez

beach wedding

N10011 gown by Angel Sanchez

beach wedding

Isobelle gown with embellishment by Anna Campbell

beach wedding

Geneva gown by BellaDonna by Wendy Makin

beach wedding

From George Wu‘s 2016 collection

beach wedding

Pamela gown by Jack Sullivan

beach wedding

Billie gown by Jenny Packham

beach wedding

Mercer gown by Pallas Couture

beach wedding

Valentina gown by Mira Mandic



Related articles:

Style File: Beach Break

Theme Ideas for a Tropical Beach Wedding

Beach Ceremonies: Ask the Experts

The Best Beach Designer Dresses


Leave a Comment