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Beach Weddings Abroad

When you think of a wedding abroad, what springs to mind? A beach perhaps? Maybe a couple getting married on the sand under a gazebo as their friends and family look on while the sun sets? This is as close to a “traditional” wedding abroad as it gets (although these days a wedding abroad can be as diverse and untraditional as you like).

Beach weddings are still one of the most popular choices for couples choosing to get married abroad, and you can see why – it's simple, there are plenty of incredible beaches in the world to choose from, and if you choose the right country you're almost guaranteed sunshine. What's not to love?!

But with all that choice out there, how do you decide where's the right beach for you? It really comes down to your tastes and also to country wedding legalities as many countries don't allow you to legally marry on a beach at all.

A popular region for beach weddings is, unsurprisingly, the Caribbean. Most of these pretty islands offer beach weddings and, since they're islands, have plenty of white, pink and golden sands for you to choose from. St Lucia, Jamaica and Barbados are good choices, as it's simple to get married on each island and there are plenty of flights from Europe and the US to get you there. Antigua is another good choice and allegedly has one beach for every day of the year.

Other options include the Bahamas (one island has actual pink sand!), Bermuda, and the Virgin Islands (you could even hire Necker Island, Richard Branson's private island). Make sure you don't decide to get married in the Caribbean during their hurricane season (June to November generally), as your dream beach wedding may well be rained off. This region is ideal for weddings between December and April as that's when it's driest and sunniest.

The USA is another good choice for a beach wedding abroad. Southern states have better weather so offer you a wider choice of months when a beach wedding is possible – Florida and California are two of the most chosen US states for a beach wedding for this very reason. Florida wedding planners offer a really wide choice of beach ceremonies, and you can even arrive in the state, obtain your marriage licence and then get married on the same day (as long as it's a working weekday).

California has a different vibe – from the less well known beaches of San Diego, to the famous ones in Los Angeles and surrounding counties, to the rugged and sometimes foggy coastline between LA and San Francisco – a beach wedding in California is as unique as you are.

Further north, New York in summer is an option as there are beaches close to Manhattan which would give you a great view of the city as you exchange your vows. Or, back on the west coast, Washington state and Oregon in summer are good for private beach weddings as they have miles of unspoilt coast where you could have a secluded ceremony. And the 50th state, Hawaii, is, of course, an excellent choice if you're looking for a more tropical beach wedding with a laid back air.

Many couples would like to get married on a beach in Europe. Unfortunately most European countries require you to legally marry in a building with a roof. However, you can always get married in whichever country you choose and then have a blessing on the beach afterwards. Southern European countries are best for this – Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Malta and Turkey have some amazing beaches where you can exchange vows.

The Far East is another great choice for a beach wedding. Thailand and Bali offer a wide choice and Thailand has so many islets, or kohs, where you can marry that you may struggle to decide on which one! Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi are two of the most popular, both for their prettiness and also the great selection of hotels to honeymoon in afterwards. Alternatively, Bali is romantic to the core and the beaches here can take your breath away (as can the hotels if you pick a posh one).

South of the equator, the Seychelles and Mauritius are classic beach wedding countries and are very much geared up for weddings abroad. Most hotels offer beach weddings and there are many tour operators and wedding planners who can also help you decide which beach is right for you. The best part about these islands is that they're warm year-round, although the weather is better between July and November.

South Africa may not be a destination which springs instantly to mind but the coastline here is amazing and you can get married on a beach easily. The coast around Cape Town is spectacular – you could even marry with Table Mountain in the background and penguins waddling about on the sands next to you!

Of course, in the southern hemisphere we can't not mention Australia and New Zealand as beach wedding destinations. With easy marriage legalities, a wedding here is limited only by your imagination. In Australia you can marry anywhere you like, as it's the celebrant who holds the licence to marry people, not a venue. So if you want to exchange vows on a pristine beach in the Whitsundays then you can do so, or on a beach overlooking the Seven Sisters in southern Australia, or even on Bondai beach!

New Zealand is well known for its dramatic landscapes, and the beaches here don't disappoint. The south island boasts a craggy coastline with hidden beaches just ideal for a private wedding ceremony, while the north island's Bay of Islands is famous for its beauty – a good choice for your beach wedding then?!

As you can see, choosing a beach wedding may be the “traditional” choice, but it's far from being a boring decision. As laid back or adventurous as you like – having a beach wedding abroad is an awesome experience, and one we'd always recommend.

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