How to Plan the Perfect Beach Wedding

All you will need to know — keeping you worry-free while exchanging vows in St. Thomas or St. John.

Dress Accordingly…



A ball-gown belongs in a ballroom. You may be able to get down the aisle in a full dress and long train but walking on the beach and taking photos won’t be easy. If a large dress is a must, make sure it can bustle easily.

Dresses with lace trim can be difficult because they pick up debris from the beach. Instead, choose a lightweight fabric so your gown flows in the ocean breeze.

No Veil

When marrying outside, think twice about a long veil. If it’s windy, it will be a nightmare for you and the photographer. Instead, accessorize your “do” with fresh flowers. There are local hairstylists and makeup artists who will gladly come to your dressing location to help everyone look their most beautiful selves.

Consider an up-do

Think of the elements when deciding on a hairstyle. A tried and true up-do will keep you looking polished for the entire event. If wearing your hair down is the only option we recommend a few touch-ups before, after and during the wedding and reception.

No heels

Sand and high heels don’t mix. Wear flat-sole sandals, espadrilles or wedges — shoes that won’t sink into the sand. Have your gown hemmed with or without shoes, depending on which option you choose. Remember, sand can get pretty hot. Have an aisle runner made of fabric to help keep your tootsies cool.

Avoid tan lines

Be very careful of sunburn and unwanted tan lines. Constantly apply waterproof sunscreen, 
especially while swimming. This goes for the bride, bridesmaids and mothers of the bride and groom. Everyone knows what he or she is wearing in advance, so they should plan sun-tanning accordingly.

Let your guys go informal

While many brides envision their groom in a tux, black wool is a no-no in tropical climates. Lightweight cotton pants or even Bermuda shorts are great options for the beach.

At the Ceremony…

Stay natural

Highlight the natural beauty of the setting. A beach wedding can be about shells and palm trees, but it can also take inspiration from the harmonious color palette of sand and water. Your wedding decor should be simple; avoid going over the top with fussy flowers. Choose colors that contrast the sand and the surf rather than blend in, like corals, greens and other vibrant tones.

Go local

A good reason to hire a local wedding planner, you might find your wedding supplies stuck in customs. When it comes to food, look for caterers who are familiar with the way to keep food safe and consider going “local” with your menu. That way your guests will enjoy a bit of the “local” culture.

Get the required permits

Research the required paperwork from getting your marriage license to beach rules and regulations. This is where a local wedding planner can be a huge help. Dealing with the Virgin Islands government can be frustrating for the bride to be. Leave it to the pros.

Inform your guests

Make sure your guests know your event will take place on the sand. Mention your plans on the invitation or wedding website, and prepare your guests for the sun by including necessary items in the welcome bags; travel-size bottles of good quality sunscreen, bottled water, towels, hand fans and maybe even paper umbrellas to beat the heat.

The right time

When dealing with beach wedding photos, lighting is especially important. We suggest ending the ceremony an hour before sunset. That way, you’ll still get great action shots in natural lighting, as well as sunset portraits.

Set up a shoe station

Don’t let your guests spend the day with sand in their shoes. Provide a station where guests can swap their shoes for flip-flops and wipe sand off their feet. It could include a bench, towels and a bucket of water.

Provide shade

Shade is your guests’ best friend. Consider creating a canopy to cover the seating area; for example, you could source some rustic bamboo poles and loosely drape thin white fabric on top.

Offer Refreshments

To keep your guests refreshed set up a table with ice water, lemonade or a signature cocktail that guests can enjoy while waiting for the ceremony to start.

Have a seat

Wooden benches, folding chairs and waterproof ottomans are great choices because they’re heavy enough to withstand the breeze.

Prepare for wind

Anything that can blow away will! If you’re using ceremony programs, weight them down with shells, tie them to chairs with ribbon or print them on fans, which perform double duty. And if you envision a perfectly petal-lined aisle, don’t toss them until the absolute last moment, right before guests arrive.

Bug spray!

Insect repellent is a good idea no matter the season or beach location. Just make sure it’s a brand that won’t stain your gown.

Speak up

Be sure your audio doesn’t get lost against the sound of crashing waves or wind. Rent a wireless microphone and speaker for your officiant to use, and do a sound check prior to the ceremony to ensure there’s no unwanted feedback.

Keep it short

Given factors like heat and audibility you will want to keep the ceremony short.

Have a backup plan

The weather has a mind of its own, so be ready with a solid plan B. Find a space indoors where everything can take place should the weather deteriorate.

Hire a knowledgeable wedding planner

If all this information seems too daunting we suggest hiring a wedding planner. One who knows all the ins-and-outs of having a wedding on the beach. They can arrange for everything, from the marriage application to transportation and lodging of your guests to the actual wedding ceremony. It is a lot of work, especially for those not familiar with the territory!

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