Summer and beach weddings go hand-in-hand. Finding a dress that is light enough to move in the breeze (but sufficiently sophisticated not to be mistaken for a nightgown) is key. It also helps to know where to begin…
NANTUCKET, MASSACHUSETTS Though the buildings are gently salt-weathered and lobster traps are ubiquitous decor, Nantucket beach weddings have a more formal feel than most barefoot nuptials. For families who’ve summered there for generations, wedding go-tos include Nantucket reds for the groomsmen, Lili Pulitzer for the ‘maids, and grandmother’s pearls for the bride.
LANAI, HAWAII Hawaiian wedding fantasies often begin with the bride wearing a tuberose haku (head lei), arriving via outrigger canoe. With spinner dolphins leaping on the horizon and a ukulele processional, the untouristy island of Lanai is the perfect spot for a surfer bride looking for tropical romance.
ISLE OF PALMS, SOUTH CAROLINA When southern brides think “beach,” they often picture this Lowcountry island—a 30-minute drive from Charleston across the Intracoastal Waterway. The blend of surfboards, sweet tea and she crab soup lures old-money families and day-trippers; a pier for photos, tons of white sand for a beach ceremony, and natural aisles between the dunes make it beach wedding obvious.
MACINAC ISLAND, MICHIGAN A no-cars policy means tourists get around this Great Lakes getaway by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage. It’s an ordinance that keeps Mackinac (pronounced “mack-i-naw”) in the genteel grip of the 19th century, with a beyond-charming main street, dozens of fudge shops, and stellar sunsets over the Straits of Mackinac. Brides in search of old-fashioned romance need look no further.
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA The sexy stew of Art Deco architecture, Latin music, and pulsing clubs have earned this resort island a reputation for some of the country’s wildest nightlife. For couples who like their yoga on the beach, their swimsuits tiny, and their cocktails cutting-edge, it could be a marriage made in heaven.
EAST HAMPTON, NEW YORK The summer playground for New York’s upper crust boasts stellar surfers’ beaches, superb people-watching, and some of the worst traffic on the planet. So weddings need to be carefully scripted: Choose a location loaded with restaurants, shops, and services—East Hampton comes to mind—arrive on Thursday, and stay put, spending the weekend sipping Long Island wine and getting rid of your tan lines.
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA In the land of perfect teeth and perfect weather, weddings take on a happy bohemian tone. Steel pan bands, tiki torches, food cart buffets, beer pairings, popcorn menus—name a wedding trend and it most likely started on the Pacific. Bridal musts: a spritz of saltwater in the hair, a wildflower bouquet, and a slip of a white dress. Done.
CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY Miles from the Jersey shore of reality TV fame, Cape May is one of the country’s oldest seaside resorts—the entire village is a National Historic Landmark—and has been catering to Philadelphia blue bloods since the 1800s. And yet… it’s Jersey! Weddings are as much about having a good time as they are about making the style blogs.