About a year ago one of my best friends got married and their wedding was spectacular. They wanted to plan an inexpensive beach wedding that wasn’t too far away from home (Washington, DC area). They got married in the Outer Banks on North Carolina’s east coast. Their ceremony was on the beach and their reception was at a beach house overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It was an amazing evening, but the best part is that they saved a ton of money without sacrificing their vision. All it took was some careful planning.
Here’s how they did it:
The bride made her own wedding invitations. She ordered the paper and envelopes online. She then designed and printed everything herself and assembled the invitation in her spare time. The invitations were beach themed with nautical artwork and hand-lined envelopes. They turned out great and had a very high-end feel to them. She only spent $1.50 per invitation set. She had previously been quoted $7 per invitation by a local vendor for a similar look.
The couple knew they wanted a beach wedding, but with beaches being so busy during the summer, they were concerned about the crowds. They decided to get married in the off-season. They set their date for October 7th. This was a great decision because the weather was still warm enough for a beach ceremony, but most of the beach-goers had left for the season. (October is prime hurricane season on the east coast, so the couple knew they were taking a risk with this decision.)
Rather than renting a banquet hall at a resort (big bucks), they decided to rent a huge beach house where they planned to have the wedding reception. The house was humongous and usually rented for upwards of $8,000/week during the summer, but because it was October, they were able to rent it for less than half the cost of the summer rental prices. The families of the bride and groom stayed at the house during the week and used the house for a pre-wedding vacation. Everyone chipped in a little to offset the cost of the house.
The Wedding Ceremony
The couple had their ceremony on the beach directly in front of the beach house they had rented. The bride’s brother, an accomplished guitar player, played the wedding ceremony music on his acoustic guitar. They found a local rental company who provided the chairs for the ceremony and also the chairs and tables for the reception. Everything was set up prior to the event. The ceremony was simple; the bride and groom, and wedding party stood with their backs to the ocean. Everyone looked on from the beach as they exchanged vows and joined as husband and wife.
The Wedding Reception
For the reception, the house furniture was moved to the garage so they could set up tables for the guests in the main living area of the house. The house had a huge family room which made a great dinner area. Everyone fit comfortably and the view of the ocean was beautiful. A local catering company had prepped the meals in the beach house’s kitchen while everyone else was on the beach for the ceremony. Because it was the off-season, the couple got a great deal from the catering company who was low on business at the time of the year. As the guests came back into the house, they were seated and served a spectacular meal of fresh seafood and local fare.
After dinner, everyone got together on a large deck by the ocean where an iPod played dance music through loud speakers. Guests were dancing and having a great time, and nobody seemed to miss the DJ. Instead of having a full bar, the couple just had coolers of beer and a few types of liquor so that guests could serve themselves.
The wedding reception was basically a huge beach party. Everyone had a fantastic time and the couple got many compliments. You too can plan an inexpensive beach wedding. Just plan ahead, keep it simple, and enjoy your big day.