San Jose Wedding Venue
160 North Third Street
San Jose, California 95112
For many brides and grooms, the dream starts with a big church wedding, preferably a place with lots of charm, a sense of history and a warm, inviting atmosphere. Well, dreams can come true, because the First Unitarian Church of San Jose offers all that and more. Built in 1891 and recently restored to its former glory, the venue’s Romanesque Revival architecture incorporates graceful domes, arched entryways, a sun-kissed stucco façade and some of the most beautiful stained-glass windows you’re likely to find anywhere. Perhaps equally important, the church, with its long tradition of community outreach and social equality, welcomes all couples—regardless of religious affiliation or sexual orientation—to celebrate their union in its unique circular sanctuary.
Arriving guests enter through three sets of double doors at the top of the terracotta steps (there’s a side ramp and elevators, too). Once inside the two-story, domed space, you’re struck by the lack of hard edges as one design motif flows into another, reinforcing a sense of continuity. Rows of old wooden seats, their antique patina glowing in the light from dozens of floral stained-glass windows, are arranged in a semicircle on both the main floor and the mezzanine. They face an inspiring stained-glass panel that flanks the graceful, triple-arched chancel. Etched right into the carpet below is a large labyrinth, adding a note of contemplation to the spirituality of the surroundings. And speaking of notes, the acoustics in a room without angles are superb for savoring the sound of either the Steinway baby grand or the Galanti organ during your service.
If you have your reception here, you may want to start with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the parlor-style Fireside Room, which features an upright piano, wainscoted walls and a barrel ceiling. Dominating one wall is the Arts and Crafts wooden fireplace, while throughout the room there are notable antique touches like an intricately carved buffet. When it’s time for dinner, just swing open the French doors and invite your guests into the adjacent Hattie Porter Hall. This spacious, high-ceilinged dinner and dancing area, set off by moss green walls and dark wood floors, is filled with light from more stained-glass windows and twinkling chandeliers. For a quiet moment away from the crowd, retreat to the casual upstairs lounge (which also serves as your bridal room) and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the festivities from windows that look down on the action in the hall below.
Just remember before you leave to take advantage of photo opportunities at the historic St. James Park across the street. Among its illustrious designers was Frederick Olmstead, one of this country’s pre-eminent landscape architects and the mastermind behind outdoor treasures such as New York’s Central Park.
CEREMONY CAPACITY: The sanctuary holds 237 seated guests.
EVENT/RECEPTION CAPACITY: Indoors the facility holds 88 guests at round tables and 135 guests at rectangular tables or 200 standing guests.
MEETING CAPACITY: Meeting rooms accommodate 150 seated guests.
A $1,000 refundable deposit is required to reserve your date. The balance is due 3 months prior to the event. Rental fees range $1,200–2,500 depending on the space rented.
Special Events, Parties
Kitchen Facilities: prep only
Tables & Chairs: provided
Linens, Silver, etc.: BYO
Restrooms: wheelchair accessible
Dance Floor: provided
Bride’s & Groom’s Dressing Areas: yes
Meeting Equipment: some provided
Parking: validated parking
Accommodations: no guest rooms
Telephone: emergency use only
Outdoor Night Lighting: access only
Outdoor Cooking Facilities: none
Other: grand piano, A/V equipment
Smoking: allowed outdoors only
Music: amplified OK indoors
Wheelchair Access: yes
Insurance: not required
Year-round, daily, 9am–midnight.