Santa Cruz Wedding Venue
100 Shaffer Road
Santa Cruz, California 95060
As part of UC Santa Cruz’s 100-acre marine science campus, Seymour Marine Discovery Center is dedicated to public education and conservation of our fragile ocean ecosystem. Their user-friendly approach means that learning has never been so inspiring—or so picturesque.
The first thing you see when you arrive at the Center is a gigantic skeleton of a blue whale, its sleek silhouette arching in the sunlight. A full 87 feet long, “Ms. Blue,” as she’s known, washed ashore in 1979, and has become an awe-inspiring symbol of the majesty and mystery of the underwater world. Ms. Blue’s sinuous beauty takes you by surprise…and further exploration reveals that this place has plenty more unexpected delights.
The complex is comprised of several rustic, wood-planked buildings, with the Seymour Center itself perched on an isolated bluff above an unspoiled stretch of the Santa Cruz coast and Monterey Bay. Nature is at its finest here, with nothing to distract from a vast, ever-changing sky and seascape. Depending on when you visit, you might spy various types of seals, sea lions, southern sea otters, humpback or gray whales, plus dolphins or porpoises. Other local wildlife—such as monarch butterflies, snowy egrets or nesting barn swallows—perfectly complement the spectacular setting.
Most ceremonies take place on Shipwreck Deck, which adjoins the Exhibit Hall and faces a native meadow and the curving shoreline of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Guests have an up-close look at surrounding coastal prairie and wetlands, alive with soaring hawks, red-winged blackbirds and the tangy aroma of the sea. A nature trail winds along the cliffs before angling towards the deck. Sage, yellow bush lupine and wispy beach grass bend in the breeze, while lavender seaside daisies, pale pink buckwheat, and white yarrow dot the fields like confetti. The trail makes a glorious wedding aisle, and as the bride is escorted to her groom, the sound of the surf creates a soothing refrain.
After your picture-postcard “I dos,” explore the grounds with your photographer. Meanwhile, your lucky guests are experiencing a cocktail hour they’ll never forget, inside the Center’s exhibit halls. With one of the display pods transformed into a buffet table, your friends and family take their refreshments and mingle among interactive exhibits. In one hall, they might listen to a telephone conversation with a seal. In another, they can thrill to the touch of sea anemones, purple iridescent starfish or shy hermit crabs. The aquarium showcases a fascinating array of creatures—moon jellies, a monkeyface eel, swell sharks, even an intelligent octopus.
But the fun’s just beginning. Your reception is held in the La Feliz Room and Patio, an indoor/outdoor space with lots of flexibility. The simple room has open-beamed ceilings and large view-filled windows. Though the room dresses up as elegant as you please, why not go all out with an aquatic theme, decorating it with shell motifs and ocean-inspired accents? Leave the doors open wide to La Feliz Patio, which is good for overflow seating or dancing under a myriad of stars.
In order to rent the facility, you’ll need to become a “Friend of the Center,” an easy, low-cost (and tax-deductible) way to support this worthy organization. If your wedding vision includes natural splendor, a fun twist and a dash of eco-friendliness, then Seymour Marine Discovery Center is the place for you.
CEREMONY, EVENT/RECEPTION & MEETING CAPACITY: The facility holds up to 180 seated or 335 standing guests indoors and 100 standing outdoors for receptions, and 100 outdoors and indoors for ceremonies.
A $150–500 deposit is required to reserve your date. The balance is due 30 days prior to the event. Rental fees for weddings/receptions range $1,400–2,500 per day depending on space and date rented and guest count. For other events, rentals start at $800 per day. Extra liability insurance may be required depending on guest count. If an aquarium exhibit is desired for the event during business hours, there is a $8/person additional fee. Rental of the Exhibit Hall during the evening includes a “touch table” for guests to interact with marine life at no charge.
Special Events, Parties
Catering: select from list or BYO
Kitchen Facilities: fully equipped
Tables & Chairs: provided
Linens, Silver, etc.: BYO
Restrooms: wheelchair accessible
Dance Floor: BYO, depending on space rented
Bride’s Dressing Area: CBA
Meeting Equipment: BYO
Parking: medium-sized public lot, shuttling encouraged
Accommodations: no guestrooms
Telephone: guest phone
Outdoor Night Lighting: provided
Outdoor Cooking Facilities: no
View: panorama of ocean/bay, coastline and fields
Other: picnic area, AV equipment, ocean view decks, aquarium and exhibit hall availability
Banquet Hall/Events Facility
Year-round, daily (except holidays), 8am–10pm. All guests must be off premises by 11pm. Rentals are available on Mondays, though the venue is closed to the general public.