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When choosing your wedding site, the sky’s the limit!  Chapels, restaurants, banquet halls, scuba diving, a hot air balloon, or someone’s back yard… we’ve married couples at wedding venues from fabulous restaurants overlooking the Los Angeles basin in Hollywood Hills, at a quiet spot in Two Harbors on Catalina, on a big charter boat out in the ocean, to under an old oak tree up in the San Diego Mountains. 

But if you haven’t found the perfect place yet, here are some ideas:

El Adobe Restaurant in San Juan Capistrano is lovely and relatively affordable for any size party.  Instead of gouging you for booking the room, then charging you separately for the meal and drinks, they charge you a fee for the room, but the fee goes away when you spend a minimum dollar amount on food and beverages.  They have about six rooms to choose from (depending on your head count), and discounts at various times of the year.  Go to their web-site for more information at El Adobe De Capistrano, then drive over and visit the place.  Ask for a brochure outlining costs – and if you’re on a budget, perhaps a brunch menu with champagne would work for an early wedding. 

If you’re having an itty bitty wedding with no more than 8 people (maybe they would squeeze in an extra person or two), you could get married in the wine cellar (Cárcel) which was the old jail!  With a $200 food tab, jail is free.

Table Rock, the prettiest beach in Orange County – located down a romantic flight of stairs at the end of Table Rock in South Laguna.  Your guests must be able to navigate some serious stairs, plus parking up along PCH can be an issue.  Most suitable for small wedding parties of no more than 10-20 people.  

Moss Beach and Mountain Beach are also pretty, fairly private beaches in Laguna Beach, but both beaches go under water at high tide.  Call the city for information about obtaining a permit (every city has different rules, and they keep changing the rules).

Table Rock beach is a County beach, and the County does not permit weddings on the sand – but that has never stopped us from having a quiet ceremony.

There’s a sweet Bed & Breakfast in San Clemente that has lovely indoor, and outdoor, facilities where you can have your reception AND get married in their garden.  Ask them, but the place probably can’t handle more than 50-75 guests.  Go to:

University Club, at UCI (University of California, Irvine).  The club is lovely, with a large grassy outdoor area and a beautiful gazebo.  The price is affordable (say, $7000 for the wedding site, music, banquet room, dinner and dancing for approximately 150 guests – it’s a non-profit organization, so they don’t overcharge!).  Go to:  University Club

Doheny Beach is great for large parties ($15 per car parking fee) and you can bring in food, but it’s not the prettiest beach.  However, liquor is not allowed without a permit.  Go to:  Doheny State Beach  for more info about Doheny Beach.  Also, check with the rangers regarding obtaining a permit for wedding ceremonies in the park.  You can’t sneak by with a large gathering without that permit!

How’s this for a fun idea?  Captain Dave’s Dolphin Safari.  They’ve got catamarans suitable for different sized groups, or for ye landlubbers, they have a spacious 2nd story deck overlooking Dana Point Marina.  Go to their web-site Dolphin Safari for more information and prices (their prices seem high?).

Crystal Cove State Park is lovely and they have six places they use for weddings, but you must have a permit (they won’t let you in the parking lot if you haven’t got a permit).  Check with their Special Events coordinator for more information:  Crystal Cove State Park

Laguna Beach is romantic.  Pay $200 to reserve the gazebo overlooking the water next to Las Brisas restaurant (however, the gazebo isn’t comfortable for large groups of 40 or more people).  Print out this form and call the City of Laguna Beach: Laguna Beach Park/Beach Wedding Permit.  Have your reception at any lovely restaurant in town.

If you want to get married on the sand, you may obtain a permit to do so between the months of October and May.  The City of Laguna Beach will not issue permits for weddings on the sand during the summer months (but check out Heisler Park and other places).

The Inn at Laguna Beach is right next to Las Brisas.  Rooms are from $200 and up with lovely views.  Or stay at the Inn At Laguna – rates are $195-$350, plus they have a link to their reception rooms on their web-site at:  Hotel Laguna.

This is the view from the gazebo

Las Brisas has different rooms available for private booking and food packages starting at $25 per person for lunch + tax + gratuity.  They offer a house champagne at $18 a bottle (it’s a little sweet, but after the first glass no one cares).  For a small wedding party, you could certainly enjoy brunch in the main dining room.  Click HERE to go to their web-site.

It can take an hour to get into the town.  Consider getting married in South Laguna, and your guests can travel to your ceremony via Crown Valley Parkway.

If money is no object, get married at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel (they can set you up right on the sand at Salt Creek Beach, or use a banquet room, or erect a private tent for your party), or The Montage in Laguna Beach (both right on the water).  There’s also the St. Regis Hotel in Monarch Beach (near the Ritz Carlton) with lovely views of the golf course and ocean, but it’s not right on the water.  The event managers at the hotels are often willing to negotiate, so ask!  At The Regis, the wedding manager allowed us to have a small wedding in their gorgeous gazebo for just $200, since the gazebo wasn’t booked and the brides were staying at the hotel. 

If money is an object, staying at the Blue Lantern Inn at the end of Blue Lantern Street in Dana Point would be a lovely thing to do.  Get married right outside the front door at this pretty little gazebo that overlooks the marina.  Rooms are $175-500, but go to their web-side and click on SPECIALS, as they often have special rates advertised.  However, they don’t arrange any weddings at the Inn.  Go to: Blue Lantern Inn for reservations, and the Inn does have a room you can rent for smaller (up to 40, I think?) private parties.

This photo is of the gazebo at the end of Blue Lantern street (right next to the Blue Lantern Inn), overlooking the marina.  It’s lovely for an intimate gathering – but not for more than 10-20 people – and it’s been very popular with my Marines for a lovely wedding ceremony at an inexpensive price.