When planning a beach wedding, most couples I know will spend hours making sure all the details are just right. Whether it’s the dress, the cake, the flowers, or those all-important RSVPs. Yet, one of the biggest oversights that I see in beach weddings is accessibility. If you are thinking about having a beach wedding, it’s important to consider the needs of your guests and whether they can easily partake in the celebrations without missing anything.
In planning your beach wedding, don’t let accessibility be an afterthought. Older guests, people with disabilities, and parents with prams will all need to navigate the sand, the noise, and the sun. Here are some tips on ways to make your beach wedding inclusive so that everyone can enjoy your glorious wedding day.
Image: Hank Paul Photography
Don’t make assumptions!
Even if no one on your guest list has accessibility needs today, circumstances could change in the lead-up to the wedding. For example, someone might have a baby a few weeks before your wedding, or someone who initially wasn’t able to make it might have a change of plans. Having an accessibility plan is best practise in avoiding anyone feeling unwelcome or struggling to move around.
Ask your guests what they need…
Don’t be embarrassed to ask your guests directly what they need. You can include a question on your RSVP form for your friends and family to identify if they need priority parking or wheelchair access. Someone living with chronic fatigue might prefer to have a seat reserved for them near the back. Someone who is vision- or hearing-impaired might prefer to be seated near a speaker.
One thing two brides we spoke to regarding beach accessibility for them personally, Sophie & Sian, mention is that communication is key for couples wanting to make their wedding more accessible for those who need different considerations to make the day more comfortable and enjoyable. Reach out to any guests who you know will possibly have some thoughts on how best to accommodate them. These guests may not feel that they are able to ask directly, as it can possibly feel presumptuous or ‘difficult’.
Image: Peppermint Photography
Beach Wedding Accessibility Plan
Many beaches in Australia have the option of hiring beach-specific wheelchairs. They enable people to push themselves smoothly through sand and are relatively water-resistant. Ask your surf life-saving club or local council for more information about how to hire beach wheelchairs for your wedding day.
One of Polka Dot Wedding’s stunning featured brides, Sian (check out her incredible wedding here!) is a wheelchair user and her suggestions for a beach wedding would be, “If a wedding was being held on a beach, I would need some sort of hard mat or runner from the path to the ceremony and someone to help guide me from A to B. I also need you to remove a chair near the aisle for me to sit at so I can see the ceremony. If the reception is on the beach also then hiring a wooden floor would be so convenient and thoughtful.”
Image: The Raw Photographer
Ramp access isn’t only helpful for wheelchair and pram users. They are also helpful for people who need assistance walking up and down steps. If you’re getting married on the beach, additional supports such as beach pathways make it easier for your guests to trek across the sand. These are usually available for hire from your local surf life-saving club or local council.
PA and Speakers
When getting married on the beach, having a PA system is not nice to have. It’s a must-have. Using a PA system will ensure all of your guests are able to hear what is happening during the ceremony above the noise of the waves, seagulls, and people playing nearby. A great PA system can go a long way to help people enjoy your special day.
Image: Yellowbull Weddings
Provide your guests with ample sun protection in the form of umbrellas, sunscreen, and shaded seating areas. By doing this, you’re not only saving your guests from having to squint their eyes in the sun, but you’re saving them from more potentially serious issues such as sunburn or heatstroke.
Image: Fennel & Fern Photography
Lovely bride-to-be Sophie, who lives with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and other syndromes, says, “I would never personally get married on a beach as there are too many factors I cannot control, and standing on sand is exhausting for me. Ideally, couples would consider the heat and impact of being in the sun for extended periods. Furthermore, walking on sand can be very exhausting and not all wheelchairs are beach-friendly, so the shorter the walk the better! Other considerations would include appropriate seating, transport between locations, and having water available for all guests!”
Image: Dream Cave
Image: Doxa Visual
In addition to making sure everything is clear and audible, consider providing your guests with an order of service that includes transcriptions of your readings and vows. This helps people follow along with all of the important parts and is a thoughtful way for you to make sure everyone can participate in the ceremony.
Handwriting is a very popular style choice for weddings. However, it can be difficult to read for some. To make it easier for your guests to read things like invitations and nameplates, ask your designer or signwriter if they can provide copies with easy-to-read fonts.
Image: Hank Paul Photography
A beach wedding is a beautiful and memorable event, but it can also be challenging for guests with disabilities or mobility impairments. Fortunately, there are many ways to make your venue accessible without too much disruption. From hiring wheelchairs at the beach to providing transcripts of readings aloud, you should have an inclusive experience that’s enjoyable for everyone on your guest list.
Did we miss anything?! Let us know if there are more ways to make a beach wedding accessible for all guests.
Image: Hank Paul Photography
Header Image: Red Berry Photography