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The Essential Beach Wedding Checklist

Learn what some beach ceremony logistics are, attire suggestions, beach weather situations, decor and backup plan – some essential checklist items to keep in mind

Aerial photograph of San Diego
Aerial Beach Photograph by Weddings by Adina

Planning a destination wedding on the beach – we put together this essential checklist for your beach wedding.

There’s nothing more calming and peaceful than walking barefooted in the warm sand with the sound of the waves acknowledging your presence, and the breeze caressing your tanned skin. Ahhhh… heaven… In stressful situations, I often close my eyes and picture myself on the beach, sitting in a meditating position, listening to the ocean intently, and taking in the entire picture.

I’ve always thought how romantic it would be to have a wedding on the beach; standing on the shore facing the love of your life, looking into each other’s eyes while holding hands, flowers in your hair and wearing a gorgeous white flowy dress dancing in the wind.

Planning a destination wedding on the beach is not a hard thing to do, but there are some logistics to keep in mind that if executed properly, would bring all the essential elements happily together.


Depending if you’re going to get married on a private, public or resort beach, you might or might not need a beach permit.

If you’re planning your wedding in a private location, like perhaps a home with a privately owned beach, you’re in luck – there are less laws and regulations, and might not need a permit, but make sure to check anyway with the town/city on what the expectations would be.

Public beaches have more restrictions and regulations, so get ready to answer questions about the stuff you’re bringing in, how many guests you’re expecting (which is an important factor when it comes to fees), food and beverage brought on site, cleanup plan, etc. Make sure you act fast and book your wedding location as soon as possible, especially if it’s a popular spot. Also, keep in mind that public beaches will have a lot of foot traffic and you’ll have a lot of curious people stopping in their tracks watching.

If having a resort wedding is the route you’re going with, wether it is a hotel, restaurant or beach wedding venue, then everything should be taken care of by the capable hands of the event staff in coordination with your wedding planner.

Destination weddings are sometimes a bit different, if you’re looking at tropical places like Hawai’i, Mexico, the Carribean, Bora Bora, or other places alike, there might be even more restrictions, like for example being able to bring your own photographer or other vendor. Resort wedding packages are a lot of times all-inclusive, so you might not have the flexibility to get what you want entirely.


  1. Do I require a beach permit for my wedding? If not, what are other fees that I should know about?
  2. What is the hourly coverage for the permit? Do we pay per hour or a block coverage? What happens if we exceed the amount of hours?
  3. Does it matter how many guests we are expecting under the permit?
  4. Will I or any of my vendors need liability insurance?


As mentioned above, one important aspect to keep in mind if you’re planning a wedding on a public beach is the foot traffic. You might have a lot of wedding crashers stopping and snapping pictures of you and your ceremony. There also might be other events scheduled at the same time – maybe construction or cleanup, or public events like beach volleyball. So make sure you ask beforehand, so you won’t have any surprises. Again, if you’re working with wedding planner, they should know to ask all the right questions, but it doesn’t hurt for you to know what to expect as well, in case your planner does not have a lot of experience. Have your Essential Beach Wedding Checklist ready!

Time of the day is another fact – summers are crazy hot and planning your ceremony at 2pm is going to be brutal for you and your guests, especially for older people and kids.

Consider a morning or sunset ceremony instead, and inform your guests to dress accordingly. If you asked me – nothing beats those beautiful, soft, sunset golden light photographs.

Check the weather – is it going to be sunny, windy or is it going to rain? Have a plan B for any of those cases! Your wedding website is the perfect place to add all that information and send it out to people.

What is the bug situation? Keep bug spray close by for you and your guests.

Take advantage of the beauty of your natural surroundings: waves crashing in the distance, and a sunset backdrop beside the water’s edge.

• Also, check the tide schedule online.

Remember, you’re going to be on sand all day. Keep clean towels for your guests and perhaps baby powder available.

• In any case, ensure there’s plenty of water, fans, sun umbrellas, sunscreen, bug spray and sunglasses for your guests who have forgotten them.

Questions to ask:

  1. Are there any coinciding events during the ceremony timeframe?
  2. Are there any public restrooms? If not, can you bring your own (I know it sounds funny, but you can rent porta potties)
  3. Is there a beach house you and your bridal party can hide in before the ceremony? If your time on the beach is limited.
  4. Are deliveries allowed? Are delivery trucks allowed?
  5. What is the parking situation? Is there plenty of parking, can you reserve some spots for a few hours?
  6. How early can you start setting up and what are the cleanup requirements?
  7. Is there a wheelchair access? Grandparents need to be there!


Like any other place, there are rules and restrictions we need to follow. Get prepared as best as you can and check things off as you go on your Essential Beach Wedding Checklist.

  1. Are there any restrictions, like decor setup that is not allowed? Are tents and canopied allowed and how high can they be?
  2. What about sound and sound equipment restrictions – is amplified sound allowed and what is the level limit? In other words, can you play your favorite dance playlist, and how loud?
  3. Is alcohol allowed?
  4. Can you have candle lighting or bonfires? Open flames are romantic but a lot of beaches ban beach fires.
  5. Is sparkle sendoff allowed? How cool are those images where the happy couple is about to run off but they stop for a last kiss surrounded by their family and friends cheering them with sparklers?
  6. Are pets allowed? Some couples love including their furry friends, so make sure you ask that question.
  7. How late can you stay to clean up?

As always, I hope this helps. Reach out to me with any questions about the Essential Beach Wedding Checklist.

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I'm Adina

I'm just a girl playing wedding photographer in Destin Florida, devoted to her work, getting her excitement from helping people preserve their memories.
My motto: Be Sassy, Classy and a Little Badassy. My Mission: Build Photo Legacies that Last Forever in the Hearts of Families. How? By traveling wherever I'm needed and photographing extraordinary love stories needed to be told. Is yours ready to hit the world? 

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