Who doesn’t love a day relaxing at the beach? The natural beauty of the ocean is hard to top, especially when the sun sets over the sea. Many couples share this belief and tie the knot in front of those crashing waves. This couple’s guide will dive into the top tips for planning an affordable beach wedding. This includes the following:
- Save money early
- Tour beach venues
- Think about how you’ll decorate
- Skip wedding season
- Decide on a menu
By noting all this information, you can achieve the wedding of your dreams by the ocean. Check out the information below so you can easily plan the big day!
Save Money Early
No matter where you tie the knot, weddings get expensive in a hurry. Before spending any money, talk with your partner and decide how much you both agree is appropriate. Start researching venues and vendors to know how much your wedding will cost. Likewise, browse online for the price of wedding attire. Don’t start any in-person shopping yet, as it’s easier to get attached, and right now, the sole goal is to plan your budget.
Some couples open a separate savings account—a vacation savings account— for their wedding funds. This is great because it allows you to keep your wedding money separate from other expenses, such as bills and groceries. Plus, it’ll be much easier to track how much you spend on major costs such as your venue, photographer, baker, and attire.
Know Who’s Paying
As you and your partner decide how much you want to spend, you also need to know who’s paying for the big day. Sometimes, one or both sets of parents cover part of or the entire wedding price—traditionally, the bride’s parents do this. If you and your partner don’t know whether your parents will help, call them and ask if you can discuss your wedding budget. Aim to have this conversation in-person or via video chat, as money is a big deal, and the discussion should feel personal.
When talking with either set of parents, begin by discussing your vision for your wedding and how much you estimate the costs will be based on the research you’ve done. Then, remain transparent and ask whether they plan to contribute to your big day. From here, leave it to them. If your parents agree, that’s great! But if they don’t want to or can’t afford to chip in, that’s also okay. This personal decision does not reflect how much they love or support you and your union.
Categorize Your Budget
Once you know how much you’ll spend, break down those funds. A great way to split up and track spending is by using Excel. You can create a spreadsheet and label columns according to each expense, the goal price, and what you paid. For instance, note if you have an overall budget of $20,000 and plan to spend $5,000 on your venue. Keeping an accurate record of all expenses reduces the risk of going over budget.
Tour Beach Venues
The time has finally come—you can start touring beach venues. Depending on where you live, this may mean the difference between having a local and destination beach wedding. If you live in Chicago, your beach wedding could be at Navy Pier in front of Lake Michigan. Similarly, if you live in San Diego, California, you could pick out the perfect spot with a view of the Pacific.
On the other hand, you may have to decide on a destination wedding, either to get a beach or the beach of your dreams. That Chicago couple may picture San Diego as the ideal wedding spot.
Regardless of which category you fall into, you’ll need to tour various venues, so you have a few options to weigh. Begin by searching “Beach wedding venues in X-location” on the internet. Then, click through photos of the locations and read through past reviews. Once you’ve picked a few that seem promising, call the site to schedule an appointment or call so you can discuss prices.
Picking Affordable Venues
Certain beaches may be breathtaking, but once you see the venue rental fees, you might lose your breath for other reasons. Some of the most affordable destinations for beach weddings range from Destin, Florida, to Cancun, Mexico! Going abroad is excellent if you have a smaller guest list and want to roll your honeymoon spot into the wedding destination.
Decide on a Guest List
While touring venues, aim to have an idea of how many guests you want to have, as this ensures you visit the appropriate locations. Typically, a smaller guest list will save you money since there are fewer invitations to send out, fewer plates to cover, and you can get a smaller cake.
Make an initial list of who you want to invite, then reevaluate it by asking yourself who you keep in touch with and who you want as support. As a rule of thumb, ask yourself if you’d wish for an invitation to the potential guest’s wedding—if so, invite them.
Ask About Venue Packages
One of the most important things to ask about is the types of wedding packages offered for the venue. Find out what you get for the rental fee. Some locations factor food and select decor into this, which could save you money in the long run.
Save the Date
As you tour beaches, you should have an approximate idea of the day and time of your wedding. Start by thinking about what seasons you’d prefer to say “I do” in. When it comes to time, most wedding planners recommend holding your beach wedding in the morning when the sun is less intense.
While talking with the venue manager, ask about the following:
- When the sun rises and sets
- What time the tides come in
- The ideal wedding month for that location
All this information will help you decide on the perfect day and time to send out your save the dates. Keep in mind that every location has differing ideal seasons. The perfect wedding season on the West Coast differs from the East Coast due to natural factors such as hurricanes.
To save money here, consider sending out digital save-the-date cards via email. This reduces printing and mailing costs, giving you more to spend on the big day.
Have a Backup Plan
When you spend a lot on a venue, the last thing you want to risk is rain ruining your big day. While meeting with venue managers, ask about what kind of backup plans they offer. Can they put a tent over the altar and guest seating? Do they provide indoor ceremonies for inclement weather? Gravitate toward venues that allow this so you can craft backup plans after settling on the perfect beach.
Moving your beach wedding indoors is a worst-case scenario, but it may be necessary if a storm rolls in. Aim to plan your big day at a location that has an indoor area with large windows with a view of the beach. This way, you still have a view of the ocean but also get to keep dry.
Think About How You’ll Decorate
Your decor allows you to make the venue unique to you and your partner. Take time to think about a color palette so everything flows together. Likewise, decide on flowers that go with this theme but are also in season and local. One of the top reasons to choose in-season flowersis because they’re more available and on budget. This saves money for other decorations, such as lanterns or your altar.
Saving Money on Decor
To save some room in your budget, DIY as much as you can. Some of the many items you can create include:
- Ceremony signs
- Seating escort cards and the display
- Wedding altar
Search on Pinterest for inspiration on creating each of these for your beach wedding. If you already have ideas on what you want, put that into your search. For instance, type “pink altar for beach wedding” for those exact examples. This gives you ideas of what to create, plus how it looks at an oceanside venue.
If you plan to DIY much of your decor, reach out to your wedding party to see if anyone can help. This is a great way to bond with everyone and makes the work move much faster.
Skip Wedding Season
The next suggestion for planning your on-budget beach wedding is to skip all the hype of the wedding season. Most beaches look beautiful throughout the year, so ditch the prime wedding months, like September or October, to save some money. Best of all, when you get married in the off-season, you get more selection in addition to those better prices!
You can also save money by getting married mid-week rather than choosing a Friday or Saturday.
Decide on a Menu
The food you serve is another factor that weighs heavily on your wedding budget. Options such as steak may be delicious but come at a higher price. For meat, many couples serve chicken because it has various preparation options and is cost effective. While deciding on your menu, think about the best foods to eat at the beach. You could serve options such as:
- Coconut shrimp
- Local fish
- Chicken Marsala
- Ice cream
- Fruit tart
You’ll also need to decide whether you want an open or cash bar. While an open bar costs more, it also gives guests a better experience. Most people don’t want to pay for drinks through the night. Take time to weigh the pros and cons of an open bar vs. a cash bar at your wedding to decide if you want to cut expenses in this area.
If you can’t decide between an open and a cash bar, you could do an open bar for set hours, then make it a cash bar in the off time. This saves money without sacrificing the experiences of your guests.
A Closing Note
The beach allows for a picturesque backdrop on your big day, and there’s no denying that beauty. Before visiting venues, create an ideal budget to get a price range of what you want to pay for your beach location. While touring, remember to ask what’s included in rental packages to determine the value and where you may still need to cut costs. Most importantly, enjoy every moment of pre-wedding bliss as you prepare to say your vows oceanside.