San Diego Wedding Photographer – Venues, FAQs & Guide For 2023

With perfect weather all year round and city + ocean views to die for, it is easy to see why you would want to get married in San Diego, California. Balboa Park, Mission Beach, Coronado Island, and so many other rad spots make San Diego one of the top picks for destination weddings. But how do you get married in San Diego, where should you get married, and how the hell do you find a good San Diego wedding photographer!? My name is Ryan, an award-winning photographer based in Southern California and I put this article together to help you with these questions. In fact, this article will highlight some of my favorite San Diego wedding venues, detail the process of getting married here in So Cal, and answer some common FAQs. Hopefully, make this information makes the wedding planning process a little easier for you! Cheers!

Ryan Horban Photogra

One More Quick Plug!

Hi! It’s me again. You might be asking yourself right now: who the f**k is Ryan Horban?! And more importantly, why should I give any f**ks about what he has to say? Well, I am a wedding photographer based in Southern California who has photographed hundreds of beach, modern, and luxurious city weddings in San Diego. My approach focuses on candid, authentic, un-posed moments, blending photojournalism and natural emotion. Photos that are colorful, fun, and make you smile when you look at them. So, if you are getting married in San Diego, let’s chat and see if my style fits your vision! Shoot me a text at 951-704-9503 or message me via the contact form.

Oh, and I have a ton of 5-star reviews on The Knot and Yelp! So please check them out!

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    San Diego wedding photographer

    How To Get Married In San Diego, California In 5 Easy Steps!

    From sun-kissed beaches to elegant ballrooms, San Diego offers a variety of venues to make your special day unforgettable. Yes, San Diego is awesome. And yes, you are going to love getting married here! But how exactly should you start wedding planning? Well, you’re in luck! Here’s your step-by-step guide to tying the knot in San Diego, from picking a wedding planner to 

    1. Find a Wedding Planner

    • Start by hiring a local wedding planner who knows San Diego well.
    • A planner will help you with every detail, from venue selection to invitations.

    2. Choose a Venue

    • Explore options that fit your theme and taste.
    • Consider beach venues, traditional ballrooms, or even unique spots.

    3. Pick A Wedding Photographer

    • Hi, I am Ryan Horban, one of those wedding photographers based in San Diego.
    • Consider your style and budget; photography packages may include engagement photos.

    4. Get Marriage License

    • Visit the San Diego County Clerk’s office.
    • You’ll need valid identification and approximately $70 for the fee.
    • The process takes around 30 minutes, and the license must be filed within 90 days.

    5. Say “I Do”

    • Coordinate with wedding officiants based in San Diego.
    • Review all details and get ready to celebrate with family and friends.
    • Remember to relax and enjoy every beautiful moment of your amazing wedding day.

    From hiring professionals familiar with the local scene to selecting the perfect venue, your special day will be a dream come true. Enjoy the process, and don’t hesitate to reach out to local vendors and photographers in San Diego to ensure every detail is just right!

    Estancia La Jolla Wedding

    10 Best San Diego Wedding Venues

    There are a number of affordable wedding venues in San Diego to meet the needs of couples with large budgets looking for high-end, modern wedding locations in the La Jolla or Coronado Island, but also San Diego wedding venues for small weddings that are all-inclusive or totally DIY. There are wedding venues in San Diego with ocean views for a romantic beach wedding ceremony, as well as numerous San Diego hotel wedding venues that can provide both an intimate or rustic setting. Regardless of what a bride or groom chooses, a San Diego wedding photographer will be able to capture a couple in all their glory because the beautiful thing about the Southern California city is that golden light is everywhere in San Diego. Some of the best wedding venues in San Diego include:

    1. Hotel Del Coronado

    Known as The Del, this National Historic Landmark stands as the California coast’s Grande Dame. Showcasing 28 oceanfront acres of Victorian architecture, it’s a place where history meets luxury. From the Windsor Lawn’s natural light to the Ballroom’s turn-of-the-century elegance, each setting offers something unique. Furthermore, beach ceremonies and exclusive areas like the Crown Room provide versatile options. With a rich history that includes famous love affairs and celebrity visits, The Del exudes romance. Lastly, honeymoon packages with intimate amenities and award-winning cuisine round off an unparalleled wedding experience.

    • Various ceremony sites: beach, garden, ballroom
    • Unique Crown Room with rib-vaulted ceiling
    • Award-winning catering, custom event planning
    • Honeymoon and anniversary packages, his-and-her massages

    Address: 1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118, USA


    2. Green Acre Campus Pointe

    Dreaming of a rustic wedding with flawless execution? Green Acre Campus Pointe offers an ideal location. Nestled among coastal vegetation and overlooking native Torrey Pines terrain, this venue provides a beautiful backdrop. Additionally, the mild Pacific breezes enhance multiple vantage points. Whether you choose to celebrate indoors or on the comfortable covered patio and landscaped lawns, your vision will come alive. Furthermore, menus curated by Chef Joe Bower feature fresh, seasonal ingredients from the venue’s organic garden and local farms. Lastly, accommodating up to 300 guests, Green Acre’s team eagerly awaits to work with your wedding planners and photographers in San Diego to create an unforgettable day.

    • Unique indoor and outdoor event spaces
    • Covered patio, beautifully landscaped lawns
    • Menus featuring fresh, organic garden ingredients
    • Ceremony and reception areas, dressing room
    • Handicap accessible, wireless internet

    Address: 10300 Campus Point Dr, San Diego, CA 92121, USA


    3. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

    Embrace the blend of luxury and rustic charm at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, located in Rancho Santa Fe, California. Spanning 45 acres of lush grounds, this ranch sets the stage for everything from intimate gatherings to grand celebrations. Whether you envision a garden wedding or open-air festivity, the various spaces at this venue provide a perfect canvas for your special day. Furthermore, the resort’s dedicated wedding specialist ensures all the intricate details are meticulously cared for, allowing you to focus on your beautiful photo sessions and joyful moments.

    • Multiple indoor and outdoor event spaces
    • Croquet Lawn with palm trees and vibrant flowers, up to 500 guests
    • Sunrise Room & Terrace with private courtyard, up to 220 guests
    • Rose Garden for intimate gatherings, up to 60 guests
    • Valencia Lawn surrounded by coral trees, up to 300 guests
    • Terrace Ballroom & Patio with French doors, up to 200 guests
    • Options for tenting and customized floor plans
    • Personalized assistance from a dedicated wedding specialist
    • Ideal for engagement parties, elopements, ceremonies, and receptions

    Address: 5921 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067, USA


    4. U.S. Grant Hotel

    Embodying a century of timeless style, the U.S. Grant Hotel offers a uniquely glamorous backdrop for your wedding. Choose from four exquisite ballrooms, each infused with character and splendor. The Crystal Ballroom showcases hand-painted ceilings and black and gold travertine floors, while the Bivouac Ballroom whispers secrets of its days as a Prohibition-era Speakeasy.

    Your wedding at the U.S. Grant Hotel is not just an event; it’s an occasion. From the ornate details in the architecture to the personalized service and world-class culinary creations, everything is tailored to make your celebration unparalleled. Savor a complimentary menu tasting, enjoy the overnight accommodations, or revel in a dance under the glow of nine majestic chandeliers in the Palm Court.

    • Four distinct, history-laden ballrooms
    • Dedicated dressing areas for both bride and groom
    • Dance floor and stage facilities
    • Elegant linens, silverware, glassware, and votive candles provided
    • Complimentary bridal suite and overnight accommodations
    • Wedding cake included in package pricing
    • Valet or public parking available for a fee
    • Security to ensure a safe and smooth event

    Address: 326 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101, USA


    5. Darlington House

    Darlington House, located in San Diego County, invites you into a rich tapestry of history and romance. Imagine saying “I do” beside the Egyptian Fountain, a serene spot accommodating up to 120 guests. As the sun sets, your reception blossoms in the immaculate Rose Garden, where wrought iron gates and fragrant blooms frame each cherished moment. Here, love mingles with timeless charm, capturing the essence of a fairytale in a venue serving San Diego’s couples for generations.

    Gold Package -Wedding Ceremony & Reception:

    • $7500
    • 6-Hour Event (4 PM – 10 PM)
    • Available Thursday through Sunday

    Silver Package – Wedding Reception Only:

    • $6500
    • 5-Hour Event (5 PM – 10 PM)
    • Available Thursday through Sunday

    Darlington House extends the freedom to furnish and decorate the venue according to your vision, tailoring the day to your unique taste and desires. With only one wedding hosted per day, the undivided attention of the staff ensures a seamless and personalized experience.

    Address: 7441 Olivetas Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA


    6. L’Auberge Del Mar

    L’Auberge Del Mar, positioned with stunning views of the ocean in Del Mar, California, stands as an embodiment of romance and luxury. This coastal haven offers spectacular outdoor venues for both ceremony and reception, each designed to enhance the natural beauty of the seaside. From Seagrove Park, with its grassy lawn near the beach, to the Pacific Terrace’s expansive coastline views, couples can experience the best of the ocean without the sand. Complete with upscale accommodations, phenomenal culinary offerings, and an attentive team to make the big day stress-free, L’Auberge Del Mar promises an unforgettable wedding experience.

    Ceremony Venues

    • Seagrove Park: Grassy lawn setting, steps from the beach, up to 200 guests
    • Pacific Terrace: Rooftop deck with coastline views, doubles as reception location, up to 200 guests

    Amenities Offered

    • Food and Beverage
    • Rehearsal and Post-Rehearsal Gathering
    • Post-Wedding Brunch Celebrations
    • Guest room accommodations
    • Wedding Room Blocks
    • Pet Friendly

    Address: 1540 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014


    7. San Diego Zoo & Safari Park

    Nestled in Escondido, CA, the San Diego Zoo & Safari Park offers couples an extraordinary setting for their wedding, brimming with adventure, romance, and the thrill of wildlife. Exchange vows by the picturesque lagoon, surrounded by tall trees and exotic plants, or choose the Kijamii Overlook for panoramic views and a South African lodge ambiance. From intimate gatherings to grand celebrations, hosting from 50 to 250 guests, this unique venue offers diverse options, including the spacious Hunte Nairobi Pavilion with its romantic chandeliers. What sets this venue apart is the support it provides to the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s conservation efforts and the unforgettable close-up animal encounters that can be arranged, making your special day a part of something bigger.

    Wedding Ceremony and Reception Venues

    • Lagoon: Secluded romance with tall trees and exotic plants, 50-250 guests
    • Kijamii Overlook: Panoramic park views, South African lodge feel
    • Hunte Nairobi Pavilion: Spacious, sweeping vaulted ceiling, large gatherings

    Amenities Offered

    • Dedicated Event Coordinator
    • Bespoke Menu and Timeline Planning
    • Vendor Recommendations
    • Garden Chairs, Tables and Chairs, Linens, and China
    • Unique Animal Encounters

    Address: 15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd, Escondido, CA 92027


    8. Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa

    Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, located in La Jolla, California, is a remarkable wedding venue combining historic Spanish architecture with modern luxury. Nestled in ten acres of expansive, hacienda-style grounds, this hidden retreat is renowned for its lush landscaping, garden areas, and terra cotta brick accents. Whether hosting an intimate gathering or a grand celebration, Estancia La Jolla offers versatile outdoor ceremony locations and romantic indoor reception venues to create an unforgettable experience. The dedicated team of event professionals ensures attentive service and a tailored celebration to fit your style, including high-quality catering and premium bar selections.

    • Outdoor and Indoor Venues: Accommodates both intimate and grand weddings, offering charming settings.
    • Catering and Bar Selections: High-quality offerings personalized to your preferences.

    Amenities Included in Starting Site Fee:

    • Bridal Suite
    • Chairs, Tables, China, Flatware, Glassware, Linens
    • Setup and Clean Up

    Venue Services:

    • Wedding Ceremony and Reception
    • Bridal Shower
    • Engagement Party

    Address: 9700 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037


    9. The Inn At Rancho Santa Fe

    The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, a country retreat, provides a magical setting for weddings, where you can exchange vows amidst eucalyptus trees and celebrate as the stars awaken over the countryside. With 80 guest rooms and cottages spread over 21 landscaped acres, this venue offers an enchanted village feel that can accommodate both intimate ceremonies and grand gatherings of up to 350 guests.

    A dedicated wedding professional at The Inn assists in coordinating all the essential details, creating a seamless experience from ceremony to celebration. Whether you desire creative catering, custom-crafted cocktails, or elegant venue setup, The Inn has it all.

    • Wedding Venues: Various on-site venues for events throughout your wedding weekend.
    • Cuisine: Offering everything from buffet-style setups to lavish plated dinners.
    • Mixology: Custom craft signature cocktails for your event.

    Amenities Include:

    • Wedding venues for all wedding-related events
    • Creative catering options and custom cocktails
    • Rentals including ceremony chairs, linens, table settings, market lights, and dance floor
    • Bridal party changing room
    • Complimentary night stay for the bride and groom


    • Wedding Reception starting at $10,000
    • Wedding Ceremony starting at $5,000

    Address: 5951 Linea Del Cielo, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067


    10. The Guild

    Nestled in Downtown San Diego, The Guild Hotel is a reimagined gem that offers a blend of the city’s historical elegance with an intriguing modern twist. In fact, it is a favorite venue among every wedding photographer in San Diego. Yes, this place is awesome. Once the iconic Armed Services YMCA building, it now serves as a hub for the adventurous and creative, providing an ideal setting for weddings. From the ethereal Poppy, an urban garden, to the enchanting Society Ballroom, rebuilt from the original aquatic center, and the magical Grace Ballroom, transformed from the historical gymnasium – every space is designed to beguile. Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the wedding ceremony site features at The Guild.


    • 3364 SQ FT
    • Outdoor urban garden
    • Lounge seating and open spaces
    • Integrated market lighting
    • Capacity: 335+

    Society Ballroom

    • 2816 SQ FT
    • Built-in “Gallery” space
    • Direct access to “Poppy,” the urban garden-inspired event space
    • Serene modern aesthetic
    • Capacity: 300+

    Grace Ballroom

    • 3332 SQ FT
    • Natural light
    • Indoor/Outdoor functionality
    • Original textured brick walls & vaulted ceilings
    • Capacity: 370+

    Address: 500 W Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101


    Elopement San Diego

    Best Wedding Photographers Based In San Diego, California

    Honestly, I would love to photograph your wedding in San Diego, but maybe I am already booked for your wedding date. Or maybe you would simply feel more comfortable in front of the camera if your photographer or videographer was female. Or maybe you are just weird. I dunno, but I am not here to judge. I am here to make sure you get rad wedding photos even if I am not the one shooting your San Diego wedding. Therefore, I would encourage you to check some of these 12 wedding photography studios in San Diego that have experience shooting from Balboa Park to La Mesa and everywhere in between:

    1. Justice Photography
    2. Leaf Wedding Photography
    3. Berlynn Photography 
    4. Astray Photography
    5. Kami Olavarria
    6. Singler Photography
    7. Jessika Christine
    8. Gleimlight Photography 
    9. Studio Karvé
    10. Khoa Photography
    11. Rachel McFarlin Photography
    12. True Photography

    Estancia La Jolla Wedding

    San Diego Wedding Photographer Frequently Asked Questions

    How Much Does A Wedding Photographer Cost In San Diego

    For a highly-rated wedding photography company, expect to pay approximately $700-$900 per hour for intimate wedding coverage. For full day wedding packages, the investment will be $5000-$9000, depending on the San Diego wedding photographer you choose. Full wedding day packages include 6-8 hours of coverage, an engagement session, and an online gallery for free download of San Diego wedding photos. Images from the online gallery will be professionally edited in Lightroom + Photoshop, and released to you with shared copyright. If you want a second shooter, raw San Diego wedding photos, prints, or wedding albums – expect to pay additional costs.

    How would you describe your style and approach to San Diego wedding photography?

    The best way to describe my San Diego wedding photography would be like two friends who ride majestic, translucent steeds, shooting flaming arrows across the bridge of Hemdale. Boom, Step Brothers reference! However let me clarify for those unfamiliar with that particular film. My photography is a collection of in-the-moment, candid, authentic, and colorful photojournalism. My goal is to document a wedding day in a style that focuses on the emotional elements, human interactions, and most importantly good times. As your San Diego wedding photographer I want to capture your wedding day in a fashion that will have you, your family, and future kids+ grandkids smiling for decades. You are awesome, and your wedding photos should show that!

    Can you get married on the beach in San Diego, and do you need permits?

    Yes, you can get married on the beach in San Diego, but a permit is indeed required. Dreaming of a romantic beach wedding at popular locations like Sunset Cliffs, La Jolla Cove, or Coronado Beach? You’re in luck, but there are steps to follow!

    First, you’ll need to determine which beach you want to marry on, as the process may vary slightly. The city of San Diego governs some beaches, while others fall under state or county jurisdiction. Once you’ve chosen your dream location, you’ll need to apply for a permit with the relevant governing body.

    For a city beach like Sunset Cliffs, you’ll contact the San Diego Parks and Recreation Department. If you’re eyeing a state beach like Torrey Pines, you’ll reach out to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Here’s what to consider:

    1. Timing: Apply early, as popular locations fill up quickly, especially during peak wedding season.
    2. Fees: Expect to pay a fee, which can vary based on location, size of your party, and other factors.
    3. Rules & Regulations: Each beach might have specific regulations, like noise restrictions or alcohol prohibitions. Make sure to comply to avoid any last-minute surprises.
    4. Accessibility & Amenities: Consider parking, restrooms, and accessibility for your guests. Some beaches offer nearby facilities, while others might require additional arrangements.

    A beach wedding in San Diego can be a breathtaking experience, but careful planning and adherence to local regulations are key. With the right preparation, your seaside ceremony will be a beautiful beginning to your marriage. And with the waves as your witness at stunning venues like Sunset Cliffs, how can you go wrong?

    Do you offer photography coverage for San Diego elopements?

    Yes! There are a number of reasons why couples choose to elope in San Diego or plan an intimate beach wedding in La Jolla or Coronado. First of all, a traditional wedding can be both expensive and stressful. Secondly, some couples simply do not want to deal with crazy family members, a million wedding details, and the many other headaches that can transpire from planning a wedding. Couples should always remember this is their wedding day, and if they want a simple ceremony on the beach with sand between their toes then f**k yeah! Do it! But it is still important to have those life-changing moments documented in a fun, artistic fashion so even if the wedding is an hour-long it is still a good idea to invest in a San Diego wedding photographer.

    If you are considering an adventurous getaway then please check out our San Diego Elopement Guide for 2023