An NC or SC beach is an amazing place for your special day…wilderness with amazing power, grace and beauty. So how do you throw a beach wedding? What do you do first? Do you need a permit? What about weather? What about chairs, arbor, music, minister, catering or photography? What about guests travelling? And the cost? No worries–the cost and the to-do list for a beach wedding is the same as any other type, and even LESS! (95% of these beaches are FREE–saves you thousands on a venue!)
- Minimum needed in North Carolina is just 6 things–a marriage license and 5 adults (the couple, two witnesses and legal Officiant). Click here for getting your NC license.
- Minimum needed in South Carolina is just 4 things–a marriage license and 3 adults (the couple and legal Officiant). However its harder to get an SC license sometimes, click here.
Easiest Way for 30+ guests: A coastal wedding planner or coordinator can create any size wedding event with all the needed service people (called “vendors”) and troubleshoot any “emergencies.” Some planners offer multiple levels of service, depending on how much, or little, assistance you want. Take recommendations for GOOD planners, we recommend a few, or see reviews on The Knot, Wedding Wire, Gay Weddings, Rainbow Network, etc.
Easiest Way for Eloping or under 25 guests: Elope with your marriage license and 2 rings, hire a minister, book a beach hotel or condo, and wed barefoot in the sand, casual or dressy! Hire a photographer or videographer to share your private wedding during a reception party back home. Want flowers or music? We offer custom-made florist, real flowers (ordered to your specs) AND David is a flutist, click here! We also rent our powerful, self-contained, portable PA to play any songs in your cellphone or ipod.
Want it fancier? Book a beach house or hotel, bring wedding rings, book a restaurant or caterer, book a band, rent or bring decorations and rent chairs, invite loved-ones to stand with you as bridesmaids and groomsmen, and/or wear formal clothes.
FIRST STEPS, MAKE DECISIONS:
1. Set your budget. You can do a minimal, quick, casual beach wedding/elopement with nice photos, about $650. Or hire our minister only (with sand ceremony and many other perks!) for $300 (or $250 if your are active military/police/fire/EMS or doing a renewal).
2. Set your guest list, if any, and their needs. Such as beds, car parking, transportation to ceremony or reception, pet needs, dining, and the challenges of hot sun and soft sand for elderly or limited mobility. To be honest, the fewer the guests, the better… less stress, less expense, AND have a second celebration / reception back home too! Consider the “politics” and social dynamics among your guests—do they distress or improve the quality of your wedding day? You can buy a photo slideshow or video record it for them if they are not invited.
3. Choose 1-3 favorite beach locations. If you are flexible on location, you might save money.
4. Choose 1-3 dates and times. If you can be flexible, you might save money.
6. Decide formal or casual dress codes.
8. Decide if you want rented chairs, arbor, and beach decorations (elderly and disabled need seats).
9. Decide if ordering food and a cake… choose family cooks, or professional catering, or book a restaurant or a combination.
10. Decide on: traditional or creative, religious or non-religious or spiritual vows and decorations.
SECOND STEPS, TAKE ACTION:
1. Book your accommodations QUICKLY! As soon as you set your date and location. These fill up very fast at the beach so do NOT delay on this step. Do this FIRST!!!
2. Book an officiant (fyi–judges are legally prohibited from leaving the courthouse to perform weddings). If you want a non-religious ceremony, just say so… we are fine with that. Some other ministers are too.
3. Next, book photographers, videographers, musicians and caterers/restaurants. Ask questions and communicate clearly with them.
4. Contact food services, rental businesses, beauty salons, florists and transportation companies.
5. Meanwhile, send out invitations, get your wedding clothes, rings, license, decorations, and beach vacation supplies.
6. (Renewals: skip #6 & 7, no license needed) Within 60 days of your wedding date, get your marriage license at the NC Register of Deeds or SC Probate Office (license must match location of ceremony, NOT your home state). Call that office beforehand to confirm which IDs to bring along.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFO:
- Most NC & SC beaches are public property so you may marry almost anywhere.
- Weather over this geographical area is remarkably stable and predictable, Sunny 85% of the time and infrequent rain showers pass over within 5-15 minutes. Hurricanes are scarce, normally short-lived, and can be predicted. Midday extreme heat is biggest issue…CLICK HERE for that advice. Climate change is very real here.
- Beach Permits: Wrightsville Beach, Fort Fisher and Myrtle Beach State Park require one for different fees, but the 70+ others we serve, do not. Oak Island has a free, optional one thats intended for large wedding parties with several cars attending.
- City of Myrtle Beach restricts most beach weddings, please click HERE for that info. Weddings on patios or lawns overlooking the beach are private property and not included in city restrictions.
- North Myrtle Beach is a separate city from Myrtle Beach. NMB (aka Cherry Grove) welcomes and allows beach weddings for free.
- Most ceremonies last 7 – 15 minutes and the whole event may take about 1 hour, depending on wording, photo time, parking issues, stragglers, wardrobe hiccups, weather delays, etc.
- Guests would travel to your hometown for a home wedding, so they can just as easily travel to the shore and this doubles as a vacation!
- For best results follow the instructions your hired vendors give you. Don’t ignore it…we know what we are saying and we can tell you nice alternatives too. Ask questions; ask for advice! Communicating clearly and openly helps. Now go have fun!