The San Juan Islands are the perfect location for the couple who wants to make an experience out of their wedding day. Plan a wedding weekend (mid-week works too!) for a relaxing destination wedding that you and your guests will long remember. Think laid-back island vibe, outdoor activities, the beauty of the San Juans as a backdrop for incredible wedding photos, way less stress, and tossing your wedding details into the hands of your chosen wedding planners.
Here are our Go-To Insider Tips for planning your island wedding:
Communication is vital with your wedding guests.
Give your guests as much information about the wedding as possible. Take time to explain the details of the venue, activities planned for the weekend, and what they can expect for food and accommodations. If you choose an outdoor setting like Lakedale, encourage your guests to wear practical footwear for traversing the property.
The ferry journey to the San Juans is part of the romance of an island wedding, and it’s essential to plan your ferry schedule as soon as you know your wedding dates. You can make your vehicle reservation up to six months in advance on WSDOT. Other options for travel are floatplane (also romantic!) and small-wheeled planes. Both Kenmore Air and San Juan Airlines have scheduled flights and will also arrange charter flights. Book your modes of transportation early and encourage your guests to do the same.
Insider tip: If you need to travel to and from the island frequently in the months leading up to your wedding, buy the vehicle multi-ride pass to bring the cost down of your ferry rides down.
Instead of a “Plan B,” we encourage a “Plan Rain.”
The San Juans boast over 265+ days of sunshine a year due to protection from the Olympic Rain Shadow. If you’re planning to have any portion of your wedding outside, even if it’s just photos, the San Juans offer the least statistical risk of your wedding day being rained out in all of Washington state. Instead of sweltering summer days, a cool marine breeze will keep you fresh even on the hottest day of the year.
July and August are some of the loveliest months in the San Juan Islands; however, you can expect rain any day of the year. Lakedale is predominantly an outdoor venue, so we like to prepare our guests for all kinds of weather. Fortunately, event tents are multi-functional and provide both the perfect backup plan for rain and are equally excellent at providing shade on a warm summer day.
Have your preferred wedding date in mind, but understand it may not be available – especially if you start your venue search later in the wedding season. Secure your venue and some of your providers, and then send your Save the Dates. Booking at least a year in advance is vital to lock in your chosen date. 2022 dates at Lakedale were released in January 2021 and are booking up FAST! Dates for 2023 will release in January 2022.
Provide detailed travel instructions for your guests.
“I always tell my clients to ensure they have very detailed travel instructions on their wedding website. Because there is a greater degree of difficulty when traveling out to the islands, guests inherently have more questions. If you aren’t prepared with a website to point them to, the couple often becomes travel agents for their friends and family. They have enough to worry about without having to answer the same ferry reservation question fifteen times! As a planner, I have pre-built web pages detailing travel, on-island transportation, and lodging so my couples can copy and paste without having to start from scratch”. – Katie from Revel Weddings and Events https://www.revelsanjuan.com
“Stuff We All Get” Hosting a smaller wedding means it is easier to be more thoughtful with each guest. Each guest has been carefully selected to attend your celebration, and you want them to know it. In making a destination weekend a memorable one, why not greet guests with a commemorative welcome bag filled with all the goodies the San Juans have to offer. Such as San Juan Sea Salt or a local coffee/chocolate, or maybe even a libation from a favorite winery/distillery. Be sure to include a weekend brochure of the festivities for them to keep handy. Welcome Bags set the tone for the whole weekend to let your guests know that their presence at your special occasion has been both noticed and appreciated.” – Holly at Perfectly Posh Events: https://perfectlyposhevents.com
Focus on a sense of place.
“Create a weekend full of activities that sing to the magic of the San Juans! From an oyster shucking afternoon to a welcome party picnic on the beach, group kayaking, or an island scavenger hunt. Use your location to tap into exciting activities which will set the tone for a connected weekend with your guests. Entertaining an intimate group for several days will cement your wedding celebration as a lifelong memory and a slew of keepsake photos for your album. Look for a property that can host all of your guests for a weekend-long celebration, and keep an eye out for open spaces that could host a twilight cocktail party, a brunch on a lawn overlooking the water, or one that has a boat you can use for the weekend. Utilize your location as the core of your weekend. Use its grounds, architecture, and style as a guide for the designs and ambiance of your wedding ceremony and reception. Use an unexpected sunken garden for happy hour or your ceremony location and a patio for fun and games. Think differently about how to use areas at a resort to create an incredible story for your wedding!” – Aleah from Vally and Company Events https://valleyandco.com
Use the natural beauty of the San Juans to create a color palette.
“Draw inspiration from the colors of San Juan Islands. Think of the sunrises, sunsets, or island silhouettes to bring into your designs. A custom illustration can be carried throughout your invitation suite, welcome bag itinerary, and echoed in the tones of your decor, which will enhance the island experience. Bring in touches of this motif into printed menus for each event, your signature drink, etc.” – Aleah from Valley and Company Events https://valleyandco.com
Celebrating your love (and marriage!) with family and friends in the San Juan Islands is an adventure above and beyond a typical destination wedding. Whale watching, kayaking, hiking, eating farm-fresh food, and imbibing local wines are the stuff memories are made of. Whether you choose Lakedale or another site as your wedding venue, take a deep breath, get on island time, and know the San Juan Islands won’t disappoint. Carla, Lakedale’s incredible wedding planner, would love to help plan your event. If you can dream it, we can make it happen!