Beach weddings are popular trends for outdoor nuptial celebrations, and there are dozens of beach wedding locations in California that can make any ceremony romantic and memorable.
California has 840 miles of coastline (second only to Alaska), giving it hundreds of unique beaches for couples to choose from when planning their wedding. While the most popular image of a beach wedding that many couples have may be white sand, turquoise water, and towering palm trees, they assume those locations are only available in Hawaii, the Caribbean, or other tropical locations, never realizing that there are many beach wedding locations in California that offer the same idyllic backdrop. At the same time, the wide variety of shore types along California's Pacific Coast gives couples many options for more unique locations.
In addition to a wide range of locations, California is a more affordable, more convenient location for many couples whose wedding budgets may not stretch to distant islands or foreign countries, and it is a more affordable destination for guests as well. There is less paperwork required for a California wedding (no passports or extensive travel papers for U.S. citizens), and the state's liberal nature makes it a perfect choice for couples who have unique plans for their celebration.
Types of California Beaches
With such a lengthy coast, there are many types of beaches couples can choose from to celebrate their wedding on the sand in California. Depending on where in the state they plan to wed, options may include:
- State parks with picnic facilities
- Small local beaches
- Beachfront resort hotels with private beaches, gardens, or golf courses overlooking the beach
- Nostalgic piers
- Dramatic coastal cliffs
- Rented beach houses
- Sandy beaches
- Rocky shores with dramatic formations
- Isolated, private coves
- Chartered cruises or yachts
- Grassy parks just steps from the water
- City parks with bridges, mansions, and skylines in the background
- Stunning west coast sunsets
- Luxury beach clubs
Choosing the Best Beach
With such a wide range of beach styles to choose from, couples may feel overwhelmed when deciding on a specific beach. To narrow down the selection, there are several questions to ask to find the best beach for each unique celebration.
- What beaches are near a convenient city for traveling guests?
- Is the beach crowded or isolated?
- What fees are required to perform a beach wedding or to use beach facilities?
- Are facilities - parking, restrooms, etc. - adequate for the wedding?
- What condition is the beach in regarding cleanliness, wildlife, etc.?
- Are there local accommodations, attractions, and other amenities available for guests?
- What views are available from the beach that may be reflected in photographs?
- Is the beach easy to access, both in terms of driving as well as walking along it?
By considering each of these questions carefully, couples can narrow down their choices of beaches to find the perfect spot for their wedding.
Popular Beach Wedding Locations in California
With many of the state's largest cities sprawled along the coast, there are a number of highly popular beaches that frequently host weddings. Some of California's most popular beaches for weddings include:
- Santa Barbara Beach
- Crystal Cove State Beach near Newport Beach
- Bolsa Chica State Beach near Huntington Beach
- Paradise Cove in Malibu
- Marina Del Rey
- Pismo Beach
- Santa Monica
- Sunset Beach in northern Orange County
- San Francisco Bay beaches
- Laguna Beach
The exact destinations vary widely based on the type of beach wedding a couple envisions; beaches just a few miles apart may have vastly different physical characteristics. Before choosing a beach simply because it is near a popular destination, couples should try to visit the site or arrange to see photographs of the location, preferably of recent weddings there. This can help couples decide if that luxury Malibu Beach wedding is right for them, or if they'd rather have a more isolated, casual celebration in Pismo Beach.
Arranging a California Beach Wedding
Couples who live in California may have no difficulty arranging a beach wedding, but as the state becomes more popular for destination weddings, different wedding planners have begun to offer package services to help arrange beach weddings. Packages typically include all the basic services for a small, non-denominational service: an officiant, flowers for the happy couple, music, a limited number of pictures, cakes, and other details can all be arranged. Most packages can be customized for a couple's unique wishes, and many wedding planners are also willing to help coordinate larger celebrations. When contacting a planner, couples should ask about their experience with beach festivities and what geographic range they can provide services for within the state.
California wedding planners offering beach-oriented services and packages include:
- Marcy Ann Cheek, The Wedding Specialist LLC
- Now and Forever Weddings
- Pacific Coast Weddings
- Weddings by the Sea
There are many beach wedding locations in California for a couple to choose from when arranging their special day: from dramatic coasts to sandy stretches of paradise, a couple can find just what they are looking for.