Beach weddings are beautiful, but there are a few things to be aware of if you’re planning a wedding by the water.
Many brides will be planning their summer wedding this winter but new brides need to remember the beach is also enticing to sunbathers, swimmers, as well as families building sandcastles.
A ceremony in the sand at sunset with the ocean in the background is an image many couples want to include in their wedding albums. While a beach wedding can be a beautiful and awe-inspiring experience, there are also some things that need to be considered — and carefully planned for — when deciding to tie the knot at the shore.
Courtney Telfer, who was married in North Topsail Beach in June 2022, says her ceremony was presented with the unique challenge of a king tide.
“Weather can change in a second at the beach, so I was watching the radar constantly,” Telfer says. “As for the tides, our coordinator never mentioned anything about king tides and the occurrence of one happening. Well, come to find out, our wedding day was on a king tide, and there was absolutely no beach at high tide for our ceremony.”
Telfer emphasizes that they still had a lovely backdrop for their ceremony, which had to be moved to the grass on the other side of the dunes.
Kaitlyn Holder, who was also married in June 2022 on Topsail Island, had another surprising experience.
“The island flooded from storms the day before our wedding!” she says. She adds that all went well the day of the ceremony, with much nicer weather for the 40 attendees.
“Topsail is our vacation spot every year,” she says. “We also got engaged there at Serenity Point!”
Rev. Angela Kelley, a nondenominational officiant, advises that “Checking the tide is number 1 on the priority list.” She adds that she tends to work with locals who understand Topsail Island’s topography is of utmost importance.
“For instance, there is simply no way someone can have a wedding ceremony at high tide on the island’s north end, but since we are a barrier island, the south end would be just fine,” Kelley says.
Even the much-anticipated photographs of the happy couple in the sand at sunset must be planned appropriately for the best results.
“The sun reflects off the sand and shade is scarce, which can cause harsh shadows and squinty eyes,” says Photographer Eryn Geus. “While the beach is gorgeous, it is also very unforgiving in certain regards. With us being on an island, the wind has a mind of its own.”
New brides should not be discouraged but should plan for the conditions that might arise as they arrange their ideal beach wedding.
Sarah Reed, who was married on the island in June 2002, says they had no worries. They kept their timeline flexible and they “ended up having the ceremony on a Wednesday since the weather was best that day and we planned for low tide.”
Flexibility can make the difference. Dawn Reno Langley, who had an October 2022 wedding on the beach, says it’s always best to make alternate plans, just in case. To her, the absolute best thing about a beach wedding is “having friends and family in a casual atmosphere to celebrate with us.” She adds that since hers was a non-traditional wedding, they were less stressed and that made it the best celebration.
Beach weddings can be amazing events for the new couple and their guests. Amber Afify, who helps manage Topsail Manor, a spacious wedding venue on the island, says that it’s helpful to make sure your guests are prepared for attending a beach ceremony. For instance, heels are not easy on the beach. “Also, have sound equipment so that your guests can hear your vows over the loud waves crashing,” Afify says.
Overall, the memories and the photos of a beach wedding will be cherished for years to come.
As Rev. Kelley notes, “Being flexible and having a sense of humor can go a long way. Ultimately, it will be memorable, and, most importantly, at the end of the day you are married to your best friend and greatest love.”