Military Weddings: To Base or Not to Base

When planning a military wedding to or as a service member on Camp Pendleton, you are fortunate enough to have a wide variety of options.  These are a few things to consider when making your decision to have your wedding on base or off base.

Reasons to a have a wedding on Camp Pendleton

The Cost

While most wedding venues on Camp Pendleton are open to civilian use, as a service member you will receive a pretty steep discount and lower food and beverage minimums!  From Marine Memorial Golf Course to La Casa Del Mar, these venues provide gorgeous views and delicious food.  Pacific Views Event Center is the main conference center on Camp Pendleton and can provide dinner receptions for up to 1200 guests.

Surrounding Areas

Oceanside encompasses most of Camp Pendleton’s southern border and has served as a second home to many of our service members since the Camp’s dedication in 1942.  This has created deep-rooted patriotism and a sense of pride for those that serve us throughout the Oceanside community.

By using Oceanside as your wedding headquarters, Visit Oceanside can assist you with booking your accommodations and can create custom itineraries for your guests and recommend several group dining options. Oceanside has several highly rated hotels that are mere minutes to both the main gate off Oceanside Harbor Drive and the back gate off of Vandegrift Blvd.

Year-Round Beach Weddings

City and State beaches are subject to limited permitting during peak tourism season.  While you’ll still have the same crowds at the beaches on Camp Pendleton, there is a possibility that your wedding can share the sand with them.  Keep in mind that the summer sand can be scorching!

Easy Cancellations

No one understands more than Base venues that early deployments or delayed homecomings can throw a wrench in wedding planning.  Venues on Camp Pendleton are naturally going to be a little more lenient and may refund your deposit entirely.  Oceanside is extremely military friendly and many venues may also provide a refund with military orders, just make sure that you ask in the negotiation process and you know all of the risks before signing the contract.

Challenges to Consider When Planning a
Wedding on Camp Pendleton

Base Access

As of February 1st, 2016, every guest and wedding vendor will need to provide their name, birthdate, and identification number up to seven (7) days in advance of attempting to enter the base.  For weddings and events, the host will be required to gather all of this information and submit it on a spreadsheet a week prior to the event.  If someone doesn’t RSVP or forgets to give you this data, they will be turned away from the gate.  This is going to take a lot more work and coordination on your end. In extreme conditions, the base may close entirely without warning.  There are also individuals that are simply wary of giving any government agency their personal information and may choose to forego the event.

RELATED:  Visiting Camp Pendleton? What to know before you go!

It is Intimidating

Let’s face it, if you don’t know your way around Camp Pendleton it can be downright scary.  There aren’t a lot of directional signs, you risk a speeding ticket by going even one mile over the limit, and driving next to a tank can create white knuckles from even the most seasoned driver.  If you do plan a larger wedding or event on base, consider hiring a shuttle to get your guests where they need to go.

Accommodations are Limited

If you have out-of-town guests, there aren’t any branded hotels to use their frequent stay points. In addition, the number of rooms themselves are limited to your civilian guests, and book up quickly by active duty. Have your guests stay in Oceanside where they can walk to dining and entertainment.

RELATED: Click here to Download the Oceanside Wedding and Event Guide

General Tips to Plan a Military Wedding

Ask for the Military Discount – If you’re using wedding vendors in San Diego, chances are they have a military discount.  It’s OK to ask. We appreciate your service.

Get Wedding Insurance – Wedding insurance can provide that peace of mind that you’ll need in case an emergency arises, including an unexpected deployment. WedSafe is one of the largest, most trusted, wedding insurance provider.

Prepare your Guests – If you’re having your wedding on-base, you’ll need to have open lines of communication before and during the event.  Make sure your response cards are clear since you’ll need their identification numbers in advance. The day of, have someone be in charge of your cell phone so last minute questions can be answered regarding access and directions.

Published: February 3, 2016

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