Sugar-white, fine-powder sand, glittering emerald-green waters and spectacular sunsets encompassing the curvature of Fort Walton Beach; honestly, I can’t think of a more romantic setting for a wedding ceremony. Over the years, I’ve attended many beach weddings and learned a lot from other people’s experiences. The bottom line: a beach wedding can be a great experience for all those involved.

But even though the decor might be perfect, planning a wedding in a non-traditional venue isn’t easy. Since a dream beach wedding can be ruined by small things like noisy onlookers or a pleasant breeze turning into a strong wind, here are several things you’ll find are worth considering when planning a Florida beach wedding.

Beach wedding1. Pick the right time of day.
The Emerald Coast is a small paradise ready to capture the heart and soul of any tourist. The always-smiling sun that rises and sets over the Gulf along the coast, the landscape of beaches and bays, and the balmy, subtropical climate with more than 300 sunny days per year can easily persuade couples to choose this breathtaking location for a beach wedding. But when planning a beach wedding, the time of day is crucial. In a nutshell, the heat of the mid-day sun isn’t for everyone. Therefore, it’s better to consider a sunset ceremony. Another important aspect to keep in mind is lighting. As light is a key factor in creating beautiful beach wedding photos for everlasting memories, ending the ceremony at least one hour before sunset should give you enough time to “get great action shots in natural lighting,” according to Barbara Fancsik, event planner in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

2. Choose a wedding reception venue.
A much easier (and less frustrating) way to go about a beach wedding is to have the ceremony on the beach and the reception somewhere else like our event room. Better equipped to handle a wedding party, our reception venue will take much of the work out of planning and decorating a wedding tent or another space.

3. Arrange for seating.
An intimate ceremony is one of the advantages of having a small beach wedding of 20 or so guests. While opting for a standing ceremony with guests gathering around you can make the event more enjoyable and memorable for everyone, you should definitely rethink this detail if you’re planning a big wedding. Will 60, 80 or 100 guests appreciate standing during the ceremony and crowding around the couple getting married? Since the ceremony is the most meaningful part of a wedding, the best piece of advice I can give you is to ensure that all guests are comfortably seated. If you still want to have a standing ceremony, make sure it will be under 15 minutes to minimize your guests’ discomfort.

4. Keep your guests cool during the day and warm at night.
Make sure you inform your guests that the wedding will take place on sand, so they can dress appropriately. A great idea would be to create a canopy to cover the seating area and offer your guests some shade. You could, for instance, tie a few wooden poles together and drape some thin fabric on top. In addition, you could provide towels, hand fans and refreshments like ice water, lemonade or signature cocktails your guests can enjoy before and after the ceremony. To warm ladies’ shoulders at night, “arrange a basket of (…) pashminas,” says Karen Bussen, a well-known events manager and wedding planner in New York.

5. Pick the right flowers.
Bringing a burst of vibrant colors, flowers are a must to create a charismatic beach wedding setting. But most blossoms wilt, droop – or worse, die! – within several hours when they’re kept in direct sunlight and heat. Since few things can ruin the decor of a wedding more than flowers that are beginning to wilt before the ceremony, consult with a local florist and let him or her know that you’re having your wedding ceremony on the beach. Besides helping you choose the right flower colors for a perfect floral decor, an experienced professional can recommend blossoms that don’t bruise easily and last for hours even on the hottest day.

Having the fine sand of Ft. Walton Beach between your toes and the calming waters of the Gulf as a backdrop for your wedding seems more like a dream than reality. Yet we can make it real at The Breakers. If you’re planning a beach wedding, feel free to take advantage of our valuable insights and experience to get your dream Florida beach wedding, which will be much more than a typical blue-water and white-sand affair.

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