Say ‘I Do’ on the Beach: Great Destination Weddings

By Kitty Bean Yancey

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Toes in the sand and wedding bands. What’s more romantic than a beach ceremony, with waves lapping as vows are exchanged? Here are six idyllic spots for surfside destination weddings:

Panama City Beach, Florida

It’s so much easier to have a full-service event orchestrator in place — handling everything from marriage officiant, to flowers, to photographer and reception. This resort spot on Florida’s Emerald Coast, an easy drive from Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, has its own website for weddings. What’s also appealing? Mile upon mile of white sand and Gulf Coast sunsets as a backdrop for your special day. For more information, visit panamacityweddings.com.

Where to stay in Panama City Beach

Say ‘I Do’ on the Beach: Great Destination Weddings

Hilton Head, South Carolina

This upscale barrier island hosts elegant nuptials with lavish receptions, pre-ceremony spa treatments and string trio or steel band waiting after “I dos” on the sand. You can even rent a boat to exchange rings. Bridegrooms on the beach are advised against wearing tuxedoes in summer as the weather can be hot and humid. For more information, go to hiltonheadisland.org.

Where to stay in Hilton Head

Say ‘I Do’ on the Beach: Great Destination Weddings

Fenwick Island, Delaware

On a narrow peninsula south of Bethany and Dewey beaches and north of Ocean City, this Eastern Shore vacation spot is within a few hours’ drive from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland. It’s quieter than neighbors to the north and south and ideal for those who seek a low-key locale to tie the knot. For more information, go to visitsoutherndelaware,com.

Where to stay in Fenwick Island 

Say ‘I Do’ on the Beach: Great Destination Weddings

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The golden sands of the so-called “Grand Strand” host hundreds of weddings yearly. Coordinators can arrange for white doves to be released after the vows and for arbors over the bridal duo. Couples can get hitched in style on elite Pawleys Island or amid more raucous revelry on Myrtle Beach, which is within reach of restaurants and watering holes ready to host large receptions. For more destination information, visit weddingsinmyrtlebeach.com.

Where to stay in Myrtle Beach

Say ‘I Do’ on the Beach: Great Destination Weddings

The Alabama Gulf Coast

After toes-in-the-sand weddings, vacation homes in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan can be lined up as reception venues for beach weddings, via Kaiser Realty by Wyndham Vacation Rentals. For more information, go to wyndhamvacationrentals.com.

Where to stay in Alabama

Say ‘I Do’ on the Beach: Great Destination Weddings

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Let love soar near the dunes where the Wright Brothers took flight. Kitty Hawk, Duck and Nags Head form a string of beaches popular for weddings. A less populated venue is Rodanthe on Hatteras Island. Romantics will remember it from the 2008 Richard Gere/Diane Lane film, Nights in Rodanthe. Note that if you get married in Cape Hatteras National Seashore, you’ll need a permit. Check out outerbanks.org/weddings for more information.

Where to stay in the Outer Banks

Say ‘I Do’ on the Beach: Great Destination Weddings

Destin, Florida

Commit to your partner under a “lucky wedding bamboo arbor” draped in gauzy white fabric on Florida’s Emerald Coast. Destin is home to more than white-sand beaches; restaurants and bars galore are ready and willing to host receptions. For more information, visit destinweddings.org.

Where to stay in Destin

Kitty Bean Yancey is a Washington, D.C.-based award-winning former USA TODAY travel writer. She freelances for publications including AARP Magazine and AAA publications.