For many women, weddings are the most important days in their lives. Would-be brides often secure their ‘something borrowed’ while they’re little. Usually a pretty trinket from their mum or grandma’s collection. Something they’ll one day give their daughters and granddaughters.
Guys are getting involved in weddings too. But they’re more likely to focus on the more practical parts, like venues and transport. So you might find a groom and his boys exploring wedding venues in California. Regardless of your shopping gender, let’s look at a few top examples.
1. Wine in the Meadows
Name: Meadowood Napa Valley
Physical Address: 900 Meadowood Lane St. Helena, CA 94574
Guest capacity: Under 50 guests for the smaller rooms; Over 200 guests for the Fairway
- Meals – $150 to $650 per guest
- Venue – $2,500 to $25,000.
Key Selling Point: Meadowood Napa Valley is wine country, surrounded by trees and greenery. So the gorgeous natural landscape changes in magical ways and colors every season, so depending on your chosen mood and ambiance, you can book your wedding at any time of year and it’ll be just as impressive.
Meadowood Napa Valley offers an all-in-one wedding experience. They have guest lodgings if you want a destination affair, a wellness spa for pampering and relaxation, intoxicating vineyards and good food. Event options are endless. You could arrange a tasting at the winery for guests.
Or vineyard tour. Or you could follow your vows in the greens with a few rounds of golf. Some event rooms hold 50 people or less. The golf court holds 120, while the Fairway accommodates over 200 people. Rates include a bar, décor, plate ware, food, a cake, and a five-hour wedding.
2. Rolling at the Ranch
Name: Santa Margarita Ranch
Physical Address: 9000 Yerba Buena, Santa Margarita
Mailing Address: 750 Pismo Street San Luis Obispo, CA 9340
Guest Capacity: 250
Budget Range: Pricing available on request
Key Selling Point: The wedding package gives you a full days use of the Asistencia Barn, Estrada Garden, and Bridal Cottage, with lots of vistas for your wedding photos.
If you’re looking for tradition, Santa Margarita works. It’s an authentically maintained historic site, active since 1774. In addition to rancho hospitality, Santa Margarita produces natural beef and award-winning wine to date. It has also been used as a film set for several TV shows, movies, and commercials. They don’t charge corkage and you can bring your own licensed caterer.
3. Water Wedding
Name: Electra Cruises
Physical Address: 3439 Via Oporto, Newport Beach, CA 92663
Guest capacity: From 25 to 300
- Per person – $104 to $125
- Per group of 50 – $5,750 to $8,395
Key Selling Point: The wedding takes place on a selection of five luxurious yachts. Pick the boat you like and enjoy a package that includes food, entertainment, and wedding accommodation on a starlit ocean.
For an exceptional seaside wedding, forget the beach and rent this boat! Rather than staying docked, the cruise ship sails out into the waters! You get four hours’ use of the boat, which includes set-up and clean-up, so you’ll be running a tight ship. They’ll provide an in-house wedding coordinator to help. Parking is provided for guests at the dock.
However, since it’s a water wedding, you can’t have confetti (ocean pollution) rice, or birdseed (seagulls, etc.) Also, you can decorate on your own, but the yacht crew has to approve. Also, no external food, drinks, or caterers allowed, and your guests can only smoke outdoors.
4. Marry at the Mint
Name: The San Francisco Mint
Physical Address: 88 5th Street SF 94103
Guest capacity: 200 to 300 for the wedding; 170 to 999 for the reception
- Main Floor – $20,000
- Optional Vault – $5,000
- Extended Hours – $2,500 per hour
- Extended-hour-set-up – $1,000
- Overtime – $1,000 for every half hour
- Bar – $10,000 minimum
Key Selling Point: Its Greek pillars and gorgeous lighting keeps it stunning, both day and night. It provides unmatched backdrops for your wedding album. Plus it has a rich history, pun intended. It once held a third of all US gold reserves! The package includes three extra hours outside the event itself, so you get 2 hours set-up, 5 hours event, and a 1-hour breakdown.
This California wedding venue gives a new meaning to ‘marrying into money’. The San Francisco Mint started during the Gold Rush. It doesn’t mint coins anymore, but the Classic Greek-revival Architecture of The Granite Lady (the main mint building) makes a gorgeous wedding venue.
The wedding package includes security guards, a ballroom, and dedicated dressing rooms from the bride and groom. The company will have its Wedding Director and Operations Manager on site, but you should bring a Wedding Planner. They don’t allow external food or drinks, and they have a list of preferred vendors they’ve approved. Pre-approval is 3 months in advance.
This used to be a mint though, so its terms can be strict. No confetti, no glitter, no outdoor amplifiers after 10 pm, no indoor amplifiers after 2 am. You pay 50% when you book and finish payments (plus final guest lists) a month before W-Day. Just like your vendors, your wedding decorations must be pre-approved. You also need proof of insurance worth $1M to $2M.
5. Fabulous Flowers
Name: Hacienda de las Flores
Physical Address: 2100 Donald Drive, Moraga, CA
Guest capacity: 200
- Pavillion – $1,950 for 50 guests
- Hacienda – $2,250 for 50 guests
- Both – $3,150 for 50 guests
Key Selling Point: You can use either space (or both) for 8 hours. This includes set-up, break-down, clean-up, consultation, chairs, tables, and parking.
If you can’t marry in Spain, this Spanish-styled Estate could be the next best thing. It has a beautiful ‘secret garden’ feel with a landscaped garden, fountain, pavilion, and patio. The portico is perfect for your vows. It has no dressing rooms, but the lush gardens are ideal for your reception. And there’s a covered outdoor space in case of rain.
6. Beaching and Surfing
Name: Surfrider Malibu
Physical Address: 23033 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Guest capacity: Up to 74 overnight guests
Budget Range: Pricing available on request
Key Selling Point: You can have a ceremony on the beach then reserve the roof deck for your reception. There’s an optional live band. The roof deck is wheelchair accessible.
For a destination wedding that will really ‘wow’ your guests, check them into the Surfrider. This boutique hotel has 20 rooms and sits on the pier, so guests wake up feeling like they’re in the middle of the ocean. It has a rich surfing culture, which influences its décor, including authentic 1950s motel styling. You can rent wetsuits, surfboards, and drive complimentary Mini Coopers.
7. Dessert in the Desert
Name: Korakia Pensione, Palm Springs
Physical Address: 257 S. Patencio Road, Palm Springs, California 92262
Guest capacity: 130 guests
Budget Range: Pricing is available on request.
Key Selling Point: This venue offers sunset tones, jasmine gardens, and a view of the San Jacinto Mountains in the distance. It’s a popular venue for high fashion events.
If you’re more into the sand and less into the sea, consider a California desert wedding. Don’t worry, there’s lots of drinking water and plenty of AC. It has decorative themes from Morocco to the Mediterranean. It’s only the smaller side though, and strictly no kids. The grand entrance is shaped like a key – a nice metaphor for your upcoming nuptials – Keys to Love and Happiness.
It’s not all sand and misery. Korakia has lush gardens filled with fountains, olive trees, citrus blossoms, date palms, bougainvillea, and even a stone waterfall. Bungalows are filled with Moorish motifs and antique carvings. There are hikes, bikes, and swimming pools.
8. Art Along the Aisle
Name: Asian Art Museum
Physical Address: 200 Larkin Street San Francisco, CA 94102
Guest capacity: 30 to 250 depending on the room
Budget Range: Pricing available on request
Key Selling Point: The museum has five event spaces for the ceremony, cocktails, dancing, or gallery exhibit exploration. The museum receives guests during the day, so you can only host your wedding after hours.
Have you considered a (wedding) night at the museum? The Asian Art Museum hosts evening ceremonies from 5.30 pm to midnight. Your package includes set-up and dismantling time from 2 pm to 2 am. The former library – now called the Samsung Hall – is ideal for dancing.
And the ornate staircase makes a glorious wedding aisle and backdrop. That said, the venue only helps you off-load your wedding. You have to provide everything else yourself, including dinner-ware chairs. You have to choose from their pre-approved list of food and beverage vendors.
9. Gather at the Theatre
Name: Padua Hills Theatre
Physical Address: 4467 Padua Avenue Claremont, CA 91711
Guest capacity: 370 guests
Budget Range: Starts at $9,562 for 50 guests
Key Selling Point: There are multiple sites on the grounds. These include a Theatre Ballroom, an Olive Garden, a Sunset Terrace, and a gorgeous Wrought Iron Gazebo for vows, which their officiates can help you write. Outdoor dining is enlivened by an alfresco fireplace, and every shot shows the majestic hills in the distance. Padua is ideal for sunset weddings.
Gather your guests at Padua Hills and learn why it was voted the best wedding spot of 2016. You can host indoors or outdoors, enjoying twinkling lights and an olive grove. The venue has licensed wedding officiates. They also have photographers, videographers, caterers, florists, decorators, music, and drinks. Alternatively, select some of their preferred, pre-vetted vendors.
10. Caves and Courtyards
Name: Calistoga Ranch
Physical Address: 580 Lommel Road Calistoga, CA 94515
Guest capacity: 150 reception guests (and 50 freestanding guest lodges)
Budget Range: Pricing available on request
Key Selling Point: Most of California has a problem with loud music, so events have to turn it down by 10 pm. At Calistoga, you can shift into the caves for your late-night reveling. It’s warm, cozy, and best of all, sound-proof.
Calistoga has a surprising array of activities for a relaxing retreat. You can bike, hike, do yoga, zip-line, blend wine, collect chicken eggs, ride horses, harvest honey from hives … and have an amazing wedding. Our ceremonies are performed by Lake Lommel, surrounded by pines and oaks a hundred years old. They’ll even provide a wedding specialist to help you along.
11. Love in LA
Name: LA Banquets – Legacy Ballroom
Physical Address: 6410 San Fernando Road Glendale, CA 91201
Guest capacity: 270 guests
Budget Range: From $13,362 for 50 guests
Key Selling Point: LA residents live life like the movies, and this wedding venue lets you marry like the movies too. It has modern décor and hi-tech equipment for lights and sound. It regularly serves as a film location, so your wedding guests will get the full star treatment.
When you want a wedding that’s set by today’s standards, try LA Banquets Legacy Ballroom. It has a contemporary theme and modern styling. The ballroom is filled with chandeliers that grace the coffered ceiling, bouncing glimmers off the marble floor. They have an LED screen backdrop that projects HD video and visuals. They even have an in-house light designer.
12. Wed Among the Trees
Name: Santa Lucia Mountain Preserve
Physical Address: 1 Rancho San Carlos Road Carmel, CA 93923
Guest capacity: Details available on request
Budget Range: Prices available on request
Key Selling Point: This exclusive nature resort has been around since the 1920s. It seamlessly blends old and new, with centuries-old redwoods, a well-protected lake, wildlife, horses, and a top-notch golf course. Plus, you’re unlikely to have gate crashers!
Santa Lucia Preserves offer 20,000 acres of private land covered in trees, horses, and golf courses. Start your married life by contemplating the height and wonder or Redwood trees that have lived more than a hundred years. Then have your reception in a barn that’s just as old.
Guest activities include glamping (glam-camping), horse riding, or hiking in the rich mountain air. It’s members-only though and is quite competitive and exclusive. So you have to join first, then sponsor your wedding guests.
13. Marry in a Mansion
Name: Willow Heights Mansion
Physical Address: 1978 Willow Springs Road Morgan Hill, CA 95037
Guest capacity: 300 guests
Budget Range: starts at $10,578 for 50 guests
Key Selling Point: Outside, you can exchange vows under a wooden pergola that faces the hills. Inside, enjoy the aesthetic sensibility of wealth, with crystal chandeliers, massive mirrors, wrought-iron railings, and marble fireplaces. And you can party till late!
It’s not always about the views. Sometimes you just want to bring your loved ones to a nice house and share happy memories. Willow Heights Mansion certainly achieves that. And if the weather is nice and guests don’t mind getting dirty, jump onto the grass form some bocce. Your wedding package includes a 7-hour session, including wedding planning, set-up, and clean-up.
It doesn’t have to be a beach wedding just because it’s in California. Far more important than sand and sea shots, your venue should have:
- Adequate seating and shaded areas, in case the weather changes.
- Separate changing rooms for the bride and groom.
- Clean restrooms with facilities for kids, seniors, and differently-abled guests.
- Secure and accessible parking areas.
- Good acoustics, and permission to play music if the party goes past sunset.
Are you already married or currently scouting locations? Share some photos on the comments and tell us what makes that wedding venue in California special!