California is an interesting place to profile because it's so diverse and there's something for everyone when it comes to wedding venues. Venues can range from inns with a perfect view of sand and surf, to Beverly Hills' celeb-studded luxe hotels, to lodges with rustic mountain backdrops. Let's explore!
A guide to unique California wedding venues across the state
Famous & Historical Venues
For an unforgettable San Francisco wedding, combine the picturesque and historic Palace of Fine Arts (pictured above) with the bustling activity of the Exploratorium. Exchange vows beneath the beautiful Greco-Roman rotunda, walk through the arched entry of the neighboring Exploratorium into a world of wonder for a truly “interactive” reception. The Main Corridor, an enormous space with exposed industrial grids and a towering ceiling, is filled with intriguing exhibits like the 18-foot-tall tornado you can touch or the cloud rings you can send flying up into the air with a push of your hand. These and other interactive displays, developed in-house by a combination of artists and scientists, make for truly unique wedding entertainment.
Grace Cathedral is the Episcopal Cathedral of the Diocese of California and an iconic house of prayer for all across the world. The cathedral offers five separate venues to suit any desired wedding size and style. For a larger spectacle, The Nave offers 90-foot ceilings, sweeping archways and 26 stained glass windows. Those holding more intimate affair can choose between the Chapel of the Nativity, adorned with stone pillars and an Adoration mural or the vaulted Chapel of Grace. For a truly unique space, look no further than The Labyrinth, where guests sit in a circle around the beautifully executed Chartres' labyrinth on the floor.
California's most famous castle is the perfect hilltop location for a fancy wedding affair. If the estate's natural surroundings alone don't take your breath away, the castle grounds certainly will. Hearst Castle is the ultimate backdrop for couples looking for glamour and splendor on their wedding day. Receptions are held outdoors on one of the Castle's many picturesque terraces and guests are treated to a private tour of the grounds.
The Amphitheatre of the Redwoods is part of the Pema Osel Ling Retreat Center, a name that means “Lotus Land of Clear Light.” Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, this venue offers an intimate forest experience with a natural soundtrack of chattering blue jays and wind whistling through the branches. Tie the knot beneath a soaring canopy of redwoods on the edge of a hillside with the distant turquoise waters of the Monterey Bay in the background. Celebrate with a reception in the Gallery Meadow overlooking an Asian fountain courtyard and art gallery.
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The Palace Hotel has been the first choice for elegant San Francisco weddings for over a century. The Grand Ballroom offers a stunning 8,964-square-foot space with 18-foot ceilings, brilliant antique drop chandeliers, rich red and gold carpeting and elaborate crown molding, creating the perfect setting to hold the royal wedding of your dreams. Find out more about Palace Hotel on Travelocity »
For a romantic, picture-perfect Beverly Hills wedding, look no further than Montage Beverly Hills. The venue reflects the area's glamour estates of the 1920s and '30s; overlooking the artfully sculpted green-on-green tones of the Beverly Canon Gardens, the Montage Terrace offers a stunning outdoor Beverly Hills wedding location. Graced with Mediterranean-inspired architectural details, dramatic inlaid tile and lush gardens of its own, this 5,000-square-foot terrace accommodates intimate weddings, receptions and special events with each and sophisticated city style. Find out more about Montage Beverly Hills on Travelocity »
The suites at Auberge du Soleil, decorating a luscious green hillside, offer spectacular panoramic views of the Napa Valley, its vineyards and the Mayacamas Mountains. The peaceful location offers privacy and intimacy for small, classy weddings in one of California's most beloved parts of wine country. Find out more about Auberge du Soleil on Travelocity »
The Ahwahnee offers an elegant, historic setting for intimate ceremonies and receptions, combining breathtaking scenery with the luxury and services of a four-diamond hotel. Exchange vows on a beautiful lawn with the wonders of Yosemite National Park as your backdrop, host a cocktail reception with views of Glacier Point, and enjoy a four-course banquet in the hotel's Solarium. Find out more about The Ahwahnee on Travelocity »
You can't get much more traditionally Californian than the Hotel del Coronado, named the number one wedding destination in America by the Travel Channel. With a variety of premier outdoor sites and 42 different beautifully decorated indoor rooms, the Hotel del Coronado offers something for every type of bride and groom. With choices such as the Windsor Lawn, the Beach, the Garden Patio, the Ballroom, the Carousel Room and the Coronet Room, this destination is the place to go for the perfect Southern California storybook wedding. Find out more about Hotel del Coronado on Travelocity »
(Resort photos via Travelocity // Venue information courtesy of Visit California)