One of the things I love about being a wedding photographer here in California is that our state offers such a range of experiences for all kinds of couples. Whether you’re drawn to the rugged beauty of the coastline, the drama of the desert, the adventure of the mountains, or the luxury of our big cities, a California destination wedding will deliver!
How do you make your California destination wedding legal? It’s a crucial detail and one that you absolutely don’t want to be worrying about on your wedding day!
To get legally married in California, you need to get a state-issued marriage license from a county clerk’s office. To do that, you and your fiancé have to go to the clerk’s office together to submit your application. You’ll pick up the license then and there! So, if you’re planning to travel to California for your wedding, you will want to come early enough to attend an appointment a few days before your wedding. If that seems like it’s cutting it a little fine, you might want to make a separate trip into California to pick up your license.
It’s worth noting that you actually don’t have to have your marriage license issued in the county that you plan to get married in. But you do have to return it to the same office that issued it to make your wedding license official.
– An appointment: book ahead! Keep in mind that a license is only valid for 90 days after it’s issued. So make sure your appointment falls close enough to your wedding day.
– A valid form of photo ID.
– The fee: this will range from about $60 up to $110, depending on the office you go to.
– You and your future spouse’s full legal name and future name as a married couple.
– Proof of divorce: if you’ve been divorced within the last two years, you must bring proof of the dissolution of your previous marriage.
This is such an incredible place for a California destination wedding. Not only is San Francisco an iconic location with world-class food and entertainment, but the Bay Area is such a gorgeous part of the country. It’s right on the doorstep of some of California’s most beautiful places.
Check out this San Francisco elopement for inspiration on what a simple, adventurous wedding could be like. Or for a California destination wedding that’s a little more on the lavish side, check out my compilation of some of the most gorgeous Outdoor Wedding Venues in The Bay Area.
In so many ways, Napa Valley seems designed to deliver the most amazing California destination wedding. It has it all – dramatic mountains, rolling vineyards, luxurious wineries, a thriving food culture, and incredible resorts and places to stay. I’d suggest staying in or near Sonoma to really soak in every detail of this beautiful area. Your guests will get the experience of a lifetime at your California destination wedding if you hold it here!
The enveloping warmth and other-worldly drama of Joshua Tree draws couples from all around the world for elopements and destination weddings. The desert isn’t always the obvious choice for a California destination wedding, but when people approach me about photographing an event or doing a session out there, I get so excited, because I know how powerful the experience is going to be.
If you’re dreaming about a California destination wedding, you can’t get more classic California than Malibu. With beautiful beaches, near-perfect weather, and fabulous venues and resorts, this would be an amazing place to hold your celebrations.
For a glimpse into the beauty of the beaches, take a look at this cliffside elopement in Malibu – the wildness of the ocean on the rocks gave everything such a dramatic, romantic feel! Or, for something totally different, check out this wonderful boho wedding at Calamigos Ranch.
Yosemite National Park is one of California’s most stunning gems. If you want a wedding that celebrates your love with the glories of nature, you’ve come to the right place. Iconic mountains, deep pine forests, awe-inspiring sequoias, and countless waterfalls make up this National Park.
There are so many ways that you could hold a destination wedding here. If you want to actually hold your ceremony in the park, keep things small and have a micro-wedding or elopement in Yosemite. There are restrictions on the number of people you can have for an event here. So if you were hoping for something a little more grand or expansive, consider booking a venue on the borders of the park – somewhere like Wawona or Mariposa – and then heading into the park as visitors.
Bathed in eternal sunshine, San Diego has a little of everything. From intimate ceremonies on a beach or a yacht to grand affairs in oceanfront resorts or historic venues, if you’re dreaming about a California destination wedding, San Diego has to be on your list.
This is a perennially popular wedding destination! So – unlike some of the more remote areas of beautiful California – there are so many wedding packages, planners, and incredible vendors here. Planning a destination wedding in San Diego is going to leave you spoiled for choice.
You see why being a wedding photographer in California is just the best? With the stunning natural beauty, huge range of vibes and options, and incredible pool of world-class vendors and resources, this state has to be one of the best-ever places to hold a destination wedding – it’s pretty special. Hopefully, this guide has brought you one step closer to making your dream wedding become a reality! Check out my portfolio for more California wedding inspiration, and if you have any questions, get in touch!