Many couples decide to say their wedding vows on a spot along Virginia Beach’s beautiful coastline. And who can blame them? The beautiful tan sand before the lapping waves of the Atlantic Ocean and the sounds of gulls above, combine to make for one of the most romantic of wedding settings. After all, we were given the title of most romantic city in 2016.

But planning a beach wedding takes more than just calling up a justice of the peace, grabbing your fiancé, the ring, and some witnesses and having a go!

Read below for some things to consider as well as expect as you plan a beach wedding here in Virginia Beach.

Always Have A Plan B

You should always have a Plan B. Summers here in Virginia Beach can come with rain, as can fall (it can also be chilly in the fall). Early spring can surprise you with a short snow shower. And winter? Well, winter can be cold and snowy. You can exchange vows on the beach any time of year, but you should be prepared in case the weather forces you indoors.

Know How To Make It Private

You don’t need to have a permit to say your vows on a public beach. But…if you want to cordon off a spot on the beach, you will need to get a permit (you can cordon off a section of public beach in Virginia Beach for a maximum of three hours). For more information on getting this permit, check out the City of Virginia Beach’s beach weddings page.

Have Your Marriage License Before The Wedding

To make your ceremony legal, you’ll need to get a marriage license. This applies to anyone getting married in Virginia, whether you live in the state or not. Marriage licenses are issued by the Commonwealth’s Circuit Court Clerk’s Office of any county or city. The City of Virginia Beach provides a link to the marriage license application.

Plan Ahead For The After Party

If you want your wedding’s reception on a public beach, you’re probably out of luck – receptions aren’t allowed on public beaches. However, check with one of the many resorts in and around Virginia Beach because they can – and do – provide receptions right on the beach (they also offer rooms for an indoor wedding reception). What’s more, most of these resorts will help you gain the necessary permits, chairs, food, and so on for both the wedding and your reception.

Talking about a beach wedding wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some of the potential problems:

Such negatives could include:

  • Parking is limited near the beach.
  • Alcohol, open flames and glass are prohibited on the beach.
  • You must have a beach wedding permit if you plan on having commercial deliveries on the beach.
  • Sound that’s amplified must remain at a reasonable level.
  • Your wedding ceremony can’t impede access to the beach or boardwalk.
  • You WILL be watched by people who aren’t your guests. Such folks could include beachgoers, construction and cleaning crews, even public events.
  • You can’t have unsecured helium balloons or throw rice.