29 Ideas for an Elevated Beach Wedding

table setting with pineapple and fruit centerpieces
KT Crabb

Beach weddings have so much to offer: From picturesque views and rhythmic sounds of waves to the refreshing breeze and sunshine, a coastal locale can serve as the perfect backdrop for your wedding day. Use the natural scenery that accompanies a beachfront affair to guide your design choices. A color palette that's inspired by the sea, as well as oceanic and nautical motifs will help to make the most of your venue and create the seaside event of your dreams.

There are unlimited options for incorporating coastal elements into your celebration. Whether you choose a nautical-themed invitation suite, decide to serve fruity cocktails, or use seashells as escort cards, there are endless ways to embrace the season throughout your ceremony and reception. Plus, there are plenty of beach-inspired themes to lean into for your big-day aesthetic. Go tropical as pictured here, by adding fruits like pineapples, plantains, and papayas to your tablescape. Wooden bamboo-like chairs adorned with bone-white seat cushions nod to the lush theme and create a relaxed, vacation-mode vibe.

Whether you're planning a tropical destination soirée or a summer event on the shore, the details featured here are worth considering for your beach affair. Between the following refreshing food and beverage options, design inspiration, and on-theme favor ideas, there are so many oceanic motifs you can play into when planning your event. Go ahead and start daydreaming about your wedding on the water—these ideas will make it impossible not to.

01 of 29

Scenes from the Sea

kaitlin dan wedding invitations
KT Merry

Draw inspiration from the sea when designing your invitation suite. Using textured pieces of blue-and-white paper with hand-torn edges, just like this design from La Happy did, will remind your guests of ocean waves. To further drive the beach theme home, these invitations also featured a foil-stamped squid for a design touch that was unique to the couple.

  • Nautical Wedding Invitations Perfect for a Waterfront Celebration
02 of 29

Go Poolside

guests gathered outside at rehearsal dinner
Jillian Mitchell

If you want the beach-vibe without fussing with sand, consider planning your nuptial celebration at an ocean-front location rather than directly on the beach itself. We love the idea of this poolside affair that took place at Kupuri Beach Club. It gave guests the atmosphere of a seaside occasion with the luxe-feel of a country club.

03 of 29

Rattan Rugs

pillows on wooden benches for wedding ceremony
Hunter Ryan Photo

Give your aisle a pop of color that complements the caramel-colored sand by using florals to dress up the walkway. This couple had Isn't She Lovely arrange bright pink-and-creamsicle colored blooms in black wired vases, which were displayed over rattan rugs to give the space a tropical-boho vibe.

04 of 29

Refreshing Sips

gold rimmed cocktail filled glasses on serving tray
Mike Cassimatis Photography

If your seaside event is in a warm, sunny location, guests can get hot sitting on a sandy beach during a long ceremony. Help everyone cool down by offering artfully displayed refreshments such as ice water with lemon, like Lovestruck events did at this event.

05 of 29

Pink Blooms

wedding ceremony site
Rebecca Arthurs

Vibrant blooms can add depth to your ceremony décor, as evidenced by this setup by Vintage and Lace Weddings. The design features vibrant pink flowers and palm leaves that were thoughtfully placed around the arch, as well as in the aisle, to tie the entire look together.

06 of 29

Nautical Invitations

Anchor and Safety Throw Ring Accents
KT Merry

If you want to include nautical elements in your beach wedding without going overboard, your invitation suite is the perfect way to do so. This creation from Brown Tree nodded to the weddings theme by including several motifs associated with the ocean, including anchors and stripes. The suite's scalloped pattern and navy, gold, and white hues also drove the idea home.

07 of 29

Festive Escort Cards

ariel trevor wedding tulum mexico seating cards
Bryan from For the Love of It

Signal where your guests will be seated with more than just the traditional paper note. On these Rachel Rogers Design cards from a lotería game—a kind of Mexican bingo—guests' names were calligraphed beneath illustrations of palm trees, fish, and el diablito, or the little devil.

08 of 29

Tequila Favors

wedding escort crystal bottles of tequila
Jillian Mitchell

Make your wedding favors a part of your escort card display, just like this couple did, by attaching each guest's name and table assignment to small tequila carafes. The cork-topped glass vessels are reminiscent of something you'd use to bottle sand.

09 of 29

A Tropical Invitation

ariel trevor wedding tulum mexico invitation suite
Bryan from For the Love of It

Planning a destination wedding? Let the landscape guide your invitation design, like this couple did. Their suite by Rachel Rogers Design included illustrations with tropical leaves, a woman diving into the ocean, and a cocktail served in a coconut to hint at their celebration in Mexico.

10 of 29

Bud Toss

white cones of flower petals for ceremony toss
Perry Vaile

Walk down the aisle as newlyweds in style by taking inspiration from this couple, who tied cones of chamomile arranged by Floressence Flowers to chairs so guests could throw the buds as they recessed back up the walkway. The daisy-like plant, which looks like something that'd grow wild on oceanside cliffs, is perfect for a carefree beach event.

11 of 29

Post-Ceremony Bites

server holding small wooden tray with wedding appetizers
Mike Cassimatis Photography

Serve hour hors d'oeuvres to help guests pace themselves during cocktail hour . We love the offerings at this Norfolk Country Club catered event, which featured light bites of cucumber rounds, Italian meatballs, and chicken skewers. The offerings were displayed on rustic wooden boards, giving off a laid-back beachy feel.

12 of 29

A Palm Backdrop

bride in white dress standing under arch on beach
Sacia Matthews

Lean into a lush landscape by using tropical greenery, like sago palm and leaves of robellini to inspire your ceremony backdrop. This couple had Duarte Floral Design arrange white snapdragons, stock, and dendrobium orchids as the forefront to the greenery.

13 of 29

A Lush Tablescape

ariel trevor wedding tulum mexico table setting
Bryan from For the Love of It

An easy way to decide on a color palette for your table display is to let your location's landscape be your guide. If your venue has a lush, tropical feel, consider trying something like this Studio Mondine creation. Arrangements of oncidium orchids, lisianthus, ranunculus, and parrot tulips in varying hues of orange were eye-catching when accented by palm leaves and displayed next to hand-painted shot glasses and bone white dinner plates.

14 of 29

Orange Tablescape

reception tables with floral centerpieces and oranges
Hunter Ryan Photo

Blues, greens, and neutrals aren't the only colors that can give your tablescape a beachy feel. We love this Carrie Darling Events design that displayed orange-print chargers on top of frayed-edge placemats, alongside velvet napkins and black flatware. A clementine was placed at each setting for a citrusy burst of color.

  • How to Set the Perfect Reception Table
15 of 29

Reception Resting

ariel trevor wedding tulum mexico lounge seating
Bryan from For the Love of It

Looking for décor that achieves a bohemian-beach aesthetic? Take notes from this couple, who provided a lounge area for guests by arranging off-white pillows and linen throws from Parachute into a cozy seating arrangement.

16 of 29

Summer Flavors

wedding cake with coconut flakes, palm branch, and white orchid
Sacia Matthews

Let tropical elements inspire your dessert table by creating something like this Cakes by Karol confection. The bottom tier of the couple's classic white cake was covered in flakes of coconut and adorned with a palm leaf, evoking a tropical vacation aesthetic while remaining timeless.

17 of 29

The Green Leaf Suite

wedding invite stationery
Rebecca Arthurs

We love a simple invitation suite that nods at the theme without being too kitschy, and this Beacon Lane creation executes that sentiment perfectly. Blue-and-green leaves over a white background with gold lettering complements this couple's casual Hawaii wedding.

18 of 29

Lilac Arch

large purple and white floral wedding arch
Sally Pinera

The beach is a lovely backdrop for your wedding ceremony on its own, but why not add to the picturesque scene by creating a stunning arch to further highlight the locale's beauty? Make like Siren Floral Co. and use tons of lilacs and greenery to create an arrangement of blooms that looks as good as it smells.

19 of 29

Coconut Sips

wedding ceremony coconut drinks with oranges and straws
Sacia Matthews

Want to go all in on the island aesthetic? Do what this couple did and kickoff cocktail hour with coconuts filled with rum punch. The beverage served two functions as each fruit had guests' names and table numbers engraved on the front.

20 of 29

Lemon Cake

two tier pink frosted cake with floral decor
Melia Lucida

For a beach wedding, citrus-based desserts are always a yes. Their refreshing flavors will instantly remind guests of summers spent at the beach. This confection from Two Chicks in the Mix is a lemon olive cake that was finished with lilac-hued fondant and florals that nodded to the couple's wedding color scheme.

21 of 29

Casual Dress

bride wearing backless wedding dress on the beach
Shanell Photography

Allow your wedding dress to speak to the location by choosing a flow-with-you design. Take notes from this woman of the hour, who wore a backless, airy Carol Hannah look that moved in the breeze.

22 of 29

Bench Seating

wedding seating
Hunter Ryan Photo

Walking in sand can often be a challenge, especially when you're dressed in wedding-appropriate attire. Make it easier for guests to slide in and out of their seats by providing benches. Try something like this arrangement by Anna Lucia Events, who used rustic wooden pews and seats with pillows for added comfort and convenience.

23 of 29

Cool Color Palette

wedding reception on beach
Brandon Kidd Photography

A cool color palette that reflects the ocean's many shades is always a good choice for a beach reception. At this nuptial celebration, LVL Weddings & Events executed the look perfectly with round tables that featured blue linens and lots of greenery.

24 of 29

Shell Escort Cards

beach wedding ideas seashell escort cards
Ryan Ray

Take advantage of all the sea has to offer by making thematic escort cards TK something about the beach. Shells, like these calligraphed iterations by Chelsea Petaja, are the perfect example.

25 of 29

Sheer Tent

beach wedding ideas sheer tent with ocean backdrop
Stephen Karlisch

Concerned about the unpredictable weather of a beach wedding locale? Consider holding your reception under a sheer tent, like You'll still be able to see the beautiful rolling ocean without wind or rain disrupting your big day.

26 of 29

Ring Bearer's Look

ring bearer hat nautical summer
Michelle Lange Photography

Dress your ring bearer in beach-appropriate clothing, focusing on comfy shoes and a hat. This little attendant wore venue-ready boat shoes, seersucker suspenders, a bow tie with anchors, and a fedora.

27 of 29

Coral Reef Cake

beach wedding ideas coral reef wedding cake
The Ganeys

Don't just rely on decorations to drive home your theme—your desserts can connote a beach-inspired event, as well. Take this design by Cathy Huber Cakes, for example: Blue-and-white icing was made to look like crashing waves while coral reef motifs were thoughtfully placed throughout.

28 of 29

Driftwood Centerpiece

beach wedding ideas candles arranged on driftwood
Lexia Frank Photography

Use elements of oceanic life to inspire your big-day design. Make like Lexia Frank and use driftwood to create a multi-functional piece of décor—a rustic centerpiece for your tablescape and a holder for white-and-blue taper candles.

29 of 29

Lounge Area

beach wedding lounge
Jillian Mitchell Photography

Emulate the casual and carefree nature of the beach during your reception by designing a lounge area, complete with hammocks, where your guests can relax. This one, which was ideated by Sea of Dreams, featured inviting blue hanging beds and pillows for the couple's attendees.

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