Getting Married at the Beach
When the theme of the 2020 Navarre Beach Mardi Gras parade was announced as Beach Life, many of the float designers started thinking about sea life both above and below the water. But for Gail Smith with Springhill Suites Navarre Beach, their float could only be about one thing—Beach Weddings! You see Navarre Beach is a prime destination for beach weddings.
So, Gail and the team at Springhill set about building a float that a couple could get married on DURING THE PARADE!
Gail’s creativity was recognized and rewarded as Springhill Suites won the Commercial category in the parade judging and one very happy couple began their journey together as husband and wife.
According to the stats from Santa Rosa County Clerk’s office (South end) over 550 marriage licenses were issued in 2019. And if I had to guess… over 500 of those occurred on the beach! (Several pastors and officiants have told me they have not performed any weddings in churches, or they only perform weddings inside as a backup location) If an average wedding costs $3000, then we are looking at a million-dollar-plus industry.
Of course, not everyone wants to be married in front of 40,000 strangers, so what is it like to get married on Navarre Beach? I asked several wedding planners and consultants to share their knowledge and guide us in the requirements as well as the joy of getting married on Navarre Beach. Everyone that contributed information and pictures is mentioned at the end of the article with contact information and website links😊.
Marriage Licenses: According to Visit Florida, visiting couples need to go together to the nearest clerk of circuit court office to obtain a marriage license. Marriage licenses are good for 60 days. The fee is under $100 and can be paid with cash, check or charge. The Santa Rosa County Clerk (South end) office is located at 5841 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563. The hours are from 8 am to 4:30 pm M-F.
There is a 3-day waiting period to get the actual license if either is a Florida resident. Non-Florida residents with out of state driver’s license used as proof of identity do not have the 3-day waiting period. Once obtained a wedding ceremony can be performed anywhere in the state.
U.S. citizens must provide their social security number and photo ids, such as driver’s license or state identification card. Both the bride and groom are required to be 18 years of age (few exceptions). No blood tests or medical exams required. (Note, if you have been previously married you MUST provide the date of divorce, annulment, or spouse’s death—it’s a good idea to confirm that the divorce has been completed before booking a venue!)
For more information visit the county’s website: https://santarosaclerk.com/other-services/marriage/
Once the legal requirements are met, the first step in planning a wedding is to
In other words, get all the parties together that are going to be paying for the wedding and determine the final amount you can spend. According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in 2019 was $34,000 including an engagement ring, wedding ceremony, and reception.
For any destination wedding, the initial cost will include travel to and from as well as lodging and food and supplies while you are in the area. I could not write a blog post without mentioning Grocery- Concierge to help you plan your menus (not wedding), shop for your groceries, and delivery of all the supplies you need for your pre-wedding get-together or honeymoon week. If it’s a vacation—then Start Your Vacation Sooner!
Think how great it will feel to arrive and open the refrigerator to find your favorite beverage as well as items for dinner (you don’t want to get back in the car) and everything you need for tomorrow’s leisurely brunch with your BFFs and family. Or consider booking a Sunset Beach Picnic, Beer and Wines Tasting or other special treats from our Offerings. Then you can head to the beach and let the waves relax you or go for a walk and sink into the white sugar sand.
Additionally, you may have the expenses of the Wedding Dress and Bridesmaid Dress. Suit purchase or Tux Rental. (Even if you decide to go very casual you will still likely pick custom Men’s Shirts and Pants/Shorts and Sundresses for the ladies.)
Select a Wedding Coordinator/Planner & come down for a Pre-Wedding Visit:
I recommend that you visit Navarre Beach before your wedding and check out all the details of your wedding. You may want to consider things like:
Having an onsite coordinator that you can rehearse all these situations before the actual ceremony will provide the reassurance you deserve. It’s always good to remember that your Wedding Planner’s goal is to make your dream wedding a reality. Communicate with them—ask questions, get referrals, meet in person if possible. They do this all the time and have done hundreds of weddings. This is hopefully your one and only wedding or at least the last one you will be planning, and they want to make it special for you and your families.
There are many wonderful providers, and each has a unique offering, you need to pick what is most important to you and remember to enjoy the day.
The services you desire for your wedding may include a Photographer and Videographer; a DJ or music and speakers for both the ceremony and the reception; the Minister or Officiant; Hair & Makeup Stylist; Florist; Catering service: Bartender and Beverage Service, Bakery/Wedding Cake: Miscellaneous rentals- Photo Booth, Dance Floor, etc. Some providers can “do it all”, while others allow you to pick and choose while still coordinating the event.
Venues for the ceremony include the Beach (both Gulf of Mexico and Santa Rosa Sound), local Churches and Hotels, Golf Course as well as Wedding Houses (Be sure to check all restrictions when renting large houses as some DO NOT allow celebrations/weddings). Some of these may also serve as the Reception area in addition to local Restaurants and Beach Pavilions.
Santa Rosa County does not charge a fee to get married on the beach (other neighboring counties charge both the service provider and the wedding party for the right to use the beach). The beaches are public and providers know the best locations to set up early for ceremonies.
Lodging options include rental units (1,2, and 3 bedrooms condos; 3+ bedroom houses), and hotels. And don’t forget that you will want to come early and stay a few more days to explore and enjoy the beauty and relaxation of Florida’s Most Relaxing Place.
Additional information can also be found on the GetRelaxing.com website under Weddings.
April or May are very popular for weddings when the weather is just a little cooler or in early November after Hurricane season has passed. Hurricane season is officially June 1 to November 1 each year. And typically, hurricanes occur later in the season (after mid-August). September and October are BEAUTIFUL times to visit Navarre, but you have to be willing to accept the fact that your wedding date may get moved if a hurricane develops. (The county will evacuate the island and close the Navarre Beach causeway in advance of a hurricane.) Most venues and catering services have a cancelation policy that you should review and know your options before selecting your date.
Summer season is Memorial Day to Labor Day and most all rental units require a Saturday to Saturday reservation during peak season (many are adjusting this requirement due to the Covid crisis) but as all of the Wedding Planners have told me, any day of the week is a great day to get married on the beach. And surprisingly few have had to be rescheduled or relocated inside due to bad weather—the odds are very good your wedding will occur on the day you plan with some flexibility of the time (wait a few minutes and the storm might pass).
Is a wedding on Navarre Beach right for you? Many couples like to call it a “Weddingmoon” because they can have their beautiful beach ceremony and then relax on that same beach for days afterward.
A few demographics to describe the typical couple:
Typically the couple is between 25 and 30 years old, although many couples like to renew their vows and older couples that are looking for a place to bring lots of families together for a blended second marriage also find it very attractive and affordable.
Most weddings are under 75 guests and a majority of these are 40 to 50 guests in attendance. It is not unusual for weddings to be only the family with a few very close friends and less than 20 total in attendance.
Sunset is the preferred time for the ceremony (Check the local weather app for sunset time by day). And remember, you can’t stop or even slow down the sunset! If you want the very best pictures, follow the advice of your wedding photographer and don’t be late!
So, what are some price ranges you can expect? You can find several templates for Wedding Budgets on Excel to use to keep track of your estimated and actual expenses. Or you can use The Knot’s Wedding Budget Planner.
Based on the information I have from several providers most weddings and receptions of 50 guests will cost around $8000 for the high end, $5000 for mid, and as little as $2000 on the low end. These amounts do not include tax or gratuity, nor does it include the travel or lodging expenses. However, compared to $34,000 a beautiful beach wedding in Navarre is a great option!
* this is not a complete list and none of these providers paid to be on the list
Images by Carrie Dalton—FB: https://www.facebook.com/Images-by-Carrie-Dalton-162885193729796/
Please visit my website for a list of property management companies to book lodging for both your pre-wedding visit and your Weddingmoon! Whether you are staying for a few days or an entire week, use the many tools and resources to help you plan your grocery and beverage orders.
Gretchen Carter, owner