Well our third and final Friday is upon us with Emma Arendoski of Emmaline Bride as our guest. She has shared some of her great ideas for beach weddings from her new book, The Inspired Wedding, these past few weeks and today’s post is no exception! Be sure to check out last week’s post where you can enter to win a copy of her book, The Inspired Wedding, full of great theme-based ideas and inspiration.
Last week, I shared some of my favorite ideas for a memorable beach-themed wedding ceremony. Today, I’m back to share with you more inspiring ideas for what’s likely to be the grandest party you’ll ever host: your wedding reception. Where to begin? My recommendation to couples is to outline the parts of the reception — the location, the seating arrangements, the food and drink, the cake, the music, the dancing, the after-the-reception activities, and the wedding favors — and then determine those that are most important to you. If you narrow it down in this way, I guarantee you won’t feel overwhelmed!
I’ve chosen five of my favorites to talk about here, let’s begin with the location.
1. The Reception Location
There are several options for a wedding reception at the beach. You could host an outdoor event right on the beach with a tented area (be sure to include a rental of port-a-johns!), which is perfect if there’s a chance of inclement weather. There may be a restaurant, country club, or banquet hall nearby that you could rent, or if you plan to be married in a park, there’s often somekind of structure that can be rented.
Another suggestion is to have your reception at a beach house, which can be just a short walk from your ceremony right on the beach. A beach house – I’ve stayed at one in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, for example – can be rented by the weekend or week and often they can house many guests (like your entire wedding party), depending on its size. That option can be a very good one as it will have an equipped kitchen and bathroom facilities.
Don’t forget plenty of outdoor lighting, a big dance floor, and lanterns lighting the way for a moonlit walk on the beach.
2. Where to Eat?
When guests enter your reception area after the ceremony, greet them with a table of assorted drinks and a place for them to find their table and their seat assignment. I recommend assigned seating for a couple of reasons: It’s easier to seat people with other guests bearing similar interests and, it’s a great way to ensure certain guests have a seat closer to the head table (like your parents, grandparents, siblings, etc.). If your choice is to have this type of seating, then you’ll need escort cards, which are a whole lot of fun. I love these beach chairs from Weddingstar as an escort display.
You can also have a place card ready to greet each guest’s seat, like these cards placed in coral holders (also from Weddingstar).
3. Food and Drink
On your reception menu, include seaside choices, as well as options for those who don’t eat either fish or shellfish. Some of my favorites include fish as an entrée option or shrimp cocktail and crab cakes as appetizers. Bring out the best of the beach with delightful drink options such as Mai-Tais, Pina Coladas, or Blue Hawaiian cocktails. Consider adding a signature cocktail to your offerings, and have decorative drink stirrers at the ready.
A beach-themed cake is a must-have at your reception! Your cake is one easy place to go all-out with embellishments. Some of my favorite finds include brown sugar crumbled on top to resemble sand, colorful flowers made from fondant and borrowed from the bride’s bouquet, or faux seashells to line the tiers of the cake.
A themed cake topper ties the whole look together. Here is one from Weddingstar which features a couple lounging on the sand. The bride is even drawing a heart!
Finally, you’ll want to send your guests home with a small token of your appreciation in the form of a favor. A beach-themed favor is easy to find, and I especially love these choices from Weddingstar. I saw a handful of cute ideas on their site including starfish-shaped photo frames, wood trinket boxes for seashells, starfish shaped candles, or a bottle topper with coral on the end, just to name a few.
Any of these would be perfect favor ideas for your reception. To see the full collection of beach or nautical themed wedding favors by Weddingstar, click here.
You’ll find more suggestions including centerpieces, décor, guest book alternatives, and more in my book, The Inspired Wedding. Look for the Beach Bliss chapter for everything you need for a beach-themed wedding. And if you missed it last week, be sure to check out this post to enter the giveaway to win a copy of The Inspired Wedding (but hurry because the contest closes this Sunday!).