While so many couples dream of beach weddings, many have had limited exposure to the beaches and can at times find the logistics of maneuvering in the sand and the elements challenging. Knowing what to expect, along with a little aforethought and planning can go a long way to help make your wedding flow as well as it does in your dreams!

Navigating and walking in the sand can be quite a challenge for those unaccustomed to it. Countless weddings I have seen brides and bridesmaids coming down the “aisle” in heels. You are just begging for trouble there, as the heels will “spike”, and twisted or sprained ankles are not uncommon at all. Leave the heels at home. If you must have footwear on the beach, find yourself some nice sandals, but better yet…go barefoot! And don’t forget to let your guests know that they will be walking on the beach and to choose their footwear with this in mind!

Wind. There is always wind. Sometimes light and variable, sometimes gale force, and some in between. There are times when we are on the beach and if the wind is howling out of the northeast, I will have my bride stand on my left, instead of the traditional right, so that her hair will be blowing away from her face rather than in her face, making it difficult to capture those beautiful photos! If the winds are above 15mph, there is generally a good amount of sand blowing around too, which can be a nuisance, especially to those seated. And any east wind brings with it a fair amount of salt in the air. By this I mean the constant churning of waves creates a light mist that is in the air, and it is a salt mist that will coat any lenses, so they must be wiped frequently to be effective.

Then there is weather in general. We shall always assume the day you have chosen for your ceremony is going to be a post card perfect day, and 99 out of 100 times, it is. But the Outer Banks is subject to ever changing meteorological phenomena, and it always pays to have a plan B, just in case. Unless the forecast calls for steady rain over a period of days, it is safe to assume that most of your garden variety thunderstorms will be over in usually under an hour. You can wait it out, or go to plan B, which may mean inside where you’re staying, perhaps where you’re having your reception, and I’ve even had wedding parties go under a pier in rainy weather.

Tide. The tide rises and falls on 6 hour cycles. This means that at some point in the day, the ocean will be higher on the beach than it would be on the low tide. If you are preparing your “place/altar” on the beach, it may help if you go out to the beach the day before at the approximate time you are having your ceremony and see where the waterline is going to be, then set up well up dune of that. I have seen trellises and other wedding decor go floating away on incoming tides during the ceremony!

There are many nuances to having a beach wedding, and not all have been mentioned here, but none of them should make you change your mind about having one! It is without doubt unparalleled in its simplicity and beauty. If you have any questions or concerns about a beach ceremony, just ask any of your vendors, as most of them are “beach” veterans and have great knowledge of the conditions. Or you can always give me a call at (252) 473-0551 or (252) 441-4228 or drop me a line at randebanks@theouterbanksofficiant.com. You may also visit my Facebook page The Outer Banks Officiant!