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  • Writer's pictureLisa Flahant

Tips for planning a beach wedding

As we (supposedly) leave the darkness of winter behind and start to think of those sun-filled days of summer, something I am doing quite a lot of at the moment is planning beach weddings.

And what beautiful ceremonies these are! Personally I can think of no better location to pledge your love and commitment, especially if the sea is simply your favourite place to be. Wildly romantic, naturally beautiful and a place to return to time and time again to re-live your favourite memories.

However, hosting a celebration on the beach is certainly not without its challenges, even more so if your ceremony is planned for a popular location and coincides with the summer holidays.

So this week’s blog focuses on a few tips I have gathered to help with planning that perfect beach ceremony:

Location Ask me where I would hold my perfect ceremony and I could tell you in a heartbeat! I have many favourite beaches in Cornwall, but there is one in particular which I am simply head over heels in love with. It energises me. It captivates me. It never fails to take my breath away, whether the sun is shining or the heavens are open. I won’t give my special place away now, but if you’re read a previous blog of mine, you’ll know just where it is :-)

And it should be just like that when you choose your location – your ultimate happy place. But with my practical hat on, I would advise that you might need some options… there are some particular hotspots in Cornwall that can be ultra busy in the summer months, making them difficult to get to, never mind stake out a spot on the beach. But with so many wonderful locations to choose from, your celebrant might just have some ideas of where is likely to be quieter, yet have a similar vibe to your favourite spot. And there’s lots more to consider…read on…

Tides and timings The tide is going to play a big part in your ceremony. Many couples love to be by the water’s edge, but that’s not always practical if you have a party of guests. Looking for spots which are above the tideline, whether higher on the beach, on an accessible rocky crop, in a sheltered cove or even a spot overlooking the beach are all good bets. Or do what one of my brides has planned, and book a holiday home with a garden adjacent to the beach! If your timings are flexible then you can of course work with the tides, but if not, identifying some places where you won’t be knee deep in water is a more practical approach. And also think about the direction and strength of the winds on your preferred spot – a sea breeze is wonderful, a force 10 gale - not quite so much…

Weather Ah the great British weather! Our favourite topic of conversation. Reliably unreliable, and when it’s good, it’s totally amazing, and when it’s not, it can be blimmin’ awful. Again, options are what you need here. Flexibility is key; if you’re planning a morning ceremony, can you move it to the afternoon at short notice if a break in the weather is forecast? A helpful celebrant will always work with you on weather-related timings. Or are you happy to carry on as planned, umbrellas and all? If you’re having your reception elsewhere, would you be prepared to relocate the ceremony there at the last minute, or if not, perhaps have the ceremony with just the two of you on the sands, to save your guests getting drenched? Whatever you do, make sure you have a Plan B up your sleeve.

Style A beach wedding should be a super-laid back affair. Boho dresses, bare feet, buckets and spades. Some couples will choose to bring or create an archway to frame the ceremony, but it’s certainly not essential. I love those couples who decide the sound of the sea is the only musical accompaniment they want, but equally a guitarist or other soft live sound makes for a wonderful addition. Relaxed seating is perfect. The type of ceremony where guests are happy to bring a blanket or a deckchair, and soak up the beachy vibe. Ideally numbers shouldn’t be so great to cause a nuisance to other beach visitors, and indeed my favourites are those very intimate, personal weddings with anywhere from two to twenty guests. A family picnic or barbecue is another popular add-on to a beach wedding ceremony, along with swimming, surfing and beach volleyball - and if the weather is looking great, it’s a fantastic way to spin out your beach worship.

Practicalities Not all beaches in Cornwall are public beaches; they may be open to the public but if privately owned, then you will still need to negotiate with the landowner about having your ceremony there, and they may well want to charge you a fee. Apart from physical access to the beach, you need to think about parking (especially during busy times). If the location is tricky to find, instructions for your guests may be needed. If you are blessed with wonderful weather, then sunhats, suncream, sunglasses and refreshments are all going to be needed. And of course, remember to clear up after the party. Leave only footprints :-)

Hopefully that gives you some pointers, but if you have any questions or indeed any tips of your own to add, then do drop me a line! I’d love to hear from you.

PS. I nearly forgot – one of the most magical things about a beach wedding – your photos will be incredible – rain or shine!

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