As the waves glide against the shore, a gentle breeze rustles through your hair. You can distinctively hear birds chirping, over the soft instrumental music you chose specifically for this moment. Everything is perfect, just like you’ve always dreamed…
There’s no doubt that a beach wedding is romantic, and it seems simple in theory.
You find a beach, throw on a dress or lightweight suit, skip the shoes, and get ready for a tropically themed walk down the aisle. Many people who want a hassle-free wedding opt for a beach wedding. Getting it all together however, isn’t always as easy as many would assume.
Looking for a beach wedding in the Caribbean? Have a look at Sandals’ destination wedding packages. Get a free wedding if you stay for a minimum of three nights!
There are some important considerations when planning a beach wedding. Contrary to popular belief, these guidelines expand above and beyond the need to dress ‘appropriately’, though that is definitely one of the most important things to keep in mind.
In this article on the Sandals Blog:
How to select a beach wedding location
What to wear for a beach wedding?
What to look for in a beach wedding vendor
Beach wedding inspiration (pictures!)
Frequently Asked Questions
Planning a beach wedding in the Caribbean
Sandals' beach wedding venues in the Caribbean
First things first...
When planning a beach wedding, location matters.
Perhaps you were inspired to travel to Bali after seeing a glossy magazine advert of the popular tourist destination. With the possibility of endless entertainment before and after the fact, maybe Cancun is more your thing. If you prefer to stay closer to home, Florida or California might be good options. Perhaps the peace and serenity found on islands like Saint Lucia and Grenada compel you to take your wedding party to Caribbean shores. This is where you also might consider the Bahamas or Jamaica - both beautiful island getaways in close proximity to the US.
Whatever the case, it is important to pinpoint a destination before getting your planning underway. Sometimes it helps to select a few potential destinations, weigh the pros and cons, and go from there.
Picture: Sandals destination wedding in the Caribbean.
In most cases, whatever destination you choose for your beach wedding, you will have multiple beaches to choose from. Most of them are gorgeous, so a good way to set them apart will be determining which ones are public versus private, and the amenities that can be found at each.
Private beaches may require you to make reservations ahead of time, while public beaches often require permits for occasions like weddings.
One of the important things to look for when selecting a beach for your wedding is its level of accessibility. Will your grandparents and your sister’s toddlers be able to make the mile long trek to your dream beach? Can the tables, chairs, and food make it there without hassle or spoiling? These are all things to keep in mind when deciding on a beach wedding location.
Keep in mind that some beaches can get crowded on weekends or holidays. Week day ceremonies often work best.
Expert Tip: Check out Sandals' wedding venues for some of the most amazing beach wedding locations in the Caribbean.
Is there a washroom, a comfortable place for seating, potential dancing area, etc.? Will you be having the reception at the same location, and if so, is there a restaurant nearby? If you’re having catered food delivered, is there a proper area where you can set things up? These are all some of the questions you’ll need to ask to narrow down your list of venues.
If you’re getting married at a local venue, take the time to visit the location ahead of time. This makes it possible for you to make a final decision, and also clues you in on the things you’ll need to put in place on the day. If it’s a foreign venue, try to source as many photos and videos as possible.
Expert Tip: Are you dreaming of a resort beach wedding? All-inclusive resorts are perfect, as unlimited gourmet food, soft/alcholic drinks and airport transfers are already included in the price of the booking.
Picture: Over the water wedding chapel in Sandals South Coast, Jamaica.
Some public beaches require permits for large scale events like weddings. You can find out whether or not this is necessary via the local City Hall. In addition to your permit, you may have to follow rules (or use your discretion) pertaining to alcohol, bonfires, number of guests, and music. There may be applicable fees or restrictions. Find out all you can about the application process (inclusive of liability insurance, etc.) ahead of time.
Good to know: A public beach permit can range from $30 to $300.
Planning to get married on a private beach? Getting a permit may be one less thing on your to-do list, as most private beaches are free for all as far as weddings are concerned. It is worth it though, to find out about any rules which may have been set out by the owners or persons responsible for maintaining the beach. A good example of this would be beaches located in close proximity to hotels or resorts.
Not every beach is as quiet, serene and romantic as it may appear in the movies. Nature can get loud, i.e. crashing waves and strong breezes. Factoring these in may fall far from your priority list, but they are things worth keeping in mind. What you don’t need is for your vows to be interrupted, or worse, be inaudible by your significant other and wedding party, as a result of being on the beach when the waves are particularly rough and loud. This is where a professional sound system comes in, and possibly a windscreen for your microphone.
Intricate flowers, ribbons, and other decorative accents are common elements in the dreamiest of weddings. The possibility of these being blown away after the hard effort of setup is disappointing, to say the least. There’s no way to predict how windy any particular beach is going to be on your wedding day, so with this in mind, try to use decorations that are unlikely to be tossed about in the wind. For other lightweight items that you can’t do without, a good adhesive (or string) will be your best friend.
Most beach weddings are held on sunny shores with high temperatures. Proper planning helps ensure you and your guests are comfortable at all times. Since the afternoon sun tends to be a little more intense in some parts, early (8am to 10:30am) or mid-morning (10:30am to 1pm) ceremonies are encouraged. Late afternoon (3:30-5pm), just before the sun goes down, is also ideal. If you end your ceremony about an hour before sunset, you’ll be in good timing to get amazing photos whether or not you hire a professional!
Outdoor weddings are for the most optimistic couples. Beach weddings are more risky than traditional church weddings, or weddings at private indoor venues, but that same risk can lead to you having the most memorable day of your life. There’s a much less chance of rain ruining your big day if you schedule the right time of year to go, but it’s still a good idea to formulate a ‘Plan B’ when putting together a beach wedding. Select an alternative venue nearby that you can go to if the weather deteriorates significantly on the day.
Picture: Wedding venue at Sandals Negril, Jamaica.
Canopy tents are perfect to ensure there’s sufficient covering, and can help increase the comfort of children and older guests. A 30' x 60' tent can accommodate 225 seated theater style, or 144 seated at round tables, according to wedding experts. Always remember to factor in buffet tables when planning the size of your wedding tents. There are so many different types to choose from, so take your time in this department. You can either rent, or purchase a canopy tent, if you plan on using it later. There are many creative ways to decorate your tent – including using firefly string lights, added greenery along the sides, tulle (fine mesh), and more. If you’re fully confident in the weather and prefer to focus on ambiance, skip the tent and go for a lightweight, white fabric, draped over bamboo support poles!
Casual, but not too casual is the way to go. For brides especially, beach weddings give you the opportunity to experiment with non-traditional gown options – everything from crochet and linen, to chiffon and lace. The goal is looking smart, and staying cool. Here are some tips from the experts:
1. Skip the princess gowns – it may be difficult to get around on a beach in a full skirted dress, or with a gown that has a never-ending train. Rather than spending time to figure out how to work around this, get something equally as dazzling, but less cumbersome.
2. Go for backless or strappy looks – these are perfect on beaches and allow you to keep cool, while still looking amazing. A beach wedding gives you room to be more daring with your look, so be sure to take full advantage!
3. Updos are perfect (and super flattering!) – Especially when you’re on a hot, sticky beach. Hopefully you’ve set your wedding at a convenient time (early morning, or close to sunset), but even if you do not have that option, wearing your hair up will help maintain your hairstyle for longer out on the beach.
4. Ditch the heels – need we say more? Other options include customized beach wedding sandals, or gorgeous bedazzled ones you can order online or pick up in store. You may also opt for espadrilles or wedges. When planning your wedding, keep in mind that sand heats up significantly at high temperatures. To avoid having to hop over hot sand as you make you way down the aisle, make sure your aisle runner is placed correctly, and is thick enough to keep you comfortable throughout the ceremony.
5. Informal groom – Sweating it out on the big day is way more common that you think, and not always on account of nerves. Keep your guys cool by factoring in the heat, and making provisions for less than formal attire. Light weight cotton pants work well on the beach, or even a linen suit in a light color, like sand or wheat.
6. Go tan line free – before you go tanning as you relax and take in the ambiance of your beachside location, keep in mind that the goal is to avoid tan lines as much as possible. Even if it might seem minor, these can spoil your perfect wedding look, and even worse, if you don’t protect your skin you could get burnt, which will be nightmarish on the day and beyond!
Expert Tip: Consider including a shoe station, where guests can swap shoes for flip flops.
The magic is in the moment, and in small details! To ensure your beach wedding goes smoothly, there are a few things you can do ahead of time. If you’re choosing to work with a beach wedding vendor, here are some of the things you’ll want to know…
All six pictures above: Sandals' beachfront weddings, available at all Sandals' beach resorts.
Picture: Over-the-water wedding chapel, available at Sandals Montego Bay (Jamaica), Sandals Ochi (Jamaica), Sandals South Coast (Jamaica) and Sandals Grande St. Lucian (Saint Lucia).
Picture: Garden gazebo, available at most Sandals resorts.
You don’t necessarily have to buy in on the idea of the simplicity of a beach wedding. You can tone it up or down as you please.
Platforms like Pinterest are great for coming up with wedding ideas. You can find anything from color schemes and décor, to wedding favor and theme ideas! For more wedding inspiration, also check out these cool ideas from Sandals.
In most places, no. In some places you may need to get a permit, which will grant you all the permissions you need. At beaches with hotels or resorts, you may be required to pay a price to use their facilities, though these services are usually reserved for guests.
A do-it-yourself beach wedding on a public beach could cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000, depending on the number of guests and what your ceremony entails. A local beach wedding package can range anywhere from $200 to $5,000. Exotic destination weddings on average end up costing $17,000, compared to $25,000 for traditional weddings.
It is safe to conclude that beach and destination weddings are less costly than traditional weddings – most of the time.
Early morning ceremonies are the best time to have a beach wedding, from 8 am - 10:30am. The sun will be less intense, so your beach wedding will be less of a sweat!
Guests are free to wear whatever color they’d like for a beach wedding, unless the bride and groom specifically request a special theme or color. Black can be a little intense for a daytime beach wedding, and it is not the best color for keeping cool. It may be worth considering opting for a lighter color which better suits the occasion. Options are unlimited, just as long as you don’t upstage the bride!
Times are changing, and it started with the beach wedding. If you want to wear white on a beach wedding, perhaps choose off-white instead. It’s a little more understated, and that way you will avoid being a distraction, or coming off like you’re looking for attention.
Biodegradable options are best. If you’re staying at a resort, find out which options are available, and approved. It is best to buy these and other party favors ahead of time.
1. Lavender / Dried flowers / Rose petals
Traditional and sweet. Dried flowers add a nice scented touch that’s also classic. With that, you will never forget the sweet smelling send off from your wedding day. Scoop and save some of the flowers for later!
Expert Tip: If you’re doing this yourself, keep in mind that it takes a few weeks for the flowers to dry.
2. Biodegradable / Sugar confetti
Heart cutouts, sugar sprinkles, and bio-degradable confetti. Yup, it’s a thing. There are so many options when it comes to confetti that you’ll have to try to contain yourself lest you overindulge in this area.
3. Bird Seeds
Similar to the idea of tossing rice, bird seed is low cost and effective. Plus, we’re sure the birds will have a field day after the fact! Get a cute or customizable sack, and lay it out for guests to access easily.
4. Soap bubbles
Bubbles are a highly-rated eco-friendly option for weddings if you’re prepared to nix the confetti. Buy several bottles, or a couple packs with multiple bottles, to distribute within your wedding party. Bubbles look amazing in wedding photos. You can also purchase customizable bubbles, with the name of the bride and groom on the bottles.
5. Mini beach balls
Add some fun to your day by including some mini beach balls. No one will get hurt from the experience, and you’re guaranteed to have some laughs.
If you are planning a beach wedding in the Caribbean, it’s important to be familiar with the various seasons. While seasons like Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter are not recognized in the Caribbean, the islands have two seasons which are noticeably different.
The dry season runs from February to June, and at this time you can expect less rainfall, and hotter temperatures.
Overall, the best months to plan a beach wedding in the Caribbean are February and March. These months tend to feature milder (but still sunny) temperatures, so brides especially are less likely to experience a makeup melt down!
Sandals has perfected the wedding concept to the point that couples who choose to get married there can be assured they’ll have someone there for them every step of the way. All the resorts across the Sandals brand follow a similar plan of events when it comes to weddings, from the moment you first make contact and speak with one of the Sandals wedding concierge agents, to the moment you walk down the aisle. If you decide to tie the knot at Sandals, which just so happens to be perfect for beach weddings, here’s a rundown of what you can expect:
1. Picking a venue. You’ll speak with your concierge agent, who will collect requisite information and start talking about ideas. The agent will help you to decide which resort or resorts you’re interested in. This conversation can span multiple sessions, but just as soon as you can make up your mind, your agent will facilitate the booking of your wedding at the resort of your choice, based on availability.
Picture: Heart shaped overwater bungalows. Available at Sandals South Coast and Sandals Royal Caribbean. Both located in Jamaica, on a one and a half hour flight from Miami.
2. Your personal wedding planner. You’ll be introduced to your wedding planner, and you’ll be able to schedule your first appointment. After that, you will receive a welcome letter by email, signifying the beginning of an unforgettable adventure!
3. Customize your wedding. You might already have an idea of what you want, but next the wedding planner will help you set these plans into motion, providing you with all necessary documents and tools, as well are sharing options that can make your special day that much more special.
Some of the things your wedding planner can help with include booking rooms for you and your party, selecting the décor for the wedding site, organizing the reception, scheduling the entertainment, booking activities, helping to prepare your marriage documents, scheduling manicures and massages, booking photographers and DJs and much more. They’ll also give you more details on the free wedding option (when you stay 3 nights or more), or get 500 USD credit to customize the décor of your beach wedding (when you stay 7 nights or more).
4. Let Sandals set everything up. Once everything is planned, booked and scheduled, you’ll be free to relax, knowing your wedding is in good hands as part of your wedding inclusive all expenses paid Sandals vacation.
5. Meet the staff! It’s time to check out the resort! Once you arrive, you’ll meet the staff who will already be on the ball with the details of your wedding. These staff members will ensure everything goes smoothly up until your wedding day, and throughout your stay.
Sandals staff will take care of everything from cake, drinks, and food delivery, to pampering you and your partner with all the special add-ons of your choice. At Sandals, the more people you bring along with you to your wedding, the merrier (and the more bells and whistles you receive too!).
6. Your honeymoon starts the day after. Staying with Sandals for your honeymoon? Expect things to get even sweeter, as Sandals has perfected romantic couples vacations. The signature Sandals honeymoon dinner with white glove service, complimentary sparkling wine and more, is a dream.
If you’re having a hard time selecting a wedding venue, keep in mind that beachfront weddings are available at all Sandals resorts. Located on some of the most spectacular beaches in the Caribbean, you can’t go wrong with this option for your destination beach wedding.
Expert Tip: See Sandals’ amazing beach wedding venues in more detail.
1 hour 25 minutes from Miami
3 hours 45 minutes from New York
Jamaica rides of a steady stream of reggae music, but that is not all there is on the majestic Caribbean island made for love. Jamaica has some of the most romantic resorts in the Caribbean.
See Sandals’ seven all-inclusive beach resorts in Jamaica.
1 hour from Miami
3 hours 3 minutes from New York
The Bahamas is made of hundreds of small islands, which form the heart of an exotic island community, which is perfect for couples who want to get away. In the Bahamas you can choose between some of the more popular islands like New Providence (Nassau), and less known islands like Exuma.
See Sandals’ two all-inclusive beach resorts in the Bahamas.
3 hours 38 minutes from Miami
4 hours 30 minutes from New York
Picture: Over-the-water wedding chapel at Sandals Grande St. Lucian.
Land of abundant mountain greenery and picturesque flora and fauna, Saint Lucia was made for love. This award-winning honeymoon destination is perfect for couples who want a romance included tropical vacation.
See Sandals’ three all-inclusive beach resorts in Saint Lucia.
3 hours, 43 minutes from Miami
4 hours, 41 minutes from New York
One of the gems of the Caribbean, Barbados has all you need for a romantic getaway wedding. It can be just you and the love of your life or both of you, with family and friends. Either way, you’re bound to have a satisfying experience.
See Sandals’ two all-inclusive beach resort in Barbados.
3 hours, 34 minutes from Miami
4 hours, 43 minutes from New York
This Island sure knows how to spice things up. Grenada is lush, green, and beautiful. You’ll find some of the most epic wedding locations here, and you’ll be absolutely sold on their beaches upon arrival.
See Sandals’ all-inclusive beach resort in Grenada.
3 hours, 5 minutes from Miami
3 hours, 57 minutes from New York
The only island in the Caribbean which can boast 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. You might have a hard time choosing the best one, but one thing’s for sure, you won’t have a hard time falling in love all over again on these pristine shores.
See Sandals’ all-inclusive beach resort in Antigua.
1 hour, 43 minutes from Miami
3 hours, 8 minutes from New York
Sunny and exotic, the Turks & Caicos Islands aim to please. You’ll have a destination wedding and a romantic honeymoon in one, as you can choose from 40 coral islands to begin your love story.
See Beaches’ all-inclusive beach resorts in Turks and Caicos.
Call Sandals’ bridal team on 1-877-726-3257 to start planning your own beach wedding in the Caribbean!