How to Decorate for a Beach Wedding Reception

Six Methods:Select a Color Palette for a Beach Wedding ReceptionConsider a Theme for your Beach Wedding ReceptionCreate Centerpieces for a Beach Wedding ReceptionSelect Beach-Themed Wedding FavorsProvide Ambiance with Outdoor LightingPrepare for Unpredictable Weather

The beach can be a romantic setting for a wedding reception. The beachfront sand, water and sky provide a beautiful natural backdrop for your reception. Whether your style is elegant or casual, themed decorations can add to the beach ambiance and help create a memorable wedding reception. However, as you are choosing decorations, keep in mind weather conditions like the wind and heat, which can impact your decorations. Use this step by step guide to know exactly how to decorate for a beach wedding reception.

Method 1
Select a Color Palette for a Beach Wedding Reception

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    Choose a color palette that enhances the natural beauty of the beach. While any colors that the bride and groom like are appropriate, most beach wedding receptions feature light colors that mimic the beach, water, sun and seashells.
    • Select a deep ocean blue or navy blue. A deep blue is reminiscent of the sea. It can be paired with natural colors like brown and tan, or bright colors like sliver. The natural brown tones mimic the sand, while silver adds an elegant pop of color.
    • Choose coral, fuchsia and orange colors. These bright colors complement the sunset and stand out among the muted shades of the natural beach. This color scheme draws attention to the decorative accents of the wedding reception.
    • Consider aqua and orange. The aqua color complements the blue waters, while the orange is reminiscent of the sunset. This color combination can be used for a playful and casual reception or an elegant and romantic reception.
    • Select beige and pink. The beige tones mimic the sand, while the pink adds a soft glow of color. The pink tones can vary from a bright honeysuckle pink to a muted powdery pink. The beige and pink color combination blends in with the beach setting, and provide a warm, romantic color palette.
    • Choose yellow, orange and red. This color combination is reminiscent of the sunset. Choose yellow as the main color and then complement it with orange and red hues. This color palette is appropriate for casual daytime receptions, but also serves as an elegant choice for evening beach receptions.
    • Consider orange and lime green. This color palette is popular because the orange mimics the sunset and the green is reminiscent of natural foliage. The combination is especially appropriate for the summer, when plants near the beach are in bloom.

Method 2
Consider a Theme for your Beach Wedding Reception

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    Select a theme for the wedding reception. Tropical, nautical, Hawaiian and nature motifs are popular for beach wedding receptions. Because the options for beach wedding decorations are seemingly endless and quite diverse in style, it is easier to plan decorations around a theme. For example, you could have guests wear leis and decorate tables with hibiscus flowers for a Hawaiian theme. Or use oars, anchors and ships flags to decorate for a nautical theme. A nature theme might include only natural materials found on the beach, such as driftwood and shells.

Method 3
Create Centerpieces for a Beach Wedding Reception

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    Determine the table centerpieces for your beach wedding reception. The table centerpieces should carry out the theme, color palette and overall decor of the wedding. Because they are highly visible, centerpieces are an easy way to make a decorative impact. Make sure the centerpieces are not too large that guests can't speak over or around them, but not so small that they don't get noticed.
    • Consider a beach bucket centerpiece. Paint galvanized buckets in colors that match the color palette for the reception. Glue embellishments to the outside of the bucket that complement the wedding reception theme, such as seashells or starfish. Fill the buckets with fresh flowers, tropical fruit or seashells.
    • Select an aquarium centerpiece. Pour sand and seashells into a fish bowl. For a fun and unexpected centerpiece, add water and some goldfish. If you decide to add live goldfish, be sure to have a few extra on hand in case one goes belly up during the reception.
    • Decorate with rustic beach lanterns. Situate a lantern in the middle of the table. Add sand, flower petals and/or shells on the table around the lantern. The beach lanterns also can provide light for an evening wedding reception.
    • Create flower arrangements with tropical flowers. Exotic flowers like orchids, heliconias, hibiscus, protias, gingers and bird of paradise can be used to create centerpieces that not only look beautiful, but smell great, too. Most tropical flowers can withstand the heat, sun and sand of a beach wedding reception, but check with your florist before selecting blooms.
    • Use native beach grasses as a centerpiece. Wrap natural beach grasses in ribbon or jute string, and place them inside tall glass containers filled with pebbles or shells.
    • Decorate with sand castles or sand sculptures. To enhance the theme of a beach wedding reception, use sand castles as table centerpieces. In addition to traditional sand castles, you may consider sand sculptures in the shape of hearts or created to look like the bride and groom. Be sure the sand sculptures are covered with clear glass containers so sand does not blow on reception guests.
    • Decorate with candles. Put candles in a glass container filled with sand, shells or sea glass. If wind is an issue, consider using electric candles in the place of traditional candles.

Method 4
Select Beach-Themed Wedding Favors

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    Use beach-themed favors to decorate for the wedding reception. Favors are a way to thank your guests for attending your wedding. They also can add to the d├ęcor of your reception when placed on the guest tables.
    • Consider miniature beach pails filled with candy. Fill small galvanized pails with your favorite candy or beach-theme candies, such as salt water taffy or candy pebbles.
    • Provide miniature beach items. Give your guests small versions of popular beach items, such as flip flop key chains, sailboat note pads or sun-shaped bag tags.
    • Give your guests customized water bottles, beach towels or flip flops. Create water bottle labels with the names of the bride and groom and wedding date. Provide inexpensive flip flops in a variety of sizes customized with the wedding date or location. Offer beach towels embroidered with the bride and groom's monogram. Depending on the formality of the event, guests can use these items at the wedding and/or reception, and then take them home as favors.

Method 5
Provide Ambiance with Outdoor Lighting

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    Select appropriate lighting for an outdoor beach reception. If the wedding reception is at night, you will need to add outdoor lighting to the event space. Depending on the location of the reception, you may not have access to electricity. If electricity is not available on site, consider renting a generator to plug in electric lights, or rely on candles and battery-operated lighting sources.
    • Provide lighting through flaming tiki torches. Situate tiki torches around the perimeter of your event space. Be sure the tiki torches are not near anything flammable.
    • Utilize twinkle lights to illuminate your space. String twinkle lights overhead, along the perimeters of the reception space or on the tables to add a warm glow to your reception.
    • Place candles inside tall hurricane glasses throughout the reception. You can use the candles on guest tables, buffets, cake table, bar and other sturdy surfaces.

Method 6
Prepare for Unpredictable Weather

  1. Image titled Decorate for a Beach Wedding Reception Step 6
    Make arrangements for inclement weather. If your beach wedding reception is outdoors, it is important to prepare for unpredictable weather. As you plan your decorations, keep unpredictable weather in mind.
    • Rent a tent for your wedding reception. Most event tents come with sides that roll up, so if the weather is nice, you can roll up the sides of the tent and let guests enjoy the beautiful beach views. In the event of rain, intense wind or cold temperatures, you can unroll the sides of the tent to protect your guests from the weather.
    • Rent space heaters. Even in the summer, ocean-side temperatures can cool significantly in the evening. Keep guests warm by placing space heaters throughout the reception area.
    • Use sturdy decorations. Because beaches typically are more windy than protected inland locations, decorations need to be sturdy enough not to blow away in wind gusts. Anchor decorations with rocks or heavy shells, or look for centerpieces with wide bases.


  • Visit the wedding and reception sites at the same time of day/night that you will be using them. If you will be having a 4 p.m. wedding on the beach followed by a 5 p.m. reception, be sure to examine the event sites starting at 4 p.m. This will help you determine lighting and other needs for the reception.
  • Consult with local officials before investing in decorations. Many beach locations require permits, and some do not allow non-biodegradable decorations or open flames on the beach.


  • Keep open flames, such as tiki torches and candles, away from anything that is flammable. Keep fire extinguishers available in the reception area in the event of a fire.

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Categories: Wedding Planning | Ceremony & Reception