Your Beach Wedding
When we imagine a wedding abroad most of us immediately think of a beach setting, somewhere idyllic with palm trees swaying in the soft breeze, crystal clear warm water and soft powdery sand that we can sink our toes into. Although there are many styles of venues for weddings abroad from ancient palaces, farmhouses and romantic villas our thoughts first and foremost are for a beach wedding.
Be this as it may, an idyllic beach as described above is not always easy to come by. Beaches can often be overcrowded, exposed rather than secluded and if you marry at the wrong time of day, they can be a heat trap.
Here we consider a beach wedding and all the things you should think about before booking one for your wedding abroad.
We’ve all spent days by the beach eating ‘sandwiches’, literally, there’s nothing like quite the grinding of sand in our teeth as we try to eat our picnic lunch.
This is due to the constant see breeze that you find at most beaches. Most of time it’s very welcome as it cools us, especially when there’s little shade. However when you’re getting married on a beach you need to consider if that breeze is going to feel more like a wind when your stood in your wedding dress.
Of course, you can’t control the weather but some beaches are known for being more windy, than other more sheltered beaches.
If you’re getting married slightly out of season, or away from the humid summer months then always check with your planner or venue for how breezy/windy your beach is.
If you’re in a windy spot and your fine with this, I would suggest not having a veil and wearing your hair neatly tied back. We once had a wedding where the brides face was hidden behind her hair for the duration of the ceremony, as she battled to keep it under control in the wind.
There may be a time of day when the wind is more brisk, for instance in Zakynthos the cooling breezes are what keep the water and beaches so clean. These daily breezes are typically stronger in the afternoon between 4pm and 6pm, therefore a wedding in an exposed area is booked outside of these times to avoid this strong breeze.
It’s a given that if you marry in high summer when temperatures are at their highest and humidity is peaking that you’re going to be hot on a beach. We have couples that LOVE intense heat and actually request this time specifically for the heat.
However if you start sweating as soon as you stand in any sort of direct sunshine then consider booking your wedding out of the main season or marrying later in the day, or even early evening. Baring in mind that sunset can be late in high season, sometimes as late at 9pm. (check the sunset times at your destination here)
You also need to consider the other end of the temperature scale with your beach wedding.
In the cooler months of April, early May and towards the end of September evenings by the beach can be cooler. Once the sun sets you may find you need a shawl or cardigan. Again that could be a blessing for some, but it’s better to be prepared, so either make sure you bring shoulder coverings for your guests or tell them in advance so they can come prepared.
Depending where in the world you book your wedding you need to research seasonal weather. Just because in Europe we have better temperatures from May to September this is not the case for all continents. A beach wedding in the Caribbean is best avoided during hurricane season, October and June are particularly heavy months for hurricanes which you may not expect.
In the Indian Ocean rainy season is from May to September, they experience extremely high temperatures and sometimes flash foods! You don’t want your wedding to be a wash away.
In Australia their summer is our winter! Well that’s if you can call 15 degrees winter.
When we’re contacted about beach venues the first question we’re generally asked is ‘how private is the beach?’
In reality there are very few private beaches. We have just one in our portfolio Cameo Island in Zakynthos.
We’re always on the look out for more.
That being said, we plan many beach weddings every year and as long as you consider the location of your beach wedding carefully then there are lots of lovely options.
Crete has huge vast stretches of white beaches so it’s quite easy to find a secluded section to have your ceremony.
There are many hidden coves in Greece and even if the beach isn’t completely private, in our experience when people see the set up of a wedding they’ll normally respect this and not enter the area.
It goes without saying that beaches are less busy later in the day. So having your ceremony early evening when the crowds have dispersed and the chairs are tidied away makes sense. The beach is much more serene then, usually with couples or families having a pre dinner stroll! Much more suitable for a special ceremony.
We can get carried away with the romance of a beach wedding and all practical thinking goes out of mind. If you’re getting married in high season remember how hot sand can get during the day, it’s quite funny when we see someone skipping along the beach with scorched feet but this isn’t really a look you want on your wedding day.
Depending on the time of year and the conditions you could either wear light sandals or have a carpet aisle and even a carpet to stand on during the ceremony, these will be much cooler than the hot sand!
When you start shopping for your wedding dress consider the setting of your wedding venue.
Is there easy access directly to the beach?
Do you mind your dress trailing in the sand? Are you wearing the dress a second time? Will you have time to have it dry cleaned? You can always go with a shorter style wedding dress to keep it clean.
Comfort, consider the heat and go with a breathable fabric, you want to make sure you’re comfortable and look your most glamorous on your wedding day, not hot and stressed.
This also applies to anyone in the bridal party, so the bridesmaids, page boys and flower girls and of course the groom and groomsmen. Also consider advising guests on typical temperatures. Guests may think a later afternoon ceremony will be cooler, however in reality it can still feel very hot up to 6 or 7pm in high season. So make sure they consider comfort when choosing their outfit.
Although walking on a beach can be romantic when your having a sunset stroll with bare feet in the sand, you do need to think about practicalities when you are inviting guests.
Wheelchairs and prams are incredibly difficult to pull along sand and take a lot of strength to do so.
Some beach venues are rocky and unsteady, some are accessed via rickety bridges, so elderly guests will need to be supported. Always arrange someone to help in advance so guests don’t end up feeling like a nuisance on the day.
The romantic sound of crashing waves are one of the many appeals of a beach wedding, however they can also be noisy, add to this the breeze and general outdoor sounds from around and your guests may find it difficult to here you say your I do’s.
Not everyone minds, but if you want to ensure your guests hear you exchange vows then you may need to hire mic’s, ask your wedding planner about sound at your venue and if they think mics are necessary. Do this whilst you have time to look into different types of mics, some are less obvious than others and you’ll need to hire a sound system to play the sounds over.
Sand isn’t always soft.
Like in the UK where we have pebbly beaches in the south, it’s not uncommon to find these abroad, they could be manmade beaches, or the environment may just mean you don’t have soft powdery sand but small stones instead.
In the case of Santorini the island is volcanic which means you’ll’ find black shingle, it looks pretty but isn’t the most comfortable to walk on.
You can even find different types of sand in one location so don’t presume just because there is a sandy beach at your hotel that you’ll find the same sand at your venue.
Time of day
We’ve touched on this a little with temperature, but I think it deserves it’s own mention as it’s such an important aspect of a beach wedding.
We love being able to sun ourselves on a lovely warm beach, especially when the sun is at it’s highest (with sunscreen of course) however do consider that the closer you have your wedding to midday the hotter it will be.
We actually had one bride suffer heat stroke due to having an early ceremony, we’d pleaded with her to move the ceremony back (she was very fair skinned) but she was certain she wanted a 4pm ceremony.
In the end the ceremony had to be delayed and she was taken away to cool down after fainting down the aisle, unfortunately she ended up missing a part of the early celebrations.
Make sure you can handle the heat if you choose an earlier ceremony time, remember you’re not in a bikini, but in a full wedding dress, be it short or long. Any type of traditional wedding dress will feel hot in heat.
What to ask
So in summary, it’s important you ask some key questions to your wedding planner or the venue you’re booking with
- Is the beach private, or in a secluded location – how busy will it be?
- Is the area windy? Or just breezy? So you can consider wearing a veil, suitable hairstyles and if hiring a sound system will be necessary.
- Is the beach made of pebble or soft sand? For aesthetic and practical reasons, you don’t want to be barefoot on shingle.
- Is the beach easily assessable, or will guests need flat shoes/sandals and will elderly guests need help.
- Weather, find out about seasons in your destination, monsoon or rainy season or hurricane season.
Best locations for beach weddings
Our most popular and best destinations for beach weddings are in Greece.
Zakynthos has the amazing Cameo Island Wedding a private island just off the mainland accessed by a wooden bridge.
Crete – not strictly private but some of the largest and longest beaches in Crete, we can always find a quiet secluded spot for your ceremony.
Kos – beautiful soft sandy beaches, we plan weddings later in the day when the beaches are at their quietest.
To start planning your wedding visit our destinations page to discover more about our services and the incredible venues we work with.
To view some sample beach wedding packages click here