The sun. The sand. A soundtrack of the wind and waves. There really isn’t anything quite like a beach event.
“It’s peaceful, it’s romantic, it’s beautiful and the view is always great,” says Jamie Chang with Mango Muse Events (San Francisco area). “When you can get married on the beach or with a beach view, it’s extra special because all those great things about the beach become even more amplified.”
And the beach isn’t just reserved for weddings, however; anniversary or birthday parties, Bar and Bat Mitsvahs, and even team building events can all be perfect soirees for the sand.
Keep it simple
Simple and elegant is the common aesthetic for any event on the beach. Being the beach is already beautiful on its own, you don’t want to go overboard on the décor elements because it could detract from the natural features.
“You want elements that complement the setting, not take away from it,” Chang says.
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Lee Anderson with Sugar Beach Events (Maui) agrees. “While beach weddings do follow the trends, they usually feel lighter,” she says, “with colors that echo the surroundings and furniture that further brings in the beachy feel, while keeping it elegant and elevated.”
Mother Nature’s playground
One of the biggest considerations for beach events is the elements, specifically the wind and heat. Obviously, rain can also be a factor, but planning for this mirrors all other outdoor events, whereas the sun and wind are unique to the beach.
“Since Mother Nature is really in charge, you can count on using your experience and expertise to handle any challenges that may come your way on wedding day,” Anderson says.
When contending with the wind, you may need to think twice about tall and lavish floral arrangements, towering candles, and even ribbons or balloons. Weigh down your lighter items with rocks, seashells or other heavier items; fill vases with sand or water for extra heft; tie programs to chairs; use adhesive to secure table décor; choose flower varieties that stand up well against high temperatures; and consider electric candles or torches in lieu of standard votive candles.
“How many seat assignments have blown off a table because they were set on pretty folded napkins? Too many to recall,” Anderson said, “and don’t forget about tray passing champagne flutes; I have spent more money on champagne flutes than anything else in my catering company.”
When talking about soirees in the sand, there are a lot of details that instantly say “beach,” without going over the top and making them seem cliché.
The color palette
While the traditional color palette for a beach event may be blues, tans, teals and aquas, those don’t have to be the only ones. Add a little pop of color that will contrast with the sand to make the setting more vibrant. Think green, orange, or coral tones.
“The aesthetic starts with greenery, usually something local to the area, and flowers,” says Chang. Chrysanthemums, calla lilies, king protea, and orchids all do well on the beach.
“Lighting is a big part of beach weddings because once it gets dark, it really gets dark,” says Chang. Consider using tiki torches, electric candles, lanterns, woven light shades, string lights or having fireworks.
“Incorporating ocean or nautical related items are also very common in beach weddings and events,” says Chang. Think coral, seashells, knots, boats, surfboards, and sand.
“And of course, let’s not forget the ocean itself which typically shows up in color schemes, stationery, linen, and cakes,” Chang says.
But it doesn’t have to all be seashells and palm leaves. Consider using other elements such as stones, sea glass, and driftwood.
A few additional details to consider:
- Entertainment: Bring in island-themed musicians (drums or ukulele). Or bring it up a notch with an aerialist suspended between palm trees; or employ a fire dancer for evening events.
- Food: Opting for finger-foods like sandwiches, vegetables with dips, and sweet or salty snacks will allow guests to socialize and move around.
- Favors: Have a little fun with it! Hand out beach pails with sunblock, sunglasses, and a water bottle. Or distribute leis or straw hats for guests to wear.
- Save the Date: How about a deflated (but ready to inflate) beach ball with the event details printed on it?
- Activities: Don’t underestimate the fun and popularity of beach volleyball, bocce ball, and photo booths.
Bring the outdoors inside
Even if you don’t have access to the sun and sand, there are still plenty of opportunities to bring the beach indoors.
“It’s just a matter of choosing elements that will still work with the venue or location you’re in but give it that beach vibe,” says Chang. “For example, just utilizing some tropical leaves or flowers like monstera or orchids can bring that beach vibe to a non-beach event. Or incorporating a lot of blue greens into the design will give it a beach feel no matter where the event is taking place. Or even selecting a certain type of menu and including coconut or mango or ahi tuna or Caribbean flavors would bring a beachy vibe to any event.”