Wedding Planning Services

The Vendor List

The Wedding Planner ~ Your New BFF

Cape May Beach Weddings

Initial Consultation Info ~ The First Step

Submit an Inquiry ~ Request A Consultation

Initial Planning, Full Service, A-La-Carte, Quick Planning & Wedding Day Services

Wedding Planning Fee Structure

Top 20 Beach Wedding Tips
Wedding Planning
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Revised: March 20, 2018
Copyright© 2003. Weddings by the Sea and The Wedding Shoppe.  All rights reserved.
Web Site by: Cape Graphics

Call anytime, stop in for a no-obligation chat, or go for the one-hour INITIAL CONSULTATION for just $75. Then let WbtSea find the perfect ceremony and reception site for your date, budget and style. Any wedding, any size – from just the two of you to a crowd of 100 or more. Let us negotiate a special deal with one of the 30-plus reception sites in Cape May and the adjacent municipalities. Take advantage of our relationships with the owners and expert wedding sales staff. Or book your reception site and let WbtSea do the rest.



Some find their reception site and then come to WbtSea for vendor services and ceremony planning help. Others start from scratch and need the reception site too. Some come for beach ceremony rentals, to shop in our fabulous Wedding Shoppe and stay for planning services. Either way we can help and stay within your budget.

Many reception sites provide what we call “Vendor Lists” when you have contracted your reception so that you can DIY. We aren’t crazy about this practice for several reasons. You can’t figure out who on the list fit your needs, budget, style and most importantly you really don’t know if they work well (are compatible) with the other vendors you hire yourself.

And many reception facilities also offer a “Free On-Site Wedding Planner” when you sign a contract. Well I think you can guess how we feel about this bonus feature. This is a method used to compete with other adjacent venues that you might be considering. These staff coordinators are very competent and experienced but cannot offer the continuity and understanding that can only come from developing a long term personal relationship with you - the bride and your family. Again, handing you a vendor list does not constitute wedding planning. Referrals to specific vendors, officiates, musicians, florists, etc is not wedding planning. And asking you to explain all of the details you have planned for your special day is often not nearly enough to make it all happen that day the way you envisioned it. One of my brides told me she felt like she had just signed a contract for a $50,000 reception, then was handed a “Vendor List” and told “Good Luck With That!”

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As a Professional Bridal Consultant with the Association of Bridal Consultants and the person who established and organized the wedding business in Cape May, I am able to zero-in-on and personalize each and every couple’s needs, desires, style and budget. And even more importantly I am expert at selecting the venues from the many wonderful sites in town, eliminating the ones that don’t meet your parameters (guest minimums, per person costs, available dates) and ultimately giving you viable choices for your reception site as well as all of your service providers.

Most importantly the Wedding Planner is the only person who can literally “glue” these service providers together when you need it most – your Wedding Day. Every service provider is responsible for contractual performance to you – even the wedding planner. Your Wedding Planner will also have the authority to act on your behalf and eliminate the constant communications that will inevitably be required between you and each service provider including the banquet manager or on site coordinator. And then there is the “bad weather” scenario…Well I hope you get the idea loud and clear. PEACE OF MIND for you and your parents, bridal party and guests is what a Wedding Planner brings to the table….Something that individual vendors cannot give you on your wedding day.

Many couples ask us if we can SAVE them MONEY. The answer is YES! More importantly our very select vendors have a long term stake in working with WbtSea for the simple reason that there is a lot more business on the way when they perform well. They are held accountable for their contract terms, payment methods, services, attitudes, personalities and ability to “work well with others”.

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We are often asked how Cape May Weddings work. And why a Cape May Wedding? Cape May is the Nation's Oldest Seashore Resort - America's only National Historic Landmark City. Cape May is third in the Country for destination weddings. Over 500 couples exchange vows in Cape May every year. The number of ceremonies has increased every year, and Cape May is only 2.25 square miles big!
Many couples want to be married on the beach with "their piggies in the sand." This is our specialty. The beaches are public and you can marry anywhere on the beach. Sunset Pavilion is our most popular beach ceremony site. It is a covered pavilion on the oceanfront at the Southern end of Beach Avenue with a beautiful view of the lighthouse, the Atlantic Ocean and those fabulous Sunsets. Mt Vernon Beach is also a very popular choice for your couples as are the beach locations adjacent to the selected reception sites.

We also host garden, lawn, public sites and church weddings in Cape May and the surrounding communities. (The Wildwoods, Avalon, Stone Harbor, Sea Isle)

Seasonality: Our busiest months for beach ceremonies are September, June, May and October, July and August in that order. April and November have also become popular for the more daring bride. January, February, March and December are more suitable for indoor ceremonies although we are always game for the bravest.

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Start with the Initial Consultation:
1-2 hours $100 fee - Required for Planning; Call for an Appointment

Here's what to expect: We meet for at least one hour in the shop. We will discuss the scope of your event and determine what services you want, what these services cost and how much time it requires to plan your wedding. Initial Planning is the most appropriate next step. Those with limited requirements can use QPP or in certain cases A-la-Carte services to accomplish their goals.

If it is not convenient for you to come to Cape May we can arrange a mutually agreeable time for a phone consultation.  We will review in general:

Cape May Beach Weddings, City Permits, Marriage Licenses and Essential Info

The Ceremony Site & Officiate Detail (the person who performs the ceremony)
***Tips for Searching the Perfect Ceremony Site***

Reception Style, Pricing/Budget and General Reception Site Detail
***Tips for Searching the Perfect Reception Site***

Accommodations Options, Save The Date Announcements & Invitations
***The Wedding Shoppe***

Service Providers - Photographers, Musicians, Transportation (trolleys, carriages, limos), DJ’s / Bands, Bakers, Personal Services, Beach Ceremony Rentals, Florists

Budgets and Cost of Reception and Related Services

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Your next decision will be to choose the INITIAL PLANNING, or A-LA-CARTE PACKAGE. You may need only two or three hours for A-la-Carte Planning; Or you may need 10 hours for Initial Planning. And you may choose a FULL SERVICE PLAN or WEDDING DAY SERVICES to ultimately accomplish your goals. We also have created a QUICK PLANNING PACKAGE (QPP) for very small and short turn-around weddings of approximately 50 or less. This 7 hour package includes a half-hour consultation and essential vendor selections. (Cost is $700)

I cannot plan your wedding in one hour. With that in mind, please understand that you will not receive a list of reception sites or a list of service providers in the Initial Consultation. We are not a referral service – as in providing you one of those “Vendor Lists”.

An in depth written Profile is completed along with an executed Planning Services Agreement before proceeding to actual planning.

Initial Planning Package: More Detail…
$1,000 for 10 hours of Planning

Here's what to expect: After your Initial Consultation you can decide to engage our services by requesting Initial Planning. After signing the Initial Plan Agreement and providing the detailed Profile information we can begin the planning process. The first priority is to search out and select the reception site which then sets the stage for the ceremony timing and bookings for all requested service providers. (Many couples contract their reception site and then begin planning.) Once decisions have been made, individual contracts will be executed and deposits will be placed with the appropriate parties. 10 hours is sufficient time to get virtually all of your contracts in place provided you make decisions in a timely fashion. (I cannot make decisions for you.)

How many times will I have to come to Cape May during the planning process? The answer is as many as you want - but there will be at least 2. One is for the Initial Consultation and the other is to choose your reception site. Most couples visit 3 or 4 times during the planning process for florist and photographer visits, menu selections, ceremony and reception music programming, trolley schedules, invitation selection. The licensing procedures for out-of-state residents will necessitate an in-person visit sometime within 8 months of the wedding date. We plan about a dozen weddings a year for couples who live so far away that the first in-person meeting takes place just a few days prior to the ceremony. For these couples, all other planning including the Initial Consultation is performed via phone, regular and e-mail. But that is the exception to the norm.

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Wedding Planning Fee Structure

Initial Consultation / $100 One - Two Hours by Appointment. Required for all customers who desire planning services. Includes comprehensive review of beach weddings, (permits, location options), licensing procedures, and outline of your budget parameters, style, size, date, reception site and vendor selection process, ceremony development, fees and general scope of services offered by WbtSea. (The Initial Consultation does not include profiling, site selection, or specific vendor/services options preparation, planning or bookings.)
Initial Planning Package
$1000 - Includes 10 hours of service. Profiling, budgeting, licensing process (witnessing included), officiate selection, all ceremony, reception and vendor services options preparation, contract negotiations, bookings, consultations. Excludes Wedding Day Services.
Quick Planning Package (suitable for a wedding of under 50 guests)
$700 - This 7 hour package includes essential vendor selections and contracts... ceremony site selection/permit, officiate arrangements, licensing process (witnessing included), photographer, ceremony musician bookings, minimal flower order, dinner site referral.
A-la-Carte Services
$100 per hour for first 10 hours. 1 hour minimum. Suitable for selected vendor bookings, rehearsal events, spot planning, ceremony site and officiate selection, licensing procedures and witnessing, general consultations, timeline development.
Wedding Day Services - LIVE TIME (non-planning time) Includes Itineraries
(Rehearsal, Ceremony and Reception Coordination) Flat Fee $1350.
(Rehearsal and Ceremony Coordination) Flat Fee $950. (Rehearsal only) $400.
Full Service Plans: ($1000 Full Service conversion credit applies to Initial Planning Package customers.) *all rates subject to change

  Silver Plan $3,000 - Includes up to 35 hours of service and is suitable for a wedding of 50 - 100 guests. Services include couple profile, wedding budget, license requirements, officiate selection, ceremony site, reception and all related vendor services, permits, contract negotiations, bookings, detailed itineraries, rehearsal and wedding day services.
  Gold Plan $4,200 - Includes up to 50 hours of service and is suitable for a wedding of 100 or more with limited pre/post wedding day events. (Rehearsal Events / Sunday Brunch, Bridal Party Spa Parties, Teas & Luncheons, Golf Outings, etc). Silver Plan Services.
  Platinum Plan $6,500 - Includes up to 80 hours of service and is suitable for a wedding of 100 or more. Same services as Silver Plan. (all tented and multi-event weddings)
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*** Tips for Searching the Perfect Reception Site***

1. Know your budget before you contact any facilities. The reception cost will represent approximately 50% of your budget.

2. Know how many guests you intend to invite to your wedding. (Invitation List) the national average / ratio for invitations to
    acceptances/attendees is 75-80% or a 20-25% regrets rate.

3. Decide on one primary date and at least one alternate date for your wedding. Then check out the facility’s website and request the
    basic criteria for that facility including minimum guest counts, site fees and base food and beverage costs, and availability of your date(s).
4. Now it is time to make appointments to visit.

5. Be prepared to sign a contract and place a required deposit.   

*** Tips for Searching the Perfect Ceremony Site***

1. Decide on indoor (home, reception site, hotel, restaurant, etc) church, public facility (government building, museum, etc.) or
    Outdoor (home garden or backyard, public beach, reception site adjacency, park – local, county, state of federal jurisdiction).

2. Check on parameters/requirements, permits, fees, eligibility (for churches), State licensing procedures.

3. Research accessibility, regulations, timeslots, parking for bride, groom, bridal party, and guests, officiate, florists, photographers,
    videographers and musicians.
Now you are ready to book the ceremony site.

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Weddings by the Sea ~ Top 20 Beach Wedding Tips

Licensing – State law requires that all who marry in NJ must  provide a marriage license issued in a NJ municipality.  Call the City Clerk’s Office at 609-884-9530 for details. 
Permits – Scheduling with the City is necessary for use of public facilities. Visit and click on Ceremonial Arrangements to schedule and request a permit for your ceremony date, location and timeslot. A $25 permit fee may apply.
What to Wear on the Beach? Brides wear all styles, lengths and colors, with or without trains and veils. Shoes are left on the promenade or beach entrance. Grooms keep their shoes on – it’s a guy thing. Consider bringing a bucket of paint brushes (the dollar store) for between the toes sand removal before strapping on those heels. Prevents walking and dancing blisters.
Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse. Preferably at the ceremony location. Don’t show up at your own wedding and encounter chaos.
Do not under any circumstances watch The Weather Channel the week of the wedding. Let a designated person do it. Enjoy yourselves. The weather will be what it is. Make the best of it. It makes your wedding day story unique.
Assign someone you trust – preferably not a bridal party member – and give them total responsibility and authority to make the decision the day of the wedding to change the ceremony location in case of inclement weather. This person will tell you and the groom where you are now going to be married – but only if necessary.
Be on time. The day goes by so fast. Everyone is happier, especially you, if you have more time for those beach photos and more time at the reception. Be on time.
The No No No don’t go there list – No runners on the sand. They are treacherous and only make good wind sails. No PA systems or microphones. Let the ocean waves break and the breeze blow for the best sound affects. The officiate knows how to project. Ask readers to speak-up.
Memoriams – Consider readings, a dove release and that special song, ringing little bells, bubbles or a single flower toss at sea off the rock jetty after the ceremony with the officiate. Honor absent, deceased or seriously ill family and friends.
Sand Pouring Ceremonies – What a wonderful way to symbolically unite two families with children from previous relationships into one new entity without intimidating the young ones. It is something they will always remember. And it is fun too! Each one gets to pour their own personal sand color.
Save unity candle services for the reception. Do it with the blessing before dinner. Wind and strong breezes can make it difficult on the beach. Do a sand pouring ceremony instead. Make the most of the beach and the sand.
Provide every guest a chair for the ceremony. Don’t ask your guests to stand in clumps on the beach. It looks very messy and chaotic. It can also look cheap. Provide an aisle for the bride, bridal party and parents. Your guests came a long way for you. Make them comfortable at your beach wedding.
Protocol on the beach – Assign the groomsmen to ask the guests to be seated on the beach before the bride gets to the promenade or beach. Guests mean well, but get excited at the sight of the bride. Let her enter in peace and calm to the processional.
Be sure to coordinate your officiate and your musicians before the ceremony so that you are not the one queuing the processional, readings, musical interludes, sand pouring, dove releases and recessionals at your own ceremony. Remember once the officiate takes over the ceremony he/she has control of the guests, bridal party and musicians. Another reason to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Rings – first check before leaving hotel rooms. And keep them in small ring pouches rather than bulky ring boxes. Try not to drop them in the sand. Do not give the real rings to a ring bearer on the beach. Tie fakes to the ring pillow.
Let your parents enjoy your wedding day with you. Don’t make them work. The bridal party is supposed to help with everything first, then look beautiful, handsome and have a good time second. That’s why they call them BridesMAIDS and GROOMSmen.
Give the Groom and the Best Man a roll of quarters for the parking meters. Encourage car pooling. Parking can be limited.
Bring a cooler to the beach filled with ice, bottled water and rolled wash cloths (the dollar store again). Great for hot days, trolley, the ceremony, and beach photos in the sun.
If the weather does not cooperate don’t forget to notify the officiate, the carriage, trolley, limo, the ceremony musicians, the videographer and photographer. They are not psychic.
Most important of all is to….Have Fun on Your Wedding Day! 
Whether your wedding is your first or second, large or very small, formal or casual we can help.

We know you are on a BUDGET too. (We haven’t changed our rates in 10 years!)

To Plan the Beach Wedding of Your Dreams….TRUST  Weddings by the Sea because we never forget that it really IS all about YOU!

As the owner (Catherine Walton) I am a Professional Bridal Consultant (PBC) with more than 30 years experience. I have planned more than 800 weddings and I Do Still Love Brides!

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