A Michigan Beach Wedding

Where I live in Northwest Michigan, people love to get married on the beach. And I love to accommodate them, because I love to be outside, and even more, I love to be out on a Traverse City or Sleeping Bear Dunes beach when I am outside. So count me in for your beach wedding.

When you are planning your wedding on the beach, especially if it is at a public beach that you enjoy but does not belong to a formal venue like the The Homestead, The Parkshore Resort, or the Grand Traverse Resort, keep the capabilities of your guests in mind. Most of the wedding venues in the Grand Traverse area have something most public beaches don’t have: easy, firm access to the wedding site, like a gravel or blacktop walkway or bridge. If you have guests who are elderly and physically challenged, obese, or are in a wheel chair, getting grandmother or unstable Uncle Joseph down to the beach can be embarrassing and / or difficult for them unless you put a few details in place beforehand. Here’s some tips on how you can prepare and make your wedding most enjoyable for everyone there.

A checklist of To Do’s and How To’s

1. Advise your guests to wear flats, walking shoes or sandals to the wedding. Or make it fun to go barefoot if the sand isn’t too hot.
2. Look for an alternative route to your site that has the most solid ground. This might mean going through a surrounding wooded area, or driving further down the road and backtracking. Even if the walk to the beach is a little longer, it’s better for your special needs guests to take more time than to trudge through a lot of sand which can be a strain on fragile or heavy bodies.
3. Appoint a person to direct physically challenged guests to the “special” entrance you have picked out for them.
4. Appoint AT LEAST two strong people, whether they are male or female, to accompany your guests to the wedding site once they hit the sand.
5. Have seating in place and designated for the guests you know whom it will take more effort to get to the site.
6. Make sure the people you appoint to help get your guests to the site are available to take them back BEFORE they get involved in schmoozing with your other guests who don’t need help.
7. Have an extra gift for your appointees to thank them for helping your guests.

Beach Wedding

Can you have privacy on a public beach?

Something else to be mindful of for your beach wedding is other people will be on the beach who won’t be part of your ceremony. When Shelly and Rob found the remote site for their beach wedding in Empire in February, no one else was on the beach. On the day of their wedding, there were about 30 people who also knew about this out of the way beach, including excited, splashing, happy youngsters racing along the beach. The kids were totally oblivious to the wedding taking place and their parents didn’t see fit to enlighten them. The noise level of the children, and the greatly diminished size of the area they’d planned on having, let alone having any privacy, was distracting. Luckily Rob and Shelly were able to focus on the ceremony, and all went well.

Find out from the governmental group that oversees the beach if you can put up signs that direct people to your site, “Jack and Jill’s wedding, this way”. Some public places don’t allow any signage or balloons. Besides, balloons are bad for the environment if any get lose. If you can’t direct people in with signs, you might want to post people where there are any turns that can be easily missed. Also, with your invitations, send detailed driving directions and a link to a Mapquest or Google Maps site.

Being on the beach can be hot. Pick a time where the sun won’t be overhead, or see if there is a place that has shade nearby for those who prefer to stay out of direct sun.

Helpful Supplies

Supplies to have on hand that can be helpful:
1. Consider having inexpensive hand fans for people to use to cool themselves.
2. Make bottled water available, especially in the hotter months of summer.
3. Supply your Greeters with suntan lotion for bare arms and bald heads. This is something bald men rarely remember for any kind of outdoor wedding, and they may be grateful for the offer of some skin protection.
4. Is the area buggy at all? If so, you can purchase small bottles of bug repellant.
5. Have umbrellas at hand if your day threatens to rain. Getting under an umbrella is actually a nice way to bring your guests together and bond.

Your beach wedding can be memorable and beautiful beyond compare because of the gorgeous blue waters of northern Michigan. Your guests want to be there for you, and with a little pre-planning, you can make it easy and awe-inspiring for them, too.

For more information or advice, please contact me at crystal@Northern-MichiganWeddingOfficiant.com