Tania and Jeff reached out to me last September to discuss their Cape Cod wedding plans for July 4th 2012 - I remember our first conversation as I was in up state New York at one of my best friend's weddings, but wanted to be sure I could speak with them and answer any questions they had about my services. It was a second marriage for both Tania and Jeff and their children were a very important part to their wedding.
After researching homes to rent and have a wedding on property, they decided to have their wedding of 35ppl at the Sea View in Dennis. Their ceremony was on a small public beach across from the Sea View officiated by Faith Lavender. At the Sea View, we set-up their dinner tables and a small dance floor in the bar area and they had late night s'mores and watched the fireworks from the patio. And because the 4th was also the groom's son's birthday, they surprised him with an ice cream truck! It was a fun night for Tania and Jeff with close family and friends.
Photographer - Vince DeWitt
Hair - Bridal Hair Professionals
Officiant - Faith Lavender
Venue - Sea View
There are so many places to choose from to share your special day with everyone you know and love on Cape Cod! Where to begin?! Here are some tips on the best ways to narrow down your options when deciding on a place for your dream wedding on Cape Cod.
1. Guest List
The first step in your wedding planning process is to put together your guest list. Once you know how many people you will be inviting, realizing that if it is a true destination wedding that usually 20% do not come, you will be able to start your search. Some of the people on your list you may be able to peg as not coming right off the bat, but you invite them anyway! Having a guest count will then help you to narrow down your options of where on Cape Cod you can comfortably fit that many people!
Setting your budget is the next most important thing to do before looking at your reception options. You need to have a good idea as to how much you want to spend on food and beverage per person. Some locations will also charge a room rental fee, while others will have a food and beverage minimum spend to use certain rooms. Also, remember when looking at venues to see if their tax and service fees are included or added on top of their listed price, as it can be upwards to 26% more.
3. Mid, Upper, Lower, Outer
Next you need to decide where on Cape you want to have your wedding. Did you summer in Falmouth or Chatham and really want to show your friends and family your most favorite area of the Cape? Or have you never been to the Cape and just want to find the location that suits your budget, style and guest count? Explore the Cape and be sure to find a location that is comfortable for you. Don’t forget to take into consideration the travel of your guests. Having a wedding in Sandwich or Falmouth is a lot easier for traveling as opposed to Provincetown or Wellfleet.
4. Waterview or No Waterview
Although the Cape is surrounded by water, there is not a huge selection of wedding venues with a waterview. And of those that are on the water, they tend to be on the higher end of the budget - such as Chatham Bars Inn,Wequasett, Wychmere and Ocean Edge. You can still find some great waterview options around the Cape that may work into your budget, don’t forget to ask about Fridays or Sundays as well for better rates (see tip #6). If waterview is not a requirement, there are tons of hidden gems on the Cape like golf courses, farms, restaurants, etc. that are beautiful!
5. Ceremony On-Site, Off-Site, or in a Church
Are you planning to get married in a church? On the beach? On a venue’s lawn? When looking for reception locations you need to take all of this with you before you decide to book. And if you are looking to get married in a church, you need to start that search as well, as lots of churches have requirements on who can be married there and timing can also be tricky.
6. Friday, Saturday or Sunday
If you are not dead set on a Saturday wedding, you should really explore the options of Friday or Sunday weddings when you speak to your different reception locations. Some may have lower rates for days other than Fridays, as they are not in as much demand. Be sure you get all of the details on your options before making your decision. And remember, if you mean a lot to your guests they will be there on a Wednesday if they had to!
7. Time of Year
Some properties offer DEEP discounts for winter weddings on Cape Cod. If you are a winter person, look into having your wedding December thru March and you can save a boatload! If they are open, venues are desperate for business during those months - you could probably even name your price! (Ok, well maybe not go that far!)
Many couples choose Cape Cod for their wedding because they want to have their feet in the sand when they get married, or at least have their ceremony outside at one of the many picturesque locations around the Cape. Although weather is always a factor when you have an outdoor ceremony, the risk is completely worth it when you end up with that perfect, sunny Cape Cod day. Below I list some great locations to consider if you are planning to get married outside on the Cape, as well as how to plan the proper rain plan.
Beaches - Public vs Private
When planning a beach wedding, you need to first figure if the beach you are looking at using is public or private. If you have a house on the water, or are renting a house on the water for your event, the beach is most likely private, which makes a beach ceremony very easy for you. The only restrictions you may have to consider is if the beach is part of an association and that the association has rules on beach ceremonies. Most likely you are free to use the beach without issue.
For public beaches it can be a bit trickier. You will have to reach out to the town and get their regulations on beach ceremonies. Each town is different, but most have a small fee to use the beach and also require that any set-up and break-down happens within an hour before and after the ceremony. Depending on your time of day and time of year, you will also have to consider the parking for your guests. If it is before 5 p.m. your guests would have to pay for parking or be shuttled in. After 5 p.m. there would be no parking fee and there would typically be less people on the beach. Lots of things to consider!
Jonathan Young Windmill, Orleans
There are many windmills on the Cape - Brewster, Eastham, Chatham, Sandwich - but there is one in Orleans on the water, very close to the Orleans Inn, that is a beautiful location for a seaside wedding. Check with the town on wedding ceremony regulations.
Chatham Bars Inn, Boat House
There are many reception locations on the Cape that also offer outdoor ceremony locations as a part of the package and for smaller weddings, I would have to say that the Boat House at the Chatham Bars Inn takes the cake for me. This is one of my most favorite locations on the Cape to have a ceremony. The view is amazing, you can be in the sand or on the lawn with the same great view. And if your wedding is small enough, your back up would be inside the Boat House with the same beautiful view!
Actually located in West Falmouth, Bourne Farm is a beautiful location for those brides looking for an outdoor ceremony and reception without being on the beach. There are many locations on the farm for your ceremony as well - under a large tree, with a view of the pond and more.
The biggest plan that you need to have in place for an outdoor ceremony is a back-up plan (or two!) in case of rain, wind, hurricanes, or whatever nasty thing Mother Nature could throw your way. Usually it is pretty easy to put this plan in place - either you have a reception tent you can go under or you can schedule to have a tent put up if the weather forecast is not looking good, or your reception venue will have an indoor option for you. Yes, typically the back-up is not nearly as perfect as your number one choice, but without one you will lose your mind!
Most Cape Cod weddings take place June-September, in the heat of the summer when the Cape is a very happening place to be! When planning your wedding here during these months it is nice to give your guests a heads up on different places to stay with a range of price options and the bridge traffic, especially with good and bad times to travel. And when deciding on fun and creative ideas for your summer Cape Cod wedding, consider the following ideas to keep your guests cool, your photos fresh and your evening comfortable!
Lemonade - If you are having an outdoor ceremony it is nice to offer your guests lemonade (and/or water) as they arrive. It is most likely that they will not be covered by a tent or shade, so if it ends up being 80+ degrees on your wedding day your guests will thank you!
Refreshing Signature Drink - There is no better time for a fun, cool, refreshing cocktail than at a summer wedding, so check with your bartenders or catering staff to see what kind of beverage you can mix up for guests when they arrive from the ceremony. Some popular ideas are Mojitos, Cape Codders, Dark & Stormys or play mixologist at home and come up with something you love!
Parasols - Parasols are great for photos and a great way to shade guests on a hot summer afternoon. Leave some at the entrance to your ceremony location for guests to take with them. Or just buy some for your bridesmaids to use in photos - even if they are not used to shade anyone, they make a great photo opp!
Beach Photos - Not sure if I need to say this, but I will. If you are having a summer wedding on the Cape try and fit in a couple of pics on the beach. Even if it is just you and your new husband at sunset, it is romantic and screams “I got married on Cape Cod!”
Bug Spray - For those of you really baring the elements with a tented event in the summer, be sure to have lots of bug spray on hand for your guests. You can put some around the entrance to the tent and near the portable bathrooms. If you do not have a steady wind that evening the bugs can be killer!
Bonfire - If your wedding takes place somewhere with a bonfire option - do it!! Summer bonfires are awesome for guests to warm up after the sun sets and is great for s’mores for kids and even for the guys to smoke those celebratory cigars!
Pashminas - Even though you may have an 80 degree day for your wedding, once the sun sets on Cape Cod the air can get cool. At least supply your bridesmaids with something to cover up with, as typically the girls have on less than the guys and are always shivering! If you can, put a basket of pashminas around the dance floor or by the bonfire as well for other woman to take home.
Flip Flops - A basket of flip flops around any dance floor is key - especially for all of the lovely ladies in their super high heels! To be able to kick off those shoes and not have to dance barefoot, or carry an extra pair of shoes with you to a wedding, all of the woman will thank you! Maybe even the guys too - their fancy shoes are never always comfortable!
Plan. Relax. Enjoy.
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