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The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Wedding in Santa Barbara

If you are planning a destination wedding, Santa Barbara can be a great location. An affluent area, there are countless shops and restaurants to keep you and your guests entertained as well as scenic beaches and lush wine country territories.

With all this, it is no wonder why Santa Barbara is called the American Riviera.

The region is also home to countless celebrities and has been the site for many high-end weddings. Find out how you can join the A-list by hosting your wedding in Santa Barbara.

Getting Around in Santa Barbara

If guests are flying in from out of town, the most convenient airport is the Santa Barbara Airport (SBA), with LAX being the next closest; about a 90-minute drive away.

The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner is another suggestion for guests traveling in. The train provides a more scenic route and travels along the coast that connects San Luis Obispo and San Diego.

Once you are in Santa Barbara, you will be able to walk to most destinations but there are plenty of public transportation options available as well.


Santa Barbara weather is pretty mild year-round. Temperatures generally average around 75 degrees although this average can dip to around 65 degrees in the winter.

Rain is most common during the winter, but even then, the amount of precipitation is not very significant. While this can be good news when planning a wedding in the area, couples should also be aware that the lack of rain makes droughts and wildfires likely, especially during fall months when Santa Ana winds can fuel the fires.

During the winter, wildfire season and heavy rainfall can also increase the chances of mudslides.

Wedding Venues

As home to some of the most high-profile celebrity weddings, you can bet Santa Barbara has plenty of elegant and unique choices when it comes to wedding venues, vendors, musical entertainment and more. Here are some options to consider when finding a wedding venue that suits you.

  • Ocean Front:
    With so many beaches in the area, it is not hard to find venues that have a great view of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Beach:
    If you’d like to be even closer to the water, you can marry right on the beach. East Beach, Arroyo Burro and Leadbetter are just some of the magnificent beaches you can choose from.
  • Estates:
    There are plenty of Santa Barbara private estates and mansions that can provide a sense of luxury and privacy for your wedding.
  • Outdoor:
    Beyond the beach, other outdoor settings include rustic ranches, Tuscan inspired villas and more.
  • Vineyard and Winery:
    Santa Barbara’s lush wine country regions provide plenty of scenic venues which make the perfect background for you to say your ‘I do’s.

Is a Santa Barbara Wedding Affordable?

Being that Santa Barbara has hosted so many big-name weddings, couples can definitely pay a pretty penny when tying the knot in the area. However, there are several affordable options as well. Research carefully and you are sure to find one that suits your budget.

Marriage Requirements

In all the excitement of planning your wedding, don’t forget about the marriage license!

In order to get a marriage license in the state of California, both parties must be 18 years of age or above without parental consent, but they do not need to be a resident of the state. A witness must be present and both parties must have a valid form of ID.

The license will expire after 90 days.

Things to do in Santa Barbara

While in Santa Barbara, there will be plenty of activities for you and your guests to enjoy. Here are some suggestions.

  • Outdoor Activities:
    Because there are many beaches in Santa Barbara, water activities are a favorite. Surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and sailing are all perfect for adventure lovers. Those that aren’t as daring may enjoy golfing, tennis, fishing, whale washing or taking a bicycle built for two out to the boardwalk.
  • Live Entertainment:
    Music and theater fans will want to find out who’s playing the Santa Barbara Bowl and what shows are coming through the Granada Theater while they are in town.
  • Museums:
    Culture buffs will want to check out Santa Barbara destinations like the Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History.
  • Shopping:
    Santa Barbara is full of high-end shopping outlets, smaller boutiques and outdoor malls. It’s enough to satisfy any shopaholic’s sweet tooth.

If you are planning a destination wedding, Santa Barbara can be the perfect choice. With a wide range of venues, plenty of things to do and beautiful scenery, it is the great town for saying your ‘I do’s’. We wish you luck finding the best location for starting this new chapter of your life.

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