The Hotel Del Coronado is a- 105-year-old living legend. This stately Victorian landmark on Coronado Island (fifteen minutes across the bay from San Diego) is the ultimate in West Coast luxury and class. Combine this with all the tourist attractions in the area and you've got an affordable, yet fun destination wedding and honeymoon.
California is not the easiest or cheapest place to get a marriage license. First of all, the state requires a blood test and medical check-up within thirty days of the wedding. Then, a physician and lab technician must sign the "health certificate." You take this, a valid ID, and $42 to the marriage license bureau and then you're issued your license. There is no waiting period and the license is good for ninety days.
Interestingly enough, California also offers a "confidential" marriage license. These licenses require no health certificate and you and your fiance must be living together. The cost is $48. As you might imagine, this alternative is quite popular, accounting for half of all marriage licenses issued.
For more information, you can call the marriage license bureau at 619-531-3173 or 619-237-0502.
Local Bridal Customs
Oddly enough, the most popular wedding cake flavor in San Diego is a Black Forest cake. Of course, the proximity to Mexico makes Mexican food and entertainment (a mariachi band, for example) key fixtures of San Diego nuptials as well.
Best Time to Go
The busiest tourist season is the summer months. In addition, the Hotel Del told us their busiest conference and convention times run from Labor Day to the middle of December. The slowest time of the year is December and January.
As far as the weather goes, the summer sees temperatures in the 70s and low 80s. Winter can get quite chilly, with temperatures near 60° in the day and as cold as 45° at night. Beware the "June gloom," a period of cloudy and gloomy weather that usually hits after Memorial Day and sometimes lasts until July 4th.
Perhaps the best combination of good weather and sparse crowds would be between Easter and Memorial Day.
Costs, Accommodations, and Getting Around
The Hotel Del has a picturesque white gazebo, surrounded by a lush garden and blooming trees, that is available for ceremonies at a cost of $500. If you're planning a large wedding and reception, several rooms are available, including the spectacular main ballroom with its circular shape and commanding ocean view. Sit-down dinners run from $30 to $65 per guest (plus a 17 percent gratuity.)
As for the honeymoon, the Hotel Del offers several packages for their deluxe and luxury rooms (the latter having a better ocean view). The "Gourmet Delight" includes two night/three-day accommodation, two dinners, breakfast, and spa admission. Price: $514 deluxe and $769 luxury. Additional nights are $159 and $289, respectively.
The Del's "Five Night Romance" package includes one dinner, breakfast, and spa admission as well as tennis and biking activities. This runs $995 for a deluxe room and $ 1415 for a luxury room. Of course, you can stay at the Del and get married at another location on Coronado. The island boasts several Victorian hotels, gazebos, and other spots to tie the knot.
What Makes it Special
Visiting Coronado and the Hotel Del makes you feel like you've stepped onto another planet. The old-world elegance of the Del and the Victorian charm of the surrounding village stands in stark contrast to the rest of California. Coronado Island is a gem.
Insider Travel Tips
Besides Coronado Island, San Diego also boasts several interesting things to do. Visit Old Town with its fun shops and restaurants (don't miss the guacamole at Pico's, a must-stop for dinner). Other attractions include the world-famous San Diego Zoo in lush Balboa Park and, of course, Sea World.