Saturday, August 7, 2010

Of Seashells and Pillow Mints

One of the most common and easiest ways to have an ocean side wedding is at a hotel near the water. The big reasons to do so are obvious – prime location (often times with private beach access), in-house service and catering staff, tables, chairs and lounge furniture are inclusive, accommodations for out-of-town guests and the fantastic architecture of the hotel as a backdrop. The convenience and amenities come at a price, and a pretty hefty one for many couple’s budgets. Naysayers will note that hotels are big box institutions with little personality. However, it is what happens behind-the-scenes that really makes a hotel wedding worth the extra cost. The price tag comes with experienced event coordinators and staff, something I learned at my gig at the Fairmont Miramar. While most couples have only the experience of planning and configuring one wedding, the hotel coordinator has gone through dozens. They’ve worked through near-flawless weddings, and disastrous ones as well. When you book a hotel wedding, you are paying for expertise, perspective and knowledge, in addition to use of the space and catering. And so, with this in mind, I’ve highlighted a few special beach side hotels for your information.

Casa Del Mar (Santa Monica, CA)

If you want classic glamour with a “wow” factor for your guests, Casa Del Mar delivers with its sweeping staircases and elegant brick façade. The hotel is located right where the sand begins. The Santa Monica Pier is blocks away, which is a great option for fun wedding portraits. A Saturday evening reception is $250 per person (including tax and service charge), and includes a wedding cake created by one of its preferred vendors such as the Vanilla Bake Shop.

Shutters (Santa Monica, CA)

Casa Del Mar’s next door neighbor is its sister hotel, Shutters. The event pricing and policies at Casa Del Mar also apply to Shutters. The difference between the two hotels is the mood you want to exude to your guests. Shutters is more casual, laidback and the décor is reminiscent of a cottage in Martha’s Vineyard.

Marina del Rey Marriot (Marina del Rey, CA)

The Bayview Room at the Marina del Rey Marriot is breathtaking. The ballroom is on the top floor and features a 270° view of the Santa Monica Pier to the north, downtown L.A. to the east and Playa del Rey to the south. I had the opportunity to work with the staff, and they were professional and efficient. That wasn’t surprising, as coordinators at the Marriot must be certified through the Marriot’s wedding planner program. Ceremonies at the Marriot start at $3,500 and receptions start at $86 per person (including tax and service charge).

Fairmont Miramar Bungalows and Hotel (Santa Monica, CA)

The Fairmont Miramar has over a hundred years of history in its structure, yet its design is still relevant and elegant. Weddings can be held in one of its bungalows, ballrooms and even under the grand fig tree in the entryway. The lush landscaping and prime location across from the beach on Ocean Avenue makes the Fairmont Miramar an impressive location for a seaside nuptial.

Malibu Beach Inn (Malibu, CA)

I love everything about Malibu, so I have a slight attachment to the Malibu Beach Inn. I remember walking along the beach when the hotel was still in construction, sneaking peaks into the ballroom. I was drooling, just a little bit. The Malibu Beach Inn has a clean and neutral palette that blends right into the sand. A 3000 square foot tent is also available if you want the reception held right on the beach.

Shade Hotel (Manhattan Beach, CA)

Shade is a boutique hotel just dripping with style – it’s modern, hip, contemporary and cool. Located two blocks from the beach, the hotel offers a large terrace, sky deck with a pool, a courtyard or the banquet room. A three-course dinner reception starts at $50 per person (before tax and service charge).

Terranea (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA)

Couples with a large guestlist do not have to sacrifice a beach front wedding thanks to the Terranea Resort. The luxurious grounds include lawns overlooking the waters and five ballrooms, the largest of which can seat 1,000 guests. The resort also boasts a golf course, spa and three pools; all the better to keep your guests occupied. Aside from the amazing views (seriously, check out their gallery), I’m smitten for the Spanish villa feel of the buildings.

Hotel Maya (Long Beach, CA)

Hotel Maya, which opened in 2009, is neighbor to the majestic Queen Mary. Although it resides next to the historic landmark, the Hotel Maya can still hold its own with its retro and chic vibe. My favorite part is the stained glass pink windows in the lobby. The hotel has 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space available for weddings, including a waterfront garden.

Now that I’ve taken you from the bare-boned structure of public beaches to the full packages of waterfront hotels, stay tuned for the middle ground coming next week.

No comments: