San Diego Elopement Guide 2022

Elope To San Diego: Everything You Need For Your Wedding

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, as it may help you actually 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 to San Diego International Airport, pack up the 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 2022!

Elopement San Diego

Elopement Packages San Diego

How Much is a San Diego Elopement Photographer?

Overbearing family members, work schedules, and absurd financial commitments are just a few of the reasons why couples chose to elope. Personally, I think you should enjoy every moment of your wedding day, even the early parts where you start planning a destination to say your wedding vows… Crazy concept right!? If an escape to beautiful Southern California, delicious Mexican food, and an endless amount of fun things to do calls your wanderlust heart than step 1 of your adventure begins with booking a San Diego elopement photographer. San Diego elopement photographers will capture your romantic cliffside ceremony, document your travels through the Gas Lamp District, and record every moment of your whirlwind destination wedding! Couples seeking San Diego elopement packages will typically invest the following for photography services:

  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

Located in Southern California, Ryan Horban is an award-winning San Diego wedding photographer who has documented passionate couples eloping in San Diego for over 8 years. He has been providing San Diego elopement photography packages for the travel-hungry, adventure-seeking, couples who are madly in love. His hobbies include pretending the ground is hot lava while jumping on couch cushions placed on the ground as he evades his dinosaur children, making sweet love to his wife on those said couch cushions once the kids fall asleep, and photographing the kick-ass couples who elope in San Diego!

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    San Diego Elopement Venues

    If you’re looking at elopement San Diego options, one place to start is by determining what kind of elopement package San Diego venue might fit you best. For instance, do you want your wedding to include a San Diego elopement beach wedding? That might mean looking at popular locations such as Coronado, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, Imperial Beach, and other spots for a sand ceremony in beautiful San Diego. Let’s look at some of the venues you might consider as part of your San Diego elopement packages.

    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.

    Elopement San Diego

    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:

    1. 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).
    2. 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.
    3. Oceanside. Sometimes referred to as San Diego’s north shore, Oceanside has several public beaches that work well, but Cassidy Street is one of our favorites, with a public overlook that works well for intimate ceremonies. You’ll still need a special event permit, of course.
    4. Balboa Park. We’ll look at the perks of a Balboa Park elopement shortly, but keep in mind that you’ll also need a special event permit here if you’re looking for elopement packages in San Diego and specifically in Balboa Park.
    5. 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, many of which can be booked with little notice (though some do book up far farther in advance). Many wedding chapels can also help put you in touch with local vendors should you so desire, as well.

    Estancia La Jolla Wedding

    Balboa Park Elopement

    While we already mentioned the David C Copley Atrium at the Museum of Photographic Arts as a top Balboa Park San Diego elopement location, there are numerous other advantages of looking at a Balboa Park elopement. For instance, consider our top 5 Balboa Park elopement venues:

    1. David C Copley Atrium at the Museum of Photographic Arts. As we mentioned above, the photo studio feel of the atrium and the highly customizable nature of the venue means you can make your ceremony and reception exactly what you want, and the private museum access is definitely a fun bonus for your guests.
    2. Japanese Friendship Garden. Not only does the Ceremonial Plaza (overlooking the zen rock garden) make an ideal reception site, but either the Koi Pond Deck or Ceremonial Gate are fantastic wedding ceremony locations, and with a capacity of up to 200 guests, you can ensure your favorite friends and family are part of your special day, too.
    3. The Marston House. Built in 1905 and situated on 5 acres of private gardens, the Marston House offers both multiple ceremony location options and dedicated reception space, with a capacity for up to 200 guests.
    4. San Diego Air & Space Museum. Not only is the Air & Space Museum the largest event space in Balboa Park with a capacity for up to 600 guests, but the museum offers a fantastic for those flight nerds among us.
    5. San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum. Not only does the Hall of Champions offer multiple reception sites for the San Diego sports fans, but they offer plenty of equipment and rentals to help make your day less stressful. With capacity for up to 500 guests, you can have exactly the sports-themed bash you’ve always dreamed of for your special day.

    Elopement San Diego

    San Diego Courthouse Wedding

    Of course, there’s always the option of a courthouse wedding for your elopement San Diego; if you simply want the no-fuss version for your San Diego elopement, a courthouse wedding can be a good option. While ceremonies must be kept small (generally 15 or 20 guests max), getting married by the Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk can also be a much more affordable option (the fee is only $88) and may still include outdoor locations (including overlooking San Diego Bay) by appointment.

    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. 

    Elopement San Diego

    Romantic Places To Stay 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 a charming courtyard all make Horton Grand Hotel both a great place to stay and plan your elopement, San Diego.