When bride and groom from Perth, Nathaniel and Natasha, booked their March wedding with Gnarabup’s Barefoot Beach Weddings, nobody expected the king tide that left a portion of the previously pristine beach awash in seaweed just in time for the ceremony. Just as nobody could have planned the unique photo opportunity when the bridegroom and his groomsmen got to work writing ‘Nat Loves Nat’ in giant seaweed letters, completed moments before the bride’s arrival. It was, recalls Barefoot Beach Weddings’ Samantha Janssen, a perfectly unscripted moment.Russell Ord Photography
“Nat didn’t panic and they made it in to something special,” Sam smiles. “They had photos with all their guests around the seaweed and, in the end, this natural happening gave their day a unique twist and a series of really lovely, surprising events that everyone remembered.” Beach weddings. Beautiful. Scenic. At times unpredictable. And yet it’s the confluence of nature’s power and romance’s lure that Sam believes is so attractive for couple’s for whom the church doesn’t fit and the vineyard appears a little rote.Paris Hawken Photography
“You can’t be a control freak and want to get married in that location,” Sam laughs, reflecting on the absolute beachfront nature of Gnarabup’s White Elephant Café, the elegantly fitted-out space that serves as ground zero for wedding eve festivities organised by Barefoot Beach Weddings once the beach ceremony is complete. “There are too many things outside of your control: seagulls, tourists, seaweed, weather. But the place… it’s seriously amazing and that creates a really unique atmosphere.” Paris Hawken Photography
Wedding coordinator for Bunkers Beach House in Dunsborough, Radhna Mackenzie, puts an even finer point on it: “There is so much space for imagination to come in to play with beach weddings because we are dealing with nature, and nature’s always changing.”
Among the dozens of ceremonies held on the white sands of a perfectly still Bunker Bay evening, the occasions that stand for Radhna out are those when the weather intervened to produce its own stunning show – rainbows after sun showers, storm cloud backdrops or a misty drizzle that, when back shot by a talented photographer, became like glitter that fell from the sky.
Like Sam, Radhna views a beach wedding option as the ideal setting for “boho brides” that are happy to go easy on elegant artifice and let the landscape do the talking. “We do have brides that come in and love the exercise of styling the venue to the hilt, and there is not doubt that the venue looks completely amazing,” she says, “but there is so much scope for just paring back and taking a simpler approach.” It’s for this reason that both Radhna and Sam recommend use of local vendors for out-of-town brides who might benefit even more than locals from a knowledgeable, guiding hand. Bianca Kate Photography
“Local vendors never oversell because they know there isn’t much that needs to be done to improve on the setting. They know our venue capabilities. We work together. And it’s wedding country down here,” Radhna laughs, “so we do it well.”
As for seasonal availability of venues and advance bookings, both Sam and Radhna say the increasing popularity among modern brides of beach weddings between October and March in the Margaret River region means thinking a little ahead. That being said, neither insist ceremonies need be restricted to the warmer summer months.
“An intimate winter beach wedding can be extraordinary,” reflects Sam, thinking back to a recent Gnarabup ceremony and reception that took place on a stormy May day. “The bride wanted a winter wedding but no one could have anticipated what happened on the day – the single worst in terms of storms.” Of course it ended up being, in Sam’s words, “seriously amazing, the backdrop was intense – incredible silver light. Huge clouds. Just wild and wicked. It created a totally unique and intimate atmosphere for the wedding.” And what bride could ask for more than that? Pace Photography
Beach wedding tips
– Beach weddings must be booked with the local council or Parks and Wildlife.
– Consider shade and refreshments for guests in the interim between ceremony and reception, particularly in the hotter months of January and February.
– Summer school holidays means busy beaches. Brides that want a quieter backdrop are best to consider February or March, when the holiday crowds have thinned.
– Flies are synonymous with Bunker Bay in November. Move your ceremony closer to sunset, when the pesky little insects retire for the evening.
– Beach games are becoming increasingly popular as a way to entertain guests between a 4pm ceremony and a 6pm reception.
– Latest trends? Beach cricket and giant beach jenga.
Bunkers Beach House
Barrels and Brellas