In the diverse Virginia coastal zone, the first thing you should know is that only one percent of the shoreline is publicly owned, so you need to make sure that your destination is accessible before making any plans. Having said that, there are still many options for a wedding on a public beach, and the main ones are listed in the Most Popular Beach Locations section.
Alternatively, you could book your wedding at one of the many seaside residences and access the oceanfront from there. Many resorts and cottages have wedding packages, for weddings small and large, from the glitz and glamour to the very cozy experience. We’ve listed a range of different packages in the Most Popular Hotels section below.
Offering a laid-back beach experience, Virginia is a popular vacation destination – so try to avoid the summer peak if you can!
Most Popular Virginia Beaches
Assateague Island National Seashore - This public area consists of beach, dunes, forest and marsh, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and shallow expanses of Chincoteague Bay. There are four expansive beaches, and lodging and services are available in nearby communities. As it is a state park, there are fees for cars.
Cape Charles Beach - Cape Charles is 10 miles north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and offers a free public beach in the historic district. The shallow waters of Chesapeake Bay make the beach very calm and it has a laid back feel.
City Beaches - There are beaches with free public access in Virginia Beach City, Norfolk and Hampton. However, keep in mind that these beaches tend to have a very urban feel (not ideal if you want a secluded beach setting), and they’re also flooded with vacationers in the summer months.
Colonial Beach - Colonial Beach is one of the few remaining small seaport towns. The town enjoys a unique location nestled between the Potomac River on the east and the waters of Monroe Bay on the west. Its sandy beaches and marinas on Monroe Bay have attracted water enthusiasts for more than a century, and it has a lovely 1950s feel.
Ocean View Beaches - Chesapeake Bay calmly laps 7.5 miles of Norfolk's Ocean View beaches, making them ideal for a relaxed wedding ceremony. There are also fishing piers, which would make stunning photo opportunities.
Travel & Transportation (airports, ferries, etc). How to get there. - To get to the Virginia coast by air, either fly to Norfolk International Airport, near Virginia Beach, or Richmond International Airport if you’re planning to visit the central area. You can also take a connecting flight to Tappahannock-Essex County Airport, in the northeast corner of the state.
Entry Requirements; passports, visa, etc. - If you are from Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand you do not require a visa to enter the US. You only need a valid passport and proof of ongoing or return travel as long as your stay does not exceed 90 days. Citizens of other countries will require a visa. Note that the US government administers a strict entry regime. If in doubt, you should contact your nearest US embassy or consulate about your specific circumstances.
Languages Spoken / official language - The official language is English.
Currency - The official currency is the US dollar.
Tipping - In the US, most waiters and bartenders are paid below minimum wage, as they’re expected to make up the rest in tips. So if you’re in the US, you really should tip. A good rule of thumb is to tip 15 percent of the food bill to the waiter, and if the alcohol consumption has been substantial, split that part of the tip between the waiter and the bartender (if there is one). Always remember to pay the tip in cash directly to the person who has provided you with the service. Of course, if you think the service was terrible then you shouldn’t tip. For large groups, check your bill first as sometimes the tip is added automatically.
Taxes - In the US sales tax is applied to retail goods at the point of sale. There are also airport taxes, however generally these are paid along with the purchase of your airline ticket.
Electricity - The electrical systems in most residential and commercial sites in the US use 120V and 60Hz. The electrical plug in use is known as the Type A electrical plug, which has two flat parallel prongs.
Immunizations Required & Health Concerns - All travellers going overseas should be up-to-date with their routine vaccinations, which are usually given to babies and children, with some boosters given in adult life. Adults should have had a Tetanus booster in the last 10 years and consider having an Influenza vaccination if they have not had one in the past year.
Marriage Requirements, Licenses & Wedding Information
As state and county marriage license requirements often change, it’s important that you verify all information with a local marriage license office or County Clerk before confirming your wedding or travel plans.
Currently the Following Applies:
- You do not have to be a resident of Virginia to get married there.
- You need to apply for a marriage license from a County Clerk. Both applicants must be present.
- You will need to present valid photo identification such as your driver's license, Military ID or State ID, or passport and a certified copy of your birth certificate.
- The license fee will cost about $30 (varies by county). Cash only.
- There is no waiting period.
- The license is valid for 60 days.
- Some Virginia counties may require documentation to prove a previous marriage has been dissolved either through death or divorce.
- If either applicant is under 18,they must have written, notarized consent from a parent or legal guardian.
- Same-sex marriage is not permitted.
- Marriage ceremonies can be performed by any ordained Minister, as well as Marriage Commissioners and Judges (current or retired).
Requirements for a Beach Wedding:
- You might need a special permit to hold your wedding on a beach or other public space if it is part of a State Park. For more information go to http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/
Tourism Office Information
Other Virginia Related Websites
Climate Information & the Best Time to Travel
The Virginia coast has a humid subtropical climate, characterized by hot summers (temperatures average in the 70s) and cool winters (temperatures average in the 40s). In July, the warmest month, temperatures can reach almost 90ºF and in January, the coldest month, they can get down to near 30ºF.
Hurricane season runs from June through November, however the hurricanes and tropical storms that cross Virginia occur mostly in August and September.
So if you want to avoid be going too hot or too cold, as well as a potential tropical storm and the summer crowds, then early summer, fall and late spring would be the most pleasant for a wedding.
High & Low Season for Travel - Generally summer and winter will have peaks in travel prices, due to the attraction of the beaches and the snowfields respectively. However, you could also consider weekdays (Monday through Thursday), when you’ll find cheaper airfares and accommodation rates. If you’re planning a spring wedding, it’s best to avoid Spring Break.
Map of Virginia
Local Attractions & Must Do’s
At Virginia Beach you’ll find beaches that are free and open to the public. There’s a 3-mile oceanfront boardwalk, where numerous hotels and restaurants overlook the beach. Virginia Beach’s other attractions include the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Waterpark and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.
Biking and hiking are popular at many places, such as First Landing State Park, which winds through wetlands along Broad Bay. While at the 8,000-acre Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge you can see a variety of animals in their native habitats. Beyond the refuge is False Cape State Park, one of the few remaining undeveloped areas along the Atlantic coast, which can be accessed by tram from Sandbridge.
Synonymous with history, Virginia's past is interwoven with the beginning of US history and heritage. From the first permanent English settlement of Jamestown in 1607 through the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, Virginia was where the nation originated, where it prospered and where many conflicts were resolved. Many sites and artefacts have been preserved for you to see right along the coast.
Top 5 Most Popular Hotels
Here we’ve listed a range of different accommodations that offer wedding packages. For more visit Virginia.org.
Barclay At The Beach Wedding Package - Built in 1895, Barclay Cottage is one of only two remaining Victorian cottages in Virginia Beach. Barclay Cottage is a romantic alternative to high-rise hotel and motel accommodations.
Paradise Palms Beach Wedding Package - A little different from the standard resort experience, this wedding package is designed for small destination weddings of up to 25 guests. It offers a 7-night stay in a 5-bedroom beach house in Sandbridge at the southern end of Virginia Beach and your wedding ceremony performed on the oceanfront nearby.
Magnolia House, Hampton - Magnolia House is a delightful bed and breakfast on an urban waterfront village – your elegant home away from home on the southeastern tip of the Virginia peninsula on Chesapeake Bay. A range of wedding packages is available for up to 35 guests.
The Tides Inn, Chesapeake Bay - Bordered by historic Chesapeake Bay to the east, the Potomac River to the north, and the Rappahannock River to the south, the Tides Inn exudes understated Virginia glamour. The Tides Inn also has its own marina, 18-hole golf course and spa.
Virginia Beach Resort Hotel, Virginia Beach - Where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean you’ll find a year-round beach resort with luxury accommodations and relaxing surroundings. Exchange vows on its private beach and see the spectacular sunsets from any of its 295 bay view suites. Visit Virginia Beach Resort for more information.