How to plan your destination wedding on Catalina Island.
My Catalina Island wedding
If you haven’t already heard me brag about my amazing destination surprise wedding on Catalina Island, make sure you tune into the recap on my Youtube Channel!
In short, on Saturday, August 24th 2019, I married the love of my life. No, I did not plan my wedding. In fact, I had no idea where my wedding location was or who was going to attend! But more on that later.
Let’s talk about you and how to plan the perfect wedding on Catalina Island.
Choose your date(s)
- For starters, I suggest you pick a few dates you would like to get married on Catalina and then check the Island’s tourism and events calendar.
There are a ton of activities Catalina Island is hosting. This can severely affect your stay and whether or not you and your guests can get a hotel room and how impacted the ferries are going to be. Hello Catalina wine mixer- it’s a real thing!
Pick a side
2) Decide what part of the Island you want to stay. There are two main sides to Catalina Island:
- Avalon: the East and more well known side of Catalina Island. A little more bustling and action happening with restaurants, beach clubs and the main pier.
- Twin Harbors: a more rustic side of the island facing West. It is literally a village. That’s how small it is. It is a campers paradise and has more villa lodging available for smaller groups.
3) Find a place to stay. Catalina is a very small island! Literally you get around on golf carts, bikes and taxis mostly. There is one gas station on the island. Hotel rooms do get booked up pretty quickly especially during what’s considered high season and summer time.
Find a ferry
4) Hitch a ride on a ferry. The ferry ride to Catalina Island takes about an hour plus, from the California Coast. There are four harbors that you can catch a ferry out to Catalina Island. They are Dana Point, Newport Beach, Long Beach and San Pedro. So if you or your guests have to take a plane, to get to the harbor, to take the ferry to Catalina, make sure you coordinate that ahead of time and find the closest harbor to your airport, and see how far of an uber ride it is away.
- OR you can take a private helicopter, private plane or private boat. ANDDDDD if you or you know anyone who has any of these private vessels- give me a call, let’s be friends, I’d love to plan your wedding or event.
No license, more problems
5) Bring your marriage license! Seems obvious but you DON’T want to forget that magical piece of paper. Make sure to check your local county clerk’s office on how to obtain your marriage license and get one BEFORE you get to the island.
Shop til you drop…elsewhere
6) Do your shopping ahead of time. There’s a ton of souvenir shops on the island but you are really not going to find clothing stores well suited for a wedding. Unless you’re totally cool with the theme being ‘Tommy Bahama’.
Book your photographer
7) Book your photographer ahead of time. Again, vendors need to arrange for travel time.
Choose your officiant
8) There are officiants on the island. Or you can bring one with you. You can also have a close friend or family member ordained. My brother- in- law happened to marry us.
Catalina food and drink
9) Whatever venue or place you decide on, I highly highly highly recommend you make reservations ahead of time for your group. Again small island, things get booked, limited spaces… you can see where I am going here. And no they don’t have a late night bite option or McDonalds so you definitely want to make sure everyone has food in their bellies. We had our rehearsal dinner/ gender reveal party at the lobster trap. NO trip to Catalina is complete without a visit to Luau Larry’s, where indeed, you can get your wiki whacked… And be kind to the Island animals!
Consider your vendors
10) Many venues on Catalina are going to have services they offer in house. There will be very few options for choices of linen, tables and chairs unless you pay for the cost of bringing all these things to the island. There was a cute little salon where I got my hair and makeup done and there was one flower shop on the island, which I’m not sure has a website. So again consider having a simple celebration without all the fluff, because you’re on a freaking island in the middle of the pacific ocean off the coast of California.
I had a ridiculously good time sharing this story with you today. As always, stay creative and be legendary.