Southern California offers many opportunities for a wedding ceremony. Heavily populated, there is so much choice for a setting by the sea, be it an historic home, one of the many luxury resorts, or even a golf course. You can take advantage of the State Parks if you want something a bit more private. And of course there’s the appeal of the sunny, mild climate.
From Santa Barbara to San Diego, each beach area has its own character. There’s Santa Barbara with its rich history and prime geographic location, nestled between the coast and the mountains. Ventura has a laid back old town feel and lovely harbor, with few crowds even in summer. And Malibu has hilltop mansions and celebrity appeal, adding a bit of glamour.
Santa Monica has its amusement pier and beach cottages – and it’s close to Los Angeles International Airport, which could be helpful if you have a lot of guests flying in from out of town. Long Beach has the Queen Mary and Little Naples with its gondolas, and from there you can catch a ferry to pretty Santa Catalina Island – and unique wedding experience.
While you might be dreaming of a beach wedding, the luxury beachfront resorts in Southern California are second-to-none and are well worth investigating for your special day.
Most Popular Beach Locations
Adamson House and Malibu Area State Beaches - Built in 1929, this elegant home and its grounds share one of the most beautiful beach locations in Southern California, with views of Malibu Lagoon, Malibu Beach and the Malibu Pier. It is now part of Malibu Lagoon State Beach and can be booked for weddings. For information about this and other State beaches in the Malibu area (including Topanga State Beach, Point Dume State Beach and Leo Carrillo State Beach), visit Adamson House.
Asilomar State Beach - Asilomar State Beach is already well set-up for weddings. At the Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds, you can marry in charming California Arts and Crafts architecture while taking in breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. It’s an intimate setting that combines nature and romance, with all the trappings of a luxurious wedding experience.
Carmel River State Beach - Carmel River State Beach features a mile-long beach on Carmel Bay, with a wide variety of bird life. Monastery Beach, also known as San Jose Creek Beach, is part of the park and is popular with scuba divers. As swimming and wading are considered dangerous, it’s not going to be crowded with holidaymakers. The historic Customs House and Memory Garden could also feature in your special day.
Del Mar - Just north of San Diego lies the quaint seaside village of Del Mar. A perfect blend of elegance and coastal living, it offers couples a wonderful setting for romance. You can marry on the beach or to add a bit of class, try the luxury of L'Auberge Del Mar resort, which sits moments from the surf and can accommodate all your guests in style. Read more about Del Mar.
Laguna Beach - Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach has bluff top wedding sites and allows beach weddings. There is also a federally listed historic district, with rustic coastal cottages and 1920s appeal, at the mouth of Los Trancos Creek. For more information visit
Santa Catalina Island - We couldn’t leave Southern California without mentioning Santa Catalina Island. Just 22 miles off the coast of Southern California and accessible by ferry (or helicopter!), this once exclusive island would create a memorable wedding day for you and your guests. The most famous venue is the Casino Ballroom, an Art Deco landmark built right on the water. So while it’s not quite the beach, it certainly comes very close!
Travel & Transportation (airports, ferries, etc). How to get there. - The best way to reach Southern California is to fly to Los Angeles International Airport, or if you’re planning to stay at the very southern tip you could fly to San Diego International Airport. Then just hire a car and drive.
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.
Other (immunizations, health issues) - 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 California to get married there.
- You need to apply for a marriage license from a County Clerk.
- You will need to provide a driver's license or other form of ID that contains a photo and your date of birth, and in some counties also a birth certificate.
- The license fee will cost between $45 and $84 (varies by county). Cash is required in most counties.
- There is no waiting period.
- The license is valid for 90 days.
- If you are divorced, you must show proof of divorce, death or annulment. You need to bring a copy of your final divorce decree if you have divorced within 90 days of your application for a marriage license (varies by county).
- If applicants are under 18, at least one of the minor’s parents or legal guardians must appear with the couple and certified copies of their birth certificates. The couple must also have counseling and appear before a judge.
- Same-sex marriage is not permitted.
- Marriage ceremonies can be performed by Clergy, Justices, Judges, Magistrates or Marriage Commissioners (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.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=23428
Tourism Office Information
Other Southern California Related Websites
Climate Information & The Best Time to Travel
The coast of Southern California offers warm summers (daily highs around 72°F) and mild winters (daily highs around 52°F) – a mild climate year-round.This is due to the cool California Current offshore and upwelling of cold sub-surface waters, which also often create summer fog near the coast. If you’re planning to do a lot of water activities, keep in mind that the ocean is about 10ºF warmer in the south compared to the north of California.
High & Low Season for Travel
Southern California has a high season in the spring, especially Spring Break, and the Los Angeles area also has a high season in winter (family vacations to Disneyland). If you must marry during these times, you could consider weekdays (Monday through Thursday), when you’ll find cheaper airfares and accommodation rates.
Map of Southern California
Local Attractions & Must Do’s
In Los Angeles there’s Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier, day trips through Hollywood and Universal Studios, and for a more relaxed experience, Catalina Island is just a ferry ride away. If you have children, then of course there’s Disneyland and an array of theme parks, zoo, aquarium!
Moving onto Orange County you’ll find 3.5 miles of pristine beach and 2,000 acres of park at Crystal Cove, a 3-mile walking trail at San Clemente Beach, an ecological reserve at Newport Bay – and then there’s Mission San Juan Capistrano, the birthplace of Orange County.
California’s Central Coast, which stretches from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz, is thought of as the Southern California of the 60s and 70s – towns are smaller, beaches are less crowded, and the pace of life is slower. Drive Highway 1 to see some wonderful seaside landscapes, including Avila Beach, Montano de Oro, Morro Bay and Pismo Beach. And of course there’s Santa Barbara, known as the American Riviera.
In the far south is San Diego County, where you’ll find the popular Mission Beach and San Diego Zoo, the largest zoo in the west. There’s also Del Mar, a pretty seaside village, and Torrey Pines State Park, one of the last pristine stretches of coastline in this part of the state.
For what to do near you, visit http://www.daytrippen.com/
Top 5 Most Popular Hotels
Southern California is synonymous with luxury and style, no less so than in its resorts. Here are five of the best, and all of them offer wedding packages. They are so exquisite – you really ought to think about it.
L’Auberge Del Mar, Del Mar - L’Auberge Del Mar is a stunning resort in the quaint seaside village of Del Mar. Ranked among the top resorts in the world by Conde Nast and brimming with class, it’s the perfect place for romance.
Montage, Laguna Beach - Set on an oceanfront bluff with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and striking Craftsman-style architecture, this 250-room luxury beach resort commands 30 acres in the heart of the picturesque arts community of Laguna Beach (midway between Los Angeles and San Diego), making it the ideal choice for a seaside getaway.
Pelican Hill, Newport Coast - Ranked one of the best resorts in the US and the world by Conde Nast, you’ll be impressed by the century-old olive trees, rows of lavender and 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean. With exquisite options for a seaside wedding, Pelican Hill is worth investigating.
St Regis, Monarch Beach - With its oceanfront allure, Tuscan style and timeless appeal, The St. Regis is California's only Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond awarded resort. With an oceanfront golf course, panoramic views and one of the most exclusive beaches in Southern California, it’s sure to impress.
Terranea, Los Angeles - Dramatically poised at the edge of the Pacific Ocean on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Terranea’s 102 acres are infused with the elegance of a classic Mediterranean estate and the casual energy of coastal Southern California. Just south of Los Angeles, it’s also not too far away.