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Top Ten Tips

Top 10 tips for a Beach Wedding: Beach weddings are so popular and so potentially fraught with problems if you don't plan ahead that we decided to give them their own set of tips. There are a lot of unpredictable elements involved in a beach wedding, so people who get married on the beach need to be easy-going, flexible and ready for anything.

1. Make parking plans.
Choose your beach-wedding location with parking in mind. This is the number one problem couples run into in relation to beach weddings. Get married near a public beach access that has plenty of parking or rent a house that is near a beach access with plenty of parking. Some brides make off-site parking arrangements and then shuttle guests to the site in vans. Contact the town hall (see Sites and Accommodations) to discuss parking laws.

2. Consider lighting.
Lighting is an issue on the beach, especially if you want to have your wedding later in the day, when there is too little direct sunlight, or at mid-day in summer, when there is too much sunlight and everyone will be sweating and squinting. Consult with your photographer about the best time of day to get married for your date and chosen location.

3. Choose your location carefully.
All North Carolina beaches are public and there is no way to close off an area for your wedding. To avoid the possibility of random strangers stopping to gawk at your nuptials or a stray Frisbee crashing the wedding, choose a location that is typically crowd-free, or wait until most of the beach crowd has gone in, usually around 4 p.m.

4. Get wired.
The roar of the ocean is romantic until you realize your guests cannot hear a word of the special vows you wrote. Consider wiring the bride and groom, minister, musicians and speakers with tiny, unnoticeable microphones for amplification. Speak to your videographer about this.

5. Check the tide.
Tide levels are definitely a factor in beach weddings. Figure out the time of high tide on the day of your beach wedding (the most reliable source is a nearby pier or tackle shop). Get married at low tide, when there is more beach and harder sand.

6. Make a plan for the less ambulatory guests.
How is your grandmother or a disabled guest going to maneuver their way through the sand? You might think about getting married close to an oceanfront deck or gazebo, where less ambulatory guests can sit and watch. The National Park Service offers free beach wheelchair rentals; call them at 252-473-2111 for information. You can also try calling the local fire departments; some of them have beach wheelchairs.

7. Keep it short or rent chairs
If your wedding is short, everyone will probably be OK with standing in the sand, especially if they're barefoot. If that's the case, you may want to rent just a few chairs for elderly guests. Lots of beach brides make the wedding extra fun by renting a bunch of colorful beach chairs and umbrellas from a local rental company and allowing everyone to kick back and enjoy.

8. Plan for wind.
Wind is a constant on the Outer Banks, and you'll need to make plans depending on its direction du jour. If you're planning an elaborate up do for your hair, know that the wind might ruin it. If you're planning for the long and loose look, know that your hair may be blowing across your face in the photographs. If there's no wind at all, you might have a few flies to worry about. None of this is terrible, but just be aware that it could affect your plans.

9. Pick up trash.
Assign someone to go out to the wedding site an hour before the ceremony to pick up any trash or debris from the beach and to clear a nice path for the walkway.

10. Have fun!
Getting married on the beach says to the world that you are a carefree, casual, cool couple. Go with the flow and have fun. Go barefoot. Take zany pictures. Wade in the surf. Have fun.

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