Ditching the big wedding in a traditional venue and deciding to elope instead opens up so many possibilities for incredible locations! And if you love to soak up the sun, feel the sand between your toes, or even hop in the water for some surfing or a swim sesh, a beach elopement might be the perfect way to celebrate marrying your best friend.
But, tying the knot outdoors and navigating the logistics of getting married on a beach can be a little challenging! You probably haven’t done this before, but I have – so this guide is all about how to plan a beach elopement, with tips, tricks, and everything you need to know to have your dream wedding day.
The Best Time for a Beach Elopement
One of the first things you’ll need to do when you start planning your beach elopement is to set a date! But, before you put something on the calendar, there are a few things to consider.
Needless to say, there are a lot of beaches in the world! This means that the best time to elope will depend a lot on your location. For example, July may be the perfect time for an elopement on the rugged beaches of Oregon, but it’s likely a little too hot (and rainy) if you want to get married in Mexico!
Having a general location in mind for your beach elopement before you set a date can be really helpful, and once you’ve settled on a country, state, or region, do some research about weather. Things to consider can be temperature, humidity, wind, and rain!
Another thing to think about when it comes to choosing your beach elopement location is crowds – unless you find a private beach, you’ll likely be sharing the sand with other people. Each place has a peak season that’s more popular, which can make it more difficult to get away from the crowds! Think about this when you choose your date, and when you choose your location – a more spacious beach (as opposed to a closed-in cove) can make a big difference in feeling like you have some privacy as you exchange vows.
The Best Beach Elopement Locations
There are gorgeous beach elopement locations all over the world – so to help you decide where you want to tie the knot, here are a few of the best spots!
Cabo San Lucas
On the southernmost tip of Mexico’s Baja peninsula is Cabo – with luxurious resorts and plenty of beaches to choose from for your ceremony. If you’re dreaming of a destination wedding somewhere tropical, Cabo is the perfect getaway for a beach elopement!
San Diego, California
If you want to stay in the states, San Diego is well known for being an incredible beach location in the lower 48! With year round sunshine and idyllic weather all year round, you can’t go wrong with a beach elopement.
Carlsbad State Beach is an incredible beach, and you can stay at the Ocean Villas Carlsbad right on the water, and have your ceremony right in front of the property! Other stunning beach elopement locations in San Diego include Torrey Pines State Park and Sunset Cliffs.
One of the best beach elopement locations for couples who want to travel abroad is Aruba! This island located in the Caribbean has countless beaches, incredible weather, and plenty of resorts – as well as tropical adventures for those who want to explore the natural beauty of the island.
Okay, the Oregon Coast is 362 miles long – so there are a lot of beaches! But, the entire coast offers incredible views and rugged beaches perfect for an elopement. It won’t be like the palm tree studded beaches in Southern California, but instead, you’ll have rocky cliffs over the ocean, sea stacks poking out of the water, and epic moody views. Cannon Beach and Cape Kiwanda are some of the most iconic places for a beach elopement, but you can also find places with more secluded views!
It’s no secret that Hawaii has some of the best beach elopement locations in the country. Each island has something different to offer, and if you’re looking for a gorgeous white sand beach paired with an adventure, whether it’s hiking to a waterfall or surfing the waves, Hawaii won’t disappoint!
Tips for Planning a Beach Elopement
Getting married on a beach and planning an elopement is so different from a traditional wedding – but that’s kind of the point! Here are a few tips to keep in mind to make sure your elopement day goes smoothly.
Get the Right Permits
Some beaches will require a permit for you to have a ceremony! But, this depends on your location – some places don’t require permits at all, some only require permits if your ceremony is over a certain number of people, and others require permits for any and all elopements.
You definitely don’t want your day to be interrupted by a park ranger or by getting shooed from the beach, so if a permit is required, make sure to get it! The rules can be hard to figure out at times, but don’t worry – as an elopement photographer, part of my job is helping you plan your day, and I’ll help you figure out whether you need a permit, and how to get one.
Set Up Your Ceremony
While the ocean is a stunning backdrop, adding an arch or arbor, some florals, and some chairs for your guests to sit in can make a huge difference for your ceremony! Check the rules for your elopement location first, as some places are strict about what’s allowed, but most beaches will let you have a simple setup.
Since you’ll most likely be on a public beach, setting this up ahead of time can also help you “claim” the area and give you a little more privacy!
Embrace the Weather
Sometimes, getting married outdoors means rolling with the punches! Tying the knot by the water often means that even on sunny days, there can be a coastal breeze (that often feels more like a strong wind), so if you’re having your ceremony and your reception on the beach, or if you plan to stay once the sun starts setting, a light jacket can make a huge difference.
Things may not always go according to plan, and wind and rain can happen – so be prepared, and embrace it! Windswept hair looks amazing in photos, and no matter what happens, you’re marrying the love of your life.
Beach Elopement Photographer
If you’re ready to plan your beach elopement, hiring a photographer will make the entire process easier! My job is to document your day, but it’s also to help you plan and create your dream wedding.
So contact me, and let’s start planning your beach elopement!