As a Central Coast Wedding Photographer I have many clients that love the idea of a beach wedding ceremony – we are blessed with some of the nicest beaches on the NSW coast. Now, as a photographer I am more than happy to go along with what my client requests as far as locations go – unless I feel they are making a big mistake.
I’m not in anyway suggesting that a beach wedding is a bad idea, but I’m pretty sure that many couples don’t really consider some of the downsides of a beach wedding ceremony, all they see is the fairytale beach wedding scenes from television, the movies and photos. I feel exactly the same way when I see these scenes or capture them myself for my couples.
I’ll be the first to look over my images and think – WOW, what a great wedding!
What pictures do you conjure up when you think of a beach wedding?
I see, blue skies, a gentle westerly breeze that flattens the sea and leaves the ocean sparkling and smooth.
I see small waves with the spray being forced back to the horizon as they break.
There is a small shore break that hisses as the small wave races to its end up the beach.
I see a small and intimate ceremony, romance, smiles and laughter.
My beach is secluded and empty, apart from the wedding party.
I see golden sand and a headland at one end with a few surfers out.
I can smell the ocean, it’s clean but salty.
I’m concentrating on the words being exchanged, the vows, the kiss, the clapping and cheering.
I love a beach wedding.
Unfortunately, the reality can be so, so different – especially for a Central Coast Wedding.
Sand blowing?? hard.
Hair everywhere, across your face, stuck to your lips, across your eyes.
It’s bright, you have to squint.
The surf is huge, it’s loud.
I can’t hear the celebrant, I cant hear the bride.
People are chatting.
They are losing interest. People on the beach aren’t, they are circling, they want to see, they’re way too close, they’re in the way.
The P.A isn’t working, no one can hear.
People at the back are lighting up a cigarette now – they are actually chatting!
Shoes are off.
There’s no shade.
I’m actually sweating.
The sand is sticking.
This is not what I pictured.
I hate beach weddings.
Well I guess that’s two extremes but either can be a reality – believe me, I’ve seen it all.
So, what should you do if you have your heart set on a Central Coast Wedding at the beach and you want to do everything you can to make it a success or as close to what you picture in your head as possible?
10 Tips For Success on the Beach
- Choose a beach that is either usually quiet or where you can ‘claim’ a little area for your wedding party.Close to a headland is usually a good start as you won’t have uninvited guests circling you, they’ll be forced to stand off to one side.Some beaches that I can recommend – Terrigal Haven, North Avoca, Pearl Beach and Killcare. There are other beaches that will be fine but considering accessibility, these are some of the best.If you are planning a beach wedding, you will have to get permission and pay the local council. The benefits are that no one else can take your spot, you will often get keys to service roads which will give you closer access and the council will usually clean up and cut any grass around where you plan to have your ceremony or access to. Gosford Council : (02) 4325 8222 Wyong Council: (02) 4350 5555
- Consider access when you choose your location. If you have elderly guests, getting to your spot can be a real struggle. It is possible to hire wheelchairs with large wheels designed for the sand which can make life much easier.Make sure you have sufficient seating for your guests.
- Expect there to be wind during your ceremony. Hopefully it’ll be still and that’s a bonus! When preparing for a windy ceremony, gave particular attention to your hair and how you wear it for the wedding.If you are planning a summer wedding on the beach, it is likely that you’ll be faced with North Easterly winds in the afternoons which means it may be a better idea to have the girls standing to the right of the boys (looking down the aisle) than the traditional left. This way your hair and veil will be blowing out of your face. This can usually be sorted by your celebrant but they won’t stray from tradition unless you have discussed it beforehand. They don’t want to be the one that looks like they’ve made a mistake. You can’t rely on your future husband either – no guy wants to take responsibility of a late change at a wedding!
- Make sure your celebrant either has a loud and strong voice (some of the male celebrants) or they have a good and working P.A system. Nothing will upset the feel and flow of a wedding ceremony more than not being able to hear what’s going on.If your guests can’t hear, they will chat. Any feeling of romance and an intimate wedding ceremony will be out the door.
- Spare a thought for your guests comfort. I have photographed some great weddings on the beach where guests were provided with parasols or fans which were greatly received on these particularly hot days. I have a blog post on that topic here.
- If you are providing drinks at the beach, it is best to keep them till after the ceremony unless you want the party to start midway through the ceremony and without you. You are required to get permission to serve drinks on the beach, but I have never witnessed any issues with this at a wedding.
- Look at the tides when you are selecting your wedding date if you are planning a beach ceremony. A low tide will be a much safer option in most cases. At high tide, some beaches will literally disappear – especially around Christmas with the ‘king’ tides.You can find NSW tide times by clicking here.
- If you are thinking about an aisle on the beach – simple is best. Carpet is a bad idea, it’s difficult to walk on and you don’t want to trip. The best aisles I’ve seen are those marked with flowers (unless it’s too windy) or metal stakes down each side with loops at the top. Through the loops was a length of ribbon that marked the aisle beautifully. Simple, effective and easy.
- Consider the light. For the best photos and comfort for everyone, either very early or late will be the best times for a ceremony. This may not be suitable as far as your reception goes, but it’s best to avoid the high midday sun if possible. The other upside of an early or late ceremony is the wind is usually at it’s lowest – but it will always be a gamble.
- Have a back up plan! You MUST have an alternative location for your ceremony if you are planning to have it on the beach. Better to be prepared and have the option than be scrambling and upset on the day.
I have aimed this post at anyone planning a Central Coast Wedding but most of these things will apply no matter the beach you are planning your wedding ceremony. These are all things that I would discuss with every one of my clients at a consultation and I would expect that all the good Central Coast wedding photographers would do the same. Some of the above points will be irrelevant if you are planning a beach ceremony further afield like far North Queensland, Bali or Fiji but certainly from Sydney to the Mid North Coast you’ll be faced with similar challenges.
If you are planning a Newcastle wedding on the beach, Natalie will be able to give you the rundown on which beaches to avoid and the best ones to consider when making your plans. Natalie will also happily recommend some other Newcastle wedding photographers if your date isn’t available. Natalie can be reached at Impact Images Newcastle on 1300 85 10 60 or via our contact form.
If you really want to have an amazing wedding with gorgeous wedding photography, then you should discuss any thoughts you have with your photographer – they really are the next best thing (I actually think better) to a wedding planner. If you choose someone with experience, you’ll have a photographer that has been to many weddings and seen the good, the bad and the ugly.
If you’re unsure where to start looking, make sure you check our website first. If we’re fully booked, there’s a great article on how to find the next best Newcastle or Central Coast wedding photographers here.
Want more resources for planning the perfect Newcastle, Hunter Valley or Central Coast wedding – click here for a range of articles that will help you have the perfect day.