Planning the Perfect Florida Beach Wedding
I’ve been photographing beach weddings in the Clearwater and St. Petersburg area for a long time. I know which beaches are the easiest, which are the hardest and which ones produce the most beautiful pictures. Let’s take a look at 6 different beaches in the area..
Clearwater Beach Wedding
Clearwater Beach is the most popular beach in the area. It has the most hotels, the newest resorts and is by far the most “touristy.” It also has some of the best sand in the country which is wonderful for vacationing but can be a struggle for older people and people with disabilities. Still, it’s a wonderful beach to be married on as long as you head north a bit to do it. There are some spots north of the main section where there’s parking and easy access to the sand. It might be a little more crowded than some of the other beaches, especially in season and holiday weekends.
Sunset Beach Wedding
Sunset Beach is a “locals” beach. Tucked away at the very end of Treasure Island, it’s one of my favorite beaches to photograph mainly because there are options there that don’t exist anywhere else. There’s a boardwalk, a rock jetty and even a covered pavilion that can be rented for a small reception. There’s usually plenty of parking although at the time of this writing they are doing some road work and have fenced off half the lot. It’s the most shallow beach in the area. At high tide you can throw a rock from the parking lot to the water.
I shoot a lot of engagement session there because of the variety of locations..
Treasure Island Wedding
Treasure Island has a public lot and I’ve shot weddings at that beach in the past but it’s rare. Generally speaking, the big public lots and access aren’t the best choice for a beach wedding unless you are doing it in the morning. In season, the lots are full all day and the beach is crowded.
I do, however, photograph a lot of weddings on Treasure Island because of the hotels and resorts. The Sunset Vistas is a condo/resort that also has a beautiful courtyard and space for a small reception. The beach isn’t too crowded and you have the convenience of being to walk from your room to your wedding. Perfect Florida Beach Wedding does a lot of weddings there and at a venue down the street which actually allows for a tented reception or indoor party right on the sand.
Sand Key Wedding
Just south of Clearwater Beach is Sand Key Park. Sand Key has a huge parking lot and there is always plenty of room. One of the advantages of Sand Key is that the beach is mostly packed shell so it’s easy to walk on for older folks or people with disabilities or even a beach wheelchair. The downside is that it’s the deepest beach in the county. I mean, it’s deep. You’ll walk 100 yards to get to the open sand and another 100 yards to get to the water BUT all that room means plenty of space to set up your wedding and 100 yard walk on Sand Key Beach is easier than a 30 yard walk on Clearwater Beach. Unlike many beaches, if you have chairs or an arch at Sand Key Park you have to get a permit but your beach wedding planner can help you with that.
St. Pete Beach Wedding
Parking is usually not a problem here but can be tough during the season. The beach has good sand and it’s shallow but not too shallow. They recently started requiring a permit. It’s a popular beach with the beach wedding companies and it’s not unusual to see 2-3 weddings happening at the same time
The Grand Plaza Hotel is on St. Pete Beach and they probably do more beach weddings than anyone in the county. I work there several times a year. They have two permanent beach wedding spots and several small rooms for intimate receptions and dinners.
Of course, if you want a truly unique location for your wedding, you can’t beat the historic Don Cesar Hotel.
Madeira Beach Wedding
Usually when I’m working at Madeira Beach it’s at a condo or hotel. There are a couple of places with public parking, the most popular probably being directly across from John’s Pass Village. It’s a fine beach for a wedding, decent sand, some parking, etc and you don’t see as many weddings there because it’s not as touristy as Clearwater Beach.
I hope this guide helps you plan your Florida beach wedding!