The charm of a seaside wedding—especially one held in a quaint, coastal town—is undeniable. The same can be said of a destination wedding held on a sugar-soft beach, where the ocean laps gently at the shore and cool breezes can lull any guest into an ultra-relaxed state. When you think of all this, it's not hard to understand why so many couples dream of a wedding near the shore. Unfortunately, a beach wedding isn't always in the cards for every couple. Whether there's no beach nearby and destination travel just isn't possible or the venue you dreamed of isn't available on your preferred date, there are a number of reasons why a toes-in-the-sand ceremony and reception might not come to pass. Still, that doesn't mean you can't imbue your chosen venue with the details you love most about the beach. Oceanfront or not, we're of the mindset that you can have a wedding that's just as dreamy as any beach oasis no matter where you're tying the knot.
Choose beach-inspired wedding décor.
If you can't bring your wedding to the beach, bring the beach to your wedding. Meghan Kelly, wedding sales and service manager at Alys Beach, a wedding venue in South Walton, Florida, suggests choosing beach-inspired décor, like sand, tropical palm leaves and fruits, and nautical details. Beachside or not, having sand and sandalwood somehow tied into your ceremony is an easy way to make your theme clear. It's not just for aesthetics, either. Briana Lozano, account coordinator at The Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach, Florida, says, "A sand ritual during the ceremony is a beautiful way to symbolize the unity of the marriage, but you can also use it as décor to play up your beach-inspired aesthetic."
Another detail both Kelly and Lozano love? Oyster shell escort cards, which can feature pretty handwriting done by your calligrapher. If you're looking for a less obvious reference, consider a beach-inspired color palette instead.
Serve beach food.
No, we don't mean a picnic (unless that's what you like, of course), but rather the types of food you'll typically find at or near the beach. A raw bar or mini lobster rolls at cocktail hour, a seafood-packed main at dinner, and a tropical, fruity signature cocktail (Kelly suggests a mojito) or a favorite local beer at the bar. For dessert, think about your favorite tropical flavors. Key lime is a good choice, as is pineapple or mango. And you can't go wrong with late-night ice cream or snow cones.
Gift guests beachy welcome bags.
Lozano likes the idea of surprising guests with motif-inspired welcome gifts. "Instead of your typical welcome bag, use a customized beach bag filled with goodies that your guests can use during the wedding festivities," he says. Whether or not there's a beach for guests to visit, they'll certainly get use out of fun sunglasses, cocktail mix, and beach-inspired snacks during your wedding weekend.
Plan beach-inspired activities.
Begin and end your day with classic beach games and activities—ladder ball, paddle ball, and even kites are fun additions to cocktail hour while a late-night bonfire is the perfect option for a low-key after-party. The latter also works nicely for a pre-wedding event, regardless of where your nuptials are taking place. "Plan a big bonfire for your welcome party or rehearsal dinner as a unique way to celebrate your union and kick off the wedding festivities!" says Lozano, who adds that a great "beach-like" bonfire atmosphere can be replicated just about anywhere.