By Rich Pollack
Six months ago, if you called the city of Delray Beach to ask if your wedding could be held on the public beach, the answer would have been a simple no.
Call today and the answer will be yes, weddings are allowed — sort of.
Responding to questions from city commissioners, the recreation department has changed its unwritten policy of forbidding weddings on the beach to an unwritten policy of allowing weddings on the beach — but just small ceremonies that don’t include canopies or chairs or anything else that might interfere with other beach goers.
Parks and Recreation Director Linda Karch said no one is quite sure when the long-standing, no-weddings-on-the-beach policy started or how, but said the change makes it possible for callers — including out-of-towners — to consider Delray Beach for their wedding site.
“Now, we tell people they can come to the beach and have their wedding there,” she said.
Of course, if you’ve been to the beach very often you know that not much has really changed, even if the rules have.
“Lots of people had weddings on the beach all the time,” Karch said.
Even before the shift, the city did allow weddings about as close to the beach as you could get without getting sand between your toes.
For years, brides and grooms had been welcome to rent the pavilion at Atlantic Dunes Park for $116.60 for two hours and hold their wedding there. Even though the pavilion is just a few feet from a set of stairs leading down to the beach, only four or five couples a year hold their weddings there, according to Karch.
In the future, the city’s new policy could ease up a little more to take advantage of the boom in destination weddings — which could benefit the local tourist industry and help the city come up with a few extra budget dollars.
“A lot of people now are planning destination weddings and we want them to consider Delray Beach,” says Sarah Martin, executive director of the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative, which promotes economic development and tourism.
“We have a lot to offer as a destination, not only for a wedding couple, but also for their guests. The new policy of allowing weddings on the beach is opening the door for more opportunities down the road,” she said.