Beach Weddings – Trash and the Environment
This blog post has two purposes. To educate and to vent a bit.
Volusia County has beautiful, world class beaches. A real treasure to locals, central Florida and all who vacation here. Teaming with wildlife, surfers, fisherman, families, lovers and so much more. Is there any wonder why hundreds of couples want to get married every year at a beach wedding in Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, Wilbur by the Sea, Ponce Inlet and New Smyrna Beach? It is so special and memorable.
We are locals, we LOVE the beach. And we love the turtle nesting, dolphins, manatees, the birds, and even the sharks! Which is why we are militant about doing the right thing when setting up a beach wedding and cleaning up/removing everything. Our philosophy is simple, leave the beach area cleaner and better than when we got there to do the setup.
And we completely abide by turtle nesting season rules from May 1st Through October 31st. No equipment or lights on the beach before sunrise or after sunset.
Wedding Attendance Data
Destination beach weddings tend to be a bit smaller in attendance than local or central Florida weddings. In Volusia County, if there are 50 or more people, including the workers, a permit and insurance is required from the county. (We do this for you!) Smaller weddings don’t require as much time, chairs, decorations, etc and thus have less “potential” impact on the beach area.
Beach weddings of 50+ have permit requirements including extensive contractual environmental rules that must be initialed and agreed to by the vendor. These applications are sent to the State capital in Tallahassee and reviewed/approved before coming back to Volusia County for final approval.
Additionally we have our own, extended rules for EVERY beach wedding.
- Rake and clean the area to a meticulous condition. Remove all cigarette butts, trash, etc from the area, walking paths and surrounding area and put in trash receptacles.
- Any flower petals used on the ground MUST be real. No fake petals, ever. This is covered in our meetings, and on our FAQ page here. http://www.paradisebeachweddings.net/faq-2/
- Any materials that we bring in, 100% are removed. Any holes dug get filled in, even in tide areas. (baby turtles won’t fall in making way to the water!)
- Any water bottles, bubbles, or items brought by wedding goers are removed.
- No rice or throwing anything at newlyweds that is not safe for birds or wildlife.
- Rake seaweed out of walk path areas when possible.
With two hurricanes, Matthew & Irma in 12 months, the area has had to deal with the fallout. This includes beach dunes erosion and loss of sand. It also includes more than normal seaweed purging and massive trash washing up on the beach. Trash includes dock and stairway materials, plastics, clothing, boat materials and pretty much everything else. Cleanup has been difficult and time consuming. Many local groups have been formed and organized through local media, to do large scale beach cleanups. So hurricanes spew back man made/built materials en masse.
Then we have beach goers in general. On many sections of Volusia County beaches, you can drive your car on and park on the beach. On busy weekends, thousands and thousands of cars, trucks, pop up tents, chairs, coolers hit the beach. So it is incumbent on the honor system for those loving and visiting the beach (daytrippers) to cleanup after themselves. But sadly, so many do not, and we end up cleaning up after them when we are setting up a wedding. And to those who choose to smoke cigarettes, the beach IS NOT your personal ashtray. Remove your butts and take them off the beach. And please do not smoke around small children.
So with mother nature and mankind causing environmental challenges and trashing of our beautiful beaches, it is important that we ALL try and do better and take care of this amazing natural resource and place. That is why we have cleaned large beach areas HUNDREDS of times in the last few years. And we will continue to raise the bar on this, as we take on more weddings and have more events. We also participate in cleanups when we are not doing weddings. As local residents, we care very deeply about this beautiful beach paradise. As business owners, we care about delivering the best possible experience to our wedding clients. So a beautiful clean beach is important, and our responsibility to make it better, grows.
Care, But Don’t Be Abusive
Last weekend, after just completing and cleaning up after a spectacular December wedding, three of us were loading the truck and removing all our materials from the beach. As two of our staff were doing this, a family walked onto the beach and approached our staff in an angry manner. The “father” figure, perhaps his wife and two young children. We had spread a very small area of real, multicolor rose petals from New Smyrna Beach Florist. We were getting ready to rake them up (but they are organic and OK for wildlife) and the man was holding a single “fake” rose petal that one of the guests must have put down. There were a few as seen in the photo above. And even as we consult and teach our clients NEVER to use fake petals, nothing will stop a guest from dropping them. And we ALWAYS clean them up if this happens. But this aggressive “father” was screaming at us, claiming that we polluted “his” beach. He would not let us explain anything, but would just scream over the top of us. He was very abusive to my wife, and was setting an extremely poor example of behavior for the children. By the time I was able to come back down from the truck, down the ramp to the beach, they had walked away. The beach was meticulously cleaned up and we were just finishing up. But he would not listen to us, nor had he ever met us before. He just felt compelled to verbally attack us with any background or knowledge of the truth.
We get it, people are passionate about this special place. And plastic blowing around on the beach is bad, Which is why we teach about it, and clean it up EVERY time if it occurs. Please don’t lose your cool and rip strangers you have never met before without knowing if they were the culprit, or you have 100% proof that people are polluters and have no intention on picking up after themselves. Even then, ask questions, be a good listener, and be respectful in all cases.