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Photo by David Wolfe.
What’s more romantic than a beach wedding? According to Catherine Walton, a seasoned wedding planner from Weddings By the Sea in Cape May (609-884-7900; weddings-bythesea.com), not much.
Walton, who has orchestrated Tahitian, Caribbean, desert, casual, and Hawaiian-themed weddings—with everything from palm trees and flamingos to sand sculptures, light shows, beach pails, and sandcastle cakes—says the choices are endless.
Casual Wedding Pre-Event Ideas: Deejay/Karaoke Rehearsal Dinner, Open to all Guests. This get-together and get-to-know opportunity for both families starts with decorated bulletin boards (matching the chosen theme) filled with labeled pictures, an easy way for Aunt Martha to identify Cousin Charlie and vice versa. Add in the karaoke, a great ice-breaker, and you’re guaranteed to have a memorable evening filled with lots of laughter.
The Casual Beach Ceremony: Does your groom live in khaki pants? Then this is the wedding for him. Walton says the bride and bridesmaids can go barefoot to the beachfront ceremony, or wear one the newest, hot items—formal flip-flops made of satin and rhinestones or leather with sequins. (Walton sells a nice array at her store, The Wedding Shoppe, or see jamiekreitman.com). If your guests are equally eager to get casual, too, place some fancy decorated baskets at the entrance to the beachfront, to stow their real shoes safely away from the sand. After the service, have a designated “sand matron” use a beach pail, decorated with tulle and filled with new paint brushes, to gently dust away any sand residue between the toes.
Decorative Ideas: Scattered seashells, lighthouses, sailboats, or starfish around the tables, artfully displayed in a “beach” of white grits—which looks exactly like sand. Or go with Tiki torches on the shoreline and a Tommy Bahama bar set up with a straw canopy. Add comfy wicker furniture or Adirondack chairs, positioned so your guests can watch the sun set over the ocean.
The menu can be anything from an old-fashioned BBQ to a lobster and clambake. At the end of the reception, Walton suggests having a Good Humor truck pull up, so the guests can savor an ice cream while waiting for their trolley back to their hotel or bed and breakfast.
Favors with Flavor: Two of Walton’s favorites are a bag of white chocolate seashell candy, tied with a strand of imitation pearls or a little see-through plastic beach bag, imprinted with a shell motif, stuffed with saltwater taffy.
Activities: “Cape May is a full of them,” says Walton. “Aside from indulging in shopping in the quaint historic district, your guests can choose between the beach, visiting a lighthouse, going whale and dolphin watching, or bicycling,“ says Walton, who can also arrange guest itineraries to include some of the area’s famous special events, like craft shows or the strawberry festival. Throw in a ghost or B&B tour and travel by horse and carriage or a trolley for an even more unique wedding event experience.
Post Wedding: As the cap-off to a fabulous beach wedding event, try one of Walton’s favorites: a hearty Sunday Brunch at the Chalfonte Hotel, a 130-year-old authentic seashore Victorian hotel, reeking with ambience of days gone by.