How to get married on the beach in AL—5 questions answered

Wedding, Beach
Kick up your heels and celebrate your wedding at the beach. Photo via Gantas VaiÄŤiulÄ—nas

Looking for the perfect place to say I do? There’s no better spot than the beautiful beaches of Alabama. What do you need to know to plan a beach wedding? Here are five of your biggest questions asked and answered.

1. Can I get married on a public beach in Gulf Shores?

Wedding, Beach
Are you ready to tie the knot? Photo via REX WAY

When I began researching beach weddings in Alabama, I discovered this—weddings are not allowed on public beaches in Alabama. What?! Now, before you panic, let me explain just what this means. 

According to my many findings, these are the only places you can get married (legally!) on Alabama beaches like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach: 

  • Behind a beach house, condo or hotel with permission of the owners to conduct a wedding
  • At one of the public beach access points on West Beach in Gulf Shores
  • At an access point on Fort Morgan Road—about an 18-mile drive from Gulf Shores

2. What are the easiest options for a quick, low-cost ceremony?

Gulf Shores, Wedding
Wedding days in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Photo via Rachel Ellsworth

So you’re hoping for a wedding that’s simple and doesn’t cost a fortune. The beach is one place to achieve both. One spot, in particular, is the Beach Pavilion at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores. Here’s why it’s an ideal place to tie the knot:

  • It’s available for rentals year-round (except major weekend holidays).
  • It has a parking lot for guests. Parking fees are pretty low, too, with the max price being $10 for all-day parking.
  • It offers climate-controlled bathrooms.
  • You can hire a caterer, DJ and more for your big day as long as they get the required vendor permits.
  • Rental rates range from $425 (off-peak season, November 1-March 31) to $750 (peak season, April 1-October 31).

The best reason the Beach Pavilion at Gulf State Park is perfect for your wedding, though, is because of its gorgeous location with spectacular view.

To rent the Beach Pavilion at Gulf State Park:

  1. Check here for available rental dates.
  2. Fill out the necessary paperwork and submit it via email to gulfevents.statepark@dcnr.alabama.gov.
  3. You’ll then be contacted for a $100 non-refundable deposit. Your final balance will be due 60 days prior to your event date.

3. Are any permits required?

The answer to this question depends on the location of your beach wedding. For instance, if you get married behind a beach house, condo or hotel with permission of the owners to conduct a wedding, then no permits are needed from the city to hold a quick ceremony and say I do.

If you get married at a public place like on the beach at Gulf State Park, a permit is required. Why? Because you have to pay to rent and use a portion of the property for a specific date and time. 

4. How do I obtain a marriage license?

Wedding, Beach
The best is yet to come. Photo via Jen Theodore

Just as with non-beach weddings, you’ll need a marriage license to legally wed. Luckily, it’s easy to obtain one, whether you choose to get one in your home county or in Baldwin County, which includes Alabama beach cities like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

All you need to do is visit the courthouse and provide two forms of identification (per person):

  1. Driver’s license
  2. Certified copy of birth certificate

5. What else should I know?

What’s important to remember when planning a beach wedding in Alabama is that you’ll have access to everything you need. From wedding planners and venues to caterers, photographers and entertainers, the possibilities are endless.

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Patience Itson
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