How to Plan a San Diego Beach Wedding

Do you imagine yourself walking barefoot through the sand, your bridal gown flowing in the breeze, to meet your love under a tropical bamboo arch covered in orchids? Can you picture your guests sitting under umbrellas as the sun sets and you say your vows? Beach weddings are ridiculously romantic. Coupled with San Diego’s perfect weather and 70 miles of coastline, a San Diego beach wedding is perfection.

Couples who come to us dreaming of a beach wedding, usually use words like simple, organic, relaxed, effortless, and romantic to describe their perfect day. But the dirty little secret about beach weddings is that they can be anything but simple!

First, beaches in San Diego and surrounding cities such as Coronado and Del Mar, are public. There are a handful of hotels and event venues right on the beach that do coordinate beach ceremonies, such as Hotel del Coronado, L’Auberge, La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, and the Bahia and Catamaran Hotels in Mission Beach. These are great options if you want to have your ceremony on the sand, followed by a more traditional venue for your reception. These venues will take care of any permitting issues, setting up your ceremony space with chairs, providing a sound system, and keeping your ceremony space as private as possible.

If a traditional beachfront venue is not what you had in mind, you will need to work with the city to obtain a permit for your beach wedding. For San Diego city beaches, call 619-235-1169. The number for the Coronado permit office is 619-522-7342. Some beaches such as Torrey Pines and Silver Strand are run by the State of California and also require permits. The number to State permit office is 619-688-3385. Some cities allow small ceremonies of under 24 guests without a permit, but all cities require permits to set chairs and decor on the beach. And permits are rarely granted on holiday weekends, such as Memorial Day, Labor Day and Independence Day.

Once you obtain your permit, you will be presented with a long list of regulations regarding glass (not allowed on the sand), alcohol (requires a special permit and security), noise (varies by city), and a variety of other issues. Make sure you understand all of the rules before you move forward with your beach wedding planning.

Some other things to consider for your San Diego beach wedding are:
  1. Guest comfort and accessibility – You love the beach and the feeling of sand between your toes. But can grandma walk on the sand to get to the ceremony? Do you have any guests in wheelchairs or that have accessibility issues? Make sure to remind guests to wear shoes appropriate for the beach. Also, bring sunscreen and consider providing market umbrellas for shade.

  2. Rentals – Hosting a wedding on the beach, like any other nontraditional venue, requires lots of coordination. First, you will need to rent everything – chairs, tables, linens, sound systems, a generator to provide power, lighting (if you will be at the beach after sunset), restrooms and possibly a tent.  Most rental companies will charge an extra delivery fee for placing items on the Sand.

  3. Weather and tides – Be sure to consult tide schedules for the date and times of your wedding. Some San Diego beaches have extreme low and high tides, which will affect the amount of space you have and where you can set up on the beach.  High tides can also deposit seaweed and kelp on the beach (which attract those annoying little sand gnats) so you may want to rake the area before you set-up your wedding.  The beauty of the beach is its natural and raw nature. But this can also mean windy (sand in your eyes or your drink) and hot or cold temperatures depending on the time of year you are getting married. Have a backup plan in case of uncooperative weather. Yes, you still need a weather plan even in San Diego!.

  4. Wind – Plan for wind. Ocean breezes are a daily occurrence. Sometimes the wind is gentle and does not cause any issues. But have a backup plan in case of stronger winds for place cards, programs, signs, and any ceremony decor that could blow away.

Stephanie Rose Events is one of San Diego’s most trusted wedding planning teams. We guarantee your wedding will be exactly as you envision with every detail executed perfectly. We work with exclusive vendors to create a guest experience that is unique to you.  Do you want to stress over the details, or be a Stephanie Rose Events bride and be a guest at your own wedding? Schedule your free wedding planning consultation here.  We can’t wait to meet you!

Beach weddings are our favorites, and couples come to San Diego from all over the world for a romantic wedding on the sand. Consider hiring a wedding planner with experience planning beach weddings to ensure your wedding is relaxed and romantic. For more San Diego beach wedding tips, sign-up using the form below. We hate spam and pushy people, so we won’t bombard you with stuff. Or if you prefer a consultation, you can use this form too – we always have chocolate and champagne to share!

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