Forget the chapel — you’re going to the beach to get married! Destination weddings are exciting for everyone (those who are invited, at least). And believe it or not, you can have a perfect, destination beach wedding on a budget. Who said a budget-savvy couple can’t get married in paradise?

Checklist for a Beach Wedding on a Budget

Budget 

First things first, set a budget so you can plan accordingly.

Wedding Date & Location

These go hand in hand for a reason. If you’re planning a wedding based on a set date, your venue location options may be limited. And vice versa, if you want a specific venue location, you’ll need to be flexible with your wedding date.

Beachfront or local church weddings are typically the cheapest and you don’t need a permit to have a wedding on the beach in Corpus Christi. But there are many other options to consider here, including hotel ballrooms, pavilions at parks, and more. Depending on your ceremony location, you might also need to look into a separate location for the reception. Hotel banquet rooms, pavilions at parks, private room rentals at restaurants and bars, and so much more provide you a diverse range of options to consider.

If you want a beachfront wedding, keep in mind the exact location you want to have it. Make sure it’s easily accessible by guests and consider a less populated area so you don’t have beach-goers photo bombing your wedding pics. 

Time

With a lower budget, choose a wedding time that doesn’t fall around lunch or dinner so guests know to eat before they arrive. You can still opt to serve hors d’oeuvres and drinks, if desired. 

Also keep in mind that if you want a wedding on the beach, you might want to consider a less popular day than Saturday or a Sunday afternoon. 

Plan B

Especially if you have an outdoor wedding, having a Plan B is essential. What if it rains? What if strong winds start blowing everything over? 

Doing your research and determining a back-up venue/location is important to have in your back pocket in case weather doesn’t permit a desirable outdoor wedding. 

You can look into local churches and hotel banquet rooms (who are less likely to be booked up last minute) and pay a small non-refundable deposit just to save the room for backup if needed. 

While having a backup plan may not be a “cost savings” option, it can be a wedding-saving option if you’re relying on mother nature to give you the perfect weather for your big day. 

Theme

Beach wedding themes are typically very simple because the decoration is your tropical surroundings! White, coral, shades of blue, and shades of pink are popular color themes to consider. 

Guest Count 

There’s a pretty good chance getting hitched on the beach means you’re having a destination wedding, which means fewer guests than normal. 

Whether you plan to invite the whole family and all of your friends, or just sticking to immediate family and best friends (your wedding party), knowing the guest count will help you estimate how much food, drinks, tables, favors, etc. and other guest accommodations to budget for.

Wedding Dress Style and Cost 

When it comes to a beach wedding, simplicity is key. 

You don’t need a fancy ball gown, and anything too flowy might be all over the place with the constant breeze of the shore. Unless that’s what you’re going for, of course. 

A lot of brides also enjoy “trashing the dress” by running into the sea with their spouse after getting officially hitched, but the style and cost of the dress you decide is entirely up to you. 

Bridesmaid’s Style and Cost 

Allow bridesmaids to buy their own dress in your desired color theme. Give them a paint swatch with the colors you like or share a Pinterest board with them for color and style inspiration. 

This saves everyone money and allows your bridal party to buy a dress they’ll actually wear again in the future instead of spending $150 on a one-time outfit they don’t love. 

Types of Flowers in Season 

With a beach wedding, flowers aren’t necessary with its beautiful tropical environment. 

But if you want to get flowers anyway, you can opt to buy only seasonal and local flowers for cheaper prices. Or you can opt for only the bride to have a bouquet instead of the whole bridal party. 

Other alternatives to flowers include beach-themed decor like seashells, tropical fruits, and palm leaves. 

Cake Type

DIY wedding cakes/cupcakes are obviously the cheapest way to go, but at a destination wedding that might not be a realistic option. Look for a local amateur who makes beautiful cakes at a good price, or see if you can cut a deal with a local bakery. Cupcakes are also generally cheaper than cakes. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative if you want something more “beachy” than a cake, like a beautiful fruit arrangement with fruit skewers and dipping sauce for each person to grab. 

Other non-traditional cake ideas are pies, donuts, cheeses, cheesecake, cake pops, brownies, rice krispies, etc. 

Photo List for Photographer 

If you want photography but don’t want to spend a lot on it, consider someone who just started out in their photography career, someone who does photography on the side of a full-time job, or student photographer. They won’t cost as much because it’s not their main income or they’re willing to offer a lower price to get the experience, and a lot of them still provide really good quality work. 

You can also ask a friend who you know is good at taking photos to be your photographer at a discount price, or find out if they are willing to do it for free (depending on how good of a friend they are). You can also opt to pay for their flight or one night’s stay at the hotel/condo as payment for their services. 

Don’t assume your photographer or videographer knows all the important photos every wedding album should have. Give a shot list to your photographer with “must haves” of wedding photos that you won’t be able to live without, like the mother-daughter photo, first look, ceremony kiss, first dance, etc. You can also give them a list of other recommended photos you’d like to have in case they need some inspiration or a checklist to follow to get the images you want. 

Ceremony and Reception Decor Ideas 

It’s not cliche to have a tropical themed wedding when you’re on the beach. Don’t be afraid to get creative, but also don’t shy away from simple decorations that every other beach wedding uses. 

Remember, the beach is your decoration so you don’t need to spend much on making it a beautiful wedding. 

Reception

Food:

If you do plan to serve food, a lower-cost option would include a self-serve food station of finger foods and mini appetizers instead of a full dinner. 

If you’re only having a small destination wedding with immediate family, you could also opt to rent out a private room at a local restaurant or your hotel. You may even be able to rent out the outdoor balcony/patio seating area at an oceanside restaurant or bar. 

Beverages: 

If you rent out a private room at a restaurant or hotel banquet hall, ask about BYOB policies and fees if it’s available. Or you can ask if there’s a package deal, like buying kegs or pitchers of alcohol (including bottles of wine) to be offered to guests instead of allowing individual drinks to be ordered.

You can also opt out of serving alcohol or provide a limited amount of “complimentary drink tickets” per guest.

Remember: Glass bottles are not allowed on the beach. 

Wedding Party 

Buying “thank you” gifts for your wedding party is not required, but it is good etiquette. If you decide to buy gifts for your main wedding party, keep this in mind: the more bridesmaids you have, the more wedding gifts you will have to buy. 

If you have a ton of good friends that you would want to be in your wedding party, opt to just do siblings or your bestest-of-best friends. You can always invite all of those good friends to your bachelor/bachelorette party instead of having a large wedding party. 

If you choose to do wedding party gifts, there are a few low cost options to consider:

  • Something homemade: sugar scrubs, DIY manicure kits, jar of homemade cookie mix, etc.
  • Something that will last: candles, essential oils, funny kitchen towels, designer earrings, flask, whiskey glasses, etc.  
  • Something that will bring them joy: you can pick a thoughtful gift specifically for them as if you were to buy them a birthday present, but keep the budget the same for all of your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Even if that’s a bottle of their favorite wine or a cute house plant, just wrap it up nicely for presentation. 

Keep in mind if you’re traveling via plane, make sure to choose a gift that can be easily packed in a carry on — don’t assume they will be able to check their bags, either. 

Wedding Song Playlist

If you’ll be having your wedding or reception in a small, indoor area like a restaurant or hotel banquet room, ask the venue if they’ll be able to use a playlist on your phone or if they have a system to play your Spotify playlist. 

If you’ll have an outdoor wedding or reception, you may consider renting outdoor speakers or hire an affordable DJ / local band for a couple hours. 

Make sure to have a desired playlist to play during your ceremony and reception, or give the list of songs to a DJ for hire. If you’ll hire a local band, consider the type of genre you’d want to play throughout the wedding and discuss options for the bride entrance song.  

Renting Chairs and Tables

If you’re having your wedding at a local hotel or venue, they may have chairs and tables included in their reservation fees. 

If you plan on getting married on the beach, chairs and tables may not be necessary. But if you want to have them available, ask local churches if they are willing to rent out their foldable chairs or tables. They may be cheaper than hiring a wedding / party rental service but it’s worth looking into all your options.

You could also consider adding blankets to the sand for guests to sit on.

Also keep in mind that a beach wedding is almost always constantly breezy or windy, so be mindful about adding any cloth or linens to the chairs/tables you decide to use. 

Invites/Stationery  

To save on stationery, opt for these alternatives:

Send out Save the Dates online (via email or eCard sites) to everyone except older folks or those who aren’t savvy online, who you can send out physical mailers. Those who get the e-Save the Date can add it to their online calendar and start planning the trip if they’ll be attending. Those who get physical mailers can put them on the fridge for their reminder. 

For wedding invites, you can opt to do the same process by getting both online RSVPs and limited mailer RSVPs. 

You can also save on costs by skipping the fancy designed “Save the Date” postcards all together. Just mail a 4×6 engagement photo along with a small card or note with the Save the Date information inside the envelope. 

Also, make sure you communicate in your Save the Date and the official invite if it will be an adult-only wedding. This will allow people to determine if they are willing to go to a destination wedding without their kids, and if so, planning a trip with only the adults in mind. 

Don’t forget to add registry information and your mailing address to the official invite so they know where to shop and send gifts. Let them know you won’t be taking any gifts at the destination wedding, so request all gifts be mailed to their address by a certain date to refrain from unattended packages being left at your doorstep while you’re out of town. 

When it’s time to send out “Thank You” notes for the wedding gifts, buy thank you cards in bulk to save on costs. You can even buy cute “blank” cards in bulk that will be cheaper than the official thank you or wedding cards. 

Officiant

Find a local officiant who can marry you (typically a $50-150 fee) or ask a friend or family member that is qualified to ordain you who may do it for free. But if you do have someone ordain you for free, don’t forget to gift them along with your bridal party as a thank you. 

Vendor/Rental Fees

If you do decide to pay for a venue reservation, do your due diligence and check on all the fees and taxes that will be tacked on the price of renting it out. 

Is there a damage/setup/cleanup fee? How much will you need to tip them? Will there be servers and security to pay for and tip? Are there regulations for serving alcohol? Can you bring in your own food, drinks, decor, etc.?

If you hire a catering service, also check on the fees/taxes after you receive a quote for the food itself. 

Will there be servers? If so, how many servers will you have to hire/tip? Do they charge by the hour? Do they charge a setup/cleanup fee? What about gas/transportation costs to get to your venue?

If you do rent items, pick it up from the location if possible to steer clear from trip charges and extra fees. 

Get your questions answered before pulling out your wallet. Negotiations may be able to take place, as well. 

Wedding Favors

Many weddings these days are opting out of providing wedding favors because it’s an additional and/or unnecessary expense. Guests won’t be angry if they leave the wedding without one and it’s becoming less of a “tradition” than it used to be. 

Many weddings have opted for the wedding favor to be the “leaving/exiting” favor (birdseed, bubbles, sparklers, etc.) instead of an actual gift. Many have also chosen to give homemade gifts instead, such as a bag of trail mix, cookies, or even a pack of gum with a creative note on it. 

Hair and Makeup:

If you aren’t wanting to pay for a professional hair and makeup artist, there are a few options you can consider to keep it free or low cost. 

Find a friend / bridesmaid that is good at doing makeup to do it for you. 

If you like the way you do your everyday or “going out” makeup, do it yourself, because a makeup artist or friend may not know the way you like to do your makeup or the shades of color that you look best in. You don’t want to look totally different in your wedding pictures.

If you have someone do makeup for you, consider bringing your own makeup to do touch ups afterwards in case you don’t like the way it turned out and make it look more like “you.”

Learn from YouTube and Pinterest some great hair and makeup ideas…and do plenty of trial runs before you decide on what look you are going to go for. Once you decide on a look you like, do it again at least 3 times more to make sure you will be able to do it well for your wedding day. 

Non-Essential Guests:

If you’re trying to slash the guest list as much as possible, only invite your closest friends and closest family members. It may sound harsh, but you don’t need to invite guests that aren’t a part of your life in a beneficial or important way. 

These people can include everyone from distant relatives (twice-removed, divorced and not blood related, ones you haven’t seen in 5 years, 3rd-cousins), acquaintances, your college roommate that you didn’t stay in touch with, college friends, old high school friends that you didn’t keep in touch with, friends you just made right before the engagement, co-workers, your great aunts and second cousins you see maybe once a year, and others.

Other beach wedding tips to help you prepare for your big day:

Emergency Kit

This kit is essential to have before the ceremony while you’re getting ready, as well as during the reception for any touch-ups. 

A wedding emergency kit includes:

  • Safety pins
  • Kleenex
  • Bobby pins
  • Small scissors
  • Makeup for touch-up
  • Needle and thread
  • Medicine: nausea, headache, gas, upset stomach, allergy, cramps, etc.
  • Pocket shot (liquor)
  • Energy shot
  • Water bottle
  • Nail polish for touch up
  • Deodorant
  • Pads/tampons
  • Hairspray
  • Shaver
  • Tide to-go pen
  • Lint roller
  • Super glue / fabric glue
  • Baby powder
  • Mints / mouthwash (no gum!)
  • Blister prevention balm
  • Bandaids (clear or small)
  • Oil absorbing sheets
  • Floss
  • Wet wipes
  • etc.

If you’re traveling by plane to your destination wedding, keep in mind some of these items can only be packed if you check your bag.

Details For Guests

You want your guests to have a great experience, too. Provide them with essential (and some nonessential) details to ensure they are just as prepared as you are. You can provide this to them on a separate page in the wedding invite or email each guest. 

This includes:

  • Notifying them by phone (text or call) of your “Plan B” location and contact method if the venue location changes last minute.
  • Transportation and parking instructions — Will a shuttle service be provided? Where do guests park? Where do they go once they park?
  • Basic directions to the venue. Don’t forget to do a drive-through (if possible) ahead of time to make sure the directions are right on a GPS, Google Maps, etc.
  • Dress code suggestions — appropriate shoes for sand, theme, chance of chilly breeze/wind/rain/etc.
  • What you will be serving — Dinner? Hors d’oeuvres? Alcohol? Open bar? 
  • RSVP deadline
  • Additional guests/dates allowed? Adults only?
  • Registry information, address to ship gifts, and deadline for gifts to ensure packages are not left unattended at your doorstep while out of town
  • Who to contact for questions/concerns
  • etc.

Details For Wedding Party

You also want your wedding party to have a great experience, including your photographer/videographer. Provide them with essential (and some nonessential) details to ensure they are just as prepared as you are. You can provide this information when you ask them to be in your wedding party, at a bridal luncheon, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, or even all of the above. 

This includes:

  • “Plan B” location and contact method if the venue location changes
  • Parking instructions
  • Location where you will be getting ready together before ceremony
  • Location and time of rehearsal/rehearsal dinner
  • Dress code requirements (type and color of dress for the wedding, appropriate shoes for field/grass floor, accessories, conservativeness/appearance, theme, chance of chilly breeze/wind/rain/etc.)
  • Expectations as a bridesmaid/photographer
  • Things you will pay for, things they will need to pay for
  • Things you will need help with (showers, parties, DIY decor/invitations, set up, etc.)
  • Preferences on bachelorette party/shower ideas (including dates you are available to do these things). Confirmation of event dates/times/locations.
  • Duties after the wedding (once you leave)

Volunteers

What are the things you need volunteers for? It depends on what you are doing for the guests.

  • Parking instructor / valet
  • Shuttle driver
  • Servers (alcohol, food, drinks, table waiting)
  • Set-up / clean-up crew
  • Gift guarder (also puts the gifts in a safe location after wedding guests have all arrived)
  • DJ / band
  • Officiant
  • Security (if needed, or “bouncer” for those not on guest list)
  • Ushers
  • Logistics (someone to ensure things are working properly, candles aren’t burnt out, pets are contained, everyone is where they need to be, kids aren’t getting out of hand, etc.)

Bright Folder for Important Documents

  • This folder can contain whatever needed that you consider “important.” But it’s important to keep them organized and in one location so you don’t misplace something. This can include:
    • Vendor contracts
    • Marriage license
    • Vows
    • List of things you borrowed for the wedding
    • Tips and checks for vendors/officiant/babysitter/etc.
    • Plane tickets
    • Passports
    • Etc.

 

Corpus Christi Wedding Vendors

In planning your North Padre Island wedding, the following vendors are likely to be especially helpful:

Elopement Services

  • Two Doves in the Sand – www.TwoDovesInTheSand.com – (361) 444-3779
  • Port A Beach Weddings – www.PortABeachWeddings.com – (361) 945-5907
  • Everlasting Elopements – www.EverlastingElopements.com – (210) 860-5680

Wedding Photographers

  • Lone Oak Studios – www.LoneOakStudios.com – (361) 537-1700
  • New Wave Photography – www.NewWavePhoto.com – (361) 334-9237
  • Kerlyn Van Gelder Photography – www.KerlynVanGelder.com – (361) 434-0858
  • Studio Eleven Photography – www.StudioElevenPhoto.com – (361) 354-3886

Wedding Reception Venues

  • Crystal Reception Hall – www.CCReceptionHall.com – (361) 834-3734
  • The Courtyard at Gaslight Square – www.TheCourtyardAtGaslight.com – (361) 884-1399
  • Ortiz Center – www.OrtizCenter.com – (361) 879-0125
  • Mansion By The Sea – www.MansionByTheSea.com – (361) 717-2621

Wedding Officiants

  • Lumina Wedding Officiants – www.LuminaWeddingOfficiants.com – (830) 265-1283
  • Weddings by Randy – www.RandyWalterman.webs.com – (361) 774-9691
  • Texas Wedding Ministers – www.TXWeddingMinisters.com – (361) 444-9557
  • Wedding Officiant Melissa Craig – www.WeddingOfficiantMCraig.com – (361) 563-3716