Sunday, November 16, 2014

How to Throw a Beach Wedding in NC or SC

The beach is a very special place for your wedding…wild with amazing power, grace and beauty. It is a living example of the flow of life itself reflected in the ebb of tides, stormy or pristine days, and the rolling rhythm of the waves. Beaches are also breath-taking focal points for the pivotal times in life: childhood memories, learning to swim or surf, epic romance, special nights under the stars by the surf…and your wonderful wedding.

So just how do you throw a beach wedding? What do you do first?  Do you need a permit? What about weather? What about chairs, arbor, music, minister, catering or photography? What about guests travelling? And the cost?  No worries--the cost and the to-do list for a beach wedding is the same as any other type, and even less if you are eloping.

Easiest Way #1: A coastal wedding planner or coordinator can create any size wedding event with all the needed service people (called “vendors”) and troubleshoot any “emergencies.” Some planners offer multiple levels of service, depending on how much, or little, assistance you want.

Easiest Way #2: Elope with your marriage license and 2 rings, hire a minister, book a beach hotel, and wed barefoot in the sand, casual or dressy!  Maybe hire a photographer or videographer to share your private wedding later during a reception party back home.

Do-It-Yourself:   Some vendors offer many services or packages, covering many steps in one contact. The minimum needed to marry in North Carolina is just 6 things--a marriage license and 5 willing people (bride, groom, two witnesses and a minister or judge).  You can also add a beach house or hotel, wedding rings, flowers, music, food service, decorations and chairs, formal clothes and attendants.


1. Set your budget. You can do a small, quick, casual beach wedding starting about $500.
2. Estimate your total number of guests, if any. Consider guests’ needs--hotels, car parking, transportation to ceremony or reception, pet needs, dining, and the challenges of hot sun and soft sand for elderly.
3. Consider the “politics” and social dynamics among your guests—do they distress or improve the quality of your happy beach wedding? FYI: you can video record it for those not invited.
4. Choose 1 or 2 favorite beach locations. If you are flexible on location, you may save money and still have a GREAT wedding.
5. Choose 1 or 2 dates and times for the ceremony--if you can be flexible here, you may save money.
6. Write down ALL questions from your fiancé, family and self.
7. Decide on: traditional, creative, religious, non-religious or spiritual type of ceremony, formal or casual dress code, male or female minister
8. Decide if you want rented chairs, arbor, and beach decorations (elderly and disabled need seats).
9. Decide if ordering flowers, music, photography, beauty service, or bring it yourself.
10. Decide if ordering food and cake. If so, choose family catering, professional catering, reserve a restaurant or a combination of these.

1. Book your accommodations as soon as you set your date and location. These fill up very fast at the beach so do NOT delay on this step.
2. Book an officiant (fyi--judges are prohibited from leaving the courthouse to perform weddings). If you want a non-religious ceremony, say so… some ministers are fine with that. Good ones book up quickly so lock in your Officiant early.
3. Next, book photographers, videographers, musicians and caterers/restaurants. Ask questions and communicate clearly with them.
4. Contact food services, rental businesses, beauty salons, florists and transportation next.
5. Meanwhile, send out invitations, get your wedding clothes, rings, supplies, accessories.
6. Within 60 days of your wedding date, go together to any NC Register of Deeds office to purchase your marriage license for $60 cash. Call that office beforehand to confirm what identification cards they particularly require. Bring the license to the ceremony.

·         Most NC & SC beaches are public property so you may marry almost anywhere on the shores.
·         Weather over this geographical area is remarkably stable and predictable, Sunny 80% of the time and infrequent rain showers pass over within 5-15 minutes. Hurricanes are scarce, normally short-lived, and can be predicted.
·         Permits: Wrightsville Beach and Oak Island require one from their local government; the 17 others in this area do not. Call the town hall for those permits.
·         City of Myrtle Beach restricts most beach weddings, please see last blog on that info  
·         Ceremonies are 10 – 20 minutes and the whole event may take about 1 hour, depending on mobility of guests and not including a reception.
·         Guests would travel to your hometown for a home wedding, so they can just as easily travel to the shore and doubles as a vacation

For best results follow the instructions your hired vendors give you. Ask questions.  Communicating clearly and openly helps. If you need help, ask.  Now go have fun celebrating at THE BEACH!

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