For many couples, getting married on the Outer Banks is the perfect way to start that perfect new life together. Picture the golden rays of sunlight streaming down as waves lap against the shore; family and friends beaming as the minister’s voice booms out, “You may kiss the bride!”
Before that wedded bliss comes about though, plenty of planning must be done. The allure of the OBX is the peace and quiet and relative isolation offered by these barrier islands. Though the Outer Banks offers a myriad of venue options, that also means there aren’t any big-city banquet centers, convention hotel ballrooms, or mega-church fellowship halls to host a wedding ceremony and reception.
With that idea in mind, couples have plenty of decisions to make: How many guests will be attending? Are you looking indoors or outdoors? What’s the budget picture? Whittling down those details can help determine your options here: Will you rent out a great local landmark? One of the huge event houses? Or go a simpler route on the beach?
No matter what you choose, guests are going to love this opportunity to visit the beach – er, celebrate your marriage – so let’s look at how to pull off the big day in an effortless way!
Outside Doesn’t Mean Informal
A number of rental companies on the Outer Banks offer a remarkable array of items to give guests that fancy banquet hall feel in a beautiful natural setting.
And it’s important to remember that one uninvited guest – Mother Nature – is worth planning for. Weather on the Outer Banks is impossible to predict (unless there’s a special kite festival scheduled, in which case there will be NO wind at all that day!) so you need to be covered, literally.
Tents, canopies, and gazebos can be rented in a variety of styles and sizes to ensure everyone’s comfort during the ceremony and/or reception. Clear-top tents let the sunlight stream through. Pole tents provide for an elegant setting with decorations draped from the high ceilings. Frame and canopy tents are practical choices that can provide shade for those fair-haired northern relatives complaining about the sun. Enclosure options also help you plan for wind or rain.
With tents, a couple can decide to have one large gathering space or multiple smaller areas for the dance floor and food and drink spots. Tables and chairs can also be set up in a variety of ways with a wide range of styles depending on the look you’re going for.
Rental companies offer virtually unlimited options when it comes time to accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. Lighting in the tents can range from string lights like something out of a romantic Christmas garden to full-size crystal chandeliers to luminaries, lanterns, and floating candles. And don’t forget the disco ball for the dance floor, of course!
Columns and lattice-work stands for flower decorations or the guest book add classy touches to your space. Got lots of fun photos from the dating years? Consider adding a projector and screen to entertain guests – bonus if you can get many of the guests somewhere in the slide show! If you’re worried about the temperature, consider adding fans or heaters for maximum comfort.
Greenery, garlands, draperies, and table linens come in a variety of colors (well, not the greenery) to help accentuate the color palette you’ve chosen. After all, everything looks great with that aquamarine ocean and Carolina blue sky backdrop.
For a wedding ceremony that takes place on the beach with the backdrop of crashing waves, it’s hard to compete with all that natural beauty. Still, you can roll out the red carpet for the bride to walk down to an arbor or arch, which come in traditional designs as well as breathtaking beach-specific pieces modeled out of driftwood. Altars can be important religious symbols to have in the ceremony as well.
Take advantage of the natural beauty all around you. Decorate with shells, sea glass, rope – anything that adds to the beachy theme that brought you here in the first place. Some couples, for instance, will perform a “sand ceremony” in which the bride and groom each pick up sand and place it into one container to symbolize their union. Plus the sand in that nice container you choose will be a great-looking reminder of your ceremony on the mantel for years and years to come. Another option is a unity candle at the church alter, which can be done without worrying about the flame getting blown out in the breeze. You also can get your wedding guests involved with “blessing stones” that everyone tosses into the ocean with a wish for the new couple.
One note to consider about a beach wedding: You may need to accessorize with a ceremony permit. The town of Duck, for instance, has a three-page form that must be submitted at least 30 days in advance of the ceremony (sorry, spontaneous folks!). On the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, a $100 permit from the National Park Service is required. It’s a good idea to check with your town so you’re fully aware of any rules and regulations prior to the ceremony. (see page 10 in this guide for more information) And don’t forget to check the tide charts, too!
The Big Picture
When people look back on your Outer Banks wedding, they’re always going to remember how magical the moment was, how happy you were, and how that day set the stage for your new life together.
But with careful planning and great extra touches, you can make sure they remember those other spectacular details surrounding the sun and the surf. Have fun and roll with what the day gives you – some days at the beach there are great waves for the surfers and some days there’s “Lake Atlantic” for the families with small children. That’s the beauty of the Outer Banks: Each day is perfect in its own way, and adding wedding vows makes it all the more perfect. ♥