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Guide to OC Beach Weddings

Hey, congratulations… you’re getting married!

If the wedding of your dreams includes sun, warm sand, and rolling surf, then you’re in luck. Orange County has some of the best beaches in the state, and they make the perfect site to host your big day.

That’s not to say that planning a wedding is easy, even if you already know where you want to hold it. There’s a lot of decision-making in your future! Don’t worry… we’re here with all the information you’ll need to know to plan the wedding of your dreams.

Here are the top four things you need to do to have a beach wedding in Orange County.

Guide To OC Beach Weddings

Step One: Choose A Date

Having your wedding at the beach means that Mother Nature isn’t just the setting for your ceremony… she’s a guest, too. And even though Orange County is blessed with fantastic weather most of the year, you’re still going to want to be mindful that weather is going to be a big consideration when you’re planning a beach wedding.

What’s the Best Month to Have a Wedding at the Beach?

Summers are the hottest time of the year (no pun intended), so you’ll be sharing your magical moment with casual beachgoers (if you use a public beach). The upside to a summer wedding is that those coastal breezes will keep you and your guests comfortable in any heat.

In general, though, you can take advantage of Orange County’s temperate weather by booking a beach site anywhere from March through May or September through November.

Be aware that winter months often bring stronger winds along with cooler temperatures.

Pro-Tip: Be flexible with your schedule. Weather is an important facet to consider for an outdoor wedding, but Orange County weather tends to be fairly stable year-round and being adaptable on dates might just be easier on your budget.

Step Two: Choose A Venue

One of the wonderful things about beach weddings is that you get to personalize exactly what you want in your ceremony.

Just the two of you and a minister, with only the waves and gulls as your witness? No sweat. Or would you rather have an intimate wedding with a few friends filling out that gazebo on the beach? Or heck… go for it and have a gorgeous beachside wedding at an equally gorgeous beachfront hotel.

Whatever level of luxury you want, Orange County has plenty of venues to provide exactly the romantic and relaxing atmosphere you want for your wedding.

Pro-Tip: Depending on the beach, a permit may or may not be required to hold a wedding (in general, most OC beaches require permits). Be sure to check the beach and/or city website to make sure you don’t run afoul of any permitting requirements. Private beaches will almost always have restrictions, permit requirements and container laws that must be followed.

What Kind of Venues Can I Get for My Beach Wedding?

Maybe the wedding of your dreams is a simple sunset ceremony on a public beach, or maybe it’s an elaborate service held in a posh resort with lush flowers spilling out of graceful urns and a gauzy canopy that billows in the sea breezes.

Wherever you think you’d like to hold your wedding, one thing is certain… you’re going to be doing a lot of research.

While you’re hunting up the perfect spot for your beach wedding, keep your budget in mind. A glamorous wedding in the garden of a seaside resort with a full reception to follow is going to be pricey. A small, romantic service on a beach with a reception at a local restaurant is going to be easier on your wallet. Know what your budget is and keep to it.

Pro-Tip: This is where being flexible with your dates is going to come in handy. If you’re willing to have your ceremony during an off-peak time, you’ll save money. Venues are usually very happy to work with you to make sure you get something you’ll be happy with.

Elegant Simplicity: State and Private Beaches

If you haven’t already fallen in love with a particular beach to have your ceremony, here are a few for you to consider:

Doheny State Beach

Pro-Tip: The North Beach has a gorgeous gazebo right on the sand that’s tailor-made for beach weddings.

Salt Creek Beach Park

Monarch Bay Beach

  • While the beach is free to use, a permit is still a requirement, and that will have a fee attached.
  • One of the benefits of Monarch Bay Beach is that newlyweds can cap off their perfect wedding with having their reception at the stunning, five-diamond Monarch Beach Resort.

Beach Cities

Laguna Beach

Known for its gorgeous art colony town and even more gorgeous beaches, Laguna Beach is the picture-perfect beach wedding location. There are over twenty beaches in the area, and plenty of them are ready to host your wedding. Permits are required to get married on public property, e.g. the beach.

Pro-Tip: Beach weddings are only permitted on North Main Beach, Rockpile Beach, Picnic Beach, and Divers Cover Beach during Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

Several elegant resorts are available to host your wedding in Laguna Beach, but our favorites are:

Surf and Sand Resort

The Surf and Sand Resort is a slice of Mediterranean heaven without the need for a passport. This 167-room hotel is built right on the beach for unbelievable views. This jewel of a resort in the artist haven of Laguna Beach boasts restful luxury rooms decorated with original artwork from local artists. No wonder the Surf and Sand was voted into the top 25 Southern California Resorts by Conde Nast Travelers Reader’s Choice Awards!

Montage Laguna Beach

The Montage Laguna Beach bills itself as a place where you can find seaside luxury… and it definitely delivers.

This sprawling beachfront sanctuary sits above the Pacific on 30 acres of prime Laguna Beach real estate that affords incredible ocean views from anywhere on the property. Newly updated and redesigned to offer breezy rooms with plenty of natural light that shows off the contemporary California style, exclusive art and photographs in its luxurious rooms.

Huntington Beach

Laguna Niguel and Dana Point are gorgeous choices for beach weddings in Orange County, but they’re not the only ones. Huntington Beach offers several gorgeous beaches where you can hold your ceremony.

  • Bolsa Chica State Beach
  • Huntington Beach City Beach
  • Huntington State Beach
  • Sunset Beach
  • Surfside Beach

Pro-Tip: Permits are required if you want a beach wedding in Huntington Beach, but pay attention to which beach you’re choosing. The city beach requires a permit from the city of Huntington Beach, but the state-operated beaches located in HB require a different permit.

Romance and Glamor: Resorts and Hotels that Offer Wedding Venues

If you’ve got the budget for it, take advantage of the wide array of elegant hotels and resorts that Orange County has. These venues are usually right on or close to the beach, and they usually offer packages for both wedding and reception.

Resorts usually have their own wedding coordinators on staff, so that’s one less thing for you to have to research, and they’re fantastic for larger wedding parties. If accessibility is a concern for one or more in your wedding party, a seaside resort or hotel might be a better bet for both your service and reception.

Resorts with private beaches will also have the permitting requirements and fees rolled into their wedding package rates, and it’s handy to be able to stay in one location so you minimize travel between the ceremony site and reception.

Some of our top picks for wedding venues in Orange County are:

Step Three: Choose a Wedding Planning Service (or Not)

We’re gonna point out that choosing to use a service to plan your wedding is optional. There’s nothing that says that you need to engage a wedding coordinator for any kind of wedding you want.

That being said… you’re planning a wedding around a job, school, and life. Your wedding shouldn’t be an additional source of stress.

Planning a wedding on a beach, like any outdoor wedding, comes with a few extra requirements that you’ll need to be aware of, like permits, parking, container laws, restrictions on hours and noise… a whole list of things that you might not have time to think about. If you’re planning a religious service, some houses of worship might have rules against their officiants performing outdoor weddings.

Enter wedding planning services. Getting a wedding planner who specializes in beach weddings means you can leave all the nitty-gritty work of permits and arrangements to them and save your energy for important things.

Southern Cal Weddings is a full-service wedding planner that specializes in beach weddings. Not only can they offer everything you could possibly need for your beach wedding, including qualified officiants for civil, religious, and interfaith ceremonies in Orange County, San Diego County, and Los Angeles County.

They’ll help you with everything from getting your wedding license to decorating the site and everything in between.

Another excellent full-service wedding planner is Orange County Beach Weddings. These fine folks have a variety of wedding packages perfectly tailored for every taste and budget and a proven track record of providing all the support and expertise you could possibly want to make your big day come off without a hitch.

Step Four: Choose a Site for Your Reception

Your wedding reception can be as simple as grilled burgers on a beach grill, or as elaborate as a four course meal from an award-winning kitchen at a top hotel. It’s up to you (and your budget… you are still thinking about your budget, aren’t you?) what you pick.

Many local restaurants will be happy to work with you to cater a reception that fits your tastes and your budget.

If you’re using a resort for your reception, their wedding event staff will work with you and the kitchen to make sure you and your guests are completely satisfied.

Your wedding, your way… With a little planning, a little research, and a little flexibility, your beach wedding in Orange County will be a beautiful memory for years to come.

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Kelly Smith
Kelly Smith is lives in Southern California with one dog, two cats, two guinea pigs… and the rest of her family. She writes about Orange County, faith, family, special needs and tea, and world-builds science fiction universes on the side.