I'm trying to go through the questions so I can offer some insight. We had the saxophonist play-which was AWESOME. I mean-super sexy & perfect for a beach wedding. We just watched the video my cousins made again last night & the sax was a killer addition. As for the ceremony itself, we told them what we wanted to do & they were great with it all. We brought our own unity sand & they set it up at the front for us (the 'altar' on the beach) and I wanted my Godmother to read a beautiful prayer I found, so she did. We walked down the sandy 'aisle' and when we got to the front, the first thing that happened was the judge welcomed us and asked my g-mother to come up front. She handed her a microphone & she said some very kind words before reading the prayer. Then the ring bearer walked up and we took our rings off of the pillow. The judge looked at my then fiance' and asked if he came with a pure heart and wishes to marry me-he said "I do" and he put my ring on as he read the vows he wrote me. (EVERYONE was bawling-it was amazing) Then I did the same thing. After that, she asked us to come forward to do the unity sand-we did-then it was time to sign the actual marriage license...yes-you do that RIGHT there in the middle of the ceremony. Not only do you both sign it, but you also have to put your thumbprint(s) on it-4 or 5 copies!!! (they provide tissue to wipe your thumb so you don't get ink on your dress) AND your witnesses have to come up at that same time to sign the copies as well. Why they don't do this AFTER-I have no idea. But it is always during the ceremony, just so you know-because the judge leaves 3 seconds after she's done. She was VERY nice, but I couldn't understand all of what she said..but I didn't care. The most important part, we got-no problem. She said our names-was very kind and did her job well.
We had a rehearsal-which is NOT normal there. Karla said she never does them, but if I wanted one, she'd be there no problem. I did-and she was there. The only thing it really did was show us where on the beach we were walking and who went down the aisle when (it helped my ring bearer and flower girls for sure and truthfully-it helped me visualize it all better, so I'm glad we did that.) It only took MAYBE 20 minutes-so don't plan a ton of time for it-it'll only be time wasted. The judge ONLY shows up for the wedding-never a rehearsal, FYI. We did that at 6:30 the night before the wedding. Then we had our "welcome private cocktail party" included in the Mac Daddy package from 7-8 and the rehearsal dinner at 8:30. Now, people have asked about the rehearsal dinner....DO IT DO IT DO IT!!! I can not stress this enough. It was so much fun and everyone was in the same place at the same time enjoying each others company. We had a 'groom's cake' for dessert that we paid $40 for-and it was HUGE and so funny. We brought a cake topper for it that was a bride standing up holding keys & a groom sitting down with his chin in his hands & a ball & chain around his ankle. (It fit perfectly with the theme we continued for our entrance to the reception. I was swinging a plastic ball & chain over my head when DJ Doremixx announced us into the reception. It was hysterical) Anyway-the rehearsal we had was in the Japanese Steakhouse where they cook in front of you & that is the WAY to go-because they cook chicken, beef & veggies. If you don't want one of those, tell the chef as he's putting the stuff on your plate. It couldn't be easier to get what you want and still have everyone there. I was worried about it 'taking away' from people's dinner options-but THEY ARE THERE FOR YOU!!! Trust me-they will NOT care!!! It's nowhere near the big deal I thought it was. People were honored we invited everyone and really happy to be part of it. The Japanese steakhouse is the way to go! I'm SO happy I took Karla's advice & had it there.
Here was our time line-to give new people an idea of the schedule-as it is super overwhelming. Because we got married on Valentine's Day-the sunset was earlier than it would be in the summertime, so we did it like this: 4:30pm-Ceremony on the Beach, 6pm-Champagne/cocktails and appetizers on the terrace and 7p-11p Reception. I originally thought that there was WAY too much time between the ceremony & the cocktail hour, but believe me-you NEED the time for pictures. Most people stayed with us on the beach for pictures and we ended up coming up to the champagne/cocktail hr around 6:15 ourselves, so it really does time out much better than you initially think it will!
A private reception is the way to go if you can swing it. It's YOUR day-you want to look around & always see familiar faces. It's so awesome to have a place that is JUST for you & your family and friends for the night. SO glad we did that.
Hope that helps a little!