The Realities of the Santa Cruz Beach Wedding: Busy Shores, Uncertain Elements

Posted on January 15, 2017

While you may be drawn to the idea of he picturesque Santa Cruz beach wedding, the reality of the event is far from what you'll see in the movies.

Driving along Highway 1 on a clear day, I can understand the allure of a wedding right on the beach. The endless expanse of sand and sea seems to promise equally endless moments of poetic perfection. Then there are movies like 27 Dresses, which seem to bring that promise to life: in the final scene, Katherine Heigl’s character meets her groom at the end of a custom-made boardwalk. All of her 27 bridesmaids look perfect, even in the coastal wind, and there’s nothing but beautiful ocean waves and sand all around them. I can easily fall in love with the feelings this scene inspires, but trust me when I say that it is hard to pull off!

The Challenges of Making a Beach Wedding Real

When I was first getting involved with wedding planning, I helped coordinate a wedding on the beach, and because you can’t just drive onto the beach to unload, we had to carry every single chair down to the beach by hand. It’s hard enough just walking in sand to get from one place to another—imagine building an entire wedding scene piece by piece! From permits and public parking to wind and sand in your hair, there are certain obstacles you just can’t get around, so if you’ve got your heart set on a beach wedding, it’s best to know what they are.

• When it comes to rules, the city and the county have the final say, and they’ve outlawed cars, alcohol, and open flame on all of Santa Cruz’s beaches.

• The sound of the wind and the waves could drown out your voices during the ceremony, excluding your guests from the experience.

• The sand could prevent some of your guests from attending if they are in wheelchairs or have limited mobility.

• And unless you have a Hollywood budget, the task of creating (and transporting!) a structure to lift you off the sand will likely be too big to pull off.

You Cannot Altogether Avoid Distractions and Uninvited Guests

So much of what makes the beach wedding prospect dreamy is the idea of a secluded, intimate experience even in the enormous expanse of sand and sea. Instead, consider the reality: “The beaches are public, so anything else going on (such as Junior Lifeguards, surf camps, corporate parties, and other events) will be part of the atmosphere on your special day.” So yes, it’s entirely possible that you could be sharing your first married kiss while a couple of kids in swimsuits are running and laughing behind you.

Like I said, I can feel that sentimental attachment to a picturesque beach wedding, but I’ve been in the business long enough to know that certain things really are unavoidable. At Santa Cruz beaches, you can set up cones and post signs designating the reserved area, but that doesn’t guarantee that people will heed them—or that they are old enough to read them. The value of a truly private wedding cannot be underestimated, and it’s a pretty rare guarantee at wedding venues in general. At Kennolyn, we’re lucky: we have the benefit of seeing the ocean from a bird’s-eye view without having to deal with the traffic that comes with the beach.

True Possibilities for Your Own Elegant Romance

That romantic, picture-perfect movie experience is one you can use to your advantage if you can find some realistic ways to make it happen. Think about the qualities and feelings that draw you in when you bring this scene to mind. Epic. Timeless. Naturally beautiful. Secluded and intimate. They may not jive with the realities of the local beach scene, but an exclusive, private venue can create an experience that inspires similar impressions—without all the drawbacks that come with the beach.

As a coordinator who works closely with couples to imagine, plan, and then create unique wedding experiences, I love that we can make our own rules. Not to mention that over years of weddings and of learning as we go, we have created a setting that is flawless—both in terms of integration with the natural landscape and in terms of a seamless experience for you and your guests. Bringing to life perfect, personalized events is all that we do, and the variables that often come with creating a venue from scratch aren’t even part of the equation here. When you reserve our space, you and your guests are the only ones here, so you are removed from the flow of everyone else’s daily lives, and you can really sink into that serene intimacy and romantic allure that the movies portray.

It’s important that you fall in love with your wedding venue in person so you can start dreaming of the real possibilities for your big day. Give us a call and come by for a tour to see our views firsthand and start imagining the wedding you’ve always wanted.

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