| |Darla in Minnesota: We just got engaged and are seriously considering a beach wedding in Florida near our port before we go on our honeymoon cruise. What is the best way to go about planning this kind of wedding?Rev. Ann: Congratulations! With a very busy cruise terminal in our midst, Brevard County is the site of oodles of destination beach weddings each year so I encounter this situation fairly frequently.I highly encourage anyone unfamiliar with Florida beaches, or planning their wedding from a distance, engage a package company such as Florida Beachside Weddings that specializes in just these type of events. A simple internet search for "beach wedding" and the name of the city or county from which you will be departing can help you find a company located nearby, though many do travel throughout the state so don't write off one of those if you feel drawn to it.
These folks have the local knowledge necessary to avoid costly mistakes and have the experience to guide you to a date, time, and location that makes the most sense for your schedule.
Interview candidates, check on-line reviews, and ask for references. Booking a package with an experienced full-service vendor will alleviate a lot of stress involved in planning a destination beach wedding.
Kayla and Patrick at the Windemere Inn in Melbourne Beach
Becca and Mark at Ballard Park on the Indian River in Melbourne
Wyka in Illinois: Out of curiosity, what do you think is the biggest mistake I might end up making if I decide to go with a Florida beach wedding?Rev. Ann: Love that question!
I do provide a lot of information about considerations you should make on the Tips for the Beach
page on my website, but since you ask about my opinion on the biggest mistake....I would say it is not taking climate and tide schedules into consideration.
Anyone unfamiliar with this area should spend some time learning about the climate and annual weather patterns. Just as you would probably never consider a wedding on the beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in January or February, a wedding on the beach in Brevard County, Florida in July or August is miserable for everyone involved.
Additionally, there are sections of the beach completely covered by water near high tide....and waiting for the water to recede could delay a wedding for over an hour or more. Neither your vendors nor your guests are going to have the patience for that.
Scheduling your wedding at an uncomfortable time of year during high tide would definitely be the biggest mistake. bye bye beach wedding!
Mark faced me so as not to see Becca until the very last moment.
Jimmie in Florida: We are both school teachers so we are scheduling our wedding during the summer. We are interested in a waterfront wedding, but we know it is going to be really hot that time of year. What can we do to prevent everyone from melting?Rev. Ann: I am afraid I have to be completely honest with you and tell you there is not much you can do if you insist upon having it outdoors in Florida during the summer.
The heat will not be quite as oppressive if you select a shaded ceremony site. Becca and Mark, shown above and to the right, held their summer wedding riverside in a park with plenty of trees rather than on the beach in full sun. This alleviates the squinting and discomfort, but there will still be plenty of sweating going on.You can schedule your wedding for sunset, which may bring the temperature down a few degrees, but then you may lose lighting for great outdoor portraits after the ceremony.
A sunrise wedding is a wee bit cooler as well. While I can ingest enough coffee to officiate a dawn ceremony and actually quite like them, guests tend to grumble and moan.If the view is more important than the setting itself, consider booking waterfront venues such as a ballroom in a beachfront hotel, yacht club, the Cocoa Beach Pier
, the Porcher House
behind Riverfront Park in Cocoa Village, or the Front Street Civic Center
in Melbourne. Your ceremony will have air conditioning for the comfort of your wedding party, guests, and vendors. However, you will have easy access to pop out for gorgeous waterfront portraits intermittently throughout the reception portion of your festivities.
Photo Attributes: Friends of the brides and grooms posted these on Facebook, so I swiped them!
Check out that high tide behind us! No beach today.
No one wants to consider the alternatives should the unexpected happen once the wedding day arrives. Most couples are focused on planning the
wedding of their dreams and cannot face entertaining the idea things won't go quite as expected.
Realistically, it isn't even possible to consider each and every potential turn of events. However, some types of weddings absolutely necessitate a Plan B, and all couples should open themselves up to the idea that a little flexibility may be required when the time comes. I don't mean you should plan a shadow wedding and arrange for alternatives for every aspect of your big day. You do not need to hire a back up photographer should yours get sick, book two venues in case one burns down, or have an extra bridesmaid and groomsmen lined up as understudies.
Be realistic, not paranoid.If you are planning on outdoor wedding, clearly you need to arrange for an alternative location in the event of inclement weather.
These weddings demand a Plan B. Many of the couples I work with who are in the process of planning an outdoor wedding are surprised to see I require an alternative sheltered location on my contract. It honestly has not occurred to them that a change may be dictated by natural events beyond their control. I want them to understand I am not only concerned with everyone's safety, but am adaptable and can help make sure their wedding is as close to perfect as possible, even under trying circumstances.
Regardless of where your wedding and reception will be held, all couples hiring professional vendors (photographer, caterer, officiant, DJ, etc.) should ask about the vendors' backup plans for their particular role in the wedding
Although I have met with hundreds of couples, less than a handful have inquired what would happen if I got sick or had some other emergency that would prevent me from officiating their ceremony when the day arrived. Fortunately, I have had to rely on a replacement (though not a last minute replacement) just once in six and a half years. I am only human after all.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the "do it yourself wedding," some aspects of my own wedding definitely fall into that category. But the expertise and experience of professional wedding vendors can be worth its weight in gold should the unexpected arise. Your cousin, the photo hobbyist, may not have a ready list of colleagues who can substitute for him should he fall ill at the most inconvenient time for your wedding. Professional florists and decorators can quickly move decor to another location in a fraction of the time it might take an amateur.
I have personally witnessed some "wedding miracles" courtesy of fast-thinking, creative vendors facing all sorts of hiccups. Foul weather, absent or tardy members of the wedding party, late deliveries, horrendous traffic delays, broken or lost items, etc. These are the folks who make your wedding day an absolute dream! (pssst....and they know each other, so ask for referrals)
I chose to illustrate using pictures from Keely and Jonathan Ede's wedding because it was a perfect example of the importance of a Plan B. Their intention to have a beach wedding was rudely interrupted by a little bit of weather we fondly refer to as Hurricane Sandy. Shannon Perez of Florida Beachside Weddings
and Lucy Paulson of the Cocoa Beach Pier
rescued the day for Keely and Jonathan. The couple were still able to exchange vows by the ocean and include both a Sand Ceremony and a Wish Upon a Shell ritual in their wedding ceremony, but avoid the wind and rain. I am thoroughly impressed with Shannon's ability to capture their day considering the tight quarters, unnatural lighting, and sheet glass windows behind us. Your wedding professionals make a huge difference, especially when conditions are less than optimal.
As I have mentioned before, couples that have their hearts dead set on an outdoor wedding are exactly the type of people who should never plan one in the first place. If you are making arrangements for a ceremony and/or reception in the great outdoors, you must be flexible concerning your expectations. Neat trick if you can master it, but I have yet to meet anyone who can control weather upon demand.
I have absolutely no problem officiating a wedding in the rain provided I can shelter my Kindle – I do not have every ceremony memorized after all. I am not going to set up my PA system in wet weather as it is comprised of electronic components, but if the bride and groom are fine with me attempting to project my voice or have made alternative amplification arrangements with a DJ that works for me. I am water proof. I do not mind gusty wind and can dress appropriately for the cold.
It is pretty obvious to everyone the festivities are going to be held at the alternative indoor location when in the midst of a violent storm, torrential downpour, or gale force winds. It becomes a little trickier to make the call when inclement weather is in the area, but not directly impacting the wedding venue…yet. And trust me, no one wants to be the person to make the call. Have you tried to break a bride’s heart lately? It is not a fun experience. This is where a bride can step up and help everyone else help her.
If you have thunderstorm activity in the area, even just scattered thunderstorms, you should take everyone’s safety into account and give up your dream of an outdoor wedding.
I recently had a wedding where I saw several lightning strikes as I arrived. I was stunned to learn the venue was still considering holding the wedding outside –because it was not actually raining. The radar showed thunderstorm activity swirling all around the area. The clouds in the distance were menacing and according to all weather reports these conditions were going to continue for the rest of the evening. The suggestion we hold up the wedding and start late was absurd.
I have a clause in my contract that theoretically enables me to be the one to make the call when safety becomes an issue. At first it appeared I would be heeded, but the bride was adamant about having her wedding outdoors and would agree with me one minute and then express her dissatisfaction with someone else the moment I scurried off to prepare for the ceremony. The coordinator at the venue did not want to disappoint her, feeling every bride should get her way on her wedding day. While I sympathize with this position and do try my best to be a part of bringing every bride’s dreams to reality, issues of personal safety make this a situation where it is simply not possible.
I told the bride I was willing to begin the wedding outdoors, but if either the DJ or me saw any evidence of lightning in the area I would halt the wedding mid-syllable and we would conclude the ceremony indoors. She decided to chance it. While we felt a few drops of rain during the ceremony, the violent weather held off. I have had this happen before on several occasions. Once, we were successful –and lucky—like this bride. At two other weddings, we were not. At one of those weddings, a guest was pretty badly hurt in the mad dash to reach shelter. Say hello to the paramedics.
Brides may feel they made the right decision when luckily the ceremony is not immediately caught in a storm, but in my opinion, this is simply selfish and foolish. Lightning can strike up to 25 miles away from its originating point. At this most recent wedding affected by inclement weather in the area, I spent the entire ceremony shaking internally with fear someone might be hurt. I would rather have been focused on the couple and their commitment to one another. I learned the next day that a house approximately a mile away from the venue was struck and partially burned about fifteen minutes after the wedding ceremony concluded. This happened with little to no precipitation.
Thunderstorm activity in the area can unpredictably affect your site, sometimes in a matter of moments. While the ceremony may only last 20 minutes, consider the people decorating and setting up equipment. Remember guests assemble before the bride walks down the aisle. It takes time to get everyone safely to shelter following the ceremony. You may think you need a twenty minute window when in reality we are talking more like 45 minutes to an hour. Double that if you expect to take formal pictures at the outdoor wedding site as well.
Lightning is one of the leading weather-related causes of death and injury in the United States. Here in Florida, it kills more people than all other weather sources combined. Our state holds the record in lightning deaths and injuries. Most people do not realize they can be struck by lightning even when the center of the thunderstorm is 10 miles away and there are blue skies above. I know it is disappointing when weather adversely affects our expectations. However, people’s safety should be the primary concern of each one of us, whether we are the bride, the groom, a wedding planner, DJ, photographer or officiant.
Please exhibit common sense and compassion when it comes to threatening weather. I am fairly confident the wedding of your dreams does not include paramedics, unless they are off duty and attending as guests.
This bolt of lightning may look dramatic, but you do not want it anywhere near you on your wedding day!
Nature is beautiful and romantic, therefore gardens and beaches make absolutely lovely settings for wedding ceremonies. They are ripe with potential for spectacular photographs.Alas, an outdoor ceremony also has the potential for disaster. Nature is unpredictable and as much as we would like to believe all will be well, the sad truth is that the weather doesn't care who is getting married
at any particular moment in time.As odd as this sounds, if you have your heart absolutely set on an outdoor wedding ceremony, you probably shouldn't plan one. These occasions demand a bridal couple willing to make accommodations if inclement weather threatens the event. I recommend the following if you are interested in exchanging your vows in the great outdoors.1. Know the general climate and weather patterns of your wedding location like the back of your hand. Although Florida is known as the Sunshine State, it could just as easily be
called the Intermittent Thunderstorm State or Unbelievably Hot and Humid State. I have encountered couples from up north who planned destination weddings here and honestly did not realize how uncomfortable the summer months are, even at sunrise and sunset. In the shade, temperatures can routinely exceed 90 degrees in July and August. Likewise, it can come as a surprise to some people that we do have days during the winter that are downright cold. I once officiated a wedding on New Year's Day where the poor bride and bridesmaids shivered through the entire thing in their strapless gowns on a blustery day with a high I'm not sure exceeded 40 degrees.2. Arrange in advance for an alternative location for inclement or uncomfortable weather. No one should ever plan an outdoor wedding without having an alternative venue lined up just in case it's rainy, too hot, too windy or too cold. If you're getting married at a hotel, country club, or other such venue that routinely books weddings, you're likely to have a back up location readily available.
If your preferred venue does not have convenient shelter on site, either arrange for something else relatively close by as your back up or strike it off your list and move on to your next choice. This holds true whether you have two guests or two hundred. Have a back up plan!3. Be prepared to use your alternative venue and have someone else make the decision when the time comes. Brides can become emotionally attached to their mental expectations of the wedding and therefore are not
the best person to make the call when inclement weather threatens the ceremony. A wedding planner, venue staff, officiant, family member or friend with sound judgment should be allowed to determine whether or not the ceremony will proceed outdoors as planned. As Florida is the lightning capital of the world, I will be the "bad guy" and move a ceremony indoors if I feel safety is an issue. I certainly hope brides would prefer to be married indoors than see someone struck by lightning at their wedding. 4. Be mindful of comfort as well as inclement weather. Rain may wreck havoc with sound equipment, musical instruments and the officiant's text thereby sending everyone inside, but that's not the only thing to consider when planning an outdoor wedding.
Keep your comfort and your guests' comfort in mind. If the temperature falls below 50 or exceeds 80 you really should consider using your alternative indoor venue. Don't put the men in three piece suits or black tuxedos if the weather is expected to be hot. Position the ceremony in a shady spot on hot days. While the bride may only be at the ceremony for 15-20 minutes, the guests can be sitting out there waiting for it to begin for half an hour or more. Choosing a shady location also makes for better photographs as it is pretty much impossible to remove squinting with photo editing software.
5. If it is in your budget, hire professionals to handle the decorations for an outdoor wedding rather than doing it yourself
. Companies such as Florida Beachside Weddings offer packages that include chairs, flowers, arches and other such structures to enhance the location and provide a visual focal point for your wedding. The advantage here is that should weather become an issue, professionals can more easily tear down and reassemble your decorations than you could. In their capable hands, you won't have to scramble at the last minute and break a sweat. Additionally, they have the experience to know what kind of decorations hold up to the elements better than others. I've seen a lot of do-it-yourself efforts turn out wonderfully, but unfortunately, I've also seen too many fall flat - once quite literally.6. Consider an indoor venue with access to a beautiful natural setting for your portraits instead. You can always get married inside and then take advantage of the beauty and romance of nature during the post-ceremony picture taking.
Many beachfront hotels have ballrooms and restaurants with glass walls or huge windows overlooking the beach. You can get married in the comfort of air conditioning without any risk of wind or rain ruining your decorations (and hair!) and then step out onto the beach for spectacular portraits.Lest I sound too negative regarding outdoor weddings, I can assure you I have officiated oodles of successful weddings in natural settings. I would estimate at least 75% of the weddings I officiate take place outside and by far, most are perfectly fine.
It's the exceptions that stick in the memory and all of these would have been helped tremendously with the considerations above. Be realistic and flexible and you'll do just fine!Photo Attribute: Shannon Perez of FloridaBeachsideWeddings.com