Wondering How to Elope on the Beach in Florida?
If you’re wanting to elope in the state of Florida, there’s a good chance you’re hoping to do so on the beach. After all, Florida boasts more miles of coastline than any other state in the lower 48.
If you’ve spent much time on Pinterest looking up elopement inspiration, then you’ve likely seen countless people on the beach saying their vows and taking breathtaking photos, with only their closest friends and family in attendance.
But how did they manage to do it? And how can you do something similar?
There are a few different ways. Actually, I’ll cover four different ways you can elope (or plan a larger wedding) on the beach - from the all-inclusive to the ultra-DIY method (AKA free!)
In general, these tips apply anywhere. But I'm specifically referring to Florida in this post, as this is the most visited state in the country and the most popular place for beach elopements (and weddings). And it's also the place where I live and work as an elopement photographer!
1. Book an Elopement Package at a Resort (or Seaside Venue)
We’ll start with the easiest (and most expensive) option first.
The simplest way to get married on the beach, and not have to worry about all of the little details, is to book an elopement package with a resort that offers beach weddings. These are located all across Florida. In my area (Sarasota/Bradenton), I can quickly name a dozen or more of these resorts.
The good news is that they have their own private section of beaches. They have chairs and altars/arches/decor that they can set up for you as a backdrop for your ceremony. Permits won’t be necessary since you’re on private property.
This option is more common with couples planning traditional weddings. However, many of these resorts now offer elopement packages, which are usually on weekdays or in the morning, and for fewer guests, at a lower cost. Typically, elopement packages only include a ceremony, so there’s no reception space and no food/drinks, though you can likely customize a package or add on various services.
2. Book a Waterfront Vacation Rental
Public beaches have rules about weddings and events. But a home with its own private beach might not need to abide by those rules. If you want to get married on a private beach, you can bypass the need to obtain a permit from the city/county.
You can rent a vacation home to elope on the beach. If you’re planning to have quite a few guests, it’s always best to check with the host/owner beforehand to ensure it’s ok. You’ll also want to know if there’s enough parking available.
There usually aren’t any additional fees for getting married on the beach at your vacation rental, other than the actual nightly reservation fee. Some popular vacation destinations, such as Anna Maria Island or Siesta Key, might have additional rules regarding beach weddings, even if it's at a seaside rental.
You might still want to call the city to see if it's ok to have an event in the sand. Otherwise, look for a rental in a quieter area, with fewer tourists and fewer regulations.
3. Book an Elopement or Wedding Package with a Beach Wedding Service Provider
Looking for something a little more affordable and less elaborate? But maybe you still don’t want to handle all of the details yourself. Well, you can plan a wedding with a beach wedding service provider.
Essentially, they help you plan a “DIY” beach wedding. It can be on a public beach (like Siesta Key, for example). You’ll need a permit from Sarasota County in this example, but the company that you work with will get the permit on your behalf.
They will also set up chairs and decor based on your preferences. These companies are typically all-inclusive, meaning they supply a photographer as well, which is unfortunate if you want a photographer with a particular style.
And they only help you with a ceremony on the beach. Anything after that is up to you. So typically, you’ll use their services for 1-2 hours during your elopement. But they can also accommodate larger beach wedding ceremonies, too.
You are then free to plan your own reception/party if you want or sneak away with your own photographer for some intimate photos of just the two of you.
4. Obtain Your Own Wedding Permit and DIY Your Beach Ceremony
Maybe you don’t want to hire someone else to handle the process for you. In that case, you would need to obtain a beach wedding permit yourself, but only if you’re getting married at a location that requires a permit.
In Sarasota County, you have some very popular beaches (Siesta Key and Lido Key). You only need a permit for the Main Public Beach - Zones 1, 2 & 3 of Siesta Key, as well as Turtle Beach and Lido Beach. Other beaches on Siesta Key wouldn’t require a permit.
The best thing to do is to call the parks and recreation department of the county you want to elope in, tell them where you plan to have your ceremony and ask what is required. If a permit is required, they only have a limited amount and they book up, particularly on weekends and evenings. For example, here is the Madeira Beach website for obtaining beach wedding permits between $50 and $100.
5. Keep Your Elopement Tiny So a Permit Is Unnecessary
Permits are only required if you host a typical wedding ceremony. This includes the setting up of chairs and decor and inviting lots of guests. Permits are also helpful for you to ensure that other people aren’t also hosting an event at the same spot as you.
But if you aren’t planning on setting up chairs, and only plan to invite a few guests, a permit wouldn’t be necessary. After all, you’d just be a few people standing, talking, and kissing on a public beach. That’s what normal beachgoers are doing already.
Plus, with such a small group of people, it’s very easy to move around and find less crowded parts of a public beach or go to beaches that require hiking or paddling to reach to find your own slice of paradise.
It’s Better on the Beach
There’s a reason so many people get married on the beach. Especially in Florida. It’s just so beautiful.
Need help planning a beach elopement or wedding? Both Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key (in Southwest Florida) are some of the top beach wedding destinations in the state. Planning to wed here will be remarkably easy.
If you are considering an elopement or wedding here (or anywhere else in Florida), and want to have beautiful photos taken to perfectly preserve this day forever, send me a message so we can work together to craft the perfect plan and lock in your date.
Let's Get Gorgeous Elopement Photos
Beach Elopement Photography
One of the best parts of planning your elopement on the beach is the fact that you'll have stunning photos to look back on for decades to come.
I'm Kelsey, a local Florida photographer with a big passion for elopements here in the sunshine state.
If you're looking to capture authentic, candid photos of your elopement to preserve forever, send me a message, and let's start planning your elopement shoot today!
Read More About Elopement Photography
Or, if you aren't quite ready to send me a message, head to this page to learn more about elopement photography here in Florida.