Many people who have a beach wedding in Los Angeles County forget that the beach is a public place (aside from Malibu’s private beaches) and governed by Los Angeles County rules, as well as the individual city rules. It’s important to know what the beach wedding rules are in order to have an outdoor wedding on the beach in Southern California. You simply cannot just put down a canopy and chairs right next to the sunbathers on the beach to get married.
Unless it’s Santa Monica, 50 people or more or large props or a significant number of organized seating you will need a beach wedding permit. Every jurisdiction is a little different so you’d have to check with each beach city and Los Angeles County, but that is the general rule. The locations permits vary on how crowded the beach is on a given day. These wedding location permits cost $100-$150 and then you must pay an insurance fee of $100. Santa Monica beach weddings are first-come, first-serve for wedding groups less than 150 wedding guests and you can even set up a stage if you wanted to. Often, for most beach weddings, you need 14-30 days advance notice.
Los Angeles County Wedding Permit Information:
You must contact the Department of Beaches & Harbors to schedule your wedding date and location of your wedding. Applications for a beach wedding must be submitted a minimum of two weeks in advance.
Depending on type/size of your wedding, a detailed proposal may be required. That’s pretty easy since most weddings follow a specific format.
Applications may be faxed to (310) 823-6841 or mailed to: Department of Beaches and Harbors, 13837 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292, Attn. Permit Section.
- WEDDING PERMIT FEES
All location permit fees must be paid in advance.
Mail or deliver the location permit in person to: Department of Beaches and Harbors, 13837 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292, Attn. Permit Section.
- REFUNDABLE SECURITY DEPOSIT
Determined by the size and type of wedding.
The wedding couple will be notified of the dollar amount during the application processing period.
An original (hard copy) insurance certificate must be issued to the Department of Beaches and Harbors. When you get a location permit the Department of Beaches will usually provide you with a list of insurance providers that should make it easier.
Beach Use Permits are required under the following conditions:
- Weddings of 50 or more
- Canopies or tents (larger than 10×10) A canopy or tent larger than 20×20 will require a building and safety permit. A tent greater than 200 sq ft or a canopy greater than 400 sq ft will require a Fire Marshall permit.
- The erection of scaffolding, bleachers, or staging higher than 30 inches will require both a beach use permit and a building and safety permit.
- Amplified sound (approval conditional on beach)
- Cooking in the parking lots (cooking on the sand prohibited unless in the fire rings on Dockweiler State Beach or Cabrillo Beach
- Events with catering or use of a rental company
- Commercial events (e.g., surf contest or volleyball tournament with entry fees and/or sponsorship)
- Alcohol (approval conditional on beach and must be catered)
There may be other circumstances that would constitute necessitating a permit.
- AMPLIFIED LIVE MUSIC IS PROHIBITED. (No bands) Get out your CD players!
- Any acoustic music will need written approval by the Department of Beaches and Harbors.
- Music to remain as “background” music for all events.
- Lifeguards and/or any Peace Officer will be the determining factor in what is considered too loud and are authorized to modify and/or nullify the permit or any part thereof at any time.
- Should any part of the amplified sound portion of your permit be breached, you will jeopardize the completion of your event, any future events, and your security deposit. Ooo, that sounds like you better follow the rules.
- All speakers must face the water.
- No amplified sound to begin prior to 9:00 a.m.(10:00 a.m. at Manhattan Beach)
Assuming that none of the attributes noted above will exist, tables, chairs, runners and small archways will be permitted without requiring the purchase of a permit..
The following are strictly prohibited:
- Tents with side panels
- Vehicles on park turf or pathways, sand, bike path or Ocean Front Walk
- Staking anything into turf or attaching anything to trees, shrubs, facilities and other amenities
- Blocking sidewalks or pedestrian pathways
- Fires, cooking, alcohol, glass containers and smoking
With sweeping ocean views and proximity to hotels and restaurants, Palisades Park and Santa Monica State Beach are popular settings for beach weddings. The City of Santa Monica does not issue permits for wedding ceremonies at Santa Monica State Beach or Palisades Park. The rule is first-come, first-serve to each location and you must have less than 150 participants on site. Smaller weddings are more suitable to Palisades Park due to its narrow configuration, high level of daily use and limited parking. At each site, wedding guests must obey all beach and park laws.
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