Catalina Island is known for being one of the most romantic islands in the world, so it’s not surprising that you’re wanting to plan your elopement somewhere so unique and stunning! With so many different places to explore, hikes to climb, and beaches to swim in, you have a variety of things to do and see on your wedding day. Within this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about how to get married on Catalina Island, along with some pro tips and tricks.
How to Get to Catalina Island
Since there are no roads to the island, can only get to Catalina Island by boat or helicopter.
There are three different boating companies you can choose from to reach the island: Catalina Express, Catalina Flyer, or a private company. The Catalina Express is the most accessible. They have daily ports out of San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point. The Catalina Flyer on the other hand, operates twice a day from Newport. The cost of a roundtrip ticket is around $70 depending on the company you decide to use.
If you prefer a more intimate experience, consider flying in on a private helicopter. The helicopter ride only takes 15 minutes, and you can fly from Long Beach, San Pedro, Burbank Airport or John Wayne Airport/SNA. It’s a bit pricier, but such a unique experience. You can also do a private helicopter tour around the island as well for an additional charge.
To see everything you need to know about how to get to Catalina Island, check out the official site here.
8 Best Places to Elope on Catalina Island
Website: Lover’s Cove
Lover’s Cove is the most popular snorkeling spot on the island. The cove itself is absolutely beautiful. There are also numerous lookout spots of the cove, like the one pictured here, that make for beautiful ceremony spots. This spot is meant for elopements with up to 2 guests due to its small size.
Little Harbor and Shark Harbor Trail
Website: Little Harbor and Shark Harbor Trail
If you decide to elope or have a small wedding, check out the Little Harbor and Shark Harbor Trail. It’s a 5.6 mile roundtrip hike (though you don’t need to hike the full thing to get breathtaking views) that’s perfect for the outdoor couple. The trail is rated as hard yet offers some incredible views. Most of the time, the trail is not as green as pictured here and is much more desert-like.
Website: Shark Harbor
Shark Harbor is located on the southwest side of the island and is one of Catalina’s lesser known beaches. Adjacent to one of the most popular beaches, Little Harbor, Shark Harbor is a great option for couples wanting something smaller and more intimate.
Catalina Adventure Tours
Website: Catalina Adventure Tours
If you’re wanting something super romantic, consider having your ceremony on a private boat in the middle of the ocean. Not only will you get some epic pictures on the water, but it’s a wedding day you’ll remember forever! There are numerous different boating companies to choose from.
Banning House Lodge
Website: Banning House Lodge
The Banning House Lodge is a bed and breakfast that offers sweeping views of the Isthmus and Catalina Harbor. The architecture of the area and beautiful, and it’s a great place to stay for a honeymoon right after your reception. It’s located in Two Harbors, which is a rustic seaside village across the island.
Garden to Sky Trail
Website: Garden to Sky Trail
If you’re wanting to elope and are looking for that perfect outdoor location, look no further. Garden to Sky Trail is a 2.8 mile hike that will provide you with jaw dropping views of both sides of the island. There are so many different options for your ceremony site on this trail.
Website: Cottonwood Beach
Cottonwood Beach is another small beach located on the southwestern side of the island. It’s not easy to get to, but both the beach and the cliffs above it make it the perfect spot for a wedding ceremony. It’s beautiful, intimate, and most importantly, quiet.
Wrigley Botanical Garden
Website: Wrigley Botanical Garden
The Wrigley Botanical Garden is a charming wedding venue in Catalina Island. The museum that’s attached to the gardens is absolutely stunning, and the gardens themselves are home to various different types of plants that are fun to explore on your wedding day.
Pro tip: Be sure to ask your photographer if they know about any hidden gem locations. I personally have a ton that I recommend to my couples who book with me that are secluded, quiet, and most importantly, provide sweeping views of the island.
Catalina Island Marriage License and Laws
To get married on Catalina Island, you’ll need to get a California marriage license. There are no county clerk’s offices on the island. The closest office is in Los Angeles. You will need to fill out the application online and then pick up the license before your elopement date. You can fill out the online application, as well as see what documents you need to bring with you here. The marriage license costs $91 and is valid for 90 days.
You’ll also need an officiant and one witness for your elopement.
Pro tip: I officiate ceremonies for my couples, but a friend or family member can do it as well by becoming ordained through the Universal Life Church online! It’s completely free and takes less than 5 minutes!
Do I Need a Special Use Permit for My Elopement?
Depending on where you decide to have your ceremony or take pictures, you may need whats called a special use permit. Unfortunately, each location has different rules when it comes to this, but I highly recommend asking your photographer if you need one. If you do, they will be able to walk you through how to obtain one.
Transportation on Catalina Island
Catalina Island does not allow cars, meaning you have limited options when it comes to transportation. The most popular way around the island is by a golf cart. You can also rent a bike, electric bike, walk, catch a taxi (though they have many limitations), or ride the Catalina Shuttle.
When Should I Elope on Catalina Island?
Catalina Island experiences the least amount of visitors during the winter season. While this is perfect if you’re looking for something less crowded, keep in mind that because there are a lack of tourists, many dining and activity options tend to close down for the season. The weather during this time is mild and stays around 60 degrees. It can get a bit chilly in the morning and at night, so be sure to pack layers.
Spring is one of the best times to elope on Catalina. Not only is the weather nice, but winter’s rainfall makes Catalina very green and vibrant with wildflowers. Prices are much lower than the summertime, and the island is still fairly quiet.
If weather is your main concern, summer is the month for you. However, be aware that with warmer weather comes higher prices, more tourists, and sold-out events. My couples tend to stray away from summers in Catalina, simply because the island can become pretty crowded. That being said, if you’re looking for things to do, Catalina has multiple events and activities that take place during the summer months.
Fall is personally my favorite time of year for elopements. The weather is nice, prices decrease, and there are still plenty of activities to do around the island. Not only this, but the fog that comes along with spring and summer clears and provides you with epic views of the island.
Where Should I Stay on Catalina Island?
Catalina Island has two main cities: Avalon and Two Harbors. Avalon is the main city and the one you’ll arrive at after docking. It has the most amount of dining, excursions, hotels, and more. It’s one of the more crowded places on the island, but has lots of beautiful attractions. I personally love Two Harbors, simply because of its accessibility to more outdoorsy locations, but Avalon is definitely a must-see! Some of my favorite Airbnbs in Avalon include the Oceanfront Villa, Hamilton Cove Home, and the Sunny Catalina Island Home.
Two Harbors is much more secluded than Avalon and doesn’t offer as many touristy things. It’s mainly known for its outdoor beauty and rustic charm. While there aren’t any Airbnbs on this side of the island, there are a variety of different camping options and resorts including the Banning House Lodge, Villa Santa Cruz, and Villa Santa Rosa.
Elopement Activities on Catalina Island
- Get a couples massage at A Touch of Heaven
- Have a fancy dinner at Steve’s Steakhouse and Seafood
- Go on an astronomy tour and gaze at the night sky
- Go mini-golfing next to the shore
- Have a bonfire with s’mores and hot dogs
- Visit the local museum
- Share your first dance at an epic lookout point
- Go on a local food tour
- Rent a boat for the day
- Go snorekling
Catalina Island Timeline Examples
Wondering how much time you need for your elopement? Check out some of the example timelines below to help spark your imagination!
- 7:00am – cook some breakfast together in your oceanside Airbnb
- 8:00am – getting ready pictures
- 9:00am – first look between the couple
- 9:30am – leave for a morning ceremony on the cliffside with friends and family
- 10:00am – arrive and begin the ceremony
- 10:30am – ceremony wraps up, begin family portraits
- 11:30am – family portraits end, family leaves while the couple takes some portraits
- 12:30pm – head back to the Airbnb for a break and lunch with friends and family
- 2:00pm – lunch ends, open gifts and read letters from friends and family
- 3:00pm – head out to explore the island, get some ice cream, ride a bike, etc.
- 5:00pm – head up the mountain for some sunset portraits
- 6:00pm – enjoy your first dance and take some epic portraits under the stars
- 7:00pm – photo coverage wraps up
- 12:00pm – meet the couple on a mountaintop for an intimate picnic
- 1:00pm – enjoy the picnic while reading letters from friends and family
- 1:30pm – head to the short 1-mile trailhead for a private ceremony
- 2:30pm – arrive and begin the ceremony
- 3:00pm – ceremony ends, take some couples portraits
- 4:00pm – portraits end, hike back
- 5:00pm – leave for the Airbnb where a private chef awaits
- 5:30pm – enjoy dinner made by a private chef
- 6:30pm – have a first dance under the moonlight
- 7:00pm – cut the cake and watch the shooting stars by a fire
- 8:00pm – photo coverage wraps up
- 4:00pm – meet the couple at the 1-mile trailhead for their completely private ceremony
- 5:00pm – arrive at the cliffside and begin the vow reading
- 5:30pm – ceremony ends, take couples portraits at sunset
- 7:00pm – portraits wrap up, head back to the lot
- 8:00pm – photo coverage wraps up
Catalina Island Elopement Packages
Are you convinced to elope on Catalina Island yet? If so, you’re in the right place! I’m Brianna, a California elopement photographer who helps plan and capture elopement days all along the west coast.
Catalina Island Elopement Package Pricing
- 4 hours – 1.5 days of elopement coverage anywhere in California
- A personalized elopement planning experience with unlimited assistance
- Personalized elopement location recommendations
- Vendor, lodging, and activity recommendations
- Assistance and information to help you with permits, licenses, etc.
- 90+ page elopement planning guide filled with tips and tricks
- Customized elopement timelines
- Optional complimentary officiant services
- Online gallery with full resolution images and printing rights
- 24-48 hour sneak peeks to share with the world
- Travel fees to anywhere in California are already included
- Starting at $6,500
A wedding on Catalina Island can be as cheap or expensive as you want it. Most venues start around $3,000 but can go all the way up to $25,000.
Yes, you can get married on Catalina Island.
The best time of year to go to Catalina Island is during the spring and fall. In the summer, it’s very crowded. In the winter, it’s rainy and the boat ride to the island can be choppy.
Don’t forget your FREE elopement guide!
An all-in-one planning guide for all things elopements! Whether you’re hoping to hike through the mountains of Washington or sip a margarita on the beaches of California, this comprehensive elopement guide has everything you need to know about how to plan the perfect elopement.
You? You’re the kind of person that gets a lil’ teary eyed looking at an epic view…
That moment when you turn to the person you’re with and ask, “Are you seeing this?” I live for it. Places with trees and mountains and soft breezes that make you say, “I can’t believe this place exists,” I spend pretty much all of my free time searching for and exploring them.
These places have always felt like home to me. And if you’re the kind of person who also feels more at home surrounded by trees than by people? Then we’ll get along really well. The Pacific Northwest is full of secret spots that are too special to share with just anyone. But it would make me happy to share them with you on your wedding day.
(I promise you won’t regret it.)
P.S. I’m Brianna. My mission is to create custom, one-of-a-kind elopement experiences in the Pacific Northwest that allow couples to fully immerse themselves in the highest levels of excitement and wonder on a day designed exclusively for them.