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A Beach Wedding Dream Come True:

Folly Beach, SC; Ocean Love Potion

By Denise K. James

Front Beach View - Folly Beach, SCEven single, uncommitted women can ponder the daydream wedding. Consider when I met Teresa Parrish, beach wedding expert, to talk seaside nuptials over cocktails on Folly Beach. It was the perfect afternoon – a cool breeze, abundant sunshine and, despite our lot in life, plenty of girlie hope. Recently breaking up with my boyfriend did not negate the desire for white flip-flops in the South Carolina sand and a beach house soiree afterward. If only the perfect man would fall right out of the sky – not unlike the perfect wedding location.

You might ask exactly what makes the beach a perfect place to tie the knot. For one thing, the picturesque ocean backdrop is provided free of charge.

“In today’s economy, many brides are realizing how expensive it is to rent space for a ceremony,” said Parrish. “Nothing is more beautiful than the ocean, and the beach is free space. It’s Nature, and big city buildings have nothing on it.”

If they are planning to invite more than 25 people to a ceremony, the bride and groom must obtain a permit from Folly Beach’s Public Safety Department. Once that administrative detail is taken care of, any spot on the beach is up for grabs.

“Beachcombers are aware of wedding ceremonies,” said Parrish. “Brides worry about Frisbees and about passers-by in the photos, but, really, everyone is respectful of your event.”

Couples who look forward to the experience of planning their wedding locally will be pleasantly surprised – beach towns offer tons of options, from local cuisine to spa treats.

“You don’t need a caterer from New York City,” said Parrish. “The Folly Beach locals create everything from Lowcountry boil to gourmet appetizers.”

Local wedding planners can assist couples with the finer details. Whether you need flowers, music or even a massage and hairstyle for your bridesmaids, it is available within a 15-mile radius and all “at a very nice, local price,” according to Parrish.

Regarding the post-ceremony location, vacation rentals are certainly the hot event space on the beach.

“Folks love to make the most of these event spaces,” said Parrish. “I’ve seen my share of ceremonies on the shoreline as well as at the houses. For a spot to celebrate in after the knot is tied, a beach house can’t be beat. A lot of them can accommodate up to 100 guests during a reception.”

Best of all, the beach houses, the property of bride-friendly owners, are well-equipped for wedding parties.

“What’s nice about these homes is that the owners know what it’s like to host a wedding,” said Parrish. “They’ll often have amenities like luxury stereo systems, additional refrigeration options for food, as well as plenty of furniture indoors and out.”

Spring and fall are popular times for seaside weddings, though Parrish said brides don’t rule out a balmy summer wedding, either.

“Let’s be honest; the allure of wearing sandals – or being barefoot – is very real,” she said.

The Charleston area’s three main beaches, Folly, Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms, are all excellent places to celebrate with friends and family when a couple gets hitched. But Folly Beach has a quirky, retro-beach-town feel to it that attracts more than its share of beach weddings.

“We have seen a 40-percent increase for wedding permits on the beach in the last year, according to Public Safety,” said Parrish. “Folly Beach is an unforgettable little beach town, and, for people who love the beach, there’s no better place to declare love.”

To contact Parrish and book a beach house on Folly for your upcoming wedding, call Fred Holland Realty at (843) 588-2325 or visit fredhollandrealty.com.

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