How to Design a Chic Beach Inspired Wedding

Pick which “style” beach wedding most speaks to you.

You may not have even considered this before, but there are  different styles of “beach”.  It might mean something different to you depending on where you live. Living on the eastern shores of New Jersey, we have 130 miles of coastline spanning from Sandy Hook to Cape May.  Each with their own unique landscapes, quaint towns and scenic views.  However for some people, your beach style may mean bright sunset colors and palm trees.  Before diving into how to design a chic beach inspired wedding, choose which style fits your vision. Stay true to the kind of elements you would find on that beach and it will come together seamlessly.

Set the tone with your invitation.

One of the best ways you can share your vision and communicate your beach wedding to your guests is through the invitation.  Whether you choose to be literal in your design by incorporating shells or landscapes or more abstract by incorporating watercolor elements of the sky and sea, your guests will be excited to see the design come together. It is also true that you invitation dictates to your guests the level of formality of the event, so keep that in mind as you incorporate your beach theme.

Be inspired by the colors of the sea and sky.

For any wedding design, it is wise to be inspired by your surroundings. Beach weddings should be inspired by the myriad of colors found in the sea, sand and sky. Shades of blue and grey read coastal weddings effortlessly and are so chic.   They can be traditional, modern, fun and classic all at the same time.

Use shells and other beach-inspired decor unexpectedly.

In order to create a chic beach wedding, try to incorporate the materials from the beach in unexpected ways. Seashells with calligraphy for table numbers, mussel shell salt cellars, oyster shell candles, and sea-glass inspired details.  Beach weddings take on a more sophisticated approach when the details are understated and unique.

Incorporate natural elements.

Mixing different natural elements will make sure your beach wedding design is grounded and feels relaxed.  Using rocks, sand, textured linens and shells details is a great way to bring a beach vibe into your wedding regardless of your surroundings.

Encourage a laid-back atmosphere. 

When you think of the beach, you immediately conjure relaxation and putting your feet up.  Within your wedding design, incorporate lounge areas that invite your guests to sit and relax awhile.  Whether they are on the water or just sea “inspired”, remember those natural elements and your color palette for a cohesive coastal look.

Serve summery treats.

Summer is full of the most delicious fruits, produce, sweet treats and of course cocktails. Serve your favorite summer treats during your wedding to remind your guests of a day at the beach.  Whether it is a signature cocktail, succulent watermelon skewers or a good old fashioned ice cream truck.  Make the food and drink part of the decor!

Keep your flowers unfussy.

Summer is all about the easy breezy lifestyle. That “just picked” or “just threw this on” way of life. Keep your flowers in the same vein.  Using just one type of flower, large bundles of fluffy hydrangea, sea grasses or a wild flower bouquet all remind us of being at the beach. Simple, classic and easy is the way to go when it comes to your seaside flowers.

Dress appropriately.

Just as the invitation and your flowers evoke the laid-back coastal vibe, remember that your attire should also be in tune with your beach atmosphere you want to create. Easy wedge shoes and lightweight dresses in the color palette work really well on the waterfront.

Soak it all in. 

After all, isn’t that what life at the beach is all about? Enjoy your wedding day and soak it all in. It goes way too fast.

Photography credit: Love & Light Photographs

Stationery & Calligraphy: Mary Kate Moon

Flowers: Wallflowers Florist

Planning & Design: Gilded Lily Events

Wedding Weekend Itinerary

Wedding weekends have grown to be full-blown events from start to finish, and when all is said and done, it’s sure to be something you never forget. With all the thought and hard work that goes into pulling off such a weekend, you’ll want everything to go as smoothly as possible and the key to this is good planning. To help make things a bit easier, here are a few tips for planning and hosting a wedding weekend full of activities for your guests to enjoy.

Provide Hotel Accommodation Suggestions

Guests coming in from out of town are sure to wonder what hotels are the best option for them to stay. From a variety of price points to the proximity to the venue, no one can give them better advice about your area than you can. Beat them to the punch by sending out hotel accommodation suggestions with your Save the Dates, and contact those hotels for a discounted block of rooms in your name.  Having everyone in one place will allow the party to continue because of sheer convenience, and can help with transportation to and from all events throughout the weekend.

Share your favorite things to do

In addition to providing hotel information, help your guests enjoy the whole weekend exploring your city by creating a list of your favorite restaurants, bars, and local attractions. It is especially important for your guests traveling from out of town, as many could make a trip out of their little getaway. On both a printed itinerary in their welcome bags and an online wedding page, include surrounding cities and popular places to visit. Consider including a list of things to do in New York for those attendees that are coming from out of state and might use this opportunity to visit the Big Apple.

Rehearsal Dinner Planning

Rehearsal dinners are the perfect start to an exciting wedding weekend. Planning the rehearsal should be a simpler than planning the wedding itself, but certain decisions need to be made early on to ensure everything is a success. First, discuss who plans to throw the rehearsal.  Once that decision is made, consider keeping it casual to keep costs as low as possible.  Especially if you have large wedding parties and a lot of family coming in from out of town, the expenses for a rehearsal dinner can add up quickly. A more casual option could be a cocktail hour only, outdoors, or by featuring a buffet style meal. We love the idea of hosting a BBQ, or a Mexican fiesta. Keep seating open to encourage guests to mingle and converse with one another.

The After Party

Most couples do not want to end the night once the wedding band has played the last song.  Consider hosting an after party by bringing in late night snacks such as an ice cream or food truck or pizza for those hungry guests who have danced their heart out. Something to keep in mind is that a wedding day is long, especially for you and your wedding party, so provide transportation back to the hotels for those with weary feet who would prefer to climb in bed.

Post-wedding day brunch

The end of the wedding night doesn’t have to be the absolute end! Hold your tears, plan a brunch the morning after and enjoy everyone’s company one last time. Pressure will be a little lighter for the groom, bride, their parents and wedding party as well, with all speeches, photos and ceremonies behind them so do yourself a favor and keep the brunch casual. There are many options for hosting such an event. Choose between organizing the event at someone’s house, renting a space, or gathering right in the lobby of the hotel.

I hope these tips help ease some of the stress of planning a weekend, and always know you are not alone! No matter what route your wedding planning takes, the most important thing is that you are surrounded by the people that mean the most to you.

Vendor Credits:

Photography: Love & Light Photographs

Stationery & Calligraphy: Mary Kate Moon

Florist: Wallflowers

Venue: Mantoloking Yacht Club

Beauty: Beauty on Location

Ice Cream Truck: Hoffman’s

Rentals: Dovetail Vintage Rentals

For more from this wedding, visit our feature on Martha Stewart Weddings here.