I am not a wedding planner by any means. I simply am a mother whose daughter told her she would like a beach wedding to be held 3 months after she made the announcement. I live in St. Louis and have never even been to Gulf Shores in my life. So I did what most people would do, I went to the internet for advice. Strangely enough I could not find ONE reasonable suggestion for how to do this on a budget. Instead my searches netted me many companies who would “host” my beach wedding.
So I gave them a list of what I wanted, very simple, no chairs maybe 30 people would be there, 6 tiki torches and possibly rose petals in the sand. I received my estimate via email $1250.00. I about choked, for a 30 min ceremony this wasnt even the reception!!!!!!! I asked for a detailed estimate and when I looked at it I found to “USE” their Tiki Torches the cost was $25 each. $25?????? EACH? I could buy them for $3.00. I asked if I could provide any of my own decorations and I was told NO. “Because of the oil spill the Gulf is VERY particular about what is used on the beach”. In hindsight I know this to be for the most part a LIE!
Frustrated with the costs and the lack of information I decided I can do this on my own, If we can figure it out so can you, here is what we did.
We had the wedding on Cotton Bayou Beach which is beautiful, no charge for marking, easy to find. The cost was a $100 beach wedding permit
At the last minute we rented some chairs from Kents rental, we rented 18 chairs knowing some of our guests would have to stand the cost was roughly $190 ($75.00 of that was delivery charge) these chairs are pretty small and easy to manuever if I had to do it again I would have just picked them up.
Beach decorations included 6 decorated Tiki Torches, a small table for the items needed in the sand ceremony, brightly colored parasols to match the color palate. We also had a large dish of shells for the shell ceremony. I will explain these 2 ceremonies later.
Now for the reception, we looked into halls and the cost of having a bar, food and a hall was also more than a single mom of 6 could afford. So I started looking for homes that would allow a wedding. I found pretty quick the larger homes would not allow weddings, and since the wedding was going to be on a beach I asked if I could have a cocktail party of 30 guests. The answer was YES, but due to zoning no more than 16 people in the house at one time (hmmmmmm uhhhh ok)
We scoured VRBO.com, meyerre.com and kaiser real estate and found a magnificent home, perfect for entertaining with a huge patio and 3 balconies, plenty of room for guests outside. This house cost $4300.00 a week. Now before you hyper ventilate think about it. This was my biggest cost.
In order to save money we enlisted friends to help with the offer if they could stay in the house with us free if they would help with the wedding, one couple set up the beach wedding and helped in the background make everything work smoothly while we were busy with the wedding, one was a family friend who is an amateur photographer PERFECT, not only did we get wedding photos she was with us all weekend to take candid shots and a friend who is a licensed officiate for the wedding. No extra cost here for those pieces. I still had several bedrooms left to let family stay and have them pay for the couple of days they stayed to help off set the cost.
The house was perfect for entertaining, of course we didn’t know for sure until we arrived, it ends up it was a million dollar home in a private island subdivision where several celebs are rumored to live, no one gets on the island without an invite so it was an added treat for our guests who were familiar with the mysterious island.
We had our own dock, a beautiful master bathroom for the bride and her 3 sisters to easily fit while the primped for the wedding, great photos in there too. We added a few well placed white christmas lights and candles, a bunch of flamingos and walla a wedding all for under $6000 including food (some catered and some we made the cake was catered and liquor (we had every kind of liquor available)
Shell and Sand Ceremony, 2 of the nicest things were these ceremonies, the sand ceremony basically is 2 jars of sand different colors and one larger empty jar (I bought mine at hobby lobby but you can find them all over the internet) Bride and groom take turns saying vows as they pour some of the sand from their jar to the shared jar. They pour one at a time so that the sand i layered in a way that is original and can never be duplicated.
The Shell ceremony we did it a little different than I have read, at the end of the ceremony the officiate announced the bride and groom and asked each guest come forward to greet them and receive a shell. With this shell they were to walk to the beach and think of a wish for the couple and once the couple arrived at the beach we would all throw our shells at one time allowing the ripples to connect and intertwine our well wishes. This was soooo awesome. We all threw at once see the photo below.
So you do not have to have a fortune or need to live in the gulf or need a wedding planner to do all this for you. A wedding can be had on the beach with a nice reception without these companies taking advantage of you.
pre-made bouquets at hobby lobby $15 each
Tiki torches $6.00 for 2
Silk flowers from the dollar store for decorating
plain white christmas lights
rent extra tables and chairs
host the reception in a rented home to save on liquor, food and servers
played music on iPod no dj needed
Buy your cake topper on the internet you can get them for under $10 instead of the $50 the bakery wanted to charge me
Post any questions you have here, I am sure I missed something in this explaination