beach wedding

Beach Wedding Basics


So you’ve decided to ditch the brolly and tie the knot under sunny skies, palm trees swaying in the breeze, the sea gently rolling in the distance…. and complimentary mankinins at the ready for Team Groom (don’t do that). No doubt about it, planned well beach weddings can make for the ultimate in fun-filled matrimony. Casual, quirky, laid back… what’s not to like? That being said we’re talking a little bit more than your traditional bucket and spade travels here though. So it’s always good to get an idea of what’s needed to make sure you get it right.

Beach wedding planning – where to begin?

Rest assured, planning a beach wedding isn’t actually as daunting as it seems.  So much so that around a quarter of couples choose to say sayonara to England’s fair land in favour of tying the knot abroad these days, according to a recent YouGov poll. Sure you’ve got your ferocious sea-dwelling creatures to work around… and a pasty white glow to factor into those all-important photos (we’re kidding obviously, we’re led to believe Nemo’s a pretty affable chap) but with a few basics under your belt, and some careful consideration from the get-go, getting married abroad can actually be a pretty stress-free experience.

Get a move on!

But you do need to get planning as early as possible.  We really can’t stress this one enough.  You might well be the lazy sod who needs asking three times (an hour) to shift it with the trash, or mow the jungle out back but planning a wedding abroad takes time.  Everything from language barriers to legalities and sorting flights, accommodation and on the ground contacts and suppliers needs careful planning.  Bear in mind some countries require specific residency terms before they’ll let you tie the knot on their turf (40 days if you’re heading pour la France) and depending on your choice of ceremony, local officials might need a heads-up on paperwork anything from a few days to a few weeks in advance.

Your guests are also going to need an early idea of what’s occurin’ so they can get their own schedules sorted.

Which brings us to…

Your nearest and dearest

Love ‘em, hate ‘em, or not know who the hell half your fiancée’s list are, getting married abroad can either be a curse or a major blessing when it comes to the guest list.  By their nature, beach weddings generally mean a pretty small crowd of onlookers, and while we’re not about to tell you whether or not Aunty Ethel should make space for Bob from ballet, we can offer up a few useful suggestions on managing this bit:

  • Numbers – work out how many guests your budget and venue can comfortably accommodate.
  • Must have’s – agree on the faces your day can’t do without.
  • Fair warning – it might be an idea, especially where Team Groom and the bridal party are concerned, to get a feel for attendance before making any firm decision on location.  Your best mates might not have the necessary funds at their disposal to jet half way across the globe, so it gives everyone involved time to assess the situation.  A little sensitivity goes a long way.
  • Cut-off point – sit down and work out a cut-off point on waifs and strays (especially essential if you’re particularly limited on space).  And more importantly, once you’ve figured it out let people know the score as quickly as possible.  If everyone’s aware from the start that the main gig will only include immediate family for example, there shouldn’t be any animosity.
  • Post-nuptial bash – if funds allow it’s common to hold a second bash when you’re back on home soil for those who couldn’t make the main event.  Giving the non-attendees a heads-up on the forthcoming party can soften the blow.
  • Record it – or you can always find a cracking videographer to record your nuptials.
  • A virtual affair – or why not stream the event as it happens?  Yes, you might have to spend a few hours/days/weeks teaching Ethel how to ‘make the little pointy thing move on the tv’ but live streaming through the likes of I Do Stream, Hang With (Android), or even good old Skype can work extremely well for helping elderly relatives (or those who may not be able to fly) feel included in the celebrations.
  • Keep them in the loop – when you’ve decide on your core invitees, make sure they’re given as much info as possible every step of the way; dates, flight and travel info, wedding day itinerary, directions, dress-code etc.  You’ll also need to let them know how much of the festivities you’ll be funding, and which areas they’ll need to cover themselves.  Online sites like can be a great tool for keeping guests fully up-to-date, while info sheets sent out with the invites can work just as well if you’re on for the more traditional route.

Budget matters

With recent stats putting the average UK wedding at around £18,000 compared to a more modest £4300 for a sun-soaked beach affair, you’re almost certainly quids in when it comes to the matrimonial budget.  But you do still need to work out how much cash you’ll have at your disposal before any decisions can be made.

  • General cost – don’t forget to factor in any and all likely expenses: air fares, accommodation, wedding planner fees (if necessary), suppliers and services, as well as potential outlay for the paperwork, legalities and insurance.
  • Guests – you’ll also need to agree how much of the guests’ trip you’ll be funding.  Can you stretch to travel for key VIPs?  Accommodation?  There’s no standard etiquette on this one.  It’s a nice idea to cover as much as your budget will allow, so alongside the reception how about laying on breakfast, a post-nuptial brunch, some off-site activities or day trips, or even essentials like suntan lotion.  But stick within your limits.  Not many guests expect to have their trips fully paid for by the couple, so be open from the start and give them enough time to sort their own finances.  It’s worth bearing in mind, especially if you book through a tour operator, that you should be able to get good deals on group rates for both flights and accommodation on this one.

Moolah and motley crew sorted, time to get cracking on your beach wedding essentials (yes, paperwork.  No we don’t make the rules)

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