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50 Fresh Beach Wedding Ideas for a Seaside Event You'll Love

Let these inspiration images and expert tips inform your own beachy nuptials.
Hannah Nowack The Knot Weddings Editor
by Hannah Nowack
Hannah Nowack The Knot Weddings Editor
Hannah Nowack
Editor, Real Weddings
  • Hannah writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a focus on real wedding coverage.
  • Hannah oversees engagement content on The Knot's partner brand How They Asked.
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Hannah was the Social Media Editor at Martha Stewart Weddings.
Updated Mar 11, 2021

There's something so romantic about the beach—sand in your toes, waves crashing loudly and the sun setting on the horizon. It's no wonder many romantic comedies use long walks on the beach as main plot points. Maybe you and your partner have fond memories of collecting seashells during beach vacations early in your relationship or possibly your significant other proposed underneath palm trees overlooking your favorite beach. Whatever the case may be, a beach destination wedding is sure to be beautiful, with the right amount of planning.    

Beach wedding ceremonies and receptions bring with them a host of hurdles that traditional ballroom weddings don't face. To help you plan a seamless and elegant beach wedding, we tapped a few pros to share their need-to-know advice. Lindsey Shaktman of Mavinhouse Events, Loren Petrowski of Marry You in Hawaii and Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events weigh in with expert tips all to-be-weds planning a beach wedding should know. Ahead you'll find all the best ideas for beach wedding decorations, plus tips to bring your dream beach wedding ideas to life for your sandy big day. 

In This Story: 

Top Tips for Beach Weddings 

Have a Plan B

Wedding planner Lindsey Shaktman of Mavinhouse Events advises all couples to have a backup plan in place that they love just as much as their initial plan. "Anticipate, and be as excited about, your Plan B as you are about your Plan A. Beach weddings require very specific conditions so you should be ready to move to a Plan B at any moment," she suggests. She goes on to highlight the importance of working with your vendors, notably rental and tent companies, while solidifying your Plan B. "If you're installing a dance floor and string lights, you're most likely already working with a tenting company. Make sure that you have a solid Plan B that includes a fully constructed tent that may even include covered walkways to connect paths for the caterers. Ask your tent company, and all of your vendors, about their experience with beach weddings. Make sure that the tenting company knows how to properly anchor the structure." 

Communication is Key

Expert Loren Petrowski of Marry You in Hawaii stresses the importance of communication, paired with a strong vendor team, when planning a beachside big day. "Communication is key. I know that every region is different, but Hawaii's weather can change very quickly. I've had couples look at the weather forecast ten days out and ask about moving the date or the backup plan. After living on the mainland, I understand that the weather forecast is in fact, pretty accurate. However, in Hawaii, it can be raining one minute and sunny the next. Or raining on one part of the island and dry on the other. Having a great local wedding team can help you plan for the next steps," they advise. 

Know Your Locale's Rules and Regulations

Wedding planner Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events reminds couples that they need to do proper research surrounding their venue's local regulations. "Just because you're planning a beach wedding doesn't mean you can assume that you can get married on the beach. Some locations require a beach permit to have a wedding, some are private property and some don't allow any actual chairs or furniture. Make sure you look into the beach's rules and requirements you want to get married at so you don't end up in a sticky situation," she suggests. Petrowski agrees, sharing that couples "cannot assume anything and especially that all beaches are the same. For example, in Hawaii, there is no alcohol allowed on the beach. If you would like to have a ceremony on the beach, a permit is required and only allowed on specific beaches with restrictions on what and how many people are allowed. Involving a professional helps you to navigate this easily." 

Beach Wedding Portrait Ideas

Even if you end up hosting the events of your wedding on a terrace overlooking the sea, wedding portraits taken on the beach will help you capture the essence of your oceanside celebration. 

1. Wedding Portraits in North Carolina's Outer Banks

To commemorate their beach wedding in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, this couple took a stroll on the sand with their wedding photographer. 

2. Morning Bike Ride in Alys Beach, Florida

To start their wedding day in Florida off on a strong note, this couple took a pajama-clad bike ride around Alys Beach with their photographer in tow. 

3. Lighthouse Wedding Portraits

If your beach has an iconic landmark, like the lighthouse this couple posed in front of in New Haven, Connecticut, make sure to capture some images to commemorate the special locale. 

Beach Wedding Fashion Inspiration

From what you and your partner will wear to how you'll dress your wedding party, extra care needs to be given to the fashion styling choices for your sandy wedding as traditional wedding attire isn't always conducive to an oceanside affair. For what guests should be wearing, see our guide to beach wedding attire.

4. Relaxed Taupe Wedding Dress 

This bride's flowing taupe wedding dress hit the nail on the head for her microwedding in San Diego, California. To complement the celebration's laid-back styling and wedding colors, the groom donned white pants and a sky blue button down, a combo that would look great on groomsmen and a ring bearer, too. 

5. Beachy Waves and Hair Accessories 

As you're shopping for your dream wedding dress, your wedding day makeup and hair style should be kept in mind, too. This bride opted for loose, beachy waves accented by a sparkly clip. See more of our favorite beach wedding hairstyles.

6. Tropical Block Heels for Beach Wedding

Leave the stilettos at home—flats, flip flops or block heels are the way to go for beach wedding footwear

7. Off-the-Shoulder Beach Wedding Dress and Veil 

The ocean breeze caught this bride's veil creating a beautiful snap during the portrait session at this Florida wedding. For more gowns perfect for a waterside event, see our editors' top destination wedding dresses.

8. Blush Off-the-Shoulder Bridesmaid Dress Idea 

A soft wedding color, like blush, is a great choice for a beach wedding because it so effortlessly complements the hues seen along the shore. 

9. Colorful Beach Bridesmaid Dresses 

For this beach wedding in Montauk, New York, each attendant got to choose their own bridesmaid dress. The result was a glam collection of pink and red outfits. 

Beach Wedding Flower and Greenery Ideas

From palm trees to pampas grass, many trending botanicals typically used in wedding floral arrangements naturally occur along the coast. Once you've chosen your wedding day color scheme, selecting tropical botanicals to complement the color palette will do wonders when it comes to reinforcing your beachy aesthetic.  

10. Greenery Leis 

These grooms donned Hawaiian-inspired greenery leis for their tropical wedding in La Jolla, California. 

11. Orange Calla Lily Wedding Bouquet

Orange Calla lilies, paired with an assortment of tropical greenery, gave this bouquet a beach-ready feel. 

12. Orchid Flower Crown

Orchids look right at home in a beach wedding's floral arrangements. This bride chose to adorn her updo with fresh orchids. Since orchids are such a statement bloom they also work well in boutonnieres.

13. Orchid, Anthurium and Palm Leaf Bouquet

Anthurium is another great statement flower to incorporate into beach wedding decor, centerpieces and bouquets. For her wedding in Thailand, this bride paired anthurium with ferns, orchids and dried palm leaves. 

14. Greenery Wall with Neon Sign

Instead of a simple photo booth backdrop at your beach themed wedding, consider a statement greenery or floral wall. Monstera leaves, ferns, moss and eucalyptus were the base of this wall with a custom neon sign. 

15. Fresh Flower Hair Accessories

A flower crown isn't the only way to add blooms to your wedding hairstyle. For her wedding in Hawaii, this bride's braid was accented with fresh yellow flowers. 

16. Boho Beach Wedding Bouquet

Inspired by the sand color schemes seen at the beach, this soft bouquet featured roses and stephanotis. 

17. Vibrant Orchid Wedding Bouquet

Ranunculus and greenery accented the hot pink orchids in this bouquet for a beach wedding in Hawaii. 

Beach Wedding Stationery and Invitation Suite Inspiration

Let guests know what to expect from the onset with wedding invitations that match your beachy vision. To further reinforce your wedding theme, carry that beachside feel through the remainder of wedding stationery items. 

18. Pink-and-Green Tropical Wedding Invitations

Vibrant botanical illustrations gave this wedding invitation suite a beachy, tropical vibe. 

19. Unique Beach Color Scheme

Don't be afraid to think outside the box with your beach wedding colors. This couple chose a bold palette of black and indigo for their nuptials in Tulum, Mexico. 

20. Glam Beach Wedding Invitations

Gold foil palm leaves brought a modern, yet beachy, look to these black wedding invitations.

21. Watercolor Beach Wedding Invitations

Watercolor brought a wave-like ocean vibe to this elegant invitation suite for a beach microwedding in San Diego, California.

Beach Wedding Escort Card and Guest Favor Ideas

From driftwood to sea glass and starfish, there are plenty of small beach trinkets you can incorporate into your wedding day plans. Whether you use seashells as part of your place cards or gift guests starfish as wedding favors, these small details will make a world of difference.  

22. Beachy Bridesmaid Gift

At this destination beach wedding in Cabo San Lucas, the bridesmaids were given a beach bag filled with festive pink gifts. 

23. Oyster Shell Escort Cards 

Calligraphed oyster shells or other sea shells are a great option for directing guests to their seats. For an artsy couple, this is even a fun project you could DIY by foraging for shells on your next vacation. 

24. Starfish Escort Cards

Starfish, which can be readily sourced on Etsy, served as escort cards at this nautical big day. 

Beach Wedding Ceremony Advice

Keep in mind that a beach is very different from a traditional wedding venue and couples will need to spend extra time planning seating, the processional and audio requirements for their oceanfront vow exchange. 

25. Greenery Arch for Beach Wedding Ceremony

Upholstered chairs and a greenery arch brough an air of romance to this oceanfront wedding ceremony. 

26. Baskets and Fresh Fruit as Aisle Decorations

For this ceremony overlooking the ocean, the couple decorated their aisle with woven seagrass baskets and a grouping of fresh fruit. 

27. Wedding Ceremony with Ghost Chairs and Greenery Arch 

Ghost chairs were a great choice for this ceremony because they ensured nothing detracted from the epic ocean backdrop and modern leaf-centric altar arch. 

28. Romantic Circle Arch 

Loose greenery gave this full-circle altar arch a relaxed, laid-back feel. 

29. Shoe Check Station

"While the concept of a beach wedding may sound purely romantic (and it definitely is!), the reality is also a bit more messy," says Shaktman. To deal with some of the mess, this couple had a shoe station, with brushes to dust off sand, at this beach wedding ceremony. 

30. Glam Beach Wedding Ceremony

"When you think of a beach wedding, you usually think casual and tropical and that's the route most couples go. But, you can make a beach wedding fresh and unique by bringing in unexpected and contrasting elements. You can go minimal and modern or lush and green or pastel English garden or rock and roll," says Chang. For example, this couple went modern and glam with mirrored pedestals at their wedding ceremony. 

31. Wedding Ceremony with Rose Aisle Arrangements 

Instead of a typical arch, this couple opted for low-profile flower arrangements that didn't detract from the ocean view. 

32. Fan and Handkerchief Wedding Favors

To help guests beat the heat at this wedding in Mexico, folding fans and handkerchiefs were given to attendees upon arrival at the wedding ceremony. 

33. Beachy Vow Exchange

All-white decor fit right in with the sandy surrounding at this beachside ceremony.

Beach Wedding Cocktail Hour Ideas

A beach wedding inherently feels a bit more relaxed than an indoor ballroom reception. Let guests kick back and enjoy the salty air with a fun cocktail hour setup.  

34. All-White Lounge Furniture 

"The biggest mistake couples make when planning a beach wedding is forgetting the beach itself. The sand is something you think of when you think of a beach wedding, but couples forget that you need to plan for that sand. That means taking care of the seating you choose, the decor you pick and the shoes you wear. You need to pick items that work with the sand to anchor it or remain on top, so you don't sink," advises Chang. 

35. Boho Lounge Furniture for Beach Wedding

As you're planning your beach wedding, "think about the luxuries enjoyed at an indoor venue and add them to the beach experience. Start by building out a full floor to level the surface and ensure that your guests won't be getting caught in the sand all night. Check the tide schedule to make sure that all of your plans aren't going to be impacted by rising tides," shares Shaktman.  

36. Pina Colada Signature Cocktails

Frozen pina coladas, garnished with pineapple slices and orchid blooms, kept guests cool and hydrated at this wedding in Hawaii. 

37. Surfboard Guest Book

In keeping with this wedding's oceanic theme, guests were asked to leave a message to the newlyweds on a surfboard. 

38. Mermaid Entertainers

Mermaids entertained guests during a cocktail hour cruise around the harbor at this wedding. 

39. Coconut Signature Cocktail

The signature cocktails at this wedding got a fun upgrade thanks to coconuts customized with a passion flower motif. 

Beach Wedding Reception Inspiration 

Eating dinner on the beach is not a simple undertaking. From building out a reception structure and on-theme table settings to coordinating safely serving sand-free wedding cake, your beach themed wedding reception deserves to be planned exquisitely so guests can relax and enjoy celebrating the newlyweds. 

40. Monstera Leaf Tablescape 

Monstera leaf centerpieces brought a pop of color to this reception's all-white decor. 

41. Monstera Leaf and Orchid Bloom Place Setting 

Woven chargers and monstera leaves brought a layered look to this tropical place setting. 

42. Marquee Letters

Marquee letters spelling out 'Aloha' welcomed guests as they arrived at this Hawaiian wedding. 

43. Modern Tablescape with Leaf Table Numbers 

Leaves in chic vases conveyed table numbers to guests and brought a modern feel to these reception tablescapes. 

44. Reception with Wood Canopy and Lights

"There are so many beautiful touches you can add to a beach wedding to make sure it is fresh and unique. Consider aesthetic and functional lighting features by installing beautiful twinkle lights over the dining and dancing area that melt right into the stars in the sky. Add fun glowing orbs or fairy lights on the beach that light up down to the shore as the sun sets," advises Shaktman. 

45. Glam Beach Wedding Reception

Black bentwood chairs and a gold-and-black table ensured this wedding reception was positively fresh and modern. 

46. Reception with Hanging Tropical Greenery

Even if your wedding venue happens to be landlocked, you can still have a beach-inspired wedding, as this reception evidences. Although the couple tied the knot at a vineyard, tropical decor instantly brought the beach to the space. 

47. Elegant Cream Wedding Tablescape

Cream linens and taper candles, accented by wood cross-back chairs, wowed at this waterfront wedding reception. 

48. Chic Beach Wedding Reception with Wood Details

Wood wishbone chairs, modern wood tables and a dramatic canopy with dried leaves and chandeliers set the stage for this festive beachside reception. 

49. Beachy Wedding Reception with Blue Velvet Chairs

This ocean-inspired wedding tablescape featured blue velvet chairs and fluffy chandeliers which were reminiscent of crashing waves.  

50. Reception with Bamboo Chairs and Woven Chandeliers

When planning your wedding, Petrowski advises that couples not overlook their lighting needs. "A big thing is the lighting. When a couple lets me know their ceremony time and if it's at an odd time, I ask them if they've already hired a photographer and if they have consulted them about their location.  There are certain beaches that are better for mornings and then late afternoon or sunset. As lighting can be tricky at the beach, I want to be sure that couples can get the best photos or at least alerted in advance."  



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