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Plan a Destination Wedding in Carmel, CA

Carmel California is a beautiful location to start planning a west coast wedding. Discover the best venues and what Carmel has to offer.

By Hannah Purvis

Picture this – you just said ‘yes’ to your best friend and are riding the high of planning your dream wedding. We spend a lot of time loading our Pinterest boards with color palettes, floral arrangements, and table decor. We try to narrow down our favorite flavors of cake and what we’d like our wedding party to wear.

If we’re being honest, for a lot of us the mental planning starts the second that ring hits our finger (or at least that’s how it felt for me). But one of the things that can be tricky is deciding on where to have your wedding. There are so many beautiful cities and states and even destination locations abroad, without even narrowing things down to the venue. So where do you start?

How about in one of my absolute favorite places – Carmel, California? This stunning coastal town nestled in the Bay Area offers a unique combination of upscale luxury and quaint coziness. From the storybook houses nestled among the trees in Carmel-by-the-Sea to the vineyards of the Valley. There’s something here for everyone if you know where to look.

When is the Best Time to Visit?

There is no bad time to visit this area thanks to the moderate weather year-round. A light jacket will do you well in the morning or late evening, but the midday breeze is typically light and refreshing. The closer you are to the water, the chillier you may feel.

If you’re looking for warmer weather in Carmel, plan to hold your wedding here in the early summer months of May or June. This time of year is also popular among out-of-town visitors thanks to the Summer activities and food festivals held not only in Carmel, but the neighboring areas of Monterey and Pebble Beach.

Photo by Marco Bicca on Unsplash

Things To Do In The Area

There are a variety of activities unique to the Bay Area that you and your loved ones can take part in while visiting Carmel and the neighboring towns.

Sunset Whale Watching Tour in Monterey

Monterey Bay is home to a diverse collection of marine life, as featured in the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a popular conservation center known across the country. By embarking on a sunset whale-watching tour, you’ll have a chance to learn from a marine biologist about some of the local animals that can be seen in the bay! Maybe you’ll even be lucky enough to see a cute otter couple holding hands as they float by!

Carmel-By-The-Sea Electric Bike Tour

This 2.5-hour tour will give you and your spouse-to-be a great chance to explore all of the beauty that is Carmel. Weaving in between the storybook homes in the neighborhood area of Carmel-by-the-Sea and down along the water, you’ll be able to take in sea views, stunning architecture, and more.

Photo by Mike Doherty on Unsplash

Carmel Walking Food Tour

Who doesn’t love a food tour? I mean what could really be better than a structured walk with delicious snacks and wines planned for you at each stop! That’s exactly what you’ll get when you embark on this guided foodie tour of the upscale eateries of Carmel. Led by a knowledgeable guide, participants will enjoy flavors while learning more about the history of this charming town.

Carmel Valley Wine Tour

Maybe you’d rather skip the snacks and head right for the booze. I don’t blame you! Luckily for you, Carmel Valley is home to a few stunning wineries and vineyards which will absolutely delight your palate. This tour starts in Monterey and takes guests to three different wineries to experience bold flavors and even enjoy lunch along the way.

Photo by Oscar Söderlund on Unsplash

A Day of Relaxation at the Refuge Spa

With a wedding right around the corner, the best gift you can give to yourself is a deep breath and a day of true relaxation. You did it – now you get to relax and enjoy the ride. The Refuge Spa delights guests with its tranquil and immersive spa experience, offering cold and warm pools, saunas, firepit seating areas, and upscale massage services.

Where to Stay

Hotel Carmel

If you want to stay in the heart of charming Carmel-by-the-sea, book a room at The Hotel Carmel. Not only will a stay here put you within walking distance to the ocean, but you’ll be in the heart of the action with restaurants, shops and galleries around every corner.

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Photo Credit: Priceline

L'Auberge Carmel

Another hotel close to Carmel Beach is the L’Auberge Carmel, Relais & Châteaux. Dating back to the 1920’s, this historical hotel mixes luxury and charm with cozy rooms, upscale amenities like in-room spa treatments and an on-site gourmet restaurant for those who enjoy the convenience of close dining.

Cypress Inn

Cypress Inn is a great option for those looking for comfortable lodging in the heart of the bustling Carmel-by-the-Sea downtown area. The inn offers concierge services and evening entertainment for guests to enjoy. It is also located close to the Carmel Mission and Point Lobos State Park, for those who want to explore the local offerings.

Villa Mara Carmel

The Villa Mara Carmel is not only well located, but is incredibly aesthetically pleasing to those guests who have an eye for design. With minimalist decor and natural finishes, you’ll feel relaxed from the moment you walk in the door.

A room at the Villa Mara Carmel hotel
Photo Credit: Villa Mara Carmel


These venues vary in location and style, from small and intimate seaside locations in the Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea areas to the wineries and open air of the Carmel Valley.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands

The historic Hyatt Carmel Highlands inn offers couples a scenic, ocean-view, backdrop for their special day. When choosing this inn as your venue, you can expect a full-service team who are there to assist your every need, from dining and music to set up and decor. You have the option to choose between stunning indoor spaces or an outdoor, open-air gazebo overlooking the beautiful cliffs of the Big Sur Coastline. The view alone is enough to choose the Hyatt as your perfect wedding destination.

Joullian Vineyards

If you’re a big wine drinker, you may picture your special day taking place at a vineyard. Joullian Vineyards & Winery, tucked in the mountains of Carmel Valley is highly rated and absolutely stunning. The venue sits on over 600 acres of land and offers guests multiple event spaces such as the vines and the barrel room, so they can choose the perfect spot – either indoor or out – to fit their vision.

The outdoor space at the Joullian Vineyards
Photo Credit: ​​

La Playa Carmel

If you have a higher budget to work with and are looking for a truly luxurious wedding venue, set up a tour of the La Playa Carmel. Say ‘I Do’ in the flower filled English courtyard or opt for a cozy and more intimate ceremony in the Fireside Room. This venue also offers fine dining options with pre-planned event menus or the option to customize based on your tastes.

The Holly Farm

Step out of the bustle of the city and into a quiet and secluded venue space at The Holly Farm. Perfect for couples seeking a rustic barn wedding, this property also offers onsite lodging. Small cottages speckle the land, offering accommodation for up to 28 guests – a perfect option for close friends and family members of the wedding party. Additionally, this location is great for couples looking to plan a large-scale wedding, as the venue can fit up to 300 guests!

A tree decorated with lights and ornaments
Photo Credit: The Holly Farm

Carmel Valley Ranch

The first word that comes to mind when describing the Carmel Valley Ranch is – stunning! Over 500 acres of land with hiking trails, pools, a vineyard and even a full golf course will keep out of town guests entertained both before and after the wedding day! With over 12 event spaces to choose from and the ability to accommodate up to 500 guests, the Carmel Valley Ranch is the perfect spot for a memorable shindig.

Plan Your Big Day With Our Celebration Toolkit

With this location inspiration and the user friendly tools in our ‘celebration toolkit’ planning your special day will be a piece of cake! Once you’re ready to get started, sign up on our homepage and we’ll walk with you every step of the way.

Plus, when you book with Celebration Wishes Travel, you can rest assured that every single detail of your trip will be handled with care. Fill out our interest form to learn more today!

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