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Publisher’s Picks 


Best Beach or Waterfront Wedding Venue Options



beachfront wedding ceremony

The Dana on Mission Bay inspires weddings that reflect your personality. From ceremonies on the waterfront and intimate tropical courtyard, to receptions in the outdoor rose garden and marina views from the ballroom, let The Dana set the stage for romance in your perfect setting.

Dena’s input: “Vows in the sand and coastal California weddings is there anything more romantic?”


Click here to see the entire list of our Publisher’s Picks for 2020



Secluded along sun-drenched shores of Mission Bay, the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa offers a romantic paradise set amidst tropical gardens filled with a koi pond that serpentines the walkways. Exchange vows overlooking Mission Bay with your toes in the sand or in a private gazebo surrounded by lush greenery and tropical gardens.

Dena’s input: “The Cat is always one of my favorites with many fond memories.”



bride, groom, wedding dress, tux

The Bali Hai Restaurant continues to be a favorite San Diego venue. The spectacular view of San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline make it the perfect location for any special event. The Bali Hai provides an incredible canvas for moments that will last a lifetime.

Dena’s input: “You have to have Mai Tai’s at your wedding if this is your favorite choice!”



Located alongside the vibrant oceanfront boardwalk in Pacific Beach, Waterbar offers only the best in tantalizing menus, comfortable seating, panoramic views, and lively entertainment. With a “social seafood” menu, flavor-forward craft cocktails, local micro-brews, national brand favorites, and a diverse wine list, Waterbar’s thriving, energetic environment captures the passion of San Diego’s iconic coastline for an unforgettably satisfying experience. Looking for a beach or water wedding in a unique space check out Waterbar, it’s available for fully private receptions of up to 700 guests.

Dena’s input: “I am loving that fun restaurants are embracing the wedding market OMG Hospitality has some great options and Waterbar is just one of them.”


Fourth Time is a Charm!Stacy & Melissa Grant staying with a friend 2 bride, groom, boat, sunset

Hannah and Nick had to reschedule their wedding 3 different times at 3 different venues, before finally being able to have their wedding. It was an emotional rollercoaster to say the least.  Canceling their original plan for May 9th was definitely the hardest part since they had been planning their ‘perfect’ wedding for over a year and a half.  Their original venue, didn’t supply anything but the room, so they had to personally hire all vendors and thought they had pulled together the perfect team for their wedding.

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Planning a wedding under the best of circumstances can be stressful, then add in COVID and it definitely makes everything more stressful. Since there was no end to the shelter-in-place in the foreseeable future and it was completely out of their control, Hannah and Nick made the decision to cancel their original wedding date four weeks before the wedding. There were so many mixed emotions, they were thankful their family & and friends were healthy, but also so sad and disappointed after planning every detail for two years.


bride and bridesmaids in robesThen they moved their date to December 6, 2020 at the same venue reasoning that in seven months things should be getting back to normal. In August the venue informed them that they were not allowing any receptions due to COVID restrictions.  So, they were forced to start the venue search all over again! They found an alternate venue, but had to settle on December 4th.  Three weeks prior to their third wedding date the new venue cancelled the event due to additional restrictions being put on their business. Hannah and Nick were devastated once again.

bridal shoes and bouquet

They did not to give up and started yet another venue search! Their closest friends and family had already made accommodations for December 4th so they were determined to make it happen then. They were fortunate to find the San Diego Mission Bay Resort.  They were available on December 4th and helped them plan their dream wedding in just three weeks!  They feel eternally grateful to the San Diego Mission Bay Resort and everyone who made their wedding better than their original plans!

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Their original guest count was 180 and they had to narrow it down to 60, with 55 guests actually at their wedding.  Besides a much smaller guest list, due to the pandemic their were other things that they had to adjust for.

bride and groom's first kiss

At the venue, everything had to be fully outdoors due to COVID restrictions.  Guests had to wear masks during the ceremony and any time they were out of their seat at both ceremony and reception.  There was no dancing or mingling allowed.  All ceremony seats were spaced 6 feet apart.  They had to group tables by family/household for the reception, ceremony, and rehearsal dinner. They had to create three different seating charts for all of those events.  And of course, they had individual hand sanitizers at each seat as well.

bride and groom in beach buggy

bride and groom cutting wedding cake

Hannah’s advice for any brides planning or rescheduling their wedding during this time is to be patient, flexible, and grateful for the little things.  It’s so easy to focus on things that may go wrong or may not go as planned, but a wedding is all about your love and commitment to each other–that’s all that ultimately matters.  Be patient with venues, vendors, and guests since everyone’s situation is different.  Be willing to make changes and adapt away from your ideal plans.  Enjoy your time being engaged because that only happens once in your life and it’s a very special time!  Even if hiccups or disasters happen along your wedding planning journey, you and your spouse will become stronger by getting through those tough times.     

back of bride in wedding dress

Venue: San Diego Mission Bay Resort

Photographer & Videographer: BE Studios

Coordinator: Holly Kalkin Weddings

Florist: Camellia Wedding Flowers 

Bridal Gown: Stella York from The Bustle 

Menswear:  Ralph Lauren from Neiman Marcus

Jewelry:  David & Sons Fine Jewelers

Bridal Beauty: Hair Art by Lily

Cake/ Dessert: Babycakes 

Invitations: Minted

Entertainment:  Party People San Diego


Evita is perfect if you are dreaming of a romantic beach wedding

bride, wedding dress, beach

An elemental yet unearthly being, Evita channels old Hollywood as much as she does her natural environment. Glamorous and romantic, she is the sum of her most delicate parts: a slightly sheer high neckline, a masterfully moulded illusion bust line, an angularly open back, a row of enticing covered buttons and a luxuriant all-over corded lace.

Beautifully finished with a lace train that extends beyond its silky underlay, Evita is a gown that transcends trends and time.

Wedding Gown from Madi Lane can be found locally at Luv Bridal.

bride, groom, beach, sunsetAshley had always dreamed of getting married on the beach with her toes in the sand. Their ceremony and cocktail hour were on the Coronado Beach as the sun was setting and then moved inside to the Coronette Room at Hotel Del Coronado for the reception. They included a few special personal touches, from Ashley’s cousins officiating the wedding to Tucker’s mom’s special crispy chocolate bar recipe for their dessert. To top it all off, they are both University of Missouri alums and had a very special sandcastle of Jesse Hall, a landmark on campus, built on the invitation, earrings beach, sand castle, Jesse Hall bride, groom, chuppah, kiss, beachWedding Rings, wedding bands bridal bouquet, white tulips wedding reception site, table settingsea glass table chartsand castle, bride, groom, Jesse Hall

Coordinator:  Bliss Events

Venue:  Hotel Del Coronado

Photographer:  True Photography

Florist & Rentals:  Organic Elements

Cake/ Dessert:  Twin Treats

Bridal Gown:  Destiny’s Brides  

Menswear:  Men’s Wearhouse

Jewelry:  Ganem Jewelers 

Bridal Beauty:  Beauty by Stacey

Entertainment:  Matt & Jasmine Commerce

Adults Only All-Inclusive Resorts – Adults only all-inclusive resorts are abundant in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean. Whether its resorts focused on Wellness & Spa or Golf enthusiast packages, couples have plenty of options for their individual style. Accommodation choices range from swim-up rooms to suites with your own private plunge pool. The best part about an all-inclusive resort? You know exactly how much your honeymoon costs before you arrive.

The all-new Sandals South Coast is the perfect combination of European civility in an all-beachfront resort. From all-new Over-the-Water Bungalows, an overwater bar, and a romantic Over-the-Water Chapel, Sandals South Coast brings guests closer than ever to the water. Set on a 2-mile stretch of Jamaica’s south coast’s most pristine white-sand beach and nestled within a 500-acre nature preserve, this spectacular seaside oasis features three distinctive European Villages. Relax by one of three pools, including Jamaica’s largest, or dine at the new Sushi on the Sand restaurant. At night, extravagant bonfire areas and fire pits add to the glow of this truly unique destination in the heart of paradise.

For more honeymoon hotspot advice contact the Travel Experts at  Avant-Garde Travel

bride, groom, beach

Lauren and Nathan wanted their wedding to be a direct reflection of them and their relationship. Every single decision was made with that in mind. They are very sentimental and family oriented, they wanted their wedding to embrace that and become one big, family party instead of a formal/stuffy event. Their wedding weekend turned out exactly how they wanted. An elegant family party, whether the guests were actual family or friends turned family.

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wedding cake

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Venue:  Cuvier Park; La Jolla Woman’s Club

Photographer:  Brooke Aliceon Photography

Coordinator:  Simply Elegant Weddings

Florist:  Chic Flowers

Rentals:  Stecklair Event Co.

Linens:  Linen Lady

Catering:  Francis Keller Culinary Events

Cake/ Dessert:  The French Oven

Bridal Gown:  Something Bleu Bridal Boutique

Menswear:  Nordstrom

Jewelry:  Pierre’s Jewelers

Bridal Beauty:  Heini Beauchemin with Glitz & Glam Beauty Parlor; Marlee Dillard Makeup Artistry

Entertainment:  Israel Maldonado Music




bride, bridesmaids, champagne toast

Michelle and Chase had a romantic meeting under the Eiffel Tower in Paris more than ten years ago, but when they were choosing a wedding location, San Diego was their immediate choice. They love the outdoors and the ocean, which made L’Auberge Del Mar the ideal location for them.

bride and groom, bridal bouquet

ring bearers

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wedding reception, table settings, ocean

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Photo & Video: Bob Hoffman Photography & Video

Coordinator: Southern House Events + Design

Venue: L’Auberge Del Mar

Florist: J Design Floral

Linens: Luxe Linen

Invitations: Wendy Ware Designs

Wedding Dress: Le Marriage Couture Boutique

Menswear: The Black Tux

Jewelry: Brilliant Earth

sunset, kiss, ocean,

Over the past two years, Barbados has received many awards most recently awarded “Caribbean’s Best Destination” by Expedia and “Best Caribbean Beach” by Conde Nast Traveler’s List. Known for sexy-romance, Barbados offers couples a relaxed island honeymoon, destination wedding or vacation.  Here is a list of things we know you won’t want to miss on your next visit.


1.) Mount Gay Rum Tour
Enjoy one or more cocktails with expert shakers at the Mount Gay Rum Barbados distillery, and discover the colorful history of Mount Gay Rum.


2.) Island Safari Tour
Visit the highest cliff on the island where professional guides take tours through the gullies, forests, remote bays and road with coastal views exposing the hidden secrets of Barbados.

3.) The Crystal Room in Harrison’s Cave
With an abundance of stalactites, stalagmites, streams, lakes and waterfalls, leading speleologists consider the Crystal Room Cave to be among the finest showcases of its type in the world. The Caves are located near the geographical center of Barbados.


4.) Sunset cocktails anywhere on the Caribbean Sea-side of the Island
Barbados has many fantastic hotels with glamorous lounges, from which to view a spectacular Caribbean sunset. Try any drink with the favorite spirit of the island Rum.


5.) Catamaran Cruise on the Caribbean
Picture yourself relaxing on the deck on a luxurious catamaran while gliding over the sparkling crystal-clear Caribbean, past beautiful palm-fringed beaches. The Catamaran is anchored for lunch where visitors can enjoy a sumptuous meal prepared some of the Caribbean’s top chefs. After lunch, enjoy snorkeling in the light blue waters.

6.) Surfing the Soup Bowl at Bathsheba
The Soup Bowl in Bathsheba on the North East Atlantic coast as having some of the best surfing in the Caribbean. The Soup Bowl comes alive when the swells arrive from the North or North East, and break over a shallow reef, producing the perfect barrel or “tube” that surfers relish so much.


7.) Golf at any of the five top international courses  
For those who want to play golf while visiting the Island, Barbados has some of the region’s most luxurious and breathtaking courses and has received unprecedented attention from golf aficionados.

8.) The Spa at Sandy Lane
The Spa is housed within a splendid Romanesque building of 42,000 square feet fronted by a spectacular waterfall cascading into a large, freeform swimming pool. World-class facilities include nine VIP treatment suites with luxurious treatments offered.  

9.) Scuba Diving in Barbados
The fringes and reefs found off Barbados’ coast blossom with sponge, coral & plant life. The
barrier reefs, located approximately one mile off-shore, contain large coral heads that form the habitat for thousands of beautiful fish and larger marine creatures like Turtles and Seahorses. Man-made Shipwrecks have created fascinating habitats for marine life and can also be found off the shores of Barbados.


10.) Relax and taken in the Sun and Sand at Crane Beach
There is nothing better than getting a large fluffy beach towel from your suite, in the pristine Crane Hotel. Crane Beach has been named as one of the “10 best beaches in the World” by the television show, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”.

11.) Fall in love again at The Cliff Restaurant
The Cliff is neatly perched above the lapping waves of the Caribbean Sea and is lit by fiery lanterns that burn brightly high above the tables. The Cliff opened in 1996 and is consistently top ranked in the Barbados Zagat Guide. Its exquisite multi-tiered setting complements Chef Paul Owen’s menu, strongly influenced by the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.


12.) Romantic walks on the Beach
Barbados has many wonderful long beaches, just made for long romantic walks either during the day or in the cooler hours of the early evening, underneath millions of glistening stars set to a chorus of tree frogs.

For more ideas, visit

bride, groom, kiss, beach, sunset

Randi and Kiel wanted an intimate, beachside wedding that brought together beauty and their religion. They had the traditional Jewish elements in their ceremony and reception all while keeping with a modern and beautiful affair with over the top bohemian vibe. It was the perfect mix for their fun and beautiful beachside wedding topped off by by the sound of the ocean in the background.

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tablescape, table design, centerpieces, candelabra, beach wedding

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Photography: Leah Marie Photography

Venue: Private beach in Carlsbad

Coordinator: Storybook Weddings & Events

Florist: Blush Botanicals

Rentals: Madam Palooza; Rustic Events

Linens: Classic Party Rentals

Catering: Toast Catering

Cake/ Desserts: Michele Coulon Dessertier

Bridal Gown: Panache Bridal

Bridal Beauty: Domenica Beauty

Entertainment: Lucky Devils Band

Real Wedding, beach wedding, sunset, san diego weddings

Natalie and Michael took advantage of the beach in La Jolla for their Bohemian garden inspired seaside wedding.

Venue: Scripps Seaside Forum

Photo: Walter Wilson Studios

Coordinator: First Comes Love Weddings & Events

Florist: Organic Elements

Cake: Michele Coulon Dessertier

Catering: Coast Catering

Entertainment: JP Hunten Music

Invitations: Betlam Calligraphy

Looking for a beach wedding venue? Be sure to check out our friends at Visit Oceanside who shared these great tips with us.

Beach Wedding 101

When you’re wedding planning in Southern California at some point you may have considered having your wedding at the beach.  You’ve dreamed of the sun setting in the background, cool breezes in your hair, the smell of the salted sea, and your toes in the sand.  Your dream can quickly turn into a nightmare if you’re not prepared.   Here is a list of potential issues that you may run into and how to plan accordingly.

The Sun and Heat

Photo: Holly Ireland Photography

Beach Wedding, Oceanside, umbrella

The sun can be more intense at the beach when it’s reflected back from the water or the sand.  Have parasols in your wedding colors that guests can grab and use to shade themselves.  You may want to have sunglasses waiting on their seats just in case they forgot or they’re using prescription glasses.  Remember, if you’re having a sunset wedding on the beach on the west coast that means your guests will be looking directly into the sun.  Also, never underestimate the need for hydration. For your guest’s convenience, have buckets of ice with water bottles at the ceremony site. Reminder: It only takes minutes to burn at the beach. Protect your guests by handing out sunscreen favors (See example here).

The Marine Layer and Morning Drizzle

Photo: Holly Ireland Photography

beach wedding, Oceanside, bridal party, robes

If you’re from San Diego, you know what Marine Layer is and it’s not always your friend. Timing is key here.  Marine layer clouds are low altitude stratus clouds that form over ocean waters that typically happen during the summer months.  While Californian’s refer to this as “Graypril”, “May Gray”, and “June Gloom”, this weather pattern can hold fast well into August.  As the day warms up, it typically will burn off depending on how thick it is.  It is a good idea to have towels on hand in case of drizzle between the time your chairs are set up and the start of the wedding.

Planning a Beach Wedding in Oceanside? Request an Oceanside Wedding Guide.


The Sand

Photo: Holly Ireland Photography

Beach Wedding, Oceanside, sand

Let me just get this out of the way…Please do NOT attempt one of those papery aisle runners in the sand. Between the wind, the uneven surface, and your wedding party tripping on it, it’s going to end up being a big ole mess by the time you walk down the aisle. All of those pretty pictures you see of a pristine aisle runner are BEFORE any guests have been around it. Instead, line the aisle with petals, décor, and candles. If you must have an aisle runner, consider putting down wood planks first or renting a carpeted one.

Photo: Siegel Thurston Photography; Stationery: Soirees & Showers

beach wedding, invitation, stationery

In your wedding invitation warn guests that the ceremony will be in the sand so they’ll know to wear appropriate shoes and clothing.  Have you ever gotten sand stuck in your tights? Ugh! (Note: On days of intense sun the sand can burn!)

The People

Photo: Holly Ireland Photography

beach wedding, Oceanside, wedding vows

The beach is a public space. While you can politely always ask beachgoers to move, they have the right to not budge. Think of the normal activity that you see on a beach: volleyball, soccer, Frisbee, football, horseshoes, bocce ball, bonfires, BBQs, etc. This activity is not going to cease because it’s your wedding day. Location is going to be the key here. Choose a remote part of the beach where you can lessen the impact of beachgoers. Know what is happening around town and in the travel industry as a whole. Don’t plan a beach wedding around spring break, in peak summer months, or any of the holidays. Check the city calendar for other large events that could create a conflict with your wedding such as surf contests or large sporting events. Just be prepared and give your guests directions and parking information so they’re not caught off guard. Note: Most Southern California beaches, including Oceanside, do not allow beach weddings during peak tourist season (Memorial Day to Labor Day).

The Wind

It’s usually a little cooler at the beach thanks to our coastal breezes.  This is great when you’re trying to escape the heat, but it’s not always convenient when it comes to weddings.  Consider having your hair in a tight up-do to keep it firmly in place and maybe forego the veil as well.  The bridesmaid’s dresses shouldn’t be in danger of being blown upward either.  As far as your décor goes, keep it simple and secure.  Too much draping could catch the wind and blow over your arch.  Plan to hand out programs or anything that could blow away to keep the beaches clear of unwanted trash and debris.

The Tide

Photo: Holly Ireland Photography

beach weddings, Oceanside, tides

As any surfer will tell you, it’s all about the waves. You must make this tide chart your friend.  For the most sand possible and the least chance of a wedding washout, you’ll want to schedule your wedding as close to low tide as possible if your location has limited beachfront.  The beaches north of the pier and adjacent to the harbor have plentiful sand so just make sure your placement isn’t too close to the shoreline if tides are on the rise.

The Accessibility

Photo: Holly Ireland Photography

beach weddings, Oceanside,

We’re very lucky to have beaches in Oceanside which are a straight walk from the parking lot to the shore line, but some of the beaches have only stair access.  If you have elderly guests or those with disabilities, this will not work.  Also, if you have guests with any kind of impairment when walking, the sand alone proposes a challenge.  Make sure there is a way for them to be dropped off close, have escorts ready to help them along, and keep the ceremony close to the road.  Several beaches in California have a complimentary beach wheelchair program, including Oceanside Pier and Oceanside Harbor beach. Contact Oceanside’s Lifeguard Services at (760) 435-4018 for more information.

The Alternatives

Coastal cities embrace the beach lifestyle so we have a host of alternatives from restaurants to resorts that will give you that “beach feel” without the elements.  In Oceanside, CA wedding ceremony sites that are just steps from the sand include:

Read more about Oceanside’s Ocean Side Weddings

Real Wedding, San Diego Wedding, bride & groom, bridal bouquet

Mariangela and Jayil loved showing their guest beautiful San Diego with friends and family flying in from all over the U.S. and the world. They also shared their love of their countries, Puerto Rico and Venezuela’s traditions through a lot of dancing, great food and Dulce de Leche and passion fruit cake to celebrate the amazing day.

Real Wedding, San Diego Wedding, wedding details

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Real Wedding, San Diego Wedding, bride & groom, first kiss

Real Wedding, San Diego Wedding, wedding party, groomsmen, bridesmaids

Real Wedding, San Diego Wedding,


Real Wedding, San Diego Wedding, wedding cake, dessert bar

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Real Wedding, San Diego Wedding, steak

Real Wedding, San Diego Wedding, bride & groom


Photographer: Bob Hoffman Photography & Video

Catering & Linens: Continental Catering

Venue: ZLAC Rowing Club

Coordinator: Adore Wedding Design

Rentals: ZLAC Rowing Club; Continental Catering; Draping: Best Rentals

Cake/ Dessert: Azúcar

Bridal Gown: D’Royal Bride  

Menswear: Ted Baker

Jewelry: Kay Jewelers

Bridal Beauty: Mobile Beauty Team

Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas

Entertainment: Serrano Musica; SGM Events

Real Wedding, Katie & Dylan, Beach Wedding, wedding party

Katie and Dylan were married overlooking the water at Scripps Seaside Forum. It rained the entire week leading up, but the skies cleared leaving the most beautiful wedding day where they exchanged handwritten vows while the sun set behind them. They ended their night partying on the dance floor with their closest friends and family.

Catering: Continental Catering

Bridal Beauty: Bre Payton Designs

Rentals: Concepts Event Design;  Cedar and Pine Events

Venue: Scripps Seaside Forum

Photographer: Allie Lindsey Photography

Coordinator: Evelyn Francesca Events & Design

Florist: Carla Kayes Floral Design

Cake/ Dessert: Hey There, Cupcake!

Bridal Gown: Bowties Bridal

Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse

Jewelry: Aaron Lelah Jewelers


real wedding, gay wedding, beach wedding

Inspired by their venue, Brent and Keoni wanted a modern, yet timeless San
Diego wedding. They achieved this with the picturesque sunset backdrop of the La Jolla shoreline and the modern wooden architecture of the venue,
complemented with neutral colors and minimalistic, geometric details accented
with overflowing greens and copper elements.

real weddings, gay wedding, beach wedding, wedding rings, wedding bandsreal weddings, gay wedding, beach wedding, table setting, centerpiecesreal weddings, gay wedding, beach wedding

Photographer:  Spotlight Studios

Catering:  Culinary Concepts

Cake/ Dessert:  Sweet Cheeks Baking Co.

Rentals & Linens:  Concepts Event Design

Coordinator:  Kristana Marie Events

Venue:  Scripps Seaside Forum

Florist:  Lovely Blooms Floral

Menswear:  ASOS, Topman

Jewelry:  Bellysa Jewelry 

Bridal Beauty:  Hair by Joy; Michelle Medeiros at White Rabbit Day Spa

Invitations:  Paprika Press

Entertainment:  Suit & Tie Group

Videography:  D.P. Weddings

real wedding, bride and groom, sunset, lifeguard tower

Ivy and Steven’s wedding ceremony took place in the late afternoon with an ideal setting, overlooking the beautiful La Jolla Cove just before sunset. After a fun cocktail hour with his and her drinks, everyone dance the night away at the reception. Most of their guest were from out of town, and the La Jolla Coast was the perfect location to spend the weekend.

real wedding, La Jolla wedding

Venue: La Valencia Hotel

Photographer: Holly Ireland Photography

Coordinator: San Diego Weddings by Gina

Florist: Organic Elements

Rentals & Linens: Concepts Event Design

Cake/ Dessert: Sugar and Scribe Bakery

Bridal Gown: The White Flower Bridal Boutique

Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse

Bridal Beauty: Lux Beauty Bar; Soirée Beauty Concierge

Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas

Entertainment: Lucky Devils Band

Donut Stand: Rustic Wishes

We live in San Diego so why not take advantage of the beach as a gorgeous backdrop for your wedding? These invites by Soirees & Showers Stationery prepare your guests for a California Casual beach wedding!


Planning a Destination Wedding in Hawaiian Paradise
By: Kristen Castillo

There’s something about the Hawaiian Islands that’s intriguing. Maybe it’s the sunsets, the friendly people or the laid back vibe. Anyway you look at it, Hawaii has a lot to offer tourists and locals. That’s why a destination wedding on Maui is so appealing to so many couples.
Say Aloha to a Maui Wedding
Carrie Chan and Brian Sinnott who live in San Diego’s Little Italy tied the knot at a private estate on Makena, Maui, Hawaii on Earth Day April 22, 2008. They knew the Hawaiian island was the right place for their destination wedding.

“We chose to get married in Maui because it was the most beautiful, romantic place imaginable and absolutely perfect for a beach wedding,” explains Chan. “Both of us wanted to get married on the beach and could not have picked a better place.”

It didn’t take much to sell the couple on Maui’s charm. The bride loves the beaches and the groom loves the food. “There are so many different types of food to eat in Hawaii,” says Chan. “The fresh produce, especially tomatoes, pineapple, and mango are like no where else. The fish in Hawaii is phenomenal. He loves the Kona Kampachi and the ono.”

Following the wedding, the couple enjoyed a Hawaiian honeymoon too spending time on Maui, Lanai and the Big Island. “We loved that there were so many activities from snorkeling, to kayaking or just laying out on the beach,” says Chan. “It was relaxing and we truly had a fantastic honeymoon.”
Marvelous Maui
Maui is 48 miles long and 26 miles across, making it the second largest Hawaiian island (the Big Island is the largest). It has beaches, tropical rainforests, cliffs and more geological diversity.

“Like the other Hawaiian islands, Maui is a microcosm of the world’s climates and terrains,” says Sandi Yara of the Maui Visitors Bureau. “Less than 25 percent of Maui’s 729 square miles is inhabited, and because much of the terrain is rugged and remote, it remains pristine.”

Aside from its natural beauty, visitors enjoy world-class golf and spa treatments. “The pace of life perfect on Maui ,” says Yara, “Slower than Oahu, but faster than Kauai and the Big Island…the overall feel of the island ranges from casual and laid-back to upscale and dreamy.”
The Maui Bridal Experience
Diane Paralusz and Richard Montgomery of Manhattan Beach married in an intimate morning ceremony on October 24, 2008 at Maui’s Makena Cove, a place the bride calls “stunning.”

“I’ve been to Maui several times,” she says. “Each time I visit I fall in love with it all over again, especially South Maui. The relaxing vibe of Maui entices me to keep coming back. The beaches are stunning with the contrast of turquoise water against the black lava rock and white sand.” Paralusz and Montgomery also honeymooned on Maui to spend time with their families and explore the island on their own.

“Maui has so much to offer because it’s so diverse,” says Paralusz who says she loves the smell of fresh flowers on Maui and the laid back way of life. “You can go to the beach, snorkel, drive the road to Hana, hike, enjoy a glass of wine at one of the vineyards, shop in Lahaina and Wailea.”
There are many choices of resorts and hotels on Maui including The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui, which means “Heavenly White.” The hotel, located along Polo Beach on 22 acres of tropical landscape, is the only all-suite hotel in Hawaii, offering 413 one-bedroom suites and 37 two and three bedroom villas.

Each year, The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui hosts between 75 and 100 weddings where the guest list ranges from 20 to 100 people, says Wendy Harvey, the hotel’s director of public relations.

Generally wedding ceremonies start about two hours before sunset for ideal photo opportunities. There are three ceremony sites to consider including the most popular choice Pacific Terrace, “described as a balcony overlooking the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean and gentle breezes for that awe-inspiring ‘wow’ that is not matched anywhere else,” says Harvey.

Island traditions can easily be incorporated into a destination wedding ceremony. The groom can arrive at the ceremony via canoe, with a conch shell blower announcing his arrival on shore. A Tahitian drummer and Tiki Torch maiden then escort the groom up to Pacific Terrace.

Another tradition to consider is a Hawaiian lei exchange between the bride and groom. “The officiant explains the significance of the lei and what it represents,” says Harvey. “For those that may have lost loved ones which have importance in their life, we also discuss a lei toss into the Pacific Ocean when the bride and groom venture onto the beach for their beach and sunset photos.”

A ceremony at The Fairmont Kea Lani also includes a female hula dancer and Hawaiian musician who perform for the bride and groom following the exchange of rings. “The bride and groom can create their wedding to be traditionally elegant, contemporary or with Hawaiian flare,” says Harvey noting how each wedding is “tailored specifically” to the bride and groom.

Maui is full of adventure and activity like hiking, whale watching and horseback riding. There are 80 beaches on the island where you can relax and check out the various sand colors of red, black, gold and pure white.

The island is also big on culture. “Maui has more than 40 galleries carrying both the best of well known local artists, and internationally acclaimed masters such as Dali, Erte and Gorman,” says the Maui Visitors Bureau’s Yara. “On Friday evenings in Lahaina, art becomes a party. Browsers are encouraged to wander from gallery to gallery. Complimentary food and wine are served. There are art tours that visit the homes of local artists.”

Rent a car and sightsee all over the island. Not only will you enjoy natural beauty, you can check out old plantation towns, museums, and the geysers of Hobbitland. Stop by a flower farm along the Haleakala and Kula Highways and breathe in the smell of fragrant island blooms. Don’t miss the drive on the Hana Highway, the road with 54 bridges in 56 miles!

“Maui’s roads wind along lava shores, through old plantation towns, past miles of beaches and up through towering forests to the top of a volcano,” says Yara. They are well maintained and well marked, making driving a pleasure.” Shop the Lahaina marketplace for scrimshaw, the art developed by the whale men; as well as traditional Hawaiian arts including wood carvings, shells, feather work, and kappa, which is decorated fabric made from tree bark.

“Look for bowls and objects carved in beautiful native woods such as koa, milo and ohia; baskets and hats woven of lauhala; hand painted resort fashions, jewelry; art; and anything with a gecko on it,” says Yara. “The gecko is the latest craze and the chirpy little lizard can be found on everything from t-shirts to 14 karat rings.”

When you get hungry from all the activity, you have about 200 restaurant choices to consider including Japanese, Italian, Chinese and Mexican cuisine. “Even with all the numerous activities, Maui does not feel crowded,” says Harvey. “Maui is known for its laid back attitude with an abundance of Aloha spirit. It is a place that you will want to return time and time again.”

Getting There
In recent months, many airlines have cut service to Hawaii. The Maui Visitors Bureau recommends doing online research before you book your flight. Yara suggests checking out different travel packages and consulting with travel agents who specialize in Hawaiian travel.

“Major airlines like American and Delta continue to have direct flights to Maui and others like United and Continental fly direct to Honolulu and a short 20 minute inter-island flight gets them to Maui,” she says noting that the new Hawaii SuperFerry is a great option for travel between Maui and Oahu.

Planning Tips from Maui Brides
If you’re planning a Maui wedding or honeymoon, take newlyweds’ Chan and Sinott’s advice: “You have to relax and be flexible,” says Chan. “We planned our wedding from 3,000 miles away and everything turned out perfectly! But we were prepared to have some things not go our way, especially the weather. When you aren’t physically there to work with vendors or the wedding coordinator, it makes planning a little more challenging.”

Recent bride Paralusz shares this practical planning insight: “Go and book your plane tickets far in advance! Explore all of the different parts of the island to capture essence of Maui. Each part has so much to offer. You will not be disappointed.”

Maui brides rave about the island and the experience. If you’re considering a destination wedding, don’t forget this tropical retreat.

Maui Planning Resources

The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui’s “Ho’omale” (To marry) Wedding Package
• Personal Wedding Planner
• Choice of a Wedding Location
• White Garden Folding Chairs
• Wedding Ceremony Rehearsal
• Non-Denominational Officiant
• Arrangement of Marriage License Appointment
• Hawaiian Wedding Certificate
• Solo Musician for your Ceremony
• Pair of Personalized Etched Champagne Flutes
• Medium Hand-Tied Bridal Bouquet or Traditional Hawaiian Wedding Lei
• Groom’s Boutonniere or Traditional Hawaiian Wedding Lei
• Two-Tiered Wedding Cake (6”/10”) with Fresh Flowers
• Rose Petal Aisle or Circle of Love
• Hair and Make-up for the Bride at Juvenal & Co. Hair Salon
• 2 Hours Photography Package from our list of preferred photographers to include (24) 4×5 or 4×6 prints and (1) 8×10 portrait with photo album
• Two Nights Accommodations in a luxurious Deluxe Ocean View one-bedroom suite
• Romantic Suite amenity

Price: $6,800.00, plus tax

The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui’s “Hau’oli” (Happiness) Wedding Package
• Personal Wedding Planner
• Choice of a Wedding Location
• Natural Bamboo Chivari Chairs for up to 50 guests
• Wedding Ceremony Rehearsal
• Non-Denominational Officiant
• Arrangement of Marriage License Appointment
• Hawaiian Wedding Certificate
• Musical Trio for your ceremony
• Pair of Personalized Etched Champagne Flutes
• Medium Hand-Tied Bridal Bouquet or Traditional Hawaiian Wedding Lei
• Groom’s Boutonniere or Traditional Hawaiian Wedding Lei
• 8”, 10”, 12” Three-Tiered Wedding Cake with Fresh Flowers
• Rose Petal Aisle or Circle of Love
• Small Hand-Tied Maid of Honor Bouquet or Traditional Hawaiian Lei
• Best Man’s Boutonniere or Traditional Hawaiian Lei
• Hair and Makeup for the Bride and a Guest at Juvenal & Co. Hair Salon
• Two 80-Minute Lomi Lomi Hawaiian Massage
• 3 Hours Photography Package from our list of preferred photographers to include (36) 4×5 or 4×6 prints and (2) 8×10 portrait with photo album
• 3 Hours Videography Package from our list of preferred videographers to include (1) edited DVD with music
• Three Nights Accommodations in a luxurious Deluxe Ocean View one bedroom suite
• Romantic Suite amenity

Price: $13,200.00, plus tax

By: Dena Roché

Everywhere you go in Hawaii greetings of “Aloha” ring, but in Hawaiian culture Aloha isn’t simply a way of saying hello, it’s a lifestyle that offers wisdom for newly married couples.

Paradise Helicopters

Paradise Helicopters

Cultural Director Lily Dudoit of the Sheraton Kona tells me that Aloha stands for being modest, united in harmony, being pleasant, humble, teachable and patient. Not bad pillars for newlyweds to embrace as they start married life together in paradise.

Hawaii is diverse, and each island offers special experiences for all kinds of couples. If you want to visit all the major islands, allow plenty of time, lest your honeymoon goes from relaxing romance to travel hopping stress.

Relaxed Paradise

Westin Maui Resort & Spa

Westin Maui Resort & Spa

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa Ka’anapali beach – Maui

If you’re looking for romance, and you’d better be on your honeymoon, Maui is your destination. Quiet breezes, beautiful beaches and ocean sunsets define the island that Conde Nast Traveler has called the best in the world over 15 times.

Enjoy this tropical paradise with a suite at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa at Ka’anapali Beach. This lush resort features a white sand beach, five pools, golf and a Heavenly Spa. The property affords views of Lana’I and Moloka’I.

Maui is known for its Road to Hana, a twisty 68-mile stretch featuring 59 bridges, jaw-dropping waterfalls and bamboo forests before arriving at the Seven Sacred Pools in Kipahulu where you can take a relaxing dip.  Another iconic must-do for many is a visit to Haleakala National Park, the world’s largest dormant volcano.  Early risers will love the sunrise from the summit. Adventurous types can partake in zipline courses, horseback rides, or snorkeling or diving at spots throughout the island.  Guests at the Westin can join a catamaran sail directly from the resort’s beach. The trip is a must do during the winter months when it is whale season.  At the nearby Sheraton Maui the daily cliff diving ceremony, which honors the legend of the last chief of Maui, Kahekili, who proved his spiritual strength by leaping from Black Rock into the ocean, is an ideal way to spend a sunset happy hour.  Or for the true romantics, the Westin can arrange a private dining experience in a cabana overlooking the beach.  The four-course meal with champagne and wine paired with a stunning sunset can’t be beat for a honeymoon memory.

Garden Paradise

St. Regis Princeville

St. Regis Princeville

St. Regis Princeville – Kauai

Kauai isn’t called the Garden Isle for nothing.  Mother nature has blessed the oldest Hawaiian island with greenery, tropical foliage, rivers, mountains, waterfalls and the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon, a 3,000 foot deep canyon that is a must see. A popular activity is to begin a sunrise or sunset bike tour at the rim and glide down 12-miles of winding road.  Since so much of the island’s interior can’t be seen by car, try other methods like a kayak paddle up the Wailua River to see the landscape featured in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or an ATV tour through unspoiled thick vegetation, rugged terrain and breathtaking landscapes.

While the island exudes a decidedly laid-back, hippie vibe in its tiny towns, for your honeymoon it’s time for casual elegance and sophistication at the St. Regis Princeville. On the north side of the island, it’s the ideal place to simply relax and enjoy time together at the 5,000 square foot infinity pool, or the beach fronting Hanalei Bay. The waters are protected by the Anini reef so they’re calm and the snorkeling is amazing.  Stand-up paddle boarding, diving and sailing are also available.  Enjoy a couples Ali-I Lavender Butter Pohaku massage in the Halele’a Spa couples suites.  The treatment uses basalt river stone and a lavender butter made on Maui to melt away knots. After the service relax in the co-ed couple’s lounge before heading to a romantic dinner at Kauai Grill, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant that Zagat calls the best dining on the island.

A Whole New World

Sheraton Kona

Sheraton Kona

Sheraton Kona _ The Big Island

The Big Island is all about roots and new beginnings. The youngest of all the islands, it’s known for volcanoes, and the best way to see God shaping the world is from the air on a tour with Paradise Helicopters. The three-hour flight takes you over all five of the island’s volcanoes, affording sights of simmering lava tubes pitching smoke in the sky, calderas, smooth and jagged lava rocks and red hot flowing lava.  From the air you’ll get a true sense of the diversity of this island, which boasts 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones, and see black sand beaches, lush valleys with walls peaking over 2,000 feet, and waterfall after waterfall.

To experience lava rock up close, stay at the Sheraton Kona which sits on 22-acres peppered with black lava rock on historic Keauhou Bay, the birthplace of King Kamehameha III. The recently renovated resort sets itself apart by bringing the Hawaiian culture to its guests. Daily cultural tours provide insight into Hawaiian history, and resort activities ranging from hula lessons to lei making lets travelers interact with the culture. Exclusive to the property is the opportunity to sail the bay on a guided tour in a Kini Kini Sailing Canoe. Book the Kiele Suite featuring an expansive lanai to soak in the swaying palm trees, crashing waves and other-worldly rocks. In the waters directly in front of the property there is a unique opportunity to snorkel at night with Manta Rays. These gentle giants, whose wing span can reach 18-feet, are playful creatures that love to interact with snorkelers.  With no teeth, barbs or stingers there’s nothing to fear when one decides to shimmy up your belly as they make graceful flips in the water.

Coffee lovers might turn their noses up at Starbucks after days waking up to the famous Kona coffee.  Kona’s high elevation, volcanic soil and cloud cover create this unique coffee bean. Most coffee plantations, like Kona Coffee, Greenwell Farms and Living History Farm offer tours.

A Classic

Royal Hawaiian

Royal Hawaiian

The Royal Hawaiian _ Waikiki Beach

With a direct flight from Phoenix to Oahu, starting married life with a stay on the famous Waikiki Beach is easy, and the place to do it is at the Grande Dame of hotels, The Royal Hawaiian. The iconic pink hotel has been the place for luxury since 1927 and makes a great base for lolling on the beach, snorkeling, sailing or climbing Diamondhead.

But first things first; after a long day of flying, refresh at the spa at the Westin Maona Surfrider, the oldest hotel on the beach, and the property that ushered in Hawaii as a tourist mecca.  Relax together in a spa suite enjoying the new lomi lomi facial designed to rehydrate and massage away jet lag.  Cap the day with a romantic cabana dinner back at the Royal Hawaiian’s Azure restaurant, drinking in the sunset while enjoying farm-to-table cuisine, or head to the property’s luau show, the only one featuring this classic Hawaiian entertainment paired with a sit-down dinner.


I Do

Tying the Knot in Hawaii

While Hawaii is a great spot to relax after the hustle of the wedding, it also makes an ideal locale for the wedding itself. A big plus for brides is that there are no legal or language barriers to work through to tie the knot.

For many brides, planning a destination wedding incorporating the local culture into the ceremony is a must. At the Sheraton Kona, couples can add traditions like having the service conducted by a Hawaiian Kuha (minister), a Hawaiian chant to accompany the bride down the aisle, or a Hawaiian blessing during the service.  Weddings are done in the onsite chapel or at many outdoor locations around the property. A popular service at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa is the Hawaiian Ceremony, which features a traditional lei exchange and blowing of conch shells during the ceremony.  Newlyweds also like to do this as a renewal of the vows they just took and a remembrance of their honeymoon.

For couples looking for a more traditional ceremony, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa’s Ali’I Package offers a private heart-shaped lawn at the pinnacle of the famous Pu‘u Keka‘a cliff (Black Rock) to say I do and serves up the wedding night in the presidential suite.  The Maona Surfrider on Oahu has the only private beachfront in the state of Hawaii that can serve alcohol, making it an ideal locale for ceremony or reception. At the Royal Hawaiian, brides can tie the knot in the Coconut Grove, which was featured in “Mad Men” and then have their reception in the Monarch Room which is known as The Carnegie Hall of the Pacific, having played host to legendary Hawaii entertainers since the 1920s. For the quintessential Hawaiian postcard wedding, the St. Regis Princeville is the only hotel on Kauai that can perform ceremonies at the most prime viewing point overlooking Hanalei Bay.