Beach Wedding Decorations on a Budget

Who doesn’t want to know more about decorating weddings?

I do. So, I asked our very own decorator, Akalia Martin, for general advice about decorating a beach wedding on a budget. What she said was insightful and surprising.

If you don’t know Akalia Martin, please allow me to introduce her. Akalia is an expert beach wedding decorator. She is not a planner. Don’t confuse a decorator with a planner. Planners plan and decorators decorate. Planners rely on decorators like Akalia the same way our brides without planners rely on her to help create and set up their Beach wedding decorations. One thing for sure, we are happy that we can call her “our decorator” at Key Largo Lighthouse Beach. Akalia decorates hundreds of beach weddings per year. (Yes, hundreds) She has done thousands in her career. What she knows is not in any book or wedding guide. So here is a sample of that experience. I hope you enjoy her thoughts as much as I do.

I hope we all get to meet one day,

Centerpieces, balance, and budget

The best budget saving suggestion I can make is to keep a beach reception simple, and a lantern centerpiece on each table is a great place to start. There are various ways to arrange flowers by incorporating the lanterns included in my beach wedding decor packages. Two popular ways are creating a flower halo around the base of the lantern or accent vases with flowers. Ideally, 3 accent vases are suggested, but we can always get away with two or one if we place them on a wood slab or mirror in the center of the tables to create a finished product.

Many times destination brides send me a close-up photo of a beautiful but small centerpiece design. Keep in mind the tables we are utilizing are 72″ round or long which is fairly large. If we place a small centerpiece in the middle of a large table, it looks odd and unbalanced. That is why I start with the large lanterns and add Beach decor around them to create and feeling of size.

Beach wedding decorations like anything else in life are about finding a balance. Things don’t all need to match, but they do need to look good together. Balance is the best way to achieve the ‘Wow’ effect. The smallest size I suggest for a centerpiece on a 72″ round table is 5″x5″ if we are utilizing other elements like cylinders with floating candles or votives. If we only have the centerpiece as a stand-alone item then I would suggest a 6″x6″ if the lantern option is not what you have in mind.

When selecting a tall centerpiece for your beach wedding decor, please keep in mind that your wedding is outdoors and if it’s windy it can become a liability. The right materials need to be used. There are many ways we can achieve your vision and provide you with your dream beach wedding decorations without running any risks.

Using candles at your beach wedding.

Candles are versatile. They are beautiful on ceremony aisles, to highlight a beach walkway or a dock or any of 1,000 uses.

8 out of 10 brides tell me how much they love candles and the romantic feel they provide. I couldn’t agree more. I also love candles on dinner tables, but only when we incorporate them with other elements like small flowers vases or petals.

I have to say that just candles by themselves are one of my least favorite setups; it completely takes the elegance out of your beach wedding decorations. The table just looks sad and washed out.

When budgets don’t permit flowers, it is always a better option to go with a nice lantern. Candles are beautiful, but they need to be augmented or balanced by other accessories.

Incorporate shells in your beach wedding decor.

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of the beach is shells. Everyone loves decorating a beach wedding with shells.

In my opinion, the number one rule when incorporating shells is that less is more.

Great examples of proper ways to incorporate shells in your beach wedding:

  • Starfish on the beach ceremony aisle.
  • Sand dollar on top of the napkins.
  • A conch shell incorporated with floral for a centerpiece.
  • A vase with an accent shell in the middle.

A mix of small shells spread all over the table or a hurricane glass filled with sand and shells for a centerpiece is a no, no. Both of these examples make beach wedding decorations look cheap.

If you want to incorporate small shells, you can place them inside a glass vase with floral on top, but do not add any other additional shell elements to the table.

Selecting your wedding colors.

When thinking of decorating a beach wedding, you think of tropical and lots of bright colors.

  • Please be careful not to choose too many palettes or patterns. Limit your colors by 5 at the most, the ideal number is 3.
  • If you are selecting multiple colors please make sure they complement each other and not all are bright, mix neutral with darker or brighter colors. If you select multiple colors and they are all bright, you are sure to have a wedding that looks like a rainbow.
  • To add color to your reception, I often suggest using simple table arrangements, like white or ivory linens, and then incorporate colored napkins. The exceptions to these rules are when high budgets are available. If you are doing over the top arrangements and very high-end beach wedding decorations then you can get away with a wider color selection.
  • You can add and should add color during the cocktail hour. Cocktail hour is a beach party. This is a mingle, laugh, decompress, fun time where colors are expected. But for dinner, you want to go back to a wedding feeling. To be romantic and chic stay away from centerpieces or colors that look more like a party and less like a wedding.

One last thing. Select colors that compliment your wedding venue, it is a mistake to create the vision before knowing what is being decorated.

Saving money on flowers.

Hosting your destination wedding at Key Largo Lighthouse Beach is a ‘flower blessing’. The property is so big and so full of nature that neither your wedding ceremony nor your wedding reception requires extensive use of flowers.

Some brides love flowers but feel it is a big expense for just one night. Your wedding is not just ‘one night’. It is the most important night of your life; the one night that you cannot duplicate! And those flowers will forever remain in your memories and in your beautiful wedding photos.

Wedding flowers do not have to be a huge expense.

That is where a decorator is so important. Experience and clever use of touches of flowers, a few accent vases, and knowing what flowers to recommend and where to buy them will bring your wedding to life without making a big impact on your budget.

If you think that flowers are not in your budget, I can assure you that artificial flowers are not going to save the day. To utilize artificial flowers that look real, you have to purchase high-quality artificial flowers that are more expensive than real flowers. Artificial flowers don’t say “Love and Marriage” and never will.

Embarking on a do it yourself project has dangers. Please keep it very simple. Arranging flowers or bouquets is time-consuming. Don’t look for ways to cause yourself stress on your wedding day. You should be laying back, relaxing, getting your hair and makeup done, sipping a glass of champagne and feeling like a princess. Sometimes things look simpler than they actually are. Arranging flowers is grunt work. And without an experienced eye, all that work may not turn out as you expected.

How much do wedding flowers cost?

We can save a lot of money by working together closely so I can buy directly from the farm. We can obtain the best price for your wedding if we order in full boxes. With proper planning, we may be able to order your specific colors and types of flowers directly from the farm to ensure fresh, beautiful flowers in exactly the type and color you want at the best possible price. Our alternative is to order from retail florists and purchase what is available in stock.

So how do we work together to get the best flowers at the best price?

Here is where things often go wrong. If you like a bouquet that has 6-7 different types of flowers, great. But if we don’t use those same flowers in your centerpieces or other beach wedding decorations, then the quantity of each is too small to purchase wholesale. If we can tie your wedding together with a flower theme, so the amounts of each type of flower are enough for a wholesale buyer, you will have more flowers, fresher flowers, and still save money.

The least expensive flowers are white hydrangeas and basic color roses. These flowers, when set by a professional, are beautiful. They are also a great filler, meaning if you like high-end flowers like peonies, but don’t want to pay the high price tag for an all peony arrangement we can utilize fillers like hydrangeas and roses and add 4-5 peonies per centerpiece. Other high-end flowers always in season are orchids, callas, garden rose and succulents; just a touch makes an impact on your beach wedding decorations

Flowers that are heat resistant are:

  • Pincushion.
  • Garden rose.
  • Cymbidium orchid.
  • Peony.
  • Cymbidium orchid.
  • Mini calla lilies.
  • Scabiosa pods.
  • Sunflower.
  • Garden spray roses.
  • Roses.
  • Seeded eucalyptus.
  • Hydrangeas are surprisingly heat resistant as long as they are water and are not directly exposed to the sun.

You have alternatives if your budget is squeezed. A good decorator will save a lot of money by incorporating one or two cost-effective flowers and accenting with your more expensive choices. We can almost always work to accommodate your budget, don’t be afraid to ask for options.