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Think Practical and Pretty: Beach Wedding Decor Essentials

Wooden sign for beach wedding

Before we all know it, summer will be here! The season for all those gorgeous beach weddings. But are you agonizing over how to achieve that romantic seaside ambiance for your own wedding on a limited budget? We definitely understand. That’s why we decided to help you out with some cool, creative ways to get ‘the look for less.’ We were surprised ourselves to discover how doable and affordable beach wedding decor can be…with the right essentials!

Getting the Beach Vibe Without Drowning in Costs

A bit of a disclaimer before we dive into this list of ‘essentials.’ Think of these as highly recommended elements, rather than absolute must-haves. The whole point is to let you capture the beach vibe affordably, with even just some of these items on hand.

Essential #1: Take advantage of nature!

You can’t beat nature for fabulous beach decor, presented in breathtaking style. From a ready-made backdrop of sand and sea, plus an awesome sunset (if you time things right), down to tropical flowers, fruits and foliage, seashells, sand dollars, starfish—an actual seaside location has it all. Just add your choice of the elements below, and you’re all set!

Essential #2: Assemble a striking ceremony area.

Create a canopy out of bamboo poles lashed together and drape some gauzy fabric over them. Adorn the canopy with lovely orchids, if you wish, and mark off the sandy ‘aisle’ with stones, shells, or hurricane lamps. Add rustic chairs for guest seating, with flowers in bottles as chair decor.

Essential #3: Add accents that are sensibly chic.

Think visual appeal as well as guest comfort! With the summer sun as your excuse, add decorative and thoughtful touches like:

  1. palm leaf hand fans trimmed with ribbon or lace (see picture 3 below)
  2. colorful parasols set out in baskets (see picture 2 below)
  3. woven beach hats placed on each guest’s seat
  4. an eye-catching station of chilled tropical cocktails for guests to enjoy during the break from ceremony to reception.

To save on cost, the fans could double as wedding programs and/or guest favors; while the parasols and hats could be thank you gifts for your wedding party and attendants.

Here are 4 must-see finds for the actual ceremony that swept us away—off into beach wedding dream land…while keeping costs in mind:

Beach inspired ceremony decorations like fans and parasols.
Image credits: 1 – Ceremony chair decor from A Brit and a Blonde, via Jet Fete /2 – Parasols from Amy Bennett Photography, via Jet Fete / 3 – Palm fans from Oh My Deer Handmades (photography by Simply Bloom Photography) / 4 – Ceremony altar from Erin Hearts Court, via Green Wedding Shoes

Essential #4: Craft vignette-style centerpieces.

For your reception tables, all-floral arrangements could be pretty pricey. So create affordable centerpieces out of a combination of any of these beach-related elements:

  1. cylinder vases with tea lights
  2. bowls holding floating candles
  3. seashell trays with votive candles nestled in sand
  4. hurricane lanterns with pillar candles
  5. baskets of tropical fruits
  6. palm leaves arranged in coconut-shell vases
  7. fish-bowl vases with floating orchids, daisies, or plumeria
  8. multi-colored nautical flags in tall vases
  9. small trays holding assorted seashells and starfish

Essential #5: Apply natural colors, materials, and textures.

To complete the picture of a rustic, relaxed seaside occasion, think ‘organic’ for the finishing touches. Luckily, these items are mostly natural or are readily available, so they cost next to nothing.

  1. containers made of wood (see picture 6 below), bamboo, basketry
  2. found objects like driftwood, stones (see picture 8 below), seashells, sea glass, pebbles
  3. planks of wood weathered by the sun, great for making wedding signs
  4. rope, netting, jute (see picture 7 below), sisal, or raffia to embellish place settings, place cards, centerpieces

Essential #6: Provide romantic lighting.

Once evening falls, a beach reception illuminated only by the stars overhead and some well-chosen lighting decorations is oh so dreamy! Some choices to consider:

  1. twinkling string lights swaying in the ocean breeze
  2. tiki torches lining the reception area
  3. round paper lanterns hanging from the trees
  4. candles shining through simple paper bags
  5. floating paper lanterns to be released as a sendoff for the newlyweds!

More fantastic ideas for decorating the reception area!

Beach reception decor using wood, stones, and burlap.
Image credits: 5 – Venue Signage True Connection on etsy / 6 – Library catalog place card boxes Amanda Wilcher Photographers, via Style Me Pretty /  7 – Table numbers made of burlap from Lara Kimmerer Photography, via Daisies and Pearls / 8 – Rock place cards Joshua Zuckerman Photography, via The Knot


  1. Thank you for including daisies & pearls’ fun burlap table numbers.

  2. I love that sign!

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