Elopement San Diego Guide 2023 – Plan Your Southern California Destination Wedding!

Yes, planning a wedding can be incredibly stressful. How are you supposed to enjoy your special day if you’ve spent the last six months stressing over table placements, navigating dysfunctional family dynamics, and fretting over budgets? As a result, you might choose to elope. Why? So, you can enjoy your wedding day! If you’re considering elopement packages in San Diego, we can help you navigate the best elopement packages San Diego has to offer! This includes San Diego elopement beach wedding venues at Ocean Beach, Cuvier Park, Mission Beach, Coronado, Imperial Beach, and all the other elopement ceremony locations in San Diego!  So before you book those plane tickets, pack your flip-flops, and prepare to run away to San Diego, let’s go over everything you need to know in this elopement San Diego guide for 2023!

Elopement San Diego

San Diego Elopement Packages

Dealing with overbearing family members, busy work schedules, and hefty financial commitments are reasons many couples choose to elope. It’s essential to enjoy every moment of your wedding day, from the early planning stages to reciting your vows. Sounds crazy, right!? If the allure of Southern California, scrumptious Mexican cuisine, and a plethora of exciting activities ignite your wanderlust, San Diego is probably calling your name. But where should you start when it comes to planning your adventure? First, hire a San Diego elopement photographer.

These photographers will immortalize your cliffside ceremony, chronicle your journey through the Gas Lamp District, and capture every moment of your whirlwind destination wedding! If you are exploring San Diego elopement packages, here are the 3 options I offer for 2023:

  1. One hour of San Diego elopement photography: $900
  2. Two hours of San Diego elopement photography: $1,600
  3. Three hours of San Diego elopement photography: $2,250

I have been documenting passionate elopements in San Diego for 10+ years. In fact, I offer San Diego elopement photography packages for travel-hungry, adventure-seeking couples deeply in love. Sound like you? Sure, I enjoy playing ‘the floor is lava’ with couch cushions and my dinosaur-obsessed children. But if you plan on eloping in San Diego, I can take a break from my recreational activities to photograph you in all your glory!

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    Top 5 San Diego Elopement Locations

    Of course, you can also simply use a public location for your San Diego elopement. Keep in mind that you will likely need a permit for your ceremony at any of these locations, though such permits are generally relatively inexpensive. Check out our top 5 San Diego elopement locations:

    Sunset Cliffs

    Cliffside vistas overlooking the Pacific are naturally romantic, and few places in the San Diego area offer a better atmosphere than the Sunset Cliffs. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need an event permit from San Diego City Parks for a ceremony at any of the shoreline parks (Osprey Point, Pappy’s Point, and Luscomb’s Point).

    • Natural Beauty. The breathtaking beauty of Sunset Cliffs makes it a dreamy location for your intimate ceremony or vow renewal.
    • Sunset Views. This spot boasts some of the most stunning sunset views, perfect for Sunset Cliffs weddings or elopements.
    • Accessibility. It is easily accessible, with plenty of parking options available for you and your guests.
    • Permit Required. A location permit is required for any wedding or elopement ceremony at Sunset Cliffs.

    Sunset Cliffs is a prime spot for couples seeking the natural beauty of the Pacific Ocean and unforgettable sunsets for their elopement day. This easily accessible location, with ample parking, makes planning your wedding convenient. Don’t forget to obtain the necessary location permits for your ceremony. This will ensure a hassle-free and memorable experience as you exchange vows against the backdrop of the sun setting over the ocean.


    Coronado Island

    If you’re looking for a perfect San Diego elopement beach wedding, Coronado Island is a brilliant choice, especially the dunes near the Hotel Del Coronado, which are a fantastic setting for a San Diego elopement beach wedding. Keep in mind that the city of Coronado has its own permitting process for special events.

    • Scenic Beauty. Coronado Island is renowned for its scenic beauty, making it a top choice for beach elopements.
    • Iconic Landmark. The iconic Hotel del Coronado is a landmark backdrop for your wedding photography.
    • Accessibility. The island is easily accessible, with various parking options available for your family and friends.

    Coronado Island, with its iconic Hotel del Coronado and scenic beauty, is a favorite among couples for beach elopements and intimate weddings. Easily accessible, with several parking options available, it is convenient for both you and your guests. However, you must obtain the required location permits for your ceremony to ensure a smooth and unforgettable experience.

    Keep in mind the time of day, as the beach can get crowded, affecting your wedding photography. Make sure to coordinate with your wedding team, including the elopement photographer, to avoid unwanted crowds. This beautiful spot is perfect for couples looking to tie the knot in a romantic and iconic setting while enjoying the Pacific Ocean’s stunning views.



    Sometimes referred to as San Diego’s north shore, Oceanside has several public beaches that work well! For example, Cassidy Street is one of my personal favorite spots, with a public overlook that works well for intimate ceremonies. However, you’ll still need a special event permit, of course.

    • Peaceful Atmosphere. Oceanside Harbor offers a more tranquil and laid-back setting compared to the bustling main beach.
    • Nautical Backdrop. The harbor, with its boats and lighthouse, provides a unique nautical backdrop for your wedding photos.
    • Amenities Nearby. There are plenty of amenities nearby, including restaurants and restrooms, for your convenience.

    Apart from the main beach, Oceanside Harbor is another fantastic location for your elopement. It provides a more peaceful and laid-back atmosphere, making it ideal for a more intimate and private ceremony. The boats and lighthouse at the harbor offer a unique nautical backdrop for your wedding photography.


    Balboa Park

    Balboa Park in San Diego, California, is a stunning location for couples who love history, majestic architecture, and beautiful gardens. The park is a favorite among both visitors and locals, known for its color explosion of flowers, culture, history, and super cool architecture. Many of the buildings are over 100 years old, making the park one of the oldest in the US dedicated for public use.

    • Majestic Architecture and History. If you love history and majestic architecture, consider eloping at Balboa Park in San Diego, California.
    • Terraces and Elegant Ballrooms. The park offers picturesque terraces, lush garden settings, and elegant ballrooms, perfect for your Balboa Park elopement.
    • Cultural Events. Located close to downtown San Diego, Balboa Park has a rich history and hosts cultural events throughout the year.
    • Flowers. The park is a color explosion with hundreds of different types of flowers around the grounds.
    • Variety of Areas for Your Ceremony. You can hold your wedding in many areas around the grounds, including the Casa del Prado Courtyard, the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden, the Alcazar Garden, and the Spanish Art Village.
    • Permit Requirement. To hold an event at Balboa Park, you must obtain a permit from the San Diego Park and Recreation Permit Center. The fee is $177.16 for four hours, and you are allowed to have an arch and up to 50 chairs, as well as a battery-operated sound system.
    • Parking and Transportation. There are several public parking lots, and the park is a short Uber/Lyft ride from downtown.

    You can choose from a variety of areas for your ceremony, including the Casa del Prado Courtyard, tucked behind the theatre and cocooned from a lot of the hustle and bustle by buildings and gorgeous arches. The Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden, located across the street, features 130+ varieties of roses that bloom from March to December. The Alcazar Garden, lined with arches, offers a more traditional, landscaped garden feel, while the Spanish Art Village features multi-colored art galleries, shops, and a sunny courtyard paved in colorful stones.


    A Local Wedding Chapel

    In part because of San Diego’s active military presence, there are a number of local wedding chapels available for your elopement San Diego. In fact, many of them can be booked with little notice (though some do book up far further in advance).

    Elopement San Diego

    15 Best Elopement San Diego Venue Options

    When it comes to the best San Diego elopement packages or San Diego elopement beach wedding locations, it can be hard to go wrong. Let’s take a look at our 15 top elopement San Diego venue options:

    Luce Loft

    With 24-hour access, on-site coordinators, and a capacity of only 150, the Luce Loft—situated within the 1928 Carnation Dairy Factory—offers a beautifully customizable mix of historic and modern, allowing you to make the blank slate exactly your own—perfect for customizing your elopement packages San Diego to fit your special day.

    David C Copley Atrium at the Museum of Photographic Arts

    With high dramatic ceilings and travertine porcelain flooring, the minimalist feel of the Balboa Park atrium feels a bit like a highly customizable photo studio, with the added bonus of private access to the museum when you rent the atrium.

    California Center for the Arts

    Located in Escondido, the beauty of the California Center for the Arts is that you can actually get married on stage, as you can host your event in one of the theaters or ballrooms—or even in the museum itself!

    Sacred Mountain Julian

    You may not think of mountaintop venues when you think of San Diego, but that’s exactly what you get with the rustic Sacred Mountain Private Ranch, including both open-air (check out the stunning ceremony site in the meadow!) and indoor spaces for gatherings of up to 150 people. This is definitely the spot for outdoor adventurous couples who want to say their vows in nature but enjoy the nightlife San Diego has to offer as well during their destination wedding!

    Mt. Woodson Castle

    The 1920s Ramona castle is one of the most sought-after venues in the San Diego area, and with good reason—the storybook castle offers ceremonies and receptions both indoors and out for up to 400 guests, and it makes for a thrillingly photographic setting for your elopement packages in San Diego.

    Lot 8

    Centrally located in San Diego’s Hotel Circle, Lot 8 offers an open-air modern and industrial, backyard-feeling space for up to 300 guests. It’s also highly customizable.

    You & Yours Distilling Co

    A lounge-feeling space for up to 70 guests, the central location (in downtown San Diego) offers creative signature cocktails perfect for a relaxed and intimate ceremony.

    Casa Guadalajara

    In addition to its reputation as a colorful and award-winning Mexican restaurant, Casa Guadalajara’s combination of strolling mariachi musicians, bright colors, and casual outdoor space combined with great food make it a fantastic venue for elopement packages San Diego focusing on a fun atmosphere and cheery celebration.

    Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

    Not only does the San Diego Bay venue’s brilliant Christopher Puzio altar frame the San Diego skyline beautifully, but the California Room reception will accommodate up to 230 guests and the combination of great food and better views makes for fantastic photos and even better memories. It may not make for a San Diego elopement beach wedding, but you also won’t find sand everywhere—and you’ll get an even better waterfront view.

    Bali Hai Restaurant

    Between the South Pacific Room’s panoramic views of the beautiful San Diego Bay and skyline and the Hawaiian Village’s outdoor beach pavilion, it’s very easy to feel like you’re at a destination beach wedding here with tons of tropical accents to complete the vibe.

    Horton Grand Hotel

    Speaking of a destination San Diego wedding, what about combining San Diego’s location with New Orleans’ style? That’s exactly what you get with San Diego elopement packages including the Horton Grand Hotel’s historic character and charming courtyard, with space for up to 250 wedding guests.

    Bahia Resort Hotel

    While the two outdoor ceremony spaces—choose between a brilliant beach or a garden gazebo—are breathtaking in their own right, the real draw is the Victorian-era sternwheelers available for your reception. The stained glass ceiling on the William D. Evans is especially beautiful, and the boat can accommodate up to 125 guests. Elopement packages in San Diego that include options like the Bahia are definitely worth checking out!


    Creative decorators can rejoice in the way Brick’s brick walls, industrial space, and high ceiling beams allow for the space to be whatever you want it to be, accommodating anywhere from 50-400 guests and because the site is available for a full 24-hour period and has neither a curfew nor noise ordinance (plus allows you to bring your own beverages), this may be one of the most customizable event spaces in the San Diego area.

    The Garty Pavilion at San Diego Rowing Club

    One of the best nautical nuptial locations, the Rowing Club remains a hidden gem— especially for a rowing-inspired ceremony. Just as impressive, summertime ceremonies can find their receptions treated by nearby SeaWorld’s fireworks show.

    San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park

    With six different venues available, you can take your San Diego elopement around the world—and you can even request a photo op animal encounter.

    Estancia La Jolla Wedding

    6 Spots For Your Balboa Park Elopement

    While we’ve highlighted the David C Copley Atrium at the Museum of Photographic Arts as a top pick for a Balboa Park elopement, there’s so much more to explore. In fact, Balboa Park is a treasure trove of venues perfect for your San Diego elopement. Ready to dive deeper? Consider our top 6 Balboa Park elopement venues:

    1. David C Copley Atrium at the Museum of Photographic Arts. This venue is ideal for brides seeking customization. The atrium’s photo studio ambiance allows you to tailor your ceremony and reception. Plus, the bonus of private museum access adds a unique touch for your guests.
    2. Japanese Friendship Garden. The Ceremonial Plaza, overlooking the Zen Rock Garden, is an ideal reception site. The Koi Pond Deck and Ceremonial Gate are fantastic ceremony locations. With a capacity of 200, your cherished friends and family can join your celebration.
    3. The Marston House. Built in 1905, this venue boasts 5 acres of private gardens. It offers multiple ceremony locations and a dedicated reception space, accommodating up to 200 guests.
    4. Botanical Building. Imagine saying ‘I do’ surrounded by a stunning collection of tropical plants and flowers. The Botanical Building provides a lush and romantic backdrop for your ceremony. Plus, it’s one of the largest lath structures in the world, adding a unique touch to your special day.
    5. Casa Del Rey Moro Garden. This venue is a hidden gem with its beautifully landscaped gardens, perfect for a private and intimate ceremony. The classic design of the garden, with its reflecting pool and white stone arches, creates an elegant setting for your wedding.
    6. The Old Globe Theatre. For art lovers, The Old Globe Theatre provides a dramatic and cultural setting. Exchange vows on the stage where many famous performances have taken place and make your day truly memorable

    Elopement San Diego

    Romantic Places To Stay In San Diego

    Of course, if you’re planning a San Diego elopement or looking at elopement packages San Diego, you’ll also probably want a nice romantic space to stay for at least a few nights. Below are the top 5 romantic places to stay elopement San Diego:

    1. Bahia Resort Hotel. Not only does the Bahia Resort Hotel offer great options for a ceremony and reception, but their San Diego elopement packages can be customized to include your lodging.
    2. Pantai Inn. Not only do their honeymoon and elopement packages include three nights’ lodging and in-room massage, but it’s also one of the most breathtaking lodging options in the La Jolla area.
    3. Lafayette. The newly redesigned boutique hotel is perfect for honeymooners looking for something a little funky as it’s located right in the middle of North Park’s El Cajon Boulevard neighborhood, giving you access to lots of little hipster dives, historical bars, even a fun little coffee, and tea collective just down the street, as is the iconic piano bar Red Fox Room.
    4. The Pearl. Mid-century modern, The Pearl’s draws include Wednesday night dive-in theater, with movies projected overlooking their oyster-shaped swimming pool. There’s always something on their social calendar, so definitely check out how their planned events line up with your dates of choice.
    5. Horton Grand Hotel. New Orleans’ flair, historic character, and charming courtyard all make Horton Grand Hotel both a great place to stay and plan your elopement, San Diego.

    Elopement San Diego

    Elopement San Diego Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I Have A Courthouse Wedding For My Elopement In San Diego?

    Yes, a courthouse wedding is a great option for a no-fuss San Diego elopement. The Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk conducts the ceremony, offering a much more affordable choice with a fee of just $88. Ceremonies are intimate, typically allowing for 15 to 20 guests. Plus, by appointment, you can even choose outdoor locations overlooking the beautiful San Diego Bay.

    How Do I Get a Marriage License In San Diego County?

    You’ll need to both make an appointment and appear together with valid government-issued photo IDs at the office of the San Diego County Clerk with a completed marriage license application. You’ll also need to pay the license fee (which starts at $70, depending on what type of license you need) and have your ceremony within 90 days, as the license is only valid for 90 days.

    Is San Diego A Good Destination For Elopement?

    Yes, San Diego is a fantastic destination for elopement! With breathtaking beaches, beautiful parks, and a variety of indoor and outdoor venues, it’s a dream location for many couples. Whether you want a beach wedding in San, a sunset cliffs elopement, or a ceremony in a beautiful park like Balboa Park, San Diego has something for everyone.

    What Are The Best Places To Stay In San Diego For An Elopement?

    San Diego offers a variety of lodging options for your elopement, from 5-star hotels to Airbnbs and even camping. Some recommended hotels are the Hotel Fairmont Grand Del Mar, Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, and The Lodge at Torrey Pines. If you prefer Airbnb, check out Room D at The Dutra Inn, The Craftsman House, The Wave Watcher, and The Mountain View Retreat.

    What Is The Estimated Budget For A San Diego Elopement?

    Honestly, the budget for a San Diego elopement can vary widely based on your preferences. A high-end elopement can cost around $15,400, including plane tickets, marriage license fees, location permits, luxury hotel stay, photographer, florist, dress, accessories, shoes, private yacht rental, private chef, and more. A mid-end elopement can be around $9,000, and a low-end elopement can be as affordable as $5,000.

    What Are The Necessary Permits And Legal Requirements For Eloping In San Diego?

    To get legally married in San Diego, you’ll need a California marriage license, which costs $100. Additionally, if you’re planning to have your ceremony at a public place like a beach or park, you’ll need a location permit. For example, for a Balboa Park elopement, you’ll need to obtain a permit from the San Diego Park and Recreation Permit Center.

    Elopement San Diego References

    • https://www.mywedding.com/wedding-ideas/ceremony-reception/the-10-best-places-to-get-married-in-san-diego/
    • https://www.weddingwire.com/wedding-ideas/unique-san-diego-wedding-venues
    • http://anytimeweddingchapel.com/elope-san-diego/
    • https://www.sandiegodjstaci.com/25-places-wedding-in-balboa-park/
    • https://elopetosunsetcliffs.com/
    • http://elopetocoronado.com/
    • http://runawaytosandiego.com/
    • http://elopetooceanside.com/location/
    • https://www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/parks/permits
    • http://anytimeweddingchapel.com/beach-weddings-san-diego/
    • http://anytimeweddingchapel.com/wedding-chapel-san-diego/
    • https://arcc.sdcounty.ca.gov/Pages/marriage-civil.aspx
    • https://arcc.sdcounty.ca.gov/Documents/marriage_faqs.pdf
    • https://www.bahiahotel.com/elopement-package
    • https://www.pantai.com/offers/destination-weddings-honeymoons/
    • http://www.100layercake.com/blog/2013/04/19/eloping-in-san-diego-a-guide-to-running-away/