The setting sun over the Indian Ocean accompanied by your one true love is what many Perth Brides envisage as the perfect wedding scene.
Perth is blessed by what seem to be the most pristine and beautiful beaches next to a major city anywhere in the world. And as people from Perth know, the beaches go on for miles and miles. And apart from Perth, Western Australia has some other wonderful beach areas such as Margaret River, Esperance, Dunsborough, Augusta and Broome. In fact almost all of the coastal towns of Western Australia would lay claim to having a beautiful beach, most suitable for weddings.
What should you consider if a beach wedding appeals to you?
As with all outdoor weddings, the weather can disrupt the best of plans. Strong rain or scalding sun need to be considered, and emergency alternative venues should be thought of. However, with a beach wedding in Perth, the wind is probably the biggest risk. The Fremantle Doctor blows in summer most days, normally starting between noon and 3.00pm. Most Perth weddings are held after 2.00pm.
A strong sea breeze causes a few problems. Beautiful dresses and hair are often blown in a way that they do not look their best. Wedding papers, and even a signing table can be blown over by a strong sea breeze. From a wedding celebrant’s perspective, the most difficult issue on a windy day is ensuring the ceremony can be heard by all of the guests. Often the breeze is gusty and so where a volume level is appropriate at one time, it may be inaudible later, and too loud a minute after that.
There are of course, if not foolproof solutions, certainly ways to reduce the risk, or consequences, of the wind. Hair and clothing can get an extra pin, and extra weights can be procured for the tables and chairs. As far as signing goes, a small partition to shelter the table can allow for this. Or alternatively, the signing can be done after the ceremony, in the shelter of the reception centre, or elsewhere.
Volume control for a PA system is a bit trickier. Where I last performed a large beach wedding I used a more powerful PA system with slave speakers surrounding the guests. Ideally, a person mixing the sound with the shifts in the breeze would have been ideal. However, extra sound equipment and hiring mixers is expensive, and another matter to be organised.
Morning weddings are likely to avoid the sea breeze. Dawn weddings are spectacular, if you can coerce your guests out of bed in time.
However, in my experience, afternoon weddings leading into evening receptions are most popular.
The Fremantle doctor is at its height in the warmer months when there is a substantial temperature difference between the ocean and the land. An autumn or winter beach wedding has less chance of a sea breeze, but of course, a higher chance of rain.
Like most outdoor weddings, the local council needs to approve a beach wedding. Many councils prohibit the use of amplifying equipment on the beach. You may need to have a celebrant confident of projecting his voice to all of your guests, without shouting past the wedding party.
Sand is one of the natural enemies of stiletto shoes. The celebrant should be able to arrange a stable ground for the bride and her attendants where the ceremony is held, but getting there is a problem. You should either decide to take off your shoes as you hit the sand, wear flats, or learn to walk on your toes.
Sound and camera equipment needs to be protected from damage that sand can cause.
Sand also makes the carrying of chairs and a table, PA equipment with stands, and other accessories, difficult. The solution to this is to very lovingly tell those carriers to hard up a little.
Your wedding celebrant would normally be able to provide a standard PA system that would run for many hours on battery. However more complex sound systems might require access to power.
This needs to be planned well in advance as to how power can be efficiently and safely delivered to the ceremony.
A beach wedding can be a wonderful and romantic experience. It just takes a bit more planning and understanding of the risks involved. Make you decision with your eyes open, get a good celebrant, and the day is yours to enjoy.