Top 6 Beach Wedding Locations of 2019
If your wedding vision board is chock full of flip-flops, sunsets and umbrella-topped cocktails, you’re the perfect candidate for tying the knot by the sea. Laid-back brides and grooms have always flocked to the surf to profess their I dos with toes in the sand, and we don’t blame them. It’s the combo of gorgeous backdrops and chilled-out vibes that makes the shore such a hotspot (literally) for soon-to-be newlyweds.
Another reason why we love the beach wedding? It means the bridal party and guests alike can ditch the uncomfortable hot & heavy wedding outfits in favor of breezy, beachy options. Say “aloha” to linen, seersucker and airy cotton. The beach means you can go for fun and short, colorful dresses for the bridesmaids and light-colored suits for the guys as opposed to the overdone black and white. But hey- It’s your wedding, so there are no rules besides your own (another reason why it’s great to book the beach instead of a stuffy venue or church).
Nikki Minaj said it herself: "Let's go to the beach, beach. Let's go get away." There are so many breathtaking coastal locales to have your wedding at, but which one to choose? We’re here with all the top beach wedding locations that’ll have you like 😍.
THE BEST DESTINATIONS FOR A BEACH WEDDING
No matter where you are in the world, beaches are beautiful. There’s something about the sand and the waves and the never ending horizon that enchants people. Those of us who live and breathe the coastal lifestyle really understand this, which makes the beach the perfect place to get hitched. We get it. You’re a chill person just like us. But you still want your wedding to be special without the hassle of arranging a huge event at a regular venue. To make your wedding extra special and reflect your own adventurous side, consider heading to one of these destinations to tie the knot.
"Te Amo" in Tulum: Riviera Maya, Mexico
Tulum is one of the hottest travel destinations right now, with mystical-looking underwater caves (“cenotes” in Spanish) and gorgeous white sand beaches that draw Instagrammers and influencers by the planeful. Um, can you think of a better place to celebrate one of the most important days of your entire life? Yeah, we can’t either. Tulum is literally covered with beaches and oceanside wedding venues ranging from super posh to hippied-out.
Do your research and find the resort or company that meets your vision (and budget). But you really can’t go wrong with a wedding in Tulum. The crystal-clear, bright blue ocean is one of the most incredible settings for a romantic day. After the ceremony and celebration is over, you and your spouse have tons of places to explore. Don’t miss the cenotes or the nearby Aztec ruins.
Lowcountry Love: Charleston, South Carolina
You don’t have to cross the border (or the ocean) to find an exotic beach destination. Dripping with antebellum charm, Charleston is one of the top places to get married near the sea, with tons of venues lining it's historic streets. A lot of people choose a more traditional Southern-style wedding at a plantation when in Charleston, but this historic little city is known for its many beaches, too.
For the couple who loves a boho vibe, Folly Beach is perfect with plenty of places for an intimate ceremony. Sullivan’s Island is another beach in the area where the sand is lined with fancy houses. Rent one out for the wedding party so you and your guests can step straight from the house right into the sand.
Downright Dreamy: Dubrovnik, Croatia
We’ve named Dubrovnik as the best place in Croatia for a beach wedding only because it’s the most popular place to make it official in this alluring Eastern European country. But honestly, anywhere on the Croatian islands will give other newlyweds-to-be some serious venue envy. Between the yacht-filled backdrop, impressive mountains and white-sand beaches, Croatia is literal wedding goals. A venue this beautiful can come with a big price tag, but it’s generally more affordable than the more obvious European wedding destinations, like Spain, Italy and Germany.
Island-Hopping to Romance: Santorini, Greece
Anyone with a social media account has seen pictures of Santorini, Greece–and for good reason. It’s totally snapshot-worthy, which is why you tend to see it on basically every beautiful destinations calendar that exists. Something about the contrast of the deep blue ocean juxtaposed against the city’s distinctive Cycladic buildings and steep cliffs makes us want to relocate, at least for the wedding week.
You can have a wedding up in the hills of Santorini with a view of the ocean in the back before heading down to the sand for the party, or hold the ceremony right there on the water. After the weekend’s over, you and your new boo can spend days soaking in the sun or exploring the city. Really, it’s the best of both worlds. You may also consider heading a bit off the beaten path to some other Greek isles for a similarly enchanting, but probably less touristy, Greek wedding.
You Had Me at Aloha: Waialee Beach, Hawaii
If you’ve considered a destination beach wedding for even a second, there’s no way that Hawaii didn’t come to mind. The list of beach venues is nearly endless in Hawaii, but so many people come to the islands every year for business, vacation and, obviously, weddings, it can be tough to find a secluded place for a private ceremony. Waialee Beach on the island of Hawaii is one of the best places to escape the crowds.
But, let’s be real. You could probably get married on the side of a highway in Hawaii and still have some of the most beautiful wedding pics imaginable. Another popular area for beach weddings is Wailea (we know, they sound almost exactly the same) on Maui. It just depends on which island you’re most interested in exploring, though you can hop between them once you’re officially honeymooning.
West Coast Passion: San Diego, California
Here’s another great destination if you’re trying to stay domestic. The Pacific Ocean has a different kind of charm than the Atlantic. Pretty much any beach town in California is going to have a great view of the ocean, but San Diego is one of our favorite beach towns in the entire state. Beach city, really. Host a laid-back ceremony on the beach (we recommend trying to plan it in the evening for a glimpse of a real West Coast sunset) and then explore the city. California is for lovers, after all.
TIPS FOR HAVING A DESTINATION WEDDING
Look into the Local Laws
This is one step a lot of people don’t think about right away, but the beach is a public space, right? So, unless you’re booking a beach wedding through a hotel or resort, how do you reserve a patch of sand large enough for you and your guests and in the perfect spot? It depends on what state or country you’re in, but most locations have local laws about getting a permit for an event. There are also usually fees and fines based on the restrictions in that particular area and you'll need to stick to them if you don't want to have to pay the price. For example, you might receive a fine for not cleaning up after the ceremony. So, please keep the beach clean for you, your guests and the animals that live there.
Consider Your Guests’ Expenses
Just because you and your fiance might have the funds to travel across the world and tie the knot in an exotic locale doesn’t mean all your guests have the same luxury. It’s probably going to cost them quite a bit just to be a part of your special day, so you should consider this before setting a location. Make a list of people who are really important to you and should be with you at the wedding. Then, estimate the average price each person would spend to get to the wedding—including flights, hotels, potentially purchasing new clothes and meals. Of course, you’ll probably be footing the bill for the wedding dinner, but if your guests are traveling a thousand miles to see you, it’s practically guaranteed that they’re going to stick around for a few days, which means covering lodging, food and transportation.
Choose a Dress Code that Makes Sense
Traditionally, weddings are black tie or black tie optional events. But, when you’re breaking away from the traditional setting, asking people to show up on the beach in a full tux doesn’t really make much sense. A beach ceremony is expected to be laid-back, with no long wedding dress train dragging through the sand and definitely no high heels (trust us, they'll sink right into the sand).
If you’re okay with this and you want a nontraditional vibe, think of what attire will be best for your guests and let them know on the invitation. If you’re traveling somewhere super hot, men’s classic clothing options like full-out suits may not cut it. Instead, let the guys get casual with khaki pants and sports shirts or men's polo shirts. As for the ladies, let them ditch the more formal gown-style dresses in favor of short but feminine dresses. Bright and colorful dresses are another really fun beach option that will stand out in pictures.
Book a Venue Well in Advance
You’re not the only person who is thinking of a beach destination wedding, especially if you’re looking at some of the more popular locations. People from all across the world have the exact same vision as you do (great minds think alike, amirite?), which means there’s going to be a long wait list for the most in-demand venues. If you really have your mind set on one special location, we recommend booking it as soon as possible, but just know that you may end up having to be flexible about your wedding date, and possibly even your wedding year. To avoid the long wait lists, consider looking into less popular venues within the same general area.
Look into Wedding Packages
Beach weddings can be planned without the help of a hotel, but it’s sometimes more difficult, more expensive, and more stressful because you have to find each individual vendor yourself. If you’re traveling to a faraway destination for the big day, planning becomes even tougher because, well, you’re probably not familiar with the country and all of its customs.
Instead of trying to do it all yourself, consider some of the wedding packages offered at beachside resorts and hotels (keep in mind that some hotels require you to select a package through them). Usually, these specials provide seating, a wedding arch decorated with local flora, bouquets, centerpieces and all the bells and whistles for the reception. If you’re staying at the hotel where you’re getting married, the deal is even sweeter with some places offering one night free or a room upgrade, plus discounted rooms for your guests.
Plan a Trip to the Destination Before Booking
Alright, this is an expensive but important tip to planning a beach destination wedding: We’re telling you right now, you do not want to try and plan a wedding somewhere that you’ve never actually been. It’s extremely difficult to visualize even the most simple parts of the planning process like seating. You don’t HAVE to go on vacation to the location before booking. If you’re really sure of a destination, go ahead and book the venue (especially if there’s a wait list), but make time to visit the actual venue well before the wedding date.
When the big day approaches, plan to arrive several days early, so you can take it all in as well as familiarize yourself with the area and be there in case any issues come up before the wedding itself. A good piece of advice is to ask your wedding party to arrive at least a day or two ahead of time as well.
Find a Destination Wedding Planner to Help
It’s nearly impossible to plan an entire wedding without the help of a professional. We know you’re a smart, responsible person who has a lot of great ideas for your wedding, and we know you've seen plenty of wedding shows on TLC, but you shouldn’t be the one stressing out about the many unavoidable, small issues that will come up during the planning process.
Okay, we know you may still end up stressing out about some things–but don’t worry, everyone does. Weddings are stressful. You want it to be perfect, after all. But, let the responsibility fall on someone else’s shoulders. Wedding planners have better access to venues and vendors, making the entire process roll more smoothly. For a destination wedding, however, you should really seek the help of a planner with a lot of destination wedding experience. It’s so different than planning a traditional wedding and their experience will surely help in a major way.
Pick a Dress that Suits the Climate
It’s time to pick out the dress—the most exciting part! For the bride at least. A wedding dress is so important and symbolic, and it’s something you’ll hold on to forever. Maybe even pass it down to future generations. But remember- you’re getting married on a beach. You know, the place with sand and salt water and unpredictable winds. You're going to want to steer clear from some of the dress styles you see on the showroom floor. Dresses with long trains, made of thick fabric or huge ballgown styles are not the best match for beach weddings, so find something that suits both the location and the local climate.
Keep in mind that you are going to be dealing with the locals, and we don't just mean the people; You may end up in a humid locale with bugs galore. Pick a dress that’s breezy and- most importantly- comfortable. And maybe ask your wedding planner to light up some mosquito-repellent tiki torches just in case. You don’t want the photographer catching you swatting bugs at the altar.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy Your Day
Tying the knot is a big deal. We’re so excited for you! And there are few settings more romantic than a beach. We want everything to go perfectly on your big day, so take our advice: Pick the destination of your dreams, set a dress code of flirty dresses and casual menswear, find an expert wedding planner, then, sit back, relax and wait for the big day. We know you’ll pull it off.