When thinking about your beach wedding, you probably think of all the romantic things for that special day. You think of the atmosphere, the love you will be surrounded by, and the beautiful beginning to a lifelong journey with your spouse. What you might not think of, is all the little practical details that make up the day. Permits, planning, and backup plans don’t sound so romantic do they? But these things are vital to making that special day its best. Don’t worry, we’ve got a list to keep you on track from those who have signed on the dotted line before you! Here’s some of the most important pieces of red tape to consider:
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of you and your groom standing face to face, toes in the warm sand, in a little bubble of bliss. But it’s important to think about also having a practical beach wedding and to think about grandma or grandpa too — are they wheelchair bound? Can they make it through the sand? Do you need chairs for those who cannot stand through the ceremony? You also need to think about parking. Is there sufficient parking for your guest? Public parking, a mile away, could make your guests melt in their wedding duds by the time they reach you, especially if you’re having a summer wedding. If you are holding your wedding at a venue like Beacher’s Lodge, you will want to select a time of the year when the property is slower to ensure that your guests who aren’t staying at the property have ample parking options available.
The time of year you choose for a beach wedding is vital. It’s natural to think of the warmer months for trips to the beach. If you choose summer or spring, beware. Spring breakers crowd the beaches and summer tourists flood in to enjoy the sun. It adds a festive feel for sure — but if you value privacy, it’ll be harder to obtain this during this time of year.
Instead, think of the November – February time frame. Many of these months in Florida are still warm enough for a beach wedding. Even better, they are less humid and usually more comfortable with an average temperature of 72 – 75 degrees.
From May to October, there is the issue of turtle nesting. These beautiful creatures make their way up the sand and lay their eggs in safe nests up and down the coast. Florida is very protective of these special animals, so there are a few rules to consider. After dark, there are no lights allowed on the beach. No bonfires, no string lights, nothing. This will help keep the hatchlings from getting confused on their trek into the ocean. The party must also be diligent about any chairs or decorations on the beach. Everything must be taken inside at night, so not to create any obstacles for the turtles.
Next you need to select a day of the week. Traditionally, Friday and Saturday sunset spots are filled first. What’s better than a beach wedding? A sunset beach wedding, of course! If you want one of these spots, plan ahead and lock in that date early. Another alternative to think about is a sunrise wedding. You get all the same spectacular colors as the sunset, just at a different time. The beaches are usually more quiet at that time as well. The downside? Waking up early of course! Make sure you take your time and think about what would work best for you and your bridal party. In the end, most agree the beach is lovely any time of day!
It’s a good idea to let your family know what kind of dress code you expect from them at the wedding. You may expect that everyone would consider the wedding theme or colors and wear something to match the occasion — but don’t assume anything. If you’re going to have a laid back wedding, poor cousin Chuck might feel out of place (and sweaty) showing up in a suit and tie while everyone else is in hawaiian shirts. You may want to specify footwear as well. Is it a themed wedding? Let everyone know way in advanced! Making that coordinated effort will really pay off for your wedding pictures!
No one wants to think about their wedding day not going as planned. And nothing is more of a nail biter than an outside wedding at the mercy of the weather. In Florida, there are frequent showers. The good part of these showers is that they usually don’t last long! Same for a tropical storm, if you wait a few minutes, the rain will usually let up. But plan for delays just in case and have a back up plan in place too. It’s important to have an inside venue on call, and many brides find it most convenient to have their reception space be that plan B. Whatever you decide to do, don’t be caught off guard with a thunderstorm.
Private or Public
When deciding which beach to tie the knot, you may need to ask yourself whether or not you expect privacy. Some places will allow you to rope off a small section of beach for small parties. You will have to check your local ordinances to see what is and is not allowed. You have the chance to find a willing private owner that will let you have your event on their secluded stretch of beach, but be prepared for a lot of ‘no’s… so have thick skin! All in all, what is wrong with a few admirers? You’ll be in a world of your own on your special day and you’ll find that sharing parts of the beach will just add to the fun atmosphere!
This one is a big one for a practical beach wedding. Most beaches require paid permits to have your wedding. Public beaches are free, but holding an event is not. Most beaches ask that you pay a fee of $100.00 or more, plus allow a few weeks beforehand for processing. This cannot be a last minute chore, or you may have to reschedule the wedding altogether!
If your wedding will be more than 200 people, special processing may be needed and it may cost more and/or have a longer wait time. Check with your local permits office to ensure you are following their regulations.
There are also usually restrictions on balloon and lantern release, beach access for cars, and also for things like lights and photography.
For the Crescent Beach area, you can contact the permit office here:
Get more information about passes, please contact Beach Services at (904) 209-0331.
Some of these issues may be stressful and after the glow of the proposal it may be the last thing you want to think about. Get some help from friends and family, or hire yourself a wedding planner who has experience in planning beach weddings! One thing is for sure, there’s a lot of little details to consider if you’re going to throw a beach wedding without a hitch!