10 Best Beaches for a Wedding

Top 10 beaches for oceanfront vows in the States

beach weddings - best

Photo by Kapalua Resort

A beach wedding is an exotic fantasy shared by many, but you need not hop on a plane and jet off to some faraway destination to experience it -- the United States has plenty of its own gorgeous beaches that will make your oceanside nuptials a breeze. Here are our picks for the country's 10 best.

1. Ogunquit, Maine
If its meaning is any indication, Ogunquit (which translates to "beautiful place by the sea") is a picture-perfect location for a wedding. Artists discovered the area over a century ago and helped to transform it into what it is today: a town that offers everything, from seaside relaxation to intimate museums, art galleries, and hikes in the mountains of Maine. Hold your ceremony along the one-and-a-quarter-mile stretch of beach known as Marginal Way, followed by a clambake cocktail hour and a feast of famous Maine lobster for dinner. Ogunquit.org

2. Crane Beach, Massachusetts
Crane Beach is noted as one of the most picturesque swimming beaches in all of New England, making it a stunning spot for your vows too. Located in Ipswich, it stretches over four miles of white sand, and serves as a natural barrier that protects the Essex River Estuary. It's a great spot for environment and animal lovers, as it is adjacent to the Crane Wildlife Refuge and provides an important habitat for many animals, plants, and fish. CapeAnnVacations.com

3. Watch Hill, Rhode Island
Located between New York and Boston, Watch Hill is situated on a peninsula almost completely surrounded by ocean, affording Rhode Island's best sunset views. The town's name is derived from its French and Revolutionary War days, when it served as a strategic lookout point. Centuries of history are evident at every turn, and perhaps the most charming spot for photographs is The Flying Horses Carousel, touted as the oldest operating carousel in the country. WesterlyChamber.org

4. Cooper's Beach, New York
In 1640, English colonists moved to the area now known as Southampton, making it one of the oldest settlements in New York. It's no secret that the beaches are gorgeous and the location posh. But for every chic detail Southampton and its beaches has to offer, it's got the history and culture to match. Cooper's Beach is located in Southampton Village, and, in addition to being one of the area's most popular stretches of sand, is also dotted with historic mansions along its shores. Town.Southampton.NY.US

5. Avalon, New Jersey
Avalon projects a mile further into the Atlantic Ocean than any other neighboring island on the state's southern coast. Its peaceful atmosphere and seven miles of clean, inviting beaches make it a local favorite, meaning you're sure to love it too. Avalon is also known for its high dunes that preserve the beach, keeping it safe from erosion. They'll serve a dual purpose for your wedding, though: In addition to keeping the beach intact, the natural foliage and indigenous plants will make a perfect backdrop for your pictures. AvalonBeach.com

6. Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
For the private yet laid-back couple, this island, located at the southernmost tip of the Outer Banks, boasts the perfect beaches. Only 800 residents live here year-round, and the 16 miles of unspoiled, undeveloped beaches are accessible only by ferry, private boat, or plane. For the best in historic backdrops, check out the island's white lighthouse, built in 1823. It's one of the oldest active lighthouses in the United States, and it serves as the most recognizable symbol of the island community. OcracokeVillage.com

7. Jekyll Island, Georgia
If you want your wedding to evoke Southern hospitality and all its charms, draw your line in the sand of one of Jekyll Island's unspoiled beaches. It's one of Georgia's barrier islands, which means the ten miles of beaches are unique and ever changing. The weather is mild and pleasant year-round, and the beaches are perhaps best known for the beautiful shells found scattered in the sands. The island is also restricted to only thirty-five percent development by law, leaving sixty-five percent in its natural, picture-perfect state. JekyllIsland.com

8. Caladesi Island State Park, Florida
Comprised of six islands near Dunedin, this park is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in the state. Be forewarned: The island is susceptible to threats of floods, fires, and other natural disasters. But if you're flexible about the day and have an excellent Plan B, the area is truly a diamond in the rough. And if you're lucky enough to time your wedding just right with the low tide, you may be able to walk across the sugary white sandbars from Clearwater Beach to Caladesi, redefining what it means to have a beach wedding. FloridaStateParks.org

9. Coronado, California
Just getting here provides a glimpse of this beach's romantic beauty: Visitors have to travel over a magnificent, curving bridge with breathtaking views to reach Coronado from nearby San Diego. The crown jewel of the island is the Hotel del Coronado, known to be one of the top wedding destinations in the U.S. If its credentials aren't enough to convince you of its romantic allure, just catch one of its spectacular sunsets, during which a crowd often gathers to witness each and every night. CoronadoVisitorCenter.com

10. Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii
If it's always been your dream to get married in Hawaii, there's no shortage of breathtaking beaches from which to choose. Kapalua Bay, however, has a reputation for being one of the very best. It's situated between two lava points, shaping the shore into a near-perfect crescent. The beach is also known for its tranquil surf, making it an ideal place for a wedding ceremony. Though the beach tends to fill up early with sunbathers during the day, the setting sun clears away the crowds, serving as a place for romantic and unforgettable Kodak moments. Kapalua.com

-- Meredith Gray

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