10 Tips for Planning a Beach Wedding in Clearwater, Florida

Scrolling through Instagram, it’s easy to see beach weddings are romantic and beautiful. But just like anything in life, there are logistical things to consider. So, we sat down with our awesome venue coordinators from Honeymoon Island and Sand Key Beach to find out their top 10 points to consider when choosing your beach wedding venue.

Sand Key Beach Wedding 2020 by Cara DeHart Lewis

1. The Beach

In the Greater Tampa Bay area, there are a lot of beaches to choose from. We recommend going with a county (Sand Key) or state park (Honeymoon Island) because the beaches are usually less populated, as they are usually only visited by the locals, giving the beach a more private feel, ideal for weddings.

2. Cleanliness and Maintenance  

Another perk to going with a county or state park is they’re maintained. The beaches and restroom facilities are cleaned regularly. Big plus!

3. Towering Woes 

Many beaches closer to the bigger cities, like Tampa, Miami or St. Petersburg, are filled with high rises. This could negatively impact your photos with shadows, and more high rises usually mean more people. If an intimate beach wedding is your goal, look at surrounding areas of the major cities. For instance, Honeymoon Island is conveniently located close enough to Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida, but it offers unobstructed views of the gulf.

4. Parking Made Easy 

No one wants to have to check their watches and fiddle around with parking meters. When you choose a county or state park, you and your guests pay by the day. If you want to make life easier on your guests, you can usually even pay everyone’s parking fees in advance.

5. The Gulf vs. the Atlantic  

A timeless rivalry and age-old question is, which side of Florida is better? While they both have their perks, the number one reason we love the Gulf is that it faces west, so each night there is an actual sunset over the water. And it makes for some lovely wedding and reception photos!

Couple at sunset on the beach by Cara DeHart Lewis Photography


6. Pro tip: Don’t forget about the tides 

Speaking of weather, one thing many couples don’t think about is high and low tide. Depending on the tide, less or more beach may be available for use. This is another reason why working with a professional beach wedding planner is a great idea.

7. Permits and Ordinances  

Believe it or not, you can’t just walk out onto the beach and get married. There are laws to be followed and permits to be filed. Luckily, couples who choose to work with one of our beach venues (Sand Key and Honeymoon Island), will be guided by our coordinators who will make it easy to follow the rules and complete the permits on time.

 8. Beach Receptions 

Beach receptions can be hard to come by, in fact, a lot of beaches simply don’t allow them. This is for several reasons, such as protecting the wildlife, food handling liabilities and lack of staff. In some cases, beaches will work out contracts for local businesses. For example, Florida Weddings on the Water (operated by the Bon Appetit Group) has exclusive rights to host private beach receptions and parties after hours on both Sand Key Beach and Honeymoon Island.

9. Have a Backup Plan 

The beach is fabulously romantic. But it’s important to remember it is a beach and weather happens. It’s always good to have a backup plan in case things go south. Experienced wedding planners, like Tina and Kristina, are always keeping an eye on the weather and know how to coordinate around it.

10. Beach Hair Don’t Care

When you’re getting married at the beach or any outdoor venue, especially in Florida, it’s important to consider your hairstyle. Wearing your hair down is a beautiful option, but it can also get in the way and be distracting.

Bride with long hair on Sand Key Beach

Bride, Megan, looks stunning with her soft long curls on Sand Key Beach in Clearwater, Florida.

Imagine you’re saying ‘I do’ when a wind gust tosses your hair in your face. Would that bother you? Seriously, if you HATE it when your hair gets messed up, consider an up-do over wearing your hair down on your special day – it will make it one less thing to worry about.

Now that you’re equipped with some solid beach wedding knowledge, the next step is to visit the beach you’re considering in person. Ready to come out and meet us at Sand Key Beach or Honeymoon Island? Our venue coordinators can’t wait to share more details with you, make your appointment here.