Pro tips for getting married on San Juan Island, Orcas Island or Lopez Island.
Part 1: Island Accommodations & Ferry Travel
As a Bellingham native and a devoted PNW’n’er, the San Juan Islands are basically my backyard. The days I’ve spent on the islands are some of the happiest of my life. I remember the day my hubby first messaged me on OkCupid.com, My parents and I had taken their boat out to Roche Harbor for a spontaneous summer adventure. I was sitting on the balcony overlooking the bay when a message popped up from my future husband with ’10 reasons why i’m perfect for you’ — hah! I know right?! He has the kind of confidence I aspire to have!
Anyway, one of the 10 reasons had to do with our mutual love of being on the ocean. <3 My Jonesy knew the way to my heart right from the very beginning.
Fast forward through adventure’s on Orcas Island and a seaside proposal at the end of a long hike… Roche Harbor Resort was at the TOP of my list of places I would LOVE to get married. Ultimately, we ended up picking a venue closer to home, Semiahmoo Resort, which had sentimental meaning to me and checked the box of getting married near the ocean.
After many years of family vacations & destination weddings on Orcas, San Juan & Lopez Island — I’m a pro at getting the best deals on places to stay and navigating the ferry system. I know the best places to get married on the islands and I have a list of adventures/booze/bites that’ll make you want to visit each island at least once!
If you are getting married at a venue that also provides accommodations, reserve a room block with various price points. There are limited places to stay on the islands and they all book VERY far in advance!
I’d also recommend having your family and bridal party book a few large houses near the venue via airBnB or VRBO.
- It’s more cost effective to do a large house than a handful of hotel rooms
- It's more fun!
If you’ve never traveled on the San Juan Island ferry, bring your camera, cause the views you’ll see from the boat are worthy of framing over your fireplace back home!
Before you board the ferry, there’s a few things you’ll want to plan for:
- Make a reservation. If you don’t, you’ll either need to plan on arriving 2-3 hours before your ferry departure to ensure you get a spot or you’ll end up on a later ferry. The summer is the most popular time of year for travel to the San Juan Islands and the crowds are sizeable! Avoid the long wait in the ferry line and mark your calendar for the day the reservations become available. Reservation information can be found here.
- Get there early. I suggested arriving 45 min before your reservation time. Getting there early gives you a chance to stretch your legs, take a quick selfie on the beach with the ferry in the background & indulge in a fancy coffee.
- What to do on the ferry. You've got atleast an hour before you arrive, make the most of it by exploring the ferry and taking a few more selfies & scenic shots. You can post these on social media for all your friends to oggle.
- On the way home, plan to arrive at the ferry early. Are you sensing a theme? Ferrys depart every 1-2 hrs and stop running after a certain time. Getting stuck on the island wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, unless you have to work the next day. Oh well, who doesn’t love an extra day of vacation?