San Diego is a great city for a destination wedding. You can find a full menu of event venues, stylish accommodations and a wealth of attractions to excite your guests before and after your wedding. And, of course, the weather is always nice here, so you will more than likely have a lot of sun and warmth during your special weekend (regardless of what month it is).
If you want to host a destination wedding in Southern California's most-accessible city, here is what you need to know.
Getting here and getting around
There are a few ways to get to San Diego.
For out-of-state (or out-of-country) guests, flying is the obvious option. The international airport is located in Downtown San Diego, so you will find yourself right in the heart of the city as soon as you land. Another option is to take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner down the California coast. This is certainly a slower mode of transportation, but it will give you more of a chance to see the scenery en route.
San Diego is a large city, but it has limited public transportation options. If you want to experience all of San Diego, it is best to rent a car at the airport or drive here in your own car. That said, the city's trolley system is worth a ride for both sightseeing and to get around the central areas of the city. People staying in the northern part of the metro can use the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner to get to and from the downtown areas.
Taxi services and other private rideshare applications like Uber and Lyft are great for getting to those places that aren't connected to the rail network.
Since you are planning a destination wedding, you could talk with the hotel where your guests are staying. The hotel should be able to provide shuttle service to and from the wedding.
Awesome wedding venues
When searching for a destination wedding venue in San Diego, you will want to consider a few things. A central location is important. At the very least, you want your wedding to be held somewhere near the hotel(s) where your guests are staying. It would also be nice to have some great entertainment options and popular tourist attractions nearby. Finally, the Pacific is right there, so you will probably want a place with an ocean view. Am I right?
Estate Weddings and Events manages a great property called Vista de Oro. It is located on the southern coastline of La Jolla where it overlooks the water and nearby Pacific Beach. There is no shortage of entertainment venues nearby, and there are plenty of hotels to choose from too.
La Jolla is the perfect suburb for out of town visitors. Your guests can wander around the shops in Bird Rock and visit the seals at La Jolla Cove. The Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla has travelling exhibits and a permanent outdoor sculpture collection. La Jolla Village, meanwhile, features fine dining restaurants and several boutique hotels.
Vista de Oro has 10 bedrooms. This means that it can accommodate up to 20 of your guests over night. The estate can host up to 150 people for a wedding reception.
Where to stay
Visitors tend to frequent the Downtown, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla areas. As a local, I recommend that you decide which attractions you want to see and then choose a hotel that offers easy access to those spots.
If you want to stay near the coast, then La Jolla has some of the best beaches, boutiques and seafood restaurants. La Jolla can be a bit expensive for accommodations but if you plan to spend most of your time at the beach, it may be worth the price.
Pacific Beach is home to a younger crowd. It is a very walkable area with great dining options. If you don’t have a car, Pacific Beach is perfect for bike commuting. You can rent bikes near the oceanfront and ride down the boardwalk to Mission Beach (home to Belmont Park) or up to La Jolla.
If your guests want more affordable hotel options, they should look outside of the more popular neighborhoods. Mission Valley has a variety of hotels to choose from in its aptly-named Hotel Circle. This area is home to a couple of malls as well as a number of hotels. If you enjoy the craft beer scene, I would recommend staying in this area. Many of the tasting rooms are located in North Park and Miramar, which are both a quick drive from Mission Valley.
The Gaslamp District is known for its exciting nightlife and great restaurants run by celebrity chefs. If you stay here, you will also be close to Little Italy, where you will find some amazing Italian dining options. You might not get the true San Diego experience if you stay in Gaslamp, but you will be close to the airport and have access to the trolley and Amtrak.
San Diego’s weather is one of the main reasons that many couples choose to have their destination wedding here. It is sunny and warm throughout the year. We do get a bit of what we call “May Grey” and “June Gloom." This just means that the coastal areas can get quite foggy occasionally. Rain is most likely to fall between the months of December and March. Even during this time, however, precipitation is infrequent. You will never have to worry about your wedding weekend being a "washout."
What to do with your guests
Your guest list may shrink a bit when you decide on a destination wedding, or you may actually find that more people are interested in attending solely because of the destination you chose! Be prepared either way, and make sure your list includes only those you truly hope will join you for your wedding weekend.
You’ll want to keep your guests as comfortable as possible, especially since they may be unfamiliar with the area. Put together welcome baskets with a few goodies for their rooms (water bottles, snacks, maybe a few tickets to a San Diego attraction, etc.) as well as an itinerary or suggestions on what to do in the area.
Coordinate a few small optional activities to do as a group. You’ll want to cover all price points, so you can offer both free (or cheap) activities, such as a trip to the beach, as well as some paid options like a visit to SeaWorld. Some other great free ideas could be a hike at Torrey Pines or a barbeque on Mission Bay. Or, you could get a group together for a brewery tour to taste some of San Diego’s best IPAs!
What suggestions do you have for hosting a destination wedding in San Diego? Use the comments section to share your insights with us.