Top 10 Florida Gulf Beach Wedding Checklist

February 2, 2021
Bride and groom kissing on a gulf Florida beach


Maybe you have been thinking about it for years, and maybe you have just made up your mind, but either way, you have weighed your options and decided on a beach wedding. Great! What’s next? Beach weddings can be great for a number of reasons; one of which is simplicity and expense, but in recent months, safety has also been added to the list. There are many options to choose from and depending upon what you’re hoping for, a beach wedding can range from a cost-effective, hassle-free seamless, small pre-arranged package option, all the way to a completely personalized, large, luxurious event. For some considering a beach wedding, it’s a simple drive to a local beach, but for others there may be a lot more involved. If you are planning a destination wedding and are traveling guests, there are several things you may want to consider. Beach weddings are always an amazing choice, but with covid-19, many are finding this option even more appealing. With white sandy beaches, amazing sunsets, phenomenal restaurants and accommodations, convenient airports, and year-round warm weather, it’s not difficult to see why Florida Gulf beach weddings are in high demand.


1. Location, location, location

If you have ever been to Florida, you know that the beaches on the Gulf coast are unparalleled. Sugar white sand spans for miles on end with crystal blue water that softly brushes the shoreline. As you wade in the shallow seaside waters, tiny tropical fish encircle your body as the warm breeze flows through your hair. No matter the month, you can find comfortable conditions as you enjoy cotton candy sunsets and serene landscapes. Welcome to paradise! With so many beautiful natural features to enjoy, the next task is choosing which beach is right for you. In terms of accessibility for individuals living in the Southern States, Destin beaches are a convenient choice and the very definition of pristine. Even pictures do not do this stunning location justice.

2. Hire a wedding planner. That’s where we come in.

Whether you are a Florida native or planning a destination wedding to the sunshine state, planning is key and there is no shortage of details to consider. A Florida wedding is a safe bet almost year-round, but there are environmental events as well as city ordinance, seasonal aspects, and local resources to consider such as rain patterns, algae blooms, tidal patterns, seasonal tourism, sea turtle nesting sites, beach accessibility, and guest seating restrictions in certain locations to name a few. A good wedding planner not only has knowledge of flowers, colors, style, décor, entertainment, photography, and ceremony management, but also has deeper knowledge of all of the behind-the-scenes details that could make or break your big day! Be sure to ask plenty of questions and make sure that you are confident in hiring the right team to ensure your experience is as smooth and effortless as possible.

3. Guest list size

If you are considering a beach wedding, one of the first things you need to think about is how many people you plan to invite. Your guest list size is important because it may guide which beach you choose. Some beaches in Florida restrict how many chairs can be placed on a beach for a wedding ceremony or they have scaffolded permit fees based upon the number of the guests in attendance. Other beaches charge by the length of time the ceremony takes which includes set-up and take down of ceremony materials and décor. Having more guests may require a longer set-up time. Another factor related to guest size is your budget. If you have budget restraints, carefully consider what you are hoping to spend on your event and work backwards from there in determining how many guests you want to have at your event as there are typically fees associated with larger events to add on chairs, sashes, and ceremony extras.

4. Ceremony Extras

What is a ceremony extra you might ask? Well, the list of ideas is endless and it all comes down to your imagination, your budget, and the quality of your wedding planner. For some, wedding extras could simple be a few extra flowers, but for others it could be signage on the aisle, a guest book, kissing balls on poles, stationary programs for guests, candles, vases, lanterns, decorative boxes, guest mementos, chair sashes, flower girl baskets, fans, umbrellas, ceremonial props, and the list goes on and on. Be sure to check out our Top Beach Weddings Trends for 2021 and find inspiration for your event.

5. Accommodations

Maybe you are planning an intimate elopement on a Florida Gulf beach, or you and the majority of your guests are local in which case accommodations may not be a huge concern. If you’re traveling to your beach wedding destination and have more than a few guests, accommodations are something you may want to consider. Convenience and comfort can be a huge factor for guests working on logistics to attend your ceremony. One factor to consider is how will your guests arrive at your beach wedding location? Will most be driving, or will they be flying in? If most guests will be flying, how far away is the nearest major airport to your ceremony site and does that airport provide reasonable travel options for you and your guests? Once your guests comfortably arrive at your beach wedding destination, the next thing to think about is where they will stay, and what resources they have locally to meet their needs.

On Florida’s Southern Gulf beaches, Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, and Marco Island in the Fort Myers/Naples area offer excellent options for accommodations due to conveniently located airports, and abundant access to resorts, hotels, private residence rentals, and endless options for dining, shopping, and leisure. If you reside in the Southern United States, and hope to drive to your beach wedding location, Destin Florida offers an ideal location in terms of rental accommodations, restaurants, and plenty of sugar white sandy beaches to choose from.

6. Save the Dates

With all of the excitement of planning your wedding or vow renewal, don’t forget to let your friends and family who are on the guest list know your plans! It is customary to send our “save the dates” six to nine months prior to your wedding date. If you are planning a destination wedding to one of Florida Gulf beaches, you may want to consider sending out your save the dates nine months to a year ahead of your event to give your guests ample time to clear their calendar and to plan for the logistics of their travel. Save the Dates are a fun way to get creative early on in your planning process, but don’t feel obligated to send out yours through snail mail. Many couples are using paperless online stationery sites to save time and for convenience. If you prefer sending something tangible in the mail, postcards are a fun option and there are countless nautical puns and rhymes that can be used to vibe with your specific beach wedding theme.

7. Marriage License

If you are wanting to formalize your ceremony and make your union legal in the state of Florida, don’t forget your marriage license! You and your partner can visit the nearest clerk of the circuit court office to acquire a marriage license, which is good for 60 days. For Florida residents, a fee of $61 will be assessed and for non-residents a fee of $93 will be assessed to obtain a marriage license. For Florida residents applying for a license, you must wait three days from the time or application to be married or attend a premarital preparation course. If you have been married previously, you must provide a date of death, annulment or divorce for your previous spouse. The good news is for destination wedding seekers, there is no wait period for non-residents of Florida to legally tie the knot!

8. Your Vows

The age-old question still exists as to whether or not to write your own vows. Many people have an opinion on this topic and may feel strongly one way or another. If you plan to write your own vows, you are in the clear, but if you plan to leave it up to your officiant, it may be important to find out what they plan to say. Everyone has heard a set of standard wedding vows, but beach weddings are a different ballgame. Some officiants may have much more casual language or even nautical references that you may either love or dislike. Either way, it’s best to have these conversations up front so you are not caught off guard at the altar. Many top beach wedding companies will offer different options for officiants, different scripts for your ceremony and vows as well as varied ceremonial aspects such as sand, candle lighting, water blending, tie the knot (Literally!) and so on. Seas the Day can help curtail your vow expectations specifically to your taste and preferences.

9. Wedding Website

In this day and age, it has become custom for many to create a wedding website. Wedding websites can be a great resource for both you and your future spouse as well as your guests. Whether it’s planning your budget, creating your guest list, planning your post-wedding checklist, creating your registry, listing wedding ceremony accommodations, or thinking about destination guides, many wedding websites offer a number of tools and resources. Wedding websites can help convey to guests the tone for your occasion, communicate last minute changes, is always accessible for anyone who has a smartphone no matter where they are, and will help to keep you organized.

10. Reception

If you are planning to book an all-inclusive wedding and reception experience through a large resort, expect a large price tag. There are plenty of gorgeous resorts that offer beach wedding ceremonies, cocktail hours, and beautiful ballrooms to host a beach wedding reception, but these options can be cost-prohibitive and more formal than what many couples are looking for. If you are looking for a spectacular beach wedding ceremony and envisioning a less expensive and more casual reception experience, then going with a beach wedding company for your ceremony and planning your reception separately is the way to go. Planning for your reception separately allows you the flexibility to consider celebrating your big day wherever you want! From selecting a local venue that offers an outdoor garden for drinks and appetizers, to celebrating at your Airbnb rental, or fine dining in a rented private room of a restaurant, the choice is yours to make! At Seas the Day, we are here to help assist in connecting you with local vendors and dining opportunities to help fit your vision. If you prefer to keep your reception and ceremony in the same location, we offer a reception package that includes your wedding cake, refreshments, chairs and tents for you and your guests right on the beach!