I’d say that probably 90% of the weddings at which I officiate are done on the beach: Herring Cove, Race Point, Provincetown Harbor, Coast Guard Beach in North Truro … and that makes all the sense in the world. One of the very good reasons for getting married in PTown is our gorgeous location and the availability of such beautiful places as backdrops for your ritual.
Of course, there are some considerations to take a priori. Footwear comes to mind. I’ve married brides who didn’t consider the difficulty of walking in sand on stiletto heels! For women, if your dress doesn’t look good with bare feet, you either should give up that dress or that beach; men have some of the same considerations if they choose to wear tuxedos or even formal suits. Feet are your first, last, and most important consideration! So what can you wear? Sandals are an obvious choice, as are flip-flops (they can be fancy, remember, with flowers or other tokens attached to them, so you’re not giving up that hint of formality!). And some companies make footwear specifically for beach weddings, believe it or not? Consider also going barefoot and wearing jewelry on your ankles or toes; that can make a big difference in your comfort level and will make your passage through the sand a great deal easier.
If you’re planning a sunset wedding on the beach in September or beyond, it’s a good idea to slip on some long underwear beneath your finery, especially if you plan to hang about and have a number of photographs taken. Evenings at the shore grow chilly and you don’t want to be shivering as you make your vows!
Remember that there will nearly always be wind. I take this into consideration and always staple the pages holding the words to the ceremony together so that one doesn’t go flying off toward Race Point! So if you wear anything that is easily messed up (hair, dress, sweater, jacket, even boutonnieres), bear in mind that it needs to be anchored in some way.
Unity candle ceremonies are wonderful—and are simply not for beach weddings, as you can imagine! I often encourage couples wishing to have some concrete representation of the ritual to consider a sand ceremony instead. In addition to being feasible on the beach, the sand itself is a nice reminder of the wedding venue!
The grand thing about beach weddings is that you can make them as formal or informal as you please. Some people want to make it a silly and fun occasion, and the venue certainly lends itself to that! One of the exceptionally wonderful things about gay and lesbian weddings is that we can make it up as we go along: we’re not bound by decades of straight history. So it’s perfectly permissible to have fun!
A final note: weddings on the beach are grand; receptions on the beach—unless you wish to gather around a bonfire—are very much overrated! Consider that as you make your wedding plans … and make sure you get married in PTown!