What You’ll Find in This Guide to Eloping at The Beach:
- FAQs About Eloping at the Beach
- Why Should You Elope at the Beach
- How to Plan a Beach Elopement
- What Time of Year to Elope at the Beach
- Do You Need a Permit to Elope on the Beach?
- The Best Beach Elopement Wedding Destinations
- Ideas + Things to Do for Your Beach Elopement
- Beach Elopement Wedding Photos to Inspire You
FAQs About Eloping at the Beach
Can you get married on a local beach?
Yes, getting married on a local beach is a great idea! As you’re looking for the perfect beach to get married on, look for any restrictions or permits that might be needed.
What month is best for a beach wedding?
The best month for a beach elopement wedding really depends on the location. You’ll need to take into consideration the weather, how busy the beaches are, ease of travel, etc. Read more about the best time of year to elope below!
Is it okay to get married on a beach?
Yes! Usually, it’s okay to get married on a beach, but you’ll need to double check for the specific location. Some beaches require a permit or have restrictions on how many people you can have at your ceremony – read more below!
Where should I get married on the beach?
There are so many great beach elopement destinations, and the answer will be different for each wedding couple! Think about how far you want to travel, what time of year you want to get married, and what kind of beach scenery you want. You’ll also find a great list of beach elopement wedding destination inspiration below to get you started!
Why Should You Get Married at the Beach?
Maybe you’ve always dreamed of getting married at the beach, or maybe a beach elopement makes you think of a really cringy, cheesy wedding from the 90s. Either way, I promise that eloping at the beach is a fantastic idea! You can make your elopement experience be whatever you want to fit your vision. And there are millions of beaches out there that would be the perfect place to get married – no matter what beach scenery you’re looking for! So why should you elope on the beach?
The most obvious reason is the natural beauty of beaches. There’s just something magical about the ocean (or a lake or sound) meeting the shore and all the scenery surrounding it. Many of us feel pulled to the beach and could spend all day there enjoying the setting.
And as you’re taking in the beauty of the beach, you’ll also experience the 5 senses. The sound of the waves hitting the shore and gulls crying, the taste of salt in the air and water, the smell of the seaweed on the sand. The feeling of the wind on your skin and the sand between your toes. When you take the time to immerse yourself in your surroundings and feel it all, you create memories. And what better day to make memories than on your wedding!
The final reason you should elope at the beach is a bit more practical, but also important. Beach elopements have more room for wedding guests at your ceremony. If you’re wanting 10-20 people to be at your elopement or small wedding, it’s very easy to find space on a beach for them to stand or sit. Other elopement locations like forests, mountain tops, or by a waterfall are much more difficult to find space for everyone.
How to Plan a Beach Elopement
Eloping on a beach may sound simple, and it can be, but there is still some planning involved. You of course want your elopement day to go smoothly and to be everything you and your partner have been dreaming about, and that takes a little bit of research and prep. I highly recommend looking over my How to Elope page to get a feel for each of the steps. And if any of this feels a bit overwhelming, I’d love to take away the stress by being your elopement photographer and planner! I’ll help you find the perfect beach elopement location, work out the logistics, suggest fun and meaningful activities, and anything else you need!
5 Beach Elopement Planning Steps
- Pick a location – Decide how far you want to travel, what kind of beach you want to elope at, how much privacy you want, then find a beach that fits.
- Choose a date – The weather and tourist seasons will play a big part in this. Week days are ideal. You can also choose a date that’s special to you.
- Build your dream elopement day – Include fun activities, meaningful details, and special moments.
- Hire elopement vendors – find amazing businesses to work with who know how to do a beach elopement. You may need an officiant to marry you, photographer and videographer, flowers or decorations, and more.
- Fill in the details of your elopement – Decide what to include in your ceremony, figure out marriage license laws, create a backup plan, etc.
Tips for Eloping at the Beach
Choose Your Beach Elopement Outfits
Before we talk about your wedding clothes, let’s chat about shoes! Many couples opt to just go barefoot for their beach elopement, and that’s a good idea! When you’re barefoot, you’ll feel a little freer and you’ll get to feel the sand and water on your skin. If you’re not up for that, sandals are a great alternative. Close-toed shoes or boots are also fine if you want to avoid the sand (not sure if that’s 100% possible though, haha!). The one thing you DO NOT want to do is wear heels. They might be beautiful, but I promise, you’ll regret it as you sink into the sand and have trouble standing and walking. Just go for flat shoes or bare feet. 😉
You’ll want to be comfortable in your elopement outfits – that means having the freedom to move around and staying cool or warm, depending on the climate. You can usually expect some wind or at least a breeze on the beach, so take that into consideration as well. I love a flowy dress blowing in the wind! (Read more about how to choose the perfect adventure elopement dress for you.) For suits, tan goes nicely with the light and bright atmosphere as well as matches the sand. If you’re at a black or colored sand beach, tan or light gray will stand out nicely. And speaking of colors, I think green, light or dark blue, burgundy, and plum, which you can buy at Indochino or rent at The Black Tux, would also look awesome on the beach.
Consider the Weather + Conditions at the Beach
We all like to envision perfect weather at the beach, but that’s unfortunately not always the reality. Keep in mind that it might be pretty windy (some beaches are known for always having high winds) and there could be a chance of rain or storms. If your hair fluffs up from humidity or gets tangled in the salty wind, you may want to plan on a hairstyle that will minimize “beach hair”. Some beaches are often covered in fog – that can be really beautiful, but it also cuts down on your visibility and views.
The water conditions are also really important to think about as you plan to elope at the beach. Check the tides so that you don’t accidentally end up with a really narrow strip of sand or have the walkway to the area where you wanted to elope cut off.
Set a Time of Day for Your Beach Ceremony
One of the many charms of getting married at the beach is watching the sunrise or sunset. It’s a truly peaceful and romantic moment to share together, and the photos will be beautiful! If you’re definitely not a morning person and you want sunset, you’ll probably need to elope on a western coast. If you’re eloping in the United States, California, Oregon, Washington, and the west side of Florida are great options. Sometimes you can find good sunset locations on the eastern coast as well if there’s a bay or peninsula that faces west or an island. And basically the opposite is true for sunrise – look for an eastern facing beach.
Early in the morning, you’re much more likely to find the beach deserted and have privacy for your elopement ceremony. By midday, the sand and water may be filled with people enjoying the sun. It can also be very hot during the middle of the day, so I don’t recommend eloping on the beach at that time. Sunset and the hours before it are an excellent time to have your elopement on the beach, although there are often more people out at sunset than sunrise.
Be Aware of Public Beaches + Privacy for Your Elopement
I mentioned privacy a little bit in the section above, but it’s an important factor in choosing a location and time of day to elope on the beach. You and your partner want to be fully present as you say your vows, and that means no distractions from people walking by or yelling in a beach volleyball game. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to be the center of attention, you’ll definitely not want to get married on a beach full of people!
Most beaches are public, and you don’t have any control over how many people are there, which is totally fine. If you’re eloping on a public beach, just know that you can’t ask anyone to move or leave an area. If this really bothers you, consider looking for resorts or venues that have private beaches.
For privacy on public beaches, find a beach that isn’t super popular, get married on a weekday, and go early or late in the day. If you can elope during the off season (if there is one), that can help a lot too. Beaches that require a hike to access are also a lot less busy than those where you can just park and walk out onto the sand. Beaches that are too rocky or too cold to swim in the water will usually have a lot less people hanging out. Another great way to get some privacy is to take a boat to a hidden cove or a beach that isn’t accessible by walking. Get creative and find a place that’s great for eloping on the beach!
Create a Backup Plan for Your Beach Elopement
Water is unpredictable, and it’s possible that your elopement plans could be interrupted. I recommend having a backup plan for any elopement, but especially if you’re getting married at the beach. The weather could be awful, water conditions could be dangerous, or the road to the beach could be closed.
When I’m helping couples plan their elopement, I always make sure we have alternative options. And yes, I’ve had to use them several times! So what makes a good backup plan? I recommend having the day before or after your elopement available to change dates if the weather is going to be really terrible all day. Of course your officiant, photographer, etc. would have to be available to reschedule, but you can talk to them about this ahead of time. Also have some alternative locations in mind in case access to the beach you chose is restricted or there’s a large event going on there.
What Time of Year to Elope at the Beach
You’ll need to do a bit of research to determine when is the best time to elope at a specific beach or area because there are many factors involved. If you want privacy for your beach ceremony and the location is popular, look at what seasons are less busy. Winter is typically an “off season” for beaches because the water and general temperatures are often colder. In many places, this is also the time of year that coastal storms and large waves are common on the beach, so be aware.
In some areas, especially the southeastern U.S. and the Caribbean, hurricane season is a huge consideration in when to elope at the beach. While August and September are definitely the most likely months for hurricanes, they can happen any time from July to November. Also keep in mind that after a hurricane has moved through an area, the ocean and land will both be disturbed and will not look pristine. There can also be serious flooding and flood damages still in effect weeks and months afterwards. I grew up on the Outer Banks in North Carolina and have plenty of experience with hurricanes and have seen it all!
If you can’t stand to be cold or hot, you’ll want to avoid super low or high temperatures. Also keep in mind that there is usually wind and no shade on the beach, which can make your elopement experience extra cold or hot. Some beach locations also have rainy seasons. For instance, although Hawai’i has pretty regular temperatures, winter and spring can bring lots of rain, which may affect your elopement day.
Do You Need a Permit to Elope on the Beach?
The legalities of eloping on the beach are definitely not as fun or glamorous as the rest of planning your elopement, but it is really important to look into. Nothing ruins the happy mood of an elopement day like being asked to leave your ceremony or being fined hundreds of dollars!
Every beach is going to have different rules, so look into each option specifically. State, county, city, and national parks each have their own regulations on how many people can be there for an elopement ceremony, when you can be there, if any decorations are allowed, and more. Plus, many beaches require a permit for a wedding ceremony and/or professional photography. Be safe and ask what the rules are!
If you’d like to know more about how to elope at a National Park Service run beach, read How to Elope in a National Park. And for more information on Hawai’ian beaches, take a look at How to Elope in Hawai’i. The Olympic Peninsula also has some stunning beaches, and you can get more information in my Olympic National Park Elopement Guide.
The Best Beach Elopement Wedding Destinations
Types of Beaches + Scenery for your Elopement
There are three main types of beaches to elope at: sandy beaches, rocky beaches, and cliffs overlooking the ocean and/or a beach. Beaches can also have a variety of scenery around them from mountains (think Iceland) to jungles (hello Bali!) to crystal clear water (anything Caribbean) to evergreen forests (the Pacific Northwest is perfect) and more! It’s good to decide what kind of beach and scenery you want before you go on the hunt for the perfect beach for your elopement.
Sandy beaches are usually flat and have wide or long expanses of shoreline. If you’re dreaming of a beachside picnic, making sandcastles, or just want something soft to walk on, this is the kind of beach for you.
Rocky beaches have a lot more variety – they can have sand mixed with rock formations or be totally covered in large or small smoothed rocks. You’ll often find tall cliffs around you and rocks jutting out of the water (called sea stacks). This kind of scenery adds a lot of visual interest to the landscape and can be really beautiful. However, the rocks can sometimes leave less room for your ceremony or difficulties getting to the beach.
Cliffs overlooking the water will give you a different experience, but are still beautiful! If you chose to elope on a coastal cliff, you won’t actually be on the sand, but you will have great views. In some locations, this is your only option if it’s impossible to access beaches without a boat. However, this means that the beaches below you won’t have anyone on them and you’ll have a clear view of the beauty.
Best Beaches to Elope at in the U.S.
The U.S. has so many beautiful beaches for your elopement, whether you’re getting married on the west coast or east coast. And don’t forget about the beautiful coastline of the upper midwest! Michigan and Minnesota have some amazing beaches and scenic cliffs overlooking lakes that make you feel like you’re at the ocean. Below are a few of my favorite places to elope at the beach to inspire you!
Best Beaches to Elope at Internationally
Ideas + Things to Do for Your Beach Elopement
So you’re planning to have your elopement ceremony on the beach, but then what? For the best experience, fill your time with things for you and your partner (and maybe your guests) to do that will create a fun and memorable elopement day. You don’t have to be doing high energy activities the whole time – some of the best moments are when you’re relaxing together! Think about the things you love to do and experience together, or what you want your elopement to feel like. Here’s a list of beach elopement ideas to get your started!
💤 Relax in a hammock on the shore
🧺 Graze on a picnic of delicious snacks or takeout
🛶 Kayak or paddle board in the ocean
🐚 Hunt for shells on the beach and take one home as a memento of your elopement
🥾 Hike through the scenery surrounding the beach
🛥️ Cruise over the waves on a boat or jet skis
🎶 Dance together on the shore
🍾 Pop some bubbly to celebrate
🎣 Catch your dinner
🌌 Gaze at the milky way and constellations
🤿 Snorkel to experience the sea life
⛵ Sail on a private tour of the area
🏄🏽♀️ Ride the waves on a surfboard
🌅 Enjoy the peace of sunrise or sunset with your partner
👀 Look for creatures in tidepools
👩🏽🍳 Enjoy a gourmet meal at a restaurant overlooking the ocean
🔥 Roast marshmallows and make s’mores around a campfire