Friday, July 9, 2010

"I Wish They All Could Be California Girls"

L.A. is synonymous with Hollywood glamour, celebrities, sunny skies and the beach life. My first series of posts is going to focus on how to have a beach wedding. With near-perfect weather all year long, it’s no wonder so many people choose to get married outdoors in southern California. You and your guests can enjoy the warm sand between your toes, the palm trees swaying to the breeze and hear the waves rolling along the coast as you say your vows.

Today I’ll discuss how to have a gorgeous beach wedding, without breaking the bank. In fact, the venue could even be free or close to it, because it’s on government property. Every beach’s rules vary depending on the governing ordinance (the city or state of California). For instance, the city of Santa Monica allows weddings on its city parks for free, permits are not required and amplified music is allowed between 8am – 10pm. Some California State Parks require a fee and permit to reserve a space, especially for those that offer added facilities such as a pavilion or picnic grounds. If there is a specific beach you are interested in, a little research will yield a state or city department to contact for more details.

When considering a public beach wedding, here are a few things to discuss with both your fiancé and the city/state representative:
Can a space be reserved or is it first-come, first served?
Are permits required and how much?
What time is the park open until?
What is the maximum number of guests allowed?
What types of decorations (e.g. aisle runners, petal tosses, etc) are not allowed?
Is amplified music permitted?
Can tables and tents be set-up in the park?
Is alcohol allowed?

A client of mine married in Palisades Park, Santa Monica, which brought about a few challenges. Having a DOC or a patient friend/family member guard the ceremony site will be necessary on a public beach. Privacy can also be an issue; it is a public space after all. The bride I worked with had to wait in her parked car in the lot until her cue for the processional. Santa Monica sets the maximum attendance rate at 150 guests, which was not an issue for my client’s guestlist of forty. Although there are definite down sides to holding a wedding ceremony and/or reception on public grounds, the payoff is a beautiful backdrop and more money in your pocket.

If a public beach wedding doesn’t work for you, but you still want a shoreline nuptial, stay tuned next week for the second installment!

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