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Beach Wedding Music for a Spine-Tingling Ceremony

Updated on January 3, 2009

With a Beach This Beautiful ... Do You Really Need Music?

If you've thought about having a wedding on the beach, you've probably wondered about music. Basic questions, like: do you even need it? Isn't the sweet serenade of seagulls and the ocean's roar enough?

For many beach brides, music is pretty optional. While it's true that classical picks are a powerful way to signal important parts of the ceremony, like the processional, a deft officiant can easily pick up the slack. And, the natural music of the beach is one of its big draws. After all, you don't have to over-decorate out there ... because the scenery's already so incredible.

What's more, the beach can actually be pretty hostile, weather-wise. If you're having a dramatic cliffside wedding with 30 mph winds, not many musicians are going to want to strum by your side. A violin can only take so much sandblasting and sea spray before its owner gets a bit gruff.

Just type in "beach wedding" on YouTube. See how many wildly windy days you pull up. See how many veils, hairstyles and silk chiffon gowns are flapping in the breeze, even threatening to be the authors of a really uncomfortable wardrobe malfunction. Yeah, a lot. The funny thing about wind ... it really picks up toward sunset, which is precisely the time of day most brides are trying to leverage.

This is not an environment that musicians love to brave. The more ponderous and pricey their instruments (gigundous classical harps, anyone?), the less enthusiastic you can expect them to be about setting up near the water. Most musicians, excepting those that play the most casual instruments, are going to be much happier if you provide them with some shelter from direct sunlight, sea spray and that fine peppering of sand that's all part of the beach experience.

This is where steel pans shine. Nobody's on the fence about steel pans -- you love them or hate them. But there's no denying that they instantly let your guests get in touch with their inner Parrotheads. Practically speaking, they're also a great choice in that they don't need amplification, and they're tougher than, say, a cello. They can set up a little away from your guests and still be heard.

The Choice is Yours

Despite all these caveats, you still have lots of options. If you want a more classical feel, look into a harpist, violinist, string trio or a solo flautist or saxophonist. These musicians will need a shielded location.

If you want a more tropical feel, your choices are legion: steel drums or ukulele, guitar or Spanish guitar, or even a Mariachi or flamenco band. (Most wedding planners and officiants agree that vocalists just aren't showcased at their best in the beach setting).

In many cases -- especially with the stringed instruments -- your musicians will be suited for an intimate setting and not easily heard at a distance, especially on windy days. But in some cases you might be able to get them hooked into your officiant's amplification system.

But What if You Hook Up Your iPod?

Then you just need some tasty tunes that fit right in with a beach setting (assuming you have a sound system to hook into). Here are TheKnot's top picks for a nuptial beach bash, from Jack Johnson to Ziggy Marley.

While We're At It ...

Take another look at those YouTube beach weddings. Then come back, and let's chat about other things to approach with Extreme Caution at beach weddings. A few, below.

  • THE CANDLES. No matter what the nice lady at the craft store says, your candles are probably going to blow right out like New York City in a grid collapse. Yes, even the ones in the hurricane vases. So skip the Unity Candle in favor of something much more environmentally apt, like a Unity Sand Ceremony. As for the tables, if you need that candle vibe, go battery-operated.
  • THE HAIR. As beautiful as loose, windswept hair looks in combo with a destination-wedding style gown, imagine how uncool it might look if you're exchanging vows downwind and you have to shove your hair from your face with your hands while you grope blindly for the ring. A more practical choice: a well-secured French Twist. Also, watch the long veils.
  • THE GOWN. Those lithe, body-conscious gowns that beach brides like to don are truly beautiful. But if a big wind whips up on your wedding day, is your gown long enough (and secure enough around your Lady Bumps) to avoid a Kodak Moment you'd sooner forget? Or will you have to clap the hem to your thighs and pray for a break?
  • THE SUGARY TREATS. Chocolate's a no-no for most beach weddings; all its glory melts into a sticky mess with even an inkling of direct sun. This is also true for many cakes, especially those iced in buttercream. So skip the chocolate indulgences in favor of something less fragile, like sand dollar cookies or salt water taffy, and keep your cake as cool and sheltered as possible. Also, cut it fast.

Attended a beach wedding? Planning one of your own? Share the best musical arrangements you've ever seen, or what musical delights you're planning to enjoy at your own nuptials.

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      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      Love the beach for weddings!

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      Good luck!

    • vitar profile image

      vitar 6 years ago

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