A beach wedding can be a lot of FUN! I have been photographing destination weddings for over a decade at beaches around the world, but Florida beaches are my favorite! That’s why I spend over half of my year in St. Petersburg, FL photographing weddings. You can have the look and feel of a destination wedding without leaving the country. To help you plan a gorgeous day for you and your guests to enjoy, I have compiled five tips (plus a bonus one) for a successful Florida beach wedding!
1. What to Wear…. Beach Wedding Dress Code
The natural elements of a beach wedding provide a beautiful backdrop for your wedding. But, don’t forget to take into consideration what comes along with this environment… Being out in nature comes with forces of nature! Wind, sand, bugs, and of course… heat!
Beach Wedding Attire for the Bride & Bridesmaids
- Choose fabrics and styles that are appropriate for the beach. Light fabrics and dresses with less volume work best. Anything heavy can make it difficult to move in the sand. Voluminous bridal gowns with lots of layers can trap air, making it extra hot.
- Take the sand into account. Wear dressy sandals or you can even consider going barefoot! Anklets can dress up bare feet and add an extra layer of meaning. Take a look at how Brenna rocked her barefoot beachside ceremony in her tropical St. Petersburg beach wedding. [link https://stpetephotographers.com/a-tropical-boho-modern-beach-wedding-st-petersburg-fl/]
- Wearing a light wrap can add a level of style but also can help protect you from bugs, breezes, and the sun.
- The light winds that come off the water help keep you and your guests cool… but they can also wreak havoc on your hair! Pull back at least the front of your hair away from your face, or consider a loose up-do so that you do not have to worry about your hair blowing in your face or sticking to your lip gloss.
Beach Wedding Attire for the Groom & Groomsmen
- Choose light suits–both light in color and light fabrics. Or, you can go even more casual with beach fabrics.
- Flip-flops or bare feet work better than shoes in the sand…. It’s never comfortable to have sand in your shoes! If the men are insistent to wear dress shoes, it’s best to choose nice oxfords tied tightly so as little sand as possible can sneak in.
2. Prepare Your Guests for a Florida Beach Wedding
It’s one thing for you and your bridal party to be ready to soak up the sun at your beach wedding, but make sure your guests are ready as well. Here are some tips to help them truly enjoy your beachside wedding!
Tips for Wedding Guests: Before The Ceremony
- Set the tone for your beach wedding with your save-the-date invitations. Include information (either in print or on a personal website) to give your wedding guests important beach wedding tips to help them stay comfortable and enjoy your day.
- Encourage “Beach Casual” attire including sandals or ditching shoes altogether.
- Sunglasses, sunblock, hats, bug spray and bottles of water can all help guests stay comfortable. (For a destination wedding consider adding these items into a welcome bag!!)
- For evening weddings, a sweater or light wrap works well.
Tips for Wedding Guests: At The Ceremony
Let’s be real. Even when you include information ahead of the wedding, sometimes people forget! It’s best to always be prepared. So, to make sure your guests are as comfortable as possible when they arrive at the ceremony, here are a few tips:
- Wedding Programs that double as fans are a great addition to your ceremony details. They are a fun way to help guests feel cool, all while including information about the ceremony.
- Add baskets of your left-over welcome bag items such as sunglasses, bottles of water, bug spray and sunblock as guests enter the ceremony. (They most likely will forget the ones you gave them earlier in the welcome bag!)
- Encourage guests to remove their shoes (see the cute sign below) or provide a “Shoe Valet” with flip-flops.
3. Always Hire Florida Beach Vendors
While beautiful, Florida beach weddings provide their own challenges such as working in the sand, no electrical outlets, and difficult lighting situations (sunsets, direct sun, no shade). That said, not all vendors are created equal… just because a vendor does a phenomenal job with a ballroom wedding doesn’t mean they understand the ins and outs of a wedding on the beach. Choosing a florist, photographer, and event planner with beach wedding experience can help your day be memorable… in all the right ways!!!
4. Have a Back-Up Plan
Although Florida may be known as the Sunshine State… the weather will not always cooperate with your plans. No matter what time of year you have an outdoor wedding, there is always a chance of rain. And, when it comes to Florida, it might even be a hurricane. Having a back-up plan for your beachfront wedding can give you peace of mind when anticipating your big day. This is where a wedding coordinator or event planner that is accomplished in beach weddings can be a huge help in making your day run smoothly.
5. Florida Beach Permits for Weddings: Rules and Logistics
Even though a Florida wedding on the beach appears easy and effortless, it involves significantly more logistics than just ‘a day at the beach.’ All the different Florida beaches have their own set of rules and permits required for hosting an event. Knowing these details in advance can make or break your beautiful day!
While it is possible to navigate the variety of permits and rules on your own, hiring an event planner or checking with your specific venue will ensure you have your bases covered. Below is a list of questions to consider asking.
Questions to Ask the Venue:
- Is a permit required? What is the upfront cost?
- Are there any other fees associated with having a wedding here?
- How much time (include set-up and takedown) and space (given the number of guests plus the officiant, wedding party and any vendors) do you need?
- Can you secure a specific time?
- Are there any dates (such as holidays) that are off-limits?
- Do you need liability insurance?
Beachside Ceremony & Venue Logistics:
For the ceremony and venue locations, consider the following logistics:
- How accessible is the site for both guests and vendors?
- What parking is available for both guests and vendors? This is especially important for vendors with large delivery trucks such as caterers, DJ’s, furniture rentals, and photo booth companies. (link to www.snapthisphotobooth.com)
- Are restrooms available?
- Is alcohol allowed?
- Can you cordon off the site?
- How early can you start setting up?
- Are there size restrictions on tents, canopies, arches or arbors?
- What are the predicted winds, tides, noise, crowds and bugs?
- Is there a noise ordinance?
Let’s Make it All Legal!
Now that you’ve got everything planned… Wait! You need to know now how to make it count! Here are the basics on how to get that marriage license legal!
Florida Marriage License Requirements:
- You must be 18.
- Bring your social security number and a photo I.D. to any county clerk’s office. No blood work is necessary.
- The license will cost you $93.50 unless you are a Florida resident who takes a state-approved, four-hour premarital course. That will reduce your fee by up to $32.50. (make sure to double-check this cost–it could change without notice through the STATE OF FLORIDA.
- Florida residents must wait three days from the time they apply for the license to go into effect. This is waived for non-residents.
- If you have been married previously, you must provide the date of the divorce, annulment, or spouse’s death.
- The license will be valid for 60 days anywhere in Florida once it goes into effect and your officiant is responsible for taking the marriage certificate to the appropriate county clerk’s office within 10 days.
- I highly suggest going straight to the State of Florida website for more information and explanation. These details could change at any time. THIS LINK will give you the most up to date information.
Enjoy some Florida Beachside Wedding Photography!
Whew! I know that it seems like I just threw a lot of information at you, but trust me, it’s worth considering for a smooth and successful Florida beach wedding. For an example of one of my favorite weddings in my hometown of St. Pete, check out Brenna and Mitch’s wedding in Contemporary Weddings Magazine (or check out THIS blog post). And please enjoy the photos below that I have compiled. You might even want to pin them to your own ‘Beachy Wedding’ Pinterest board! Please enjoy!