It’s All in the Details: Flowers, Photos, Music | Florida Beach Weddings

It’s All in the Details: Flowers, Photos, Music

By this point, you are comfortable making big decisions.

You made the biggest decision of all (deciding WHO to marry). Then, decide when to get married, decide to do it at the beach, and you have picked a reception spot and food provider (more on this later).

I hope you aren’t tired of making decisions. If you are, set this down, pour yourself a drink or grab a plate of brownies. We aren’t done yet!

Now it’s time to begin making the many small decisions that will come together to create the perfect day. We are talking about the flowers, the photos, the music and all the other details that make for a beautiful beach wedding.


A beach wedding almost always leaves guests stunned at the natural beauty. No offense, humans, but nature is a pretty good decorator.

That is good news as you begin pulling together all the accoutrements to create a stunning setting for saying “I do.” You have a gorgeous starting template, and with the right touches, you can put together an unforgettable wedding day backdrop.

Flowers are one of the first areas where you can make your ceremony and reception come alive. It is always an area where costs can begin to skyrocket. There is so much customization available, and you may begin to think that you need unique arrangements for every aspect of your ceremony. Think through how important flowers are to you as you begin talking to florists. We’ve worked with brides who wondered how on earth they got talked into spending more on flowers than they did on their dress, and it was mostly because they never hit pause and asked themselves, “Do I really want this?”


Our tips on getting the best flowers for your beach wedding:

1 – Hire a local Florist

If you are in Ohio planning your ceremony, Tampa and St. Petersburg look right next to each other on the map. But trust us, you don’t want your florist having to cross Tampa Bay on the Howard Franklin Bridge in afternoon traffic to get your flowers to your sunset ceremony.

2 – Send the Flowers to the hotel/resort/etc.

You don’t want the flowers delivered to the beach (they will wilt), and you don’t want to pick up the flowers yourself (you have other things to do). Request your florist to deliver the flowers to the front desk, room, or rental property, where they can stay in the air conditioning until it is time to set up for the ceremony and in easy access.

3 – Stick with what’s in Season

Out-of-season flowers are dramatically more expensive, and in-season flowers are fresher and will stay perky and hydrated longer. ‘In season’ is somewhat subjective as most of the flowers come from outside the US. Always best to accept recommendations from the florist for this reason.

4 – Don’t micromanage the Florist

They know what they are doing, and we can connect you with the professionals who can transform your image into reality in each of the municipalities we service. Have ideas, then let the professional do his/her job.

5 – Consider Alternative Options

If you find yourself wincing as you look at the floral estimates, consider some of these alternatives:

  • Get crafty. If you are creative and artistic, you may enjoy purchasing artificial flowers from Joanne’s Fabrics®, Old Time Pottery®, Hobby Lobby® or Michaels® and making your own bouquets. You will be able to keep the arrangement as a keepsake, and for creative types it is a way to personally customize your flowers.
  • Buy wholesale flowers and create your own arrangements. Even some of the big box retailers have a flower section (Sams Club®, Costco®, etc.)
  • Pull double duty. Use the arrangements from your bridal party as the table decor at your reception. Just make sure your bridesmaids get the memo so that you don’t have empty vases as your centerpieces.
  • Tell the florist to use plenty of filler. Baby’s Breath, greenery, etc.
  • Some grocery stores have floral departments and employees will put together centerpieces at a discount to a florist.

Photographer – Pro Tips & Tricks, how to be a great Subject

Professing your love in front of family and friends on one of planet Earth’s most beautiful beaches, you will want to capture the moment, right? Here are a few things to remember as you think about your wedding photography.

  • A good photographer is going to be assertive, but fun. Charming, but a little pushy. And that is what you need. A photographer who can corral the wedding party with a smile is a true pro. Listen to them.
  • You are paying for quality not quantity. In an hour, a typical photographer may shoot up to 200 pictures to find the two or three that are ‘print worthy’ above the mantle in your house. And typically, those shots end up being candid shots, not posed portraits.
  • Photography time runs consecutively and is done in time blocks. You are paying for their time and expertise, including travel. This includes any down time between the ceremony and reception (Example: 4 to 8pm).
  • You don’t need every combination of guests at the ceremony. The goal of the ceremony — when you are surrounded by nature’s beauty, a setting sun, and the Gulf waters — is to take a fair amount of group shots, combinations, however, ultimately get two or three great pictures of the couple!
  • Don’t stymie their creativity by telling them precisely what you want. Show them some examples of the style you like, look at previous work they have done, and then trust them to deliver.
  • Most photographers will require either a half-day or full-day minimum for a wedding. If you go through one of the photographers that we use regularly, you can book them on a per-hour basis, which can really add up to some serious savings!
  • When hiring a photographer, ask if editing and digital copies are included in their flat price or if that is extra (all of our photographers include editing in their price). Editing can dramatically improve the shots, and a good photographer can make the sunset look amazing, even on a cloudy day. In fact, the best pictures typically come on non-perfect weather days, when the sky is deep orange/blue/pink following a severe thunderstorm.
  • The days of getting a photo album with 40 or 50 pictures are long gone. Expect the photographer to take 100-150 or so pictures per hour. The deliverables are typically 50-75% of those taken and most couples ultimately opt to get one picture blown up to put on the wall.
  • Your photographer will most likely use a strobe, flash kit, or a bounce ring so that the subjects are lit from the front. We typically have the sun setting behind the couple, casting a shadow in front of the lens, so you need to illuminate the shadow for even lighting.
  • Lastly, if you want photos that showcase the beauty of the day, you are going to need to hire a pro. We know everyone is a photographer these days, with cameras on our phones, but there is a dramatic difference between the shots a professional can get versus what your cousin Jimmy can get on his iPhone. There’s just no phone that compares to a DSLR camera that is set to the perfect aperture given the current conditions…and post-edit in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop (only the professionals can do this!). Even your typical indoor wedding photographer may have trouble shooting into a direct sunset without some practice. Be sure to ask this prior to.


About a quarter of the couples, we work with at Gulf Beach WeddingsÒ end up hiring a videographer to shoot their ceremony and reception. Beach weddings are so unique and have some of the best imagery for a video, if you decide to hire a videographer you may get some amazing scenery!

A few things to keep in mind:

1 – Different Skill Set

Your videographer and photographer won’t be the same person. The person shooting video will be a different vendor with a different skill set than your photographer. And the two sometimes end up competing for the best positions and shots.

2 – Pricing

It can be pricey as there is much more time spent editing following the event. Expect to pay (roughly) $455 for the first hour and $250 for every hour after that.

3 – Cinematic Style

What you want is a highlight reel, not a documentary.

You won’t be getting an hour-long movie that captures every single moment (your basic setup and forget it!), and that is a good thing because (literally) no one (even your mom) wants to watch your entire wedding ceremony when they come over for dinner. You will get an 8 to 12 minute video with all the key moments.

4 – Copyright Works

Don’t expect to put Bruno Mars or Taylor Swift as the soundtrack. Your videographer doesn’t want to get sued, so will use copyright-free music. See Appendix.

5 – Drones

Unless your videographer is a licensed drone pilot, don’t expect overhead drone shots. The Federal Aviation Administration (‘FAA’) has cracked down on this big time. You must have a Remote Pilot Certification to fly a drone for commercial purposes. And to be honest, this is a lot of work, preparation, timing, cost and is weather dependent (low wind) for only 1-2 key shots…

6 – Microphone & Audio

To capture moments from the vows, the videographer will likely either mic up the groom or the officiant, depending on which direction the wind is coming from to minimize the static.

We provide a Microphone and PA System for groups of 50 or more automatically, so all the guests can hear. You want to avoid this addition unless necessary as it typically has static from the ocean breeze. Further, our Officiants are trained to project their voice to eliminate this need except for larger gatherings.

7 – Interview the Guests/Couple

A good videographer may do brief interviews with some of your guests to get them to offer you their best wishes. This is a fun way to get some great ‘B-Roll’ to your video, and it’s always fun to watch years later.


One of the best ways to crank the romantic beach vibe to the next level during your ceremony is with a live musician. Fortunately, you don’t need to hire a string quartet or a 10-piece jazz ensemble to do that. A solo instrumentalist can create the right mood, and you won’t be breaking the bank.

We recommend a steel drummer or saxophonist. Both instruments’ sound carries well outdoors, and both typically cost $400-450 for an hour.

Musicians playing wooden instruments, like guitars, ukuleles or upright bassists are usually more expensive because their instruments aren’t suited for the beach, and they must be amplified.

The live musician is a great touch for both your ceremony and during cocktail hour at your reception. During the ceremony on the beach, we provide a sound system, and we’ll get you to choose your entrance and exit songs ahead of time.



You know you are going to have a stunning backdrop, with the Gulf of Mexico, sugar-white sand, and maybe that jumping dolphin. But some pieces of decor can really accentuate the environment’s natural beauty.

One key thing we remind couples of when talking about decor is that everything, we use is commercial grade. We’ve had couples that wanted to make their own arch and then showed up with something so flimsy that it barely withstood a gentle breeze.

When we set up for a wedding on the beach, our team arrives two to three hours before the ceremony. This is both to allow plenty of time for setup and to shoo off any lingering sunbathers. When 99% of people see that a wedding is going to happen, they think “Oh how romantic!” and are respectful & happy to move. There is that oddball 1% who refuse to move. We know how to deal with these stubborn fellas. (Usually slipping them a five or ten-dollar bill does the trick.)


So, what does our team do when setting up for a wedding that is distinct?

1 – Rake the Sand 

Our team will use lawn rakes with custom tips to smooth over the sand in the area where your ceremony will take place. This ensures that the aisle is completely smooth and ready for the bride and her bridesmaids. Our base package includes a heart in the sand, delineated with flowers. Other Wedding Packages are much more involved!

2 – Bamboo Arch Setup

Because the beach is a wide-open space, it is important to create an arbor that serves as a focal point. We will set up an eight-foot-tall bamboo arch. Under the arch is where the action takes place. It’s where the bride and groom and officiant stand, providing the perfect frame for photographs of the ceremony. Our team will decorate your arch with the flowers and fabrics that you select. This provides a splash of color that contrasts nicely with the white of the bride’s dress.

3 – Seating

You have three options: White Garden chairs, bamboo chairs or folding chairs with a spandex sash cover.

We have an entire palette of chair sash options and colors that is sure to satisfy every bride’s taste.

4 – Tiki Torches

We’ll place tiki torches extending outward from the arch. This not only directs everyone’s attention up front, it also shows the bridal party where to stand (placeholder if you will). The maid of honor stands in front of the tiki torch on the left, and the best man stands in front of the torch on the right.

5 – Custom Color Palette

All our Wedding Packages include the bamboo arch, chairs, aisle way and are dressed in the colors of your choice. We use special fabrics for the arch, which are different from the chair sashes. Thus, we have an entire ‘color palette’ to choose from. This is how you truly make it your own…although, there’s a handful of colors that are the most popular (Coral, Tiffany Blue, Navy, and Malibu Blue). When you feature the different color arch fabric alongside your preferred chair sash scheme and aisle way there are literally 8,000+ iterations. Our proprietary Beach WeddingStudioÒ is a great interactive tool to help you select your very own color palette and see the different color options interactively.

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