I might have found the most perfect destination wedding location in the United States, and by I, I mean my friends and clients Laura and Chris may have found the most perfect destination wedding location in the United States and I just happened to FALL IN LOVE. Catalina Island, located off the coast of California, is a popular destination for tourists looking for a mix of natural beauty and recreational activities and better yet, for those of us in Northern California, it’s simply a one hour flight away.  Have you ever dreamed of a place where you feel like you are in Greece, but in California? Well, we found it and it’s called Catalina Island. If you are looking for a Catalina Island Wedding Photographer, sign me the fuck up because I can’t wait to go back.

I have been a lot of picturesque places as a destination wedding photographer, including Isla Mujeres, Spearfish Canyon (why didn’t I blog this? I don’t know?), the Adirondacks in Upstate New York, and Crested Butte, and more, but Catalina Island takes the top prize as a wedding photographer’s dream. Just imagine: stunning views, rugged coastline, and crystal clear waters.  ADORABLE idyllic charming colorful town. Waterfront pier. All the fish your heart desires.

Laura and Chris met in their 20s while they were both living and working in Brooklyn, NY and both shared a passion for something that I also enjoy: wine. In fact, both Chris and Laura are sommeliers by trade. Little did she know, Chris had grand ideas to move back home to California and start his own winery. Mere months into dating, Chris decided to make his dreams a reality and asked Laura to join him and the city girl moved to the country. Chris opened up End of Nowhere winery, which is literally located at the end of a road in the middle of NOWHERE (I know, I’ve been there) in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains on the south western ridge of Tahoe.

Starting a small business is hard and starting a small winery is a feat only for the bravest of hearts. For almost a decade now, Chris has been striving to turn his passion project into a successful business and he’s been excelling at it. Chris produces some of my absolute favorite wines in the Amador region, but, like many small businesses, it has come at the expense of personal time. As such, he and Laura haven’t taken many trips together in the years since moving to California. The one place they have had time for though is Catalina Island.

Because of Catalina Island’s proximity to northern CA, and the fact that there are quick non-stop flights from nearby Sacramento, Catalina Island has offered Chris and Laura an easy 2 day getaway and respite from the time heavy requirements of running a small boutique winery. As such, when they started planning their wedding, Catalina Island also presented as the perfect location to celebrate their love in front of the people they love most. I also consider Chris and Laura to be friends and it was such an honor to be included in their day as their Catalina Island Wedding Photographer. It was the wedding weekend that I looked forward to the most the entire year (because I also got to be a guest) and I had never been there.  Now, I can say with certainty that I was remiss in not visiting before.

From start to finish, Chris and Laura’s Catalina Island destination wedding was a low-key, relaxed, DIY affair. The venue was a simple rooftop that overlooked the entire bay of Avalon, CA. Their friends, such as myself, stepped in as their DJ, Hair and Makeup, Coordinators and in my case, as their Catalina Island wedding photographer. We all spent 4 days exploring the island, hiking, beaching, fishing and enjoying each other’s company. It was a blended mix of friends from all over the United States and I for one left with a lasting impression of a group of people who are just as amazing as Chris and Laura: driven, hilarious, fun loving and adventurous professionals who won’t settle for the ordinary.  I was not shocked, but I was delighted.

Venue: Toyon Grill | DJ: Matt the DJ | Wedding Attire: Shein and Macy’s

Why Visit Catalina Island?

  • Ease of getting there: Catalina Island, located off the coast of California, is a popular destination for tourists looking for a mix of natural beauty and recreational activities. The island can be reached by ferry from Long Beach or Newport Beach, and the trip takes around an hour.  The ferry ticket is roughly $80 RT.  You can easily fly into Long Beach Airport, take the ferry over to the island for the day and evening, and then return on an afternoon ferry the next day for a quick overnight getaway!
  • Great outdoor activities: Catalina Island is home to a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The clear waters around the island are home to a diverse array of marine life, including sea lions, dolphins, and colorful fish. The wedding party went deep sea fishing and caught our lunch on the first day, which the chef at the Bluewater Avalon was happy to turn into poke and grill for us!
  • Fun facts: While Catalina Island was first visited by Europeans, during the early 20th century it was used as a location for the filming of movies and tv shows by Hollywood, which is the reason that it infamously has wild bison roaming the island. The island has been the location for many movies like “The Great Race” and “The Island of Dr. Moreau” and TV shows such as “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Wild Wild West.” The most fun fact, however, is that in 1924 a film producer brought 14 bison to the island for the filming of a movie called “The Vanishing American.” After filming was completed, the bison were left on the island and have since thrived in their new habitat. The bison population on the island grew to around 600 animals by the 1990s, causing problems for the island’s ecosystem and infrastructure. In order to control the population, a bison management program was implemented, which includes culling and the relocation of some of the bison to mainland preserves. Today, the bison population on the island is managed and maintained at around 150 animals.
  • More fun facts: In 1919, William Wrigley Jr., the chewing gum magnate, bought a controlling interest in the island and began developing it as a tourist destination. He constructed the Catalina Casino, a 12-story Art Deco building that today serves as a cultural center and movie theater.
  • Where to stay: The island also offers a range of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels and campgrounds. That being said, I absolutely adored my stay at the Hotel Atwater and I would have a VERY hard time returning and not treating myself so lavishly.
  • Where to eat: Visitors can also take advantage of the many restaurants and cafes that dot the island, offering everything from fresh seafood to casual dining but we especially enjoyed our meals at the Bluewater Avalon and Antonio’s Pizzeria.
  • What to do: Catalina Island is a great destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland and experience the beauty of nature. Whether you’re looking to hike, snorkel, or simply relax on the beach, the island has something to offer for everyone. Spend your day being lazy on the beach at the Descanso Beach Club and make sure that you hit up The Three Palms Arcade at night after dinner!

Lauren Lindley is available as a Catalina Island Wedding photographer.

Contact me today for package and pricing info for weddings.