You’ve heard the saying right, “location! location! location!?” We talked about the dream—just you, your groom & guests, a gentle breeze and not another soul on the sand for miles? The reality is, on a beautiful summer day, you’re likely going to see people on the beach—and that’s not a bad thing! If there’s no one around, it’s probably because you’ve trekked half a mile from a public entrance, or it’s—dare I say the word—RAINING! So don’t fret—having a few beach goers out means you have a beautiful day on your hands!

Many brides see photos from beach ceremonies on our blog and are shocked to find out it took place on a public beach with beach goers (very politely) minding their business 100 feet away—you’d never know it from the beautiful photos! Unless you have access to private beach property, you can expect that on a public beach you will have some fellow beach goers—we’ve politely asked more than a few to relocate in order to secure the perfect ceremony spot—and take it from me, if you offer to help carry beach chairs and umbrellas, you’ll rarely hear a ‘no!’ So no worries, if you select the right beach, you can still secure a spot that is gorgeous and will provide you with an amazing backdrop for your photos, regardless of a few vacationers enjoying a beautiful Lake Michigan day!

So how do you find that perfect beach ceremony location? There are a lot of factors that go into finding a bride & groom the beach that will best fit their needs—-guest count, city ordinances, sound requirements, accessibility—-for your best options, contact a Michigan wedding planner who is familiar with the area and can direct you to public beaches or rental homes that can provide the best location for your ceremony needs! All beaches are not created equal and you want to ensure you don’t pick a (lovely) but highly popular and congested beach where your photos will feature one too many bikini-clad beach combers, or drunk beach-goers will outnumber you 100 to 1.

While trying to choose the perfect ceremony location, here are just a few important questions to consider:

Is there ample parking available?
This is one area where unexpected costs can arise. When budgeting, take into consideration the cost for shuttle service to get guests to the location, or for many public beaches, the cost of admission/parking. This can add up to as much as $9 per car in Southwest Michigan, but can often be paid for ahead of time if the proper arrangements are made.  If your ceremony location has an admission fee, that is a cost you’ll want to cover for your guests. If you’re tying the knot on a public beach with limited parking or a private residence where parking is limited, you’ll want to consider shuttle service.

Is it easily accessible to handicap or older guests? Are there restroom facilities for small children?
Secluded beaches or outdoor areas can be beautiful, but make sure to consider accessibility and amenities. Do you have older guests who will not be able to walk the distance? Is it handicap accessible? Are there nearby restrooms for small children who are attending?

Are there any policies, ordinances or restrictions to consider?
For example, some public beaches will not allow chairs brought in and will request all guests stand. This is fine for a group of 50 or less guests, but can be difficult for a larger wedding of 150. Also, if you’re renting a public park or beach area, you’ll want to check on any restrictions with serving alcohol if you’re hosting an outdoor reception at the site. In Southwest Michigan, most public beaches are governed by the city or county and do not permit alcohol. They also will not “reserve” any portion of a public beach—it’s first come, first served.

Dreaming of a beach ceremony in Southwest Michigan? Find out how our Beach Ceremony Services can help you plan a gorgeous Lake Michigan event!

Photo by Ben Pancoast, from the beach wedding of Tanya+Jason