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.
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!
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.