So you have your heart set on an outdoor ceremony, eh? Beach? Backyard? Open field? All beautiful locations on the Cape (obviously), but not so pretty when the weather does not cooperate. I always tell my brides that the one thing we cannot control is the weather, and unfortunately, you cannot control it either. So no matter what, if any part of your event is outside – ceremony, cocktail hour, photos – you will need to have a rain plan or back up option available. Here are some locations you can take into consideration when putting together your rain plan. And trust me – if you don’t have a rain plan, and it rains, it will be a nightmare!
If your wedding reception is taking place at a Cape Cod venue – resort, hotel, ballroom, etc – and your ceremony is outside at that venue, or maybe even off site at your favorite beach, be sure to talk through back up options with your catering manager at the site. You may need to have the ceremony in your reception area, which would then limit the amount of set-up time for the reception. They may have an open ballroom or venue space you can use and keep on hold for you at no charge for a rain back up. Just be sure you get that figured out, maybe even at the time of booking, to be sure that the week of the wedding you have a back-up in place.
If your wedding reception is in a tent at a private home, rented home, or venue there are two options for you. You can either have your ceremony under the reception tent on the dance floor, or you can talk to your tent company about a back up ceremony tent. This tent is usually on the order early out and then you can make the decision the week of the wedding if you want it or not.
I have actually had brides that are getting married outside also secure a church as a back up plan. If your ceremony is on a beach and your venue does not have a back up plan, or it just really does not make sense or you just really do not want to, have your ceremony under the tent, then you could contact a local church and secure the date and time as your back up. Basically what you are paying for at the church you can consider your rain insurance plan.
One thing to really keep in mind about your rain plan is that it will, in some way, shape or form, affect your time line. The reception space may need to be ready up to 2-3 hours earlier if you need to be under that tent. So be sure to keep your vendors up to date if the rain plan needs to go into action. And be sure you have a solid plan on how to let your guests know if the location has changed significantly – like from a beach to the church.
And if it rains on your wedding day, you have to do your best to not let it upset you. It is the only thing out of your control! Be happy that all of your friends and family are there to celebrate with you – rain or shine!
Many couples have different reasons for choosing Cape Cod as their wedding location, one of which is that their number one requirement is having their ceremony on the beach with everyone’s toes in the sand. This is a fabulous idea and can be done quite easily depending on the time of year and vicinity to your reception location, but there are rules towns set on using the public beaches for ceremonies which vary from town to town. Below are a list of certain things to consider when planning to have your ceremony on the beach on Cape Cod.
Each town on Cape differs for their regulations, but here are some things that you should be aware of and look out for when asking the town for their details. Most towns have a small fee to have a permit for the ceremony - ranging from $15-$30. At most beaches, you have to set-up 30 minutes before the ceremony and take everything off the beach within 30 minutes after the ceremony and if the beach is packed full of people, without a permit you can’t really ask anyone to move. Also, some towns allow for only one permit per day, so be sure to get yours early. Visit the town website or town hall to get the best and most up to date information.
Venues with Beach Access
The easiest way to ensure a smooth beach ceremony is to choose a reception with beach access. They can then be in charge of setting up the site, ensuring other beach goers are close to out of site, and take down your set-up after the ceremony takes place. Most venues will have a fee for a ceremony on site, but others include it in their fees.
Chairs or Standing
When considering a beach ceremony at a public beach and the set-up and clean-up have to be done promptly, you will have to make a decision if it makes more sense to bring in the chairs and break them down or to just have a couple of chairs for parents and elderly guests and the rest of your guests standing. Most ceremonies last anywhere from 10-30 minutes long, so after timing out your ceremony, make the call that is best for your budget and your stress levels!
Time of Year & Time of Day
One of the biggest things to consider when having a beach ceremony is the time of year you are getting married and the time of day you choose. Always check the sunset calendar before planning when you will have the ceremony. Also, if you are getting married on the beach from Memorial Day through Labor Day your guests would have to pay for parking until 5pm and beaches will be packed until around around just before dinner time.
Check the tides! If you choose to get married on a north side beach at high tide, there may not be much beach for you to have your ceremony on. Ideally, with north side beaches, low tide is the best due to the fact that you have more of a choice of locations for your ceremony and typically beach goers are far out on the flats.
Beach ceremonies are beautiful, romantic and ultimate “Cape Cod”, but just remember that there are lots of things to bring together to make it all happen!
Vanessa and Brok are a fabulous couple from Minneapolis looking to get married on the Cape in an intimate setting with just immediate family. The big blow out reception would take place weeks later in Minneapolis.
They decided that the beach in front of the Ocean House in Dennis would be a perfect setting with dinner to follow with 30 of their closest family and those who could not make the trip out west.
It was a perfect day - minus a bit of wind - and Judy from All About Flowers put together a beautiful location for their beach ceremony as well as bright yellow flowers for the bride and her cake! Chris Cook joined me to take photos of the couple and then followed them to Chapin Beach after dinner for sunset photos on the beach.
Plan. Relax. Enjoy.
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