Since California legalized gay marriage, many same-sex couples—including Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi—have already happily tied the knot. So after all is said and done, what is the difference between a same-sex wedding and a straight one? “Gay weddings don’t seem to be much different than straight events, except for what’s on top of the cake: two girls, two guys or a mix,” quips Mark Belhumeur from the Russian River’s Village Inn.
Gay couples are now (finally!) legally allowed to marry anywhere they wish in California, but like everyone else they still have to contend with planning their event. Karen Hester of Here Comes The Pride (great name, isn’t it?) is doing what she can to make that easier: Her wedding packages include hand-picked gay- or lesbian-friendly wedding locations and services. “We want to offer the best possible wedding for those couples who have waited a long time for this historic moment,” notes Hester.
Not coincidentally, Hester recommends some of our loveliest Here Comes The Guide wedding venues, including: The Claremont Club and Spa, A Fairmont Hotel, Hotel Durant, Terrace Room at Lake Merritt Hotel. She’s also personally approved Boon in Guerneville and The Village Inn in Monte Rio.
Trend Alert: According to Denon & Doyle Mobile DJ, the hottest “First Dance” song for same-sex weddings is ‘I’m Coming Out’ by Diana Ross. “The same sex weddings we have been doing are all about fun,” says Brian Doyle.
On the way to Lake County for my latest family vacation, I took a leisurely detour to Cornerstone Gardens where I visited their wine tasting room. What a welcome way to cool down on an otherwise painfully hot day! I could instantly see why this place is such a draw for weddings: The outside sculpture garden, which is encircled by lush flowers and art, is simply stunning.
One thing I didn’t realize until I was actually there is that Cornerstone is far more than just gardens— it’s an unexpected shopping destination. Under a canopy of shady trees resides a row of intriguing furnishing stores where you can find pieces to complement any design style: organic materials, shells, light fixtures, tables, windows, or even mermaid statues!
Whenever I want to plan a weekend vacation with my husband Phil, all I have to do is choose a region and then start browsing the wedding locations we feature on the Here Comes The Guide website that also double as fabulous weekend or honeymoon getaways (hint: there are a lot). On a recent trip to California’s Central Coast, I was practically stumbling over one great location after another. Some of the highlights:
Sycamore Mineral Springs has a stellar bike trail that winds alongside a riverbank. I can see why this getaway would be a lovely wedding spot. The secluded surroundings, abundant wildlife, and indulgent spa treatments could easily help a couple ease their minds before the big day.
Inland in Edna Valley there’s a new Wine Trail that leads you through several of the Central Coast’s breathtaking vineyards. While on the trail, I dropped by Edna Valley Vineyards, which is a great place for wine lovers—and lovers in general. I’m sure anyone who visits appreciates Edna Valley Vineyards’ hospitality center, with sweeping views of the vineyards all around. No wonder Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Edna Valley one of the best places in the wine country to be married! I even found some new favorites once I got there: Baileyana Winery (adorable gift shop) and Talley Winery with it’s historic mission adobe.
The stretch of Highway 1 between Avila Beach and Pismo Beach is just 8 short miles long, so these locations can easily be visited in a day. Get started by dropping your surfboard at the front desk and taking a tour of the SeaVenture Resort right on the beach in Pismo. If you go, and you uncover any other fabulous places in your travels, let us know!