How Do You Get A Reception At The Beach?

Planning a beach wedding may be a childhood dream or romanticized in movies you watched growing up, soft sand beneath your bare feet and a gentle breeze blowing on a warm summer’s day. But what is the reality involved in planning a beach wedding, and once you’ve organized a ceremony there, how do you do a reception on the beach afterward?

Beach weddings allow you to choose elements from a traditional wedding and apply them to a beach reception. Depending on which beach, in which country your reception is at, different rules apply. Some don’t allow alcohol, others require a permit, and still, others are completely public.

So how do you find out what rules apply to where and then go about actually organizing your perfect reception? We’ll cover all the need-to-know details that will set you up for a stress-free day on the shores of the ocean.

How Do You Organize A Reception At The Beach?

First things first: decisions need to be made around which beach, and whether you choose something local or go for a destination wedding in the Caribbean or somewhere further afield. If you pick a resort at a destination, onsite wedding planners are often part of the package, and there won’t be much for you to worry about in terms of the planning.

If you choose to have your reception on a public beach, there may be slightly more planning and effort required on your part to turn your vision into a reality. Checking in with local authorities about whether a beach wedding is allowed, which parts of the beach may be used or if there are any time limits or permits required is the first place to start.

If you pick a vendor to help you with this, make sure to pick someone who can organize the wedding license and marriage certificate if you’re getting married on the beach too. For just the reception, having someone else who knows the area and might have planned beach weddings before and understands the protocols can be a huge advantage.

If you’re doing it on your own and need to organize furniture, make sure that your supplier knows that the furniture will be used on the beach. Don’t go overboard with extras, as the setting should speak for itself.

In terms of the time of day, the easiest option for a beach wedding, not on a resort with all the facilities to host one, is during the day, such as an afternoon or early evening wedding. This will ensure that you don’t need to find alternative sources of power for lighting and food. Something like a late afternoon wedding with wine, cheese, and canapes before dark would be ideal.

Things To Consider When Planning A Beach Reception

Before getting carried away planning your perfect beach reception, there are some important things you should consider, coming from experts who have tried and tested beach wedding planning, and perfected the art over decades. This includes some common things that people don’t think about, so be warned!

  1. Make sure there’s shade.
  2. Consider food storage and having enough cold storage
  3. Get a permit if needed
  4. Avoid crowded places
  5. Get sturdy seating
  6. Prepare for windy conditions
  7. Shop local for destination weddings
  8. Pick colors that contrast with the sand
  9. Prepare a shoe station
  10. Prevent bug bites
  11. Have plenty of drinks easily available
  12. Have a backup plan
  13. Use candles, shells, ribbons, and flowers for decoration to keep it simple and elegant
  14. Think about the humidity and wind of the location at the time of year when you want to get married, and pick your beach accordingly
  15. Make sure that the beach is accessible – private or secluded can mean hard to reach, and steep cliff paths down to a cute beach might be very difficult for some guests, as well as vendors, to access
  16. Think about the best time of day, so lighting, for heat and sweatiness of yourself and guests, and for generally being quieter times if it is a public beach
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How To Plan For A Beach Wedding

Planning for a beach wedding involves a number of different aspects, from budgeting to the location and whether you are going to get any help. Going to the location at the time of day and time of year at which you’re considering getting married is a huge help to get a realistic idea of how everything from the light to the weather might be on the actual day. Knowing when the sun will set, and the tidal movements are important factors too.

In terms of budgeting, this will depend very much on whether it is a destination wedding or local. For example, in California, beach permits typically cost between $100-$250. This is a significantly lower cost than a wedding venue would charge, without limitations on the number of people either.

Planning for generators and lighting are two of the most important factors, no matter the time of the day. Having a microphone for vows is essential given the sound of the ocean and lack of natural acoustics, so surfing the web or consulting a wedding planner or coordinator who will be able to assist with this is important for the smooth operation of the day.

It is key to work with caterers who have worked off-site on a beach before, as they can make accommodations for the power situation, as well as make sure that there aren’t grains of sand in cakes or cocktails.

Plan your amenities well, such as bathroom access. Also, consider gifting your guests a welcome pack, including some sunscreen, sunglasses, flip flops, fans, or a Turkish towel. Customizing the experience for the guests like this will help not only to make it special and unique for them but also to ensure that they are prepared and comfortable in your chosen outdoor venue. 


Having a wedding reception on a beach can be a beautiful celebration with the most scenic natural backdrops if planned well. If you aren’t on a resort or private beach, make sure you check local regulations and apply for the necessary permissions well in advance. Selecting your timing and location is key, and you should be set for a beautiful beach wedding reception!