By Kelly Baughman

There are special events that we celebrate in life that deserve the perfect backdrop to make your day picture perfect. Whether you are a resident of the Gulf Coast or just here for a visit, the beach is a great place to celebrate an engagement, wedding, family reunion, baby announcement, annual family photo, and much more. But knowing where to go and who to trust to capture your perfect moment can be overwhelming. Here’s some of the best local venue and photographer choices to make your “day at the beach” go off without a hitch.
Sail off into the sunset on the Perdido Queen, Hudson Marina’s luxury Paddlewheel boat, complete with indoor and outdoor space, live entertainment, buffet style dinner, bar, and much more. This venue can be all inclusive or ala carte, the choice is yours. This unique excursion cruise is perfect for all kinds of events from anniversary parties to birthdays, and even provides full service wedding ceremonies. The accommodations are comfortable, the scenery is breathtaking, and the quirkiness of the venue will leave a lasting impression on all of your guests. 251-981-4127
Keep it classy in Orange Beach at the Perdido Beach Resort which can accommodate groups from as small as 30 all the way up to 400. You can book a small or large outdoor space overlooking the Gulf for your event, or if you are bringing a crowd the size of a basketball team, book the 8,000 square foot ballroom. Either way, you’ll get sweeping views of the pass from the beach deck and the Grandview Terrace and unparalleled customer service from a staff that serves food as good as their reputation. With 8 event spaces to choose from and an event coordinator at your disposal, your event will be a breeze at the Perdido beach Resort. 251-981-9811
Looking for something a little more cozy and quaint that feels like home? Emma’s Bay House in Fairhope is a stunning bed and breakfast that has all the charm of a southern plantation home including center entrances, deep wrap-around porches, balconies, and white columns. Placed right on the beautiful bay, you and your guests will have a spectacular view as you celebrate together. As an inn and bed and breakfast, Emma’s Bay House has everything you need including the perfect covered or uncovered outdoor space as well as an indoor space that can accommodate up to 150 guests. In addition to holding your event at Emma’s Bay House, you and your guests can stay right on site in one of the four extravagant suites available. The Betty Annette is a lovely room on the upper level of the B&B that gives you a private balcony to view the bay. Also on the top level is the Kimberly Ann suite which has views of the park and bay. The Cindy Paige room features two queen-size beds, a sitting area, and an executive work area. On the lower level, the Dawn Marie is a charming room that also offers a view of the bay. Every room comes with luxury hotel quality linens, a private bath, satellite TV, and high-speed internet. 251-220-6756
If you’re looking for something a little less private and less pricey that still delivers a big punch for you class reunion, family reunion, or graduation party, give local restaurants with lots of outdoor space a try like the Flora-Bama Yacht Club, Lulu’s, or The Gulf. While it may not be a private venue, there will be plenty of room to spread out and lots of activities to keep the kids occupied. In addition, these great outdoor venues with a view offer live music and a backdrop for sunset photos that are to die for. Just be sure to call ahead and make a reservation if you have a large group. Many local restaurants will even allow you to rent private time for your party which can make your experience even better if you’ve got the budget.
So now that you’ve found the perfect venue for your special event, you’ll want to capture all of the beautiful moments on camera, and Perdido Key, Orange Beach, and Gulf Shores has no shortage of fantastic photographers that will freeze a magical memory in time.
C-Shelz Photography specializes in family portraits, weddings, commercial work, special events, and even fine art. Her photos capture the joy in family’s faces enjoying the beach while using the natural beauty and gorgeous lighting to create a masterpiece that you’ll want to hang in your home for years to come. Millie Porter Clark said, “This was on my bucket list to meet up with Shelley and have her take photos on this trip of my son and his family. She squeezed us in and to date I have seen one preview… not disappointed at all. I have a lot of her photos plus a calendar on my wall. She is professional, personable, knows her stuff and in my book an all-around great photographer. Give her a try. You will not be disappointed!” 314-560-6665
Linde Lou Photography is a photographer that specializes in all things family. Whether it’s a family beach photo with coordinating outfits, a rustic country cuddle session for engagement photos, or a nature filled state park baby announcement shoot, Linde Lou Photography will not disappoint. Her keen eye for detail and ability to capture the perfect lighting at any point in the day makes Linde Lou the perfect choice for a wide variety of styles and shots that will make your photos a treasured family keepsake. Anna Fick said, “We love, love, love all the photos from our family session! She did such a great job capturing some formal shots we wanted while still perfectly capturing those candid moments that show the everyday us!” 850-602-5693
Dee Horton Photography, specializing in beach wedding photos, family photos, music photos, and nature photos that capture the moment in its most natural form. Horton’s ability to catch the raw emotion felt and the love between family is what makes her stand out from the crowd. Her eye for space and lighting are spectacular, her editing talents are endless, and the end result of her shoots are always impressive on a day that cannot be duplicated. Jody Minder said, “Dee and her daughter did an excellent job capturing beautiful pictures of my family of eight on the beach! They were easy going and we never felt rushed. They took pictures of all my requests plus a lot more! Dee went above and beyond with editing and my additional requests. I highly recommend her to anyone, and will contact her again when we’re back in the area someday!” 850-525-3158
So whether you’re doing it big with a well-orchestrated wedding or keeping it casual with a photoshoot that captures your family’s inner spirit, the Gulf Coast is a great place to make a memory a part of your history for generations to come. And while there’s no wrong way to celebrate the moments that define who we are, the right venue and the right photographer can make your day that much more of a day at the beach.