Beach Wedding FAQs


1. Do I need a permit for a wedding ceremony on the beach?

There are different rules and regulations depending on which beach you’re considering. Reservations and permits are usually required and advance planning is recommended. For information regarding special event reservations on the beach, you will need to contact the agency that runs the particular beach you’re interested in, which will usually fall into one of three categories:

California State Parks & Beaches Parks & Beaches Facility Special Event Rental

County of Santa Cruz Parks
Wedding and Event Facilities

City of Santa Cruz Parks & Recreation
Beach Weddings

If you’re not sure which municipality manages the beach you’re interested in, please click to see our list of local beaches and parks. Find the park or beach of your choice and within the listing, you’ll find a link to the governing agencies website and the phone number.

2. What if my wedding is super small? Do I still need a permit or reservation?

Maybe. Either way, you will still need to check with the agency that runs the beach to see if there are any major events going on the same day or if other parties have reserved the space. Also, take into consideration also how “small” your wedding actually is and the date. If it’s just you, your fiancé and a minister with no set up then you can go pick a spot on the beach for a quick ceremony. 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. The more people attending and more set up involved, the more likely you’ll need a permit. If you’re considering a peak weekend, another party may be having a wedding the same day in the same location.Best rule of thumb: contact the agency that manages the beach.

3. Can I have my wedding reception or a large party on the beach?

Permits are required for any beach event at which chairs, tables, a stage, or sound systems are present. Reservation and permit information can be found by contacting the agency which manages the beach you are interested in. Please see question #1. Please note many State Beaches do not allow amplified sound; call (831) 335-6318 for details.

4. May I serve alcohol or champagne on the beach?

For the safety of all beachgoers – and to protect the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary – glass and alcohol are not permitted on any Santa Cruz County beaches.
– Alcohol prohibited on City of Santa Cruz Beaches 
– Alcohol prohibited in County of Santa Cruz Parks/Beaches . Exception: permit can be issued for wine/beer/champagne in some cases.
– Alcohol prohibited on State Beaches

5. What about a beach bonfire?

Bonfires are only permitted on a few beaches. The following State Beaches provide fire rings or permit individual bonfires: Seabright, Twin Lakes, New Brighton, Sunset, and Manresa. Rio del Mar Beach allows fires as well. In all cases, fires must be extinguished by 10 pm. Visit for details or call (831) 335-3455

6. Are the beaches accessible to persons with disabilities?

There is a Beach Wheelchair Program making beach wheelchairs available at many Santa Cruz County beaches. Please find more information here.

7. My question wasn’t answered here.

Please see our GENERAL WEDDING FAQ or contact us at (831) 425-1234.