Since I have been photographing weddings on the coast more and more, I thought I’d share some tips to have a successful beach wedding. Note… a LOT of photographers hate shooting on the beach. I do not. I love it. Here we go!

1. Consider your the time of year you want to get married.
Summer is great and all…. but NO one wants to attend or be in a wedding party when it’s 90 degrees. You’re just asking too much of your makeup artist, hair stylist and guests. #rant  (clearly I’m talking about the south… if you live in Maine and want a beach wedding… by all means, do you. And bring me… I’ve always wanted to go to Maine!)
If you MUST get married in summer on the beach, consider a sunrise ceremony. Yes, this will mean an early call time, but not melting… and being done with the whole shindig before lunch is dreamy. I’ve had one sunrise wedding and it was GLORIOUS. The beach was virtually empty, the temperature was delightful and I was back in bed by like 10AM. They served breakfast and mimosas, and then hit the beach for the rest of the day!

Erica and Jesse were married mid day at Shell Island Resort at Wrightsville Beach 
Sun behind us, it was late afternoon.

wrightsville beach wedding photographer shell island

2. Consider the direction your beach faces.
OK, this sounds extreme and probably silly to the average bride and groom… but here’s why it’s important….  the sun. The sun rises in the east, and sets in the west. If you are getting married on an island that runs north-south, that means the sun will rise over the ocean, and set over the land (we are talking east coast), if your island runs east-west, the sun will rise over one end of the island and set over the other… here’s a visual. This is the southern end of North Carolina. The beaches east of the Cape Fear River, run north-south (Carolina Beach, Kure, etc.) while the islands west of the Cape Fear River run east-west (Bald Head Island, Oak Island, Holden, Ocean Isle, Sunset, etc.). If you elect to get married on a N-S island you’re more likely to have harsh sunlight in front or behind your ceremony. So either your guests will be staring into the sun (before noon) or you will be lit with full sun in the evening (sun behind your guests, shining on you). If you select a E-W island, the sun will rise to the left, and set to the right in the case of the islands shown/listed. It will offer a little more directional light, and honestly… make pretty photos (just my opinion!) Of course there’s exceptions to these rules, like if you get married at the end of an island… it will change your direction, and thus the sun placement will be different.

3. Consider the time of day to get married.
This is a 2 part-er…. A. Normally, there’s not a lick of shade on the beach, and if it’s a sunny day, that can cause harsh shadows across your face. This means, the lower the sun is in the sky, the less harsh the shadows can be. Now… film shooters often love bright sun, I do… so this doesn’t matter so much to me. Just know it will be hotter and brighter.
B. Bikinis…. warmer, brighter weather brings bikinis…. and no one wants Prince(ss) Consuela Banana Hammock in the background of all their photos. We attended a wedding of some friends of ours on Emerald Isle years ago, on an unseasonably warm Saturday for the fall. This jerk with his rainbow colored umbrella was literally camped out behind the alter! Thankfully he finally moved just before Kristine walked down the aisle!

Luma and Aaron got married at Sunrise on Carolina Beach at the Marriott.

carolina beach wedding photographer marriott

4. Holidays
The weekends surrounding the three major summer holidays will give you a little more of a headache. The weekend of Memorial Day, Labor Day and the 2 surrounding 4th of July are going to be INSANE. Your guests will have a hard time finding lodging if they haven’t booked it way in advance and rates will likely be higher. You may even run into surge pricing for vendors, too.

Alan and Ashley at Sandals Royal Caribbean, Jamaica (yes, they hired us… you DO NOT have to use the resort photographer, and I would highly encourage you NOT to!)
jamaica wedding photographer sandals royal caribbean montego bay

5. Seaside location
To go along with time of day, also be mindful of your nuptial location. If you decide to get married in front of a bunch of high rises, you’ll most likely have unwanted spectators at your private event. I recommend either A. a strip of beach that is just home to private houses or B. the far ends of the island. Typically the ends are less inhabited, yielding less unwanted on-lookers. C. a secluded resort-style area (like Shoals Club at Bald Head Island)

Catherine and Brooks (shot for Julia Wade) at Bald Head Island Shoals Club

shoals club wedding bald head island

6. Your hair
I love a gal who can rock perfectly undone beach waves, but if that isn’t your style, spring for an updo that won’t move! The beach is breezy… and down right windy some days, and if you want your hair to stay looking sleek, have it done with all 758 bobby pins!

So, there you have my 6 tips to planning a wonderful seaside wedding!

I’ve linked the locations pictured, but I also LOVE 30A on the panhandle of Florida, and would really like to add an Amelia Island wedding to our roster! We stopped by Amelia Island on our way home from the Gator Bowl and fell in love.  Send those my way!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *