There are few scenes more beautiful than the horizon as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. Naturally, many wedding couples plan their beach wedding at sunset so the stunning multi-colored panorama of sunset setting into the water or disappearing into clouds can be the back drop to their exchange of vows. Such a wedding ceremony can be quite memorable to those lucky enough to see the lovely natural beauty that we in Southern California often take for granted.
However, planning a Southern California beach wedding as the sun sets can present unexpected obstacles that many couples may not consider. First, the beach can be quite windy as the sun sets which can greatly impact a wedding ceremony. Second, if you do not plan correctly, you may find that your sunset wedding on the beach is at high tide which may severely limit your ability to be married at the beach location you hoped for.
Few people are aware that off-shore breezes often greatly increase as the sun rises or sets. I have officiated numerous sunset beach weddings for very unhappy brides whose carefully styled hair was blown in every direction. Winds can also wreak havoc with flowers, decorations and other elements of a wedding ceremony. And it is common that everyone just pretends that a unity candle stayed lit. Heavy winds are most disruptive at those beaches in Malibu and Palos Verdes that sit just below the high bluffs so that that winds have nowhere to go and often swirl around.
It is also important to check the tidal schedule when you are planning a beach wedding, especially at sunset. High tide may greatly limit the areas of the beach that will available for a ceremony, especially at those thin beaches the sit below a bluff. I have been a part of too many beach weddings at which the ceremony could not be at the location that the wedding couple had planned for. Instead of having their wedding “at the beautiful spot near the rocks” many couple have had to have their ceremony “on the dry strip of sand.” It ruins the ambiance of a beach wedding when the wedding couple and their guests must be clumsily bunched together next to the bluff so they would not be standing in the water.
If you are planning to be married in a sunset beach wedding, remember that beach wedding in Southern California can be picturesque and memorable. But if you do no t plan appropriately, there is a chance that you and your guests will have messy hair and wet shoes. My recommendation is to have your beach wedding an hour before the sun sets when the light is golden and the winds are somewhat still.