The Road Less Traveled
Wonderous Wedding Locations Off the Beaten Path (but well worth the drive!) in Northern and Southern California.
Tucked along one of the loveliest sections of the Northern California coast, Point Reyes Seashore Lodge is flanked by giant redwoods and Point Reyes National Seashore Park. The environs are truly magnificent, and if you reserve the Lodge for your exclusive destination weekend, you’ll have the leisure to explore, relax and celebrate. Guestrooms are cozy and plush, with many featuring fireplaces, featherbeds and pastoral views. Outdoor weddings here are a special treat, overlooking a sweeping lawns and a blooming English garden. Intimate gatherings can reserve the Casa Olema Retreat, which includes a formal herb and flower garden, fruit trees, a lawn and a private cottage. An on-site historic restaurant is a charming (and convenient) creekside setting for your rehearsal dinner, while the Retreat’s 8-person outdoor hot tub is ready-made for a bachelorette party.
A picturesque drive along a forested mountain road leads you into the wilds of Santa Barbara Wine Country. Cresting the final ridge, you’re rewarded with a stunning panorama of mountains, golden fields and the oh-so-charming Figueroa Mountain Farmhouse. Sequestered from all signs of civilization, this historic Appalachian-style home speaks of a simpler, gentler time. From Great Room to Loft, the immaculate interior is lavished with authentic 18th-century details, antiques and cleverly hidden modern luxuries. Broad wooden decks overlook the vast meadow where ceremonies and receptions are held into the wee, starlit hours. A dozen or so lucky guests can stay for the weekend and explore the grounds, while the newlyweds find romance in a pretty cottage nearby.
Agua Dulce in Santa Clarita’s Sleepy Valley
A tranquil enclave of chaparral-covered hills, big sky and sage-scented air holds a special attraction: Le Chene, a fine French restaurant that’s been piquing the palates of locals and out-of-town visitors for decades. Housed in a historic building, the restaurant conveys an invitingly rustic elegance. Picture windows in the private A-framed banquet room take in a view of the rear garden, a favored spot for ceremonies and outdoor receptions. Here, Le Chene’s wooden deck, accented with ivy-covered trellises, overlooks a contoured lawn canopied by a grove of centennial oak trees. Paths wind among seasonal blooms and greenery, while the trickling of a brook that spills from an old wooden water wheel plays a soothing refrain. In addition to its acclaimed cuisine, Le Chene is also known for its award-winning wine list. Four underground cellars showcase over 1000 vintages, including selections from chef and owner Juan Alonso’s family vineyard. With its pastoral surroundings and high culinary standards, Le Chene is sure to satisfy epicureans as well as romantics.
Empire Polo Club
Indio, in the Coachella Valley
At the edge of Greater Palm Springs is the region’s Equestrian District, the home of the wonderful Empire Polo Club. This desert oasis offers couples a trio of breathtaking locations. The Rose Garden and Pavilion are set amidst a three landscaped acres, abloom with thousands of sweet-scented rose bushes. Then there’s the Hacienda del Toro, a secluded party haven imbued with the spirit of Old California. An enclosed waterfall and aviary make a delightful spot for a ceremony, while a huge covered stage can be decked out for a Western-style reception. On another part of the grounds lies Medjool Lake, an exotic paradise replete with quaint footbridges and whimsical statuary peeking out from ferns and willow branches. Couples can even arrive by gondola! After the “I dos,” it’s just a short stroll to the dinner banquet, arrayed beneath a series of spectacular Olympic tents that adjoin the polo greens.