How To Hold A Beach Wedding Reception

Sunday, 8 Jan 2012, 1:00:00 AM

Special To The Mirror

Anyone who has ever tried it would probably tell you that a wedding by the beach is not an easy task to accomplish, but is definitely worth the effort.
Anyone who has ever tried it would probably tell you that a wedding by the beach is not an easy task to accomplish, but is definitely worth the effort.

Jennifer Lyon

The beach is such a charming location for tying the knot, especially in summer when the season simply calls for an outdoor wedding. If you are one of those couples who has decided to include sun, sand, and surf to your special day, bear in mind that having your wedding by the beach will require a little bit more of your talent in terms of planning. You will need to consider factors such as the time, weather, temperature and some safety precautions. Ideally, beach weddings take place in the early morning or late in the afternoon, when the temperature is generally cooler. This way, guests will have no trouble walking barefoot on the sand if they want to, allows you to have the sunrise or sunset as the backdrop for your wedding pictures.


If your venue is in a seaside resort that usually accommodates wedding receptions, chances are that there will be a gazebo ready for your use. If not, then you can set up an open canopy where your guests will be seated and where the main program would take place. This would give you shade when you get tired of basking in the sun, or shelter in case of unexpected showers. If the gazebo area isn’t large enough to accommodate all of the tables and chairs, let the set up spill over around the main canopy. Place large white beach umbrellas over each table and use white foldable beach chairs to set the beach ambiance.


Let the beach theme inspire you when it comes to decorating your reception venue. White would be a great color as your primary motif since it contrasts beautifully with the surrounding skies, sand and sea. Have the main canopy in white and then add beach colors by draping gauzy fabrics in blue, green or turquoise around the posts and along the frame of the structure. Add colorful ribbons, tropical flowers, stringed seashells and corals. Set up tall poles by the beach and hang colorful cloths in each pole to create a festive effect when the wind blows through them. Decorate the tables and chairs with bows and ribbons in your wedding color, and have centerpieces that correspond with the beach theme as well.

Food and refreshments

Be faithful to your theme by serving seafood! Have lobsters, crab, shrimp and fish on the menu. Meat skewers, chicken and barbeque would be an appetizing treat for your guests as well, since these kinds of food go best with a beach outing. Serve tropical fruit juices and cocktails with little paper umbrellas in them. Decorate your wedding cake with edible seashells and sprinkle the base with sand-like confectioner’s sugar.


Hire a steel drum band and a DJ, and then encourage your guests to dance and party to the tune of reggae beats and summertime music by the Beach Boys. Let real hula dancers liven up the celebration, or have a limbo rock competition in the sand.


Apart from the party and celebration, do not forget to follow safety precautions as well, especially if it involves swimming in the sea. Assign someone to look after your younger guests as they play in the sand. Make sure the area is clear of debris such as sharp coral or broken glass.

Anyone who has ever tried it would probably tell you that a wedding by the beach is not an easy task to accomplish, but is definitely worth the effort. Just believe that with enough preparation and plenty of skill, you will be able to pull off the perfect beach wedding reception.

This article was courtesy of, a beach wedding blog specializing in personalized wedding handkerchiefs and beach themed wedding cake toppers.

Editor's Note

The City of Santa Monica does not issue permits for wedding ceremonies at Santa Monica State Beach or Palisades Park. The rule is first-come, first-serve to each location and you must have less than 150 participants on site. Smaller weddings are more suitable to Palisades Park due to its narrow configuration, high level of daily use and limited parking. At each site, users must obey all beach and park laws.


• Tables, chairs, runners and small archways.

• Canopies under 400 square feet

• Stages under 30” high

• Amplified sound between 8 a.m – 10 p.m.

The City of Santa Monica does ask that attendees be considerate of neighbors and other park/beach visitors. Sound is subject to the noise ordinance and Santa Monica Police can ask the sound to be turned down or off if complaints are received from the surrounding public.

• Generators are not recommended. If a generator is a must, it needs to be battery powered.

Not Okay:

• Structures that would require Building and Safety Permits or Fire Permits

• Tents with side panels

• Vehicles on park turf or pathways, sand, bike path, or Ocean Front Walk

• Staking anything into turf or attaching anything to trees, shrubs, facilities, and other amenities

• Blocking sidewalks or pedestrian pathways

• Fires, cooking, alcohol, glass containers, and smoking

If you have any questions, please contact the City of Santa Monica Community & Cultural Services Department at 310.458.8573.

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