Are you planning your perfect beach front wedding? I have photographed many ceremonies and portraits on the beach for several years and now that I have established a business where I focused on serving clients on Cape Cod, I like to say that I now specialize in beach weddings!
Now, I know what you’re thinking- lets just got to the beach and get married…right? Well, there are a few things to consider logistically when planning to be married on the beach…unless you are using a privately owned beach or oceanfront venue.
A beach wedding may come with a few challenges so I put together a check list for you to make your toes in the sand, beach wedding a little easier.
BEACH WEDDING PERMITS
Having a permit is not always required if you have your wedding on a public beach, however if you have a large amount of guests attending, you may want to reserve a large space on the sand for as long as the ceremony will take place, a permit might be a good idea to look into. Before choosing the beach that your heart falls in love with, I have put together a list of questions to ask-
Does the beach require a permit to hold a wedding?Some beaches allow small weddings on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, many public beaches require a permit regardless of the guest count.
If the beach does require a permit, how much does it cost—and are there any other fees?Keep in mind that some permits have a nonrefundable application fee, and some charge additional fees if you have a larger number of guests.
How is the permit fee structured?Is it a “per hour” charge or a flat rate that covers the entire length of the event?
How far in advance does the permit need to be submitted for approval?Some beach locations issue permits as far as a year ahead, so start this process early!
How large of an area of the beach does the permit cover?If you weren’t required to map out your desired area during the application process, be sure to ask how much space you’ll have reserved (it usually depends on your guest count).
Will liability insurance be required?Some locations ask you to get liability insurance naming the city/county as an additional insured.
What is the maximum number of people allowed under the permit?This includes not only you and your guests, but your bridal party, officiant, photographer, and any other vendors.
BridalTIP: If all this permit talk makes your head spin, then we have 4 words for you: Hire. A. Wedding. Planner! They’ll do all the leg work for you in terms of permits and logistical planning so you can relax and enjoy the ride.
Beach Ceremony Logistics
If you are getting married on a public beach, having photobombs of beach goers is one thing to consider. There also may be beach cleaning scheduled, construction areas, public events, etc. These distractions could all be planned around the same time as your ceremony. Having this in mind, look into what else might be scheduled for that day and plan accordingly. This might mean the ceremony time will need to be bumped up a few hours or pushed back. Some questions you can ask are:
Are there any dates that are off-limits? Many beaches don’t allow weddings on holidays, like the July 4th weekend.
Can we reserve a specific time slot for our ceremony? If at all possible, schedule your beach wedding ceremony to take advantage of the best light for wedding photos.
Are delivery trucks allowed near the ceremony site? If not, are there loading/unloading zones close by? Vehicles are frequently not allowed on the beach, so all items may need to be hand-carried to your ceremony site.
Is there ample parking nearby for guests?
Are there public restrooms nearby?
Is the ceremony site handicap accessible? If not, see if they’ll allow golf cart rentals to transport any elderly or disabled relatives.
Can the site we plan to use be cordoned off? Beach weddings are pretty open to public viewing, so roping off an area might give you at least the illusion of privacy—and keep out any wedding crashers.
How early can we set up before the ceremony start time? Nothing like trying to give sunbathers the boot as the clock is ticking to ceremony time!
Beach Wedding Restrictions
Many public beaches have BEACH RULES when it comes to protecting the oceanside environment. Confetti, streamers, helium balloons, glass, styrofoam, rice and sometimes faux flowers are prohibited in many areas. Respect any signs that you see along the beach and be sure to find out a few this:
Are chairs, arches, aisle runners, or other decorative elements allowed?
Is amplified sound permitted? And is there a limit on the decibel level? Oftentimes beaches require speakers to face the ocean.
Are there electrical outlets nearby/available to use? If not, can we bring in a generator?
Is alcohol allowed? Note that most public beaches have open container laws that regulate or prohibit the consumption of alcohol.
What about pets? Many public beaches have a “No Pets” policy, so if you want Fido to be your ring bearer you better check into that.
Are bonfires or open flames allowed? If not, consider flameless LED lanterns to illuminate your event.
Are there size restrictions on tents or canopies? If your wedding is going to take place on a hot and sunny day, think about adding some shade with a wind-proof tent or canopy.
Life’s A Beach
We all know that Mother Nature can be a BEACH! so be sure to consider the following when planning your beach wedding:
When is high tide? You’ll want to avoid the possibility of your ceremony being dampened by waves.
What’s the forecast? If rain is predicted, you’ll need a contingency plan.
How windy will it be? You may need to windproof and weigh down some of your décor. (And rethink that cathedral-length veil!)
How noisy will our site be? Crashing waves, rustling breezes, and general beachgoer chit-chat can all add up to a pretty loud environment. Your sound system should be set up so that all your guests can hear your vows.
How hot will it be, and is there any shade? Wild guess, but you’re probably used to wearing a swimsuit on the beach. Now imagine being in a suit and tie, which is what your guy guests will likely be sporting… If there’s no shaded area, consider a canopy. But if that’s not allowed, giving out parasols can offer some protection from the sun.
How crowded will the beach be? Again, a beach wedding isn’t exactly private. If you really want to avoid the droves of summer bodies, consider an off-season wedding.
What’s the bug situation? There are some nasty insects that hover around seaweed, so try to situate your ceremony away from them.
Sand. Sand is a beach. Keep some towels and baby powder handy so you and your guests can dust off before the reception.
BRIDE TIP:Another thing that might need to be weather-proofed? Your bridal bouquet and other flowers. Many blooms don’t take kindly to direct sunlight, and the last thing you want is wilted wedding flowers in your photos.
Beach Wedding Receptions
Beach ceremonies are very popular, but if you are dreaming of having a sea side reception as well, this might be difficult to plan, you see… in many areas, partying on the beach is not allowed. I recommend that you have your ceremony on the beach and all your portraits on the beach too, then move the reception to an oceanfront venue. If you are really wanting to have it all in one place, and your heart is set on the beach front party, consider asking these questions:
Is a beach reception allowed? Many beaches will only accommodate wedding ceremonies.
Is cooking permitted on the beach? While you can eat on most beaches, cooking on the sand is oftentimes prohibited.
Can my caterer bring in food? They may be able to do so if they have a Special Event Permit, but keep in mind that there might not be a kitchen or prep space nearby.
Are there table décor restrictions? Many beaches don’t allow glass, so you may need to opt for plastic vases and cups.
Is live music allowed? Many beaches don’t allow amplified live music, but may allow some background music played via speakers.
One more time—is alcohol allowed? Probably not, but Google “Best U.S. Beaches to Legally Drink” if serving alcohol is high on your priority list.
Is there a curfew? Be sure to leave a cushion of time to gather your belongings and clean up all of your trash before the beach closes.
Prep Your Guests
High heels and sand don’t mix, right? Find creative ways to let your guests know not only what to wear at your wedding, but what else to expect.
Create a wedding website to highlight additional details about the day. Include a suggested dress code (e.g. “beach chic” or “smart casual”), along with a note about the anticipated weather. Depending on the forecast, mention bringing sunglasses, sunblock, paper fans, a hat, sweater, etc. You should also give your women attendees a heads-up about the sand situation so that they can opt for wedges or flats instead of stilettos!
Pick the perfect wedding save-the-dates and invitations to set the stage (and style) for your beach bash.
Consider giving out beach swag. A welcome basket at your ceremony entrance is a nice gesture. You may want to fill it with mini bottles of water, sunblock, bug spray, parasols, or anything else that might make your guests more comfortable in the beachy elements.
As a photographer, I do my best to capture those perfect moments in any lighting that I can. That being said, many beaches do not have an area that is shaded when the sun light is very harsh. The best way for me to capture your moments in the harsh sun light is to make sure that she sun us behind my subject. Depending on where the ocean is and the sun is at the time of day we are celebrating, consider the sun light being behind you to get the photos and backgrounds you are looking for.
Friends! I have been capturing holiday photos of this little girl since her first christmas! She is full of sass and I love her! For this years photo session, mom came to me and said, ” Alex, you are going to think I am crazy…. what do you think of a putting a christmas tree on the beach…?!” Well, I did not think she was crazy and I had never gotten to talk photos of a beachy christmas theme, I LOVED it! So, I went on a hunt for a 4ft. tree and some little ornaments, and a small tree skirt ( Thank you Amazon for the Tree and Target for the skirt and ornaments!) The day we had out session, it was FREEZING!!!! The wind was blowing and I think it was about 25 degrees! It was cold but Sofia, mom and dad took it like champs and worked with me! I just love how every one of their images came out and I am thinking about doing a mini session like this for the next holiday season… Not 100% set on it yet, but I just love it!
Sofia did a wonderful job decorating the tree with mom and dad! Dad is a walking heater and was able to keep his girls warm! I on the other hand went right to store to pick up hand warmers for my next few beach sessions!! I just love all of these photos! The colors with the light beach background worked perfectly and I am so excited to share these with you!
Seph, Cristina and Sofia- Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to capture your family each year! It is so fun to watch Sofia grow! She is getting so big, she is an absolute doll and I love her little sassy self!!! I can not wait to see you all again!
All year long it’s so much fun getting to meet so many new people and photograph them and their loved ones! If you’ve been following me, I try to post sneak peeks and blog as much as I can in a timely manner… This year has been amazing and so busy for me (THANK YOU) so I am JUST catching up on lots and lots of blogging. I have a few fun blogs I am going to be sharing for you and here I am, starting off the fun blogs with these behind the scenes- Family edition! Have you ever seen posts like – Instagram vs. Reality?! Well, every time i have a session I always wish I had someone with a camera following me around too, capturing those full behind the scenes shots of how I have mom and dad behind me making noise to get a baby to look, or the mess of toys and clothes behind me or edited out of the photo, the real lighting situation we are in, my arms holding a baby, a toddler or sometimes 2 kids plus my camera while still taking photos- all of the real life ways!
I do manage to get some of these real photos- either I take them or I have clients that sneak a few and are so awesome to text or email them to me! I have included those in this blog post today just so you can see. Many times, especially while shooting kids, it’s so helpful to have the parents there if there are multiple because I can’t do it all, like sometimes I’d like to think I can. Its hard for me to watch kids and photograph one at the same time. Those extra eyes are needed in situations like that. So, THANK YOU to the moms, dads, siblings, granparents, aunts and uncles who were those watchful eyes while I worked my magic to capture your family memories of 2017 for you!! I hope to see you again soon!
Now, without further ado, I present to you the Behind the Scenes- Family Edition of Ali B Photography!
With those watchful eyes and arms to help hold up kiddos who can’t quite sit up on their own. Moms worked as my assistants this session day as we captured our kids on the beach.
Henry just hanging out while I run around chasing toddlers!
When one kiddo doesnt want to participate in a group photo… you have to try to get them to play… Ahem…. Ethan, my son wasnt having it this day….. We were trying to get him to sit down on the blanket by talking about the really cool tattoo his friend Natalie had on her arm!
because what kid doesn’t love dogs?
This is the same day as the beach photos for Ethan… He wasnt having it and I was in crunch time to get some fathers day photos done…. Thank you Fruit Snacks for being the bribe of the day! I managed to get some nice photos for dad!
When I bring my assistant Ethan with me, he has his camera to help with. He will also try to get you to smile… and he will also walk away…. thanks to the moms who have had their eyes on him this year when he had to come with me!
This mom! I cant even. She is absolutely AMAZING! I have been taking photos of her and her kids for 2 years now and I just love them all so much! She is always so calm when I see them- a mom of 4 and her last 2 are twins. I am sure you have seen their photos all over. Well, Here is behind the scenes from a halloween shoot we did. Getting her kiddos ready, while they play.
Everyone is dressed and ready to go
That helping hand when one can’t walk on her own just yet.
Still helping and trying to get all 4 kids to look at me, nicely!
Ethan again at a family session. Sometimes he just has to get in on the fun!
I loved this family! This was a last minute fall session I was so happy to have been able to squeeze in! These little ones are twins and when one doesn’t want to be in a photo, I play. Here I am holding Kennedy while I let her think she is helping me…. She really is helping me- She ‘pushed the button’ a few times! After this happened, her brother helped me and then i was able to get some amazing photos of this family of 4! This was an extended family session so their Aunt snapped this photo when I didn’t know and emailed it to me later that day! I just love it!
sometimes…nature calls…. and I am baby wearing and holding a camera that is really heavy….
back at it…
When I want one kiddo to look out at the waterfall…. but he didn’t want to do it… Ethan comes to the rescue!
Playing so we can get some great shots! knock knock!
Ohhhhh all the helpers!
Mom making sure he doesn’t fall in… .I thought this was a good idea until i quickly realized….it wasn’t! but then it was because their final photos were AMAZING!
This isn’t really behind the scenes… but its the first photo that Ethan took, on my phone…that isn’t too bad! Photographer in the making???
This behind the scenes photo was taken by Sammy. Sammy is 5 years old and we had just ended their family session in New Jersey! Mom, Ang has been my best friend since we were babies and we are still best friends today! I loved photographing them during our NJ visit and I just love this photo that Sammy took! You can see my makeup running! It was a chilly day and yes… I love my vest… I think I am wearing it in almost every photo of me in this post haha.
Trying to get some monthly photos of Henry….. Thanks Ethan!
Making sure Henry doesn’t fall over because he is JUST starting to sit up on his own…. Ethan might be holding him a little too rough so that didn’t last long…
I hope you enjoyed these fun behind the scenes photos! I am working on another Behind the Scenes- Wedding Edition! So stay tuned!!
Their engagement session was full of laughs and I couldn’t get enough of these two! I loved getting to spend time with them in a place that was special to them when they met, and I knew I’d be getting to share another special place as they said their I Do’s just a few weeks after their engagements and again, this was another couple I couldn’t wait to see!
Alexis and Nick had a beautiful Cape Cod wedding day! They were married in the church that Alexis’ grandmother was married in, First Congregational Church, in Falmouth. Her grandmother was a joy to speak to and she was beaming that they were being married in that church! It was truly something so special. Alexis had this gorgeous cathedral veil that flowed behind her as she walked toward Nick. As they saw each other for the first time, I don’t think either one took their eyes off of each other. That amazing traditional first look down the isle will never be forgotten.
They invited their closest friends and family and something that I am so excited about, was that everyone happened to be on the steps of the church, congratulating them after the ceremony, I was able to pull everyone together for a group photo on the church steps! It worked out so perfectly that everyone they love, can all be in one amazing photo from such an amazing day.
Alexis and Nick, Thank you so much for trusting me to capture your wedding day. It was an absolute honor to celebrate with you all, and document this love the two of you have for each other. From your personalities, to the wedding dress, the hand written vows, details of your day, everything ( and everyone) is so beautiful. I hope that this is a day that you guys will always remember and love looking back at your photos. Congratulations!
Wow! It’s been awhile since I have blogged! It feels good to be back! Did you miss me?! This fall season has been so busy and I am so thankful for that! While the season is not over just yet for me, I have about 3 days of no shoots, and am “Semi” caught up with editing and here I am taking a breather to blog about this amazing end of the summer beach session with an Ali B Family I have been with for a few years now!
The Pinto Family has been in touch with me about several shoots throughout the year and this one was really exciting! I have done a lot of beach sessions this year so I was excited to add to that collection of portrait photography. The day was perfect, the beach was perfect and low tide left us with amazing ground and a perfect sun set. Saquish Beach is so quite and so pretty. No one was there. We had a huge section of the beach to run around and play and they fur pups were with us joining in on the fun! Last year they wanted fall colors, this year they got amazing beach colors.
I am so happy to have these guys come back year after year ( season after season!) I love watching Benjamin grow and I really just love this whole little family! Jen, Tony, Ben, Echo and Jay- Thanks for always trusting me to capture your family memories! I hope you loved this session as much as I did and I hope you have room to hang photos on your wall because if I were you, I would want to print every single one. 🙂
Hello, and welcome to the Ali B Blog! I’m Alex and I am a wedding photographer based in Bedford, NH. I hope you grab your favorite drink ( in my case, coffee) and enjoy viewing my latest work, browsing resources for brides and photographers, as well as getting a little peek into my life.