Here Comes the Guide brings you expert articles and blog postings about California wedding locations. We’ll give you tips on how to make sure you ask all the right questions and head’s up posts on the coolest receptions venues in the state.
The list below gives you the option to read longer, more detailed pieces from our Articles + Ideas section or shorter, topical and timely pieces from our blog. Either way, you’ll get great info from the experts on everything related to California weddings.
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale has so much to offer when it comes to planning an intimate wedding—wonderful hotels, fantastic dining, secluded beaches, and an overall feel that's a bit more serene than its bustling neighbors.
Planning a South Florida wedding? The upscale, picturesque barrier island community of Golden Beach, and its vibrant neighbor, Hollywood, are definitely worth considering. The two cities are easily accessible from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, situated between two major airports, and minutes away from the area's most popular attractions.
With its beautifully preserved Art Deco buildings, pristine beaches, and ultra-hot nightlife, South Beach is an ideal wedding spot—whether your guests are traveling from afar, or just driving in from the next county.
Want to have a fantastic destination wedding but don’t want to learn a foreign language or take a 12-hour plane ride to get there? No problem—some of the best destination wedding venues are right here in the U.S.!
If you're dreaming of an outdoor wedding among blossoms, vines, and shade trees, Georgia is a great place to get married. Thanks to its temperate weather and a Southern knack for making all things beautiful, the Peach State is home to some of the country's most glorious gardens.
Luxury comes in many forms, and these downtown Chicago hotels showcase them all. From gold leaf detailing and crystal chandeliers to hand-painted ceilings and rich, wood paneling, the event spaces in the following venues are both stunning and unique. Add exceptional services to the mix (think in-room spa treatments, afternoon tea and customized everything!) as well as plush accommodations and you’ve got all the elements for an unforgettable upscale celebration.
If an "outside the box" celebration is on your list of must-haves, check out the following places. You’ll find a yacht, museums, soaring urban towers and a zoo among this selection of Tennessee’s unique and inspiring wedding venues.
If there's one thing Texans know how to do, it's throw a great party. (Well, that, and barbecue!) The Houston area, in particular, is home to some of the Lone Star State's most incredible wedding venues. From simple rural charm to Old World elegance, you'll find something to love among these awesome event spaces.
The Hamptons may be best known as an exclusive summer destination for wealthy New Yorkers, but this series of seaside communities on Long Island’s South Fork is also home to some exceptional wedding venues. Located along the water, on farmland, or in historic buildings, the following places provide an opportunity to celebrate in style.
With its prime location directly across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Arlington is a convenient place for a wedding, as well as a great home base for exploring the capitol. If you’re planning to host your celebration in this historic city, here are a few venues to consider.
Downtown LA is alive and thriving! Its mother lode of historic architecture and museums, as well as cultural, entertainment and sporting events, makes it a great place to turn your wedding into a mini-vacation. And, when it comes to venue choices for the Big Day, you’ll find whatever vibe you’re looking for: Old World glamour, sleek and modern, traditional elegance—even places with a hipster edge. Check out these possibilities—you’re sure to find one…or two…or three! that fit your personal style.
The romance of a garden wedding is something everyone can appreciate. Who isn’t captivated by a gorgeous landscape with flowers, trees, fountains, manicured lawns and meandering paths? You’ll find all of those things and more among New Jersey’s garden wedding venues. Here are 10 that are well worth checking out.
Intimate weddings give Virginia’s classic Southern hospitality a chance to truly shine. The state’s perfect mix of bustling cities and rural countryside offers a wide variety of choices to match any couple’s style. As the following venues prove, a shorter guest list doesn’t mean having to compromise your vision for a fabulous day.
With cobblestone streets, 18th-century buildings and a historic waterfront, Alexandria is consistently named one of the most romantic cities in the U.S. So it’s no wonder that it’s home to some of the most appealing wedding venues around. Whether they transport you to a bygone era or contrast a modern setting in the midst of Old Town, many boast water views, easy access to the nation’s capitol—even upscale accommodations with charm to spare. Here are some great places to check out!
Get married in the country, and you’re likely to be surrounded by open sky, mountain vistas, hay bales, and maybe even a weathered red tractor. If you want to tie the knot on a farm or party in a barn, pay a visit to these Northern Virginia wedding venues.
Virginia is home to a wide range of exceptional wedding venues, from botanical gardens and historic landmarks to luxury resorts and fabulous farms. We’ve selected a dozen places that showcase the state’s wealth of event locations, and you just might want to check them ALL out!
You don’t have to go to a faraway tropical shore or exotic island to channel your inner beachcomber. If you crave the sand, sun and sea, you can get all that and so much more right in beautiful Southern California. From glamorous resorts to quaint waterfront hotels, here’s our pick of 9 beachy destinations for a romantic getaway:
Some of Texas’ most beautiful waterfront wedding venues aren’t on the Gulf coast—they’re on Lake Travis! Just 20 minutes from Austin, the lake and its surrounding area offer a natural environment with woods, hills, and prairie land, not to mention plenty of outdoor recreation options (fishing, boating, swimming, scuba diving, picnicking, camping, and zip lining). Host your wedding at any of these Austin waterfront venues, and you can easily turn your celebration into a vacation!
Think about it: rehearsal dinners include a high concentration of people you love who have gathered in your honor. So why not relax and let your hair down? With very little effort, you can assemble a pre-wedding event that provides some much-needed calm before the busy storm of your wedding weekend. Learn how to make the most of your rehearsal dinner.
It makes sense that a city as rich in history and culture as Miami would have some truly amazing places to celebrate. Want to get married at a private estate or on a beach? Maybe a historic Spanish Monastery is more your style… Here is a selection of unique Miami wedding venues, each one with something special to offer.
Austin’s a great place for an outdoor wedding. It offers a variety of venues and settings, and whether you celebrate at a Victorian Mansion, a resort, or a Sculpture Garden and Museum, nature will enhance your event.
Austin gets high rankings for so many things: its outdoor attractions (parks, lakes and trails), fine restaurants, support of the arts, and overall quality of life. After checking out the city’s wedding venues, we’d have to say it’s a great place to get married, too. Here’s a selection of some of Austin’s best spots to tie the knot.
Even if you’re on a budget you can still have a celebration with panache. Whether you’re into historic charm, industrial chic or penthouse panoramas, you’ll find a place that’s compatible with your style—and your bank account—in this selection of some of Virginia’s most affordable wedding venues.
If you’re getting married in New Jersey, you have your pick of an incredible range of wedding sites: From private estates and country clubs to historic landmarks and amazing museums, the state boasts just about every type of event location you can think of. To give you an idea of what’s available, we’ve put together a little “tasting menu”—10 hand-selected places that we love, each one from a different venue category.
If you’re planning a small wedding, you may feel a little like Goldilocks as you try to find a place that fits your event “just right”. But if you’re searching in Chicago you’re in luck! The Windy City offers plenty of options for hosting an intimate wedding, from a private mansion or vintage loft to a sleek yacht or Italian restaurant. While some of the venues we’ve listed also have spaces that are great for larger groups, all of them happily accommodate cozier celebrations.
Whether it’s on a faraway tropical island, at a secluded wine country villa or at a seaside manse, weddings at signature private properties top the charts for couples tying the knot—and we’re not just talking about celebrities.
You’ve visited a lot of potential wedding venues, and the private estate you’re considering for your Big Day has it all: it’s gorgeous, romantic, and, of course, totally private—truly your dream location! However, while it’s great to get swept away by the beauty of the place, make sure you’re aware of all the extras you’ll need to provide to turn your vision into reality.
What makes a place “romantic” is different for every bride. To some, it’s a rustic barn or country estate…to others it’s a seaside resort or historic mansion with Old World charm. What do you envision? Here’s a peek at 10 of the country’s most romantic wedding venues.
Connecticut’s coastline makes an irresistible backdrop for events. Each of these waterfront wedding venues has its own style, but all of them possess the unique quality that being on the water bestows.
Sparkling fountains, waterfalls and reflecting ponds…acres of blooming rose bushes…quaint bridges and graceful statuary—these are just some of the things that make gardens so irresistible. If a romantic outdoor celebration is what you have in mind, here are a few of the best garden wedding venues from coast to coast.
With so many charming places to get married in Connecticut, it’s hard to choose favorites! Offering a mix of options that include wineries, historic buildings, a resort and a farm, here are 10 of the state’s best wedding venues in no particular order.
Looking for an out-of-the-ordinary place to host your wedding? From a lakeside villa to a funky, fun restaurant with world-class comfort food, Austin is home to quite a few unique venues. Here are just a few of them to explore!
If you have your heart set on getting married in the great outdoors, then you’ll want to check out Washington’s great outdoor wedding venues! There are so many options to choose from: You can celebrate on the water, overlooking the water, in a garden, on a ranch or farm…. We promise you: At all the venues described below, Mother Nature is definitely front and center.
Chicago is fortunate to have a wealth of outdoor wedding venues. Want to get married in a gorgeous garden? On a yacht? At a historic private estate? Here are just a few of the al fresco ceremony and reception options you’ll find in and around the Windy City.
The Hill Country surrounding Austin may be known for its gorgeous scenery and thriving wine industry, but it’s also a mecca for rustic weddings. Whether you’re planning a down-home celebration with a casual barbecue or a cowgirl-chic bash with a silver-and-crystal reception, you’ll find the natural beauty of the region on display at all of these venues.
Elegant, romantic and very photogenic, Austin’s mansions are popular wedding venues for good reason. There’s definitely something special about saying “I do” beneath a 100-year-old oak or sipping champagne on a shady veranda. Host your celebration at one of these historic places and you and your guests will be transported back to a more genteel time.
There are so many ways to get married al fresco, and Maryland’s outdoor wedding venues run the gamut. From waterfront hotels and museums to mansions, farms and yachts, this state is blessed with a multitude of open-air options. Here are a few you might want to check out!
If you want to get married in a setting that’s a bit more relaxed than Chicago proper but still close to the city, check out these wedding venues in the West Chicago suburbs. See our full list of West Chicago wedding locations…or, expand your search to the entire Chicago area!
With its prime oceanfront location, historic Art Deco district, trendy South Beach nightlife and multicultural flavors, Miami is a premier wedding destination as well as a top vacation hotspot. This city is truly a great choice if you want to have a beach ceremony, and here’s a list of some of the amazing places where you can not only say “I do” on the sand but also host an incredible reception.
If you want your wedding to have a taste of the tropics, head for Fort Lauderdale. Not only will you find pristine beaches, swaying palm trees and nonstop sun, the town boasts an average temperature of 77 blissful degrees year-round! Honeymooning from here is a snap, too, because the city’s Port Everglades is one of the busiest cruise-ship ports in the world. But before you dash off to the Caribbean, Mexico or another destination, consider spending some quality time with your new spouse at one of the following fabulous Fort Lauderdale wedding venues where you can tie the knot and have an amazing vacation.
Spectacular during the day and positively electric at night, the New York City skyline is famously photogenic. So why not make it part of your own wedding—not to mention your wedding album! If you’re looking for a place that will bring New York cityscape views to your celebration, here are some venues to check out.
Want to host your big day in a historic ballroom? Perhaps you’re leaning toward industrial chic…or maybe you’ve got your heart set on a gorgeous garden. If it’s an out-of-the-ordinary place you have in mind, Portland is home to some truly unique wedding venues. Here are just a few for your exploring pleasure…
Established in 1843, Portland has a rich past that’s been beautifully preserved in a variety of unique historic buildings. Fortunately for us, many of these architectural gems now host weddings and other special events. And whether you’re a fan of Victorian splendor, industrial chic or European flair, each of the following venues offers an opportunity to step back in time.
Seattle is famous for many things—the Space Needle, coffee (Starbucks originated here!), the movie Sleepless in Seattle, and Pike Place Market to name a few. But this vibrant port city is also a watery wonderland, with up-close views of Puget Sound, Elliott Bay, and Lake Washington. If you’d like some gorgeous liquid scenery to be part of your celebration, check out these popular Seattle waterfront wedding venues.
Seattle has so much more going for it than the Space Needle—especially when it comes to unique wedding venues. If you’re looking for an interesting place to tie the knot (and host a great party!), consider these out-of-the-ordinary locations.
What makes an event venue special? It could be any number of things, like a spectacular view, remarkable architecture, gorgeous gardens or topnotch cuisine. Northern New Jersey happens to have a selection of unique wedding locations, all of which offer one or more elements that make them exceptional. Check them out—you may discover one that fits your wedding vision to a T.
Who knew that Northern New Jersey is home to so many historic—and amazing—wedding venues? Each of the locations listed below comes with an interesting (or even notorious!) past, along with spectacular architecture and equally stunning event spaces. If you truly want a fairy-tale Big Day, visit any or all of these fabulous places. Hey, when your choices include mansions, a castle and a château you can’t go wrong.
Planning a rehearsal dinner in the DC Metro Area? The DMV provides a wealth of venue options! Want to dine amidst historic surroundings? In an elegant hotel? On the water? These venues offer some interesting choices.
Yes, it is possible to have an affordable Manhattan wedding. The following venues offer options that accommodate a wide range of budgets, and don’t forget: If you’re flexible with your date and can host your event on a weekday, Sunday or during an off-peak time, you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck.
There’s a reason so many couples opt to tie the knot in Upstate New York. When you celebrate in the Catskills, you’re surrounded by Mother Nature in a setting that’s tranquil, beautiful, and about as “un-city” as you can get. Here are some Catskills wedding venues you might want to explore.
Chicago is a diner’s paradise, offering some of the best places to eat in the country. This is great news if you’re planning a rehearsal dinner, because you’ll have plenty of choices. Here’s an enticing selection of the city’s restaurants—some are casual and some are more upscale, but all are happy to host your special event.
Often called the “Heart of the Arts” by locals, Midtown Atlanta is home to a wealth of cultural attractions (museums, the symphony, theaters) as well as some of the city’s most iconic and historic buildings. With so much to offer, it’s an exciting place to host a wedding. Here are 10 venues that will help you tap into the area’s energetic vibe (listed in no particular order).
If an outdoor ceremony or reception is at the top of your wedding “must have” list, Atlanta offers a wide range of options.From mansions and private estates to historic landmarks and restaurants, here are some of the best places in and around the city for an al fresco celebration.
Established almost 200 years ago, Atlanta is home to quite a few mansions that reflect its history. And fortunately for couples who want to experience the charmed lifestyle of a bygone era, many of them are available for weddings. Here’s a selection of beautifully preserved venues where you can get a delicious taste of the past.
If your wedding fantasy has you getting married at a fairytale place, then you should definitely check out this selection of Boston Area mansions, estates and manor houses. They’re all within a short drive from Boston, and most give you exclusive use of the property during your event so you can have your own private domain for a day!
Waterfront weddings offer something extra—a refreshing tang in the air…expansive harbor, river, or cityscape views…in some cases even the opportunity to leave terra firma altogether and host your celebration afloat. Boston Harbor and the Charles River are home to many wedding venues that put you close to or on the water, click here to see a selection worth exploring.
Your rehearsal dinner is an opportunity to bring close friends and family together in a more informal way than during your wedding, and an Italian Restaurant can provide the perfect combination of ambiance and cuisine. The setting is often relaxed, and dishes can be served family style. Plus, Italian food is so popular it’s easy to include menu items that will satisfy all your guests. Check out these Bay Area Italian restaurants.
This super-chic Atlanta neighborhood is an upscale destination for fine dining, luxury shopping, art galleries, museums, and much more. Buckhead not only gives visitors an opportunity to experience the good life, it’s home to some of Georgia’s finest wedding and special event venues. Here are 8 of the area’s best.
When it comes to scenery, wedding venues in Georgia have a lot to offer. Whether you envision a down-home country celebration or a black-tie affair, there’s an authentic barn, charming farmhouse or historic home below that will fit the style of your event.
What’s so great about wedding venues in Boston? Everything! The range of options is amazing, from waterfront hotels and museums to a rooftop aerie and a fleet of tall ships. Here’s a selection of some of the city’s most interesting locations to tie the knot.
Trees are transformative: They can beautify a landscape, elevate the spirit, and bring nature into your wedding. All of these venues feature forest views, so you’ll be accompanied by trees no matter which place you pick.
Massachusetts offers some exceptional—and scenic!—country wedding venues. Whether you envision an informal celebration in a rustic barn or farmhouse or a black-tie affair in a historic inn, you’ll find a wedding location that fits the style of your event.
Dear Here Comes The Guide: My fiance and I are considering a destination wedding somewhere in California. We aren’t sure what the expectations are in terms of covering the costs of our guests. Also, what do you think is the best place for a California destination wedding? Thanks!—Janet O., Clackamas, Oregon
Chicago is not only the most visited city in the Midwest, it’s one of the most dynamic cities on the planet. From its fabulous parks and museums to its world-class dining, shopping, entertainment and hotels, it has everything you (and your guests!) could want—including a long list of amazing wedding and special event venues.
San Francisco is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, which makes it a much sought-after setting for both local and destination weddings. And although it has a reputation for being pricey, there are quite a few affordable venues where you can host your event.
My colleague Jan invites me to spend the upcoming weekend with her at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, where she’ll be staying while profiling new locations for Here Comes The Guide. I jump at the chance for some quality Ritz time. It’s a well-known fact around the office that I ♥ the Ritzes. (What can I say? I have a soft spot for superior customer service and a swanky setting!)
California’s Central Coast, celebrated for its charming wineries and photogenic vineyards, also lures visitors with landmarks like Hearst Castle, and the chance to golf, surf or go horseback riding amidst spectacular natural scenery. If you’re planning a honeymoon or destination wedding in one of the area’s picturesque towns, you might think beyond the winery.
With all its gold medals and high style, the Central Coast retains its small-town friendliness, and locals have positively thrown out a red-carpet welcome to bridal couples from near and far. Recently we did our own Central Coast Wine Country investigation.
Fola and Alvin had an awkward chance meeting at a conference of medical students in April 2004. Although both had attended Harvard Medical School, they had never met. When they did, Alvin was tired from the conference and could think of little to say—an unusual circumstance for him. Fola informed her conference roommate that she had met “a really rude guy.” The roommate insisted that Alvin was great and arranged another meeting.
Make sure your guests know that the wedding is actually on the sand, so they can dress appropriately. This can be communicated with the invitation (included with the map/directions), on your wedding website and through word-of-mouth.
9 Locations Where You Can Tie The Knot On The Sand!
by Jolene Rae Harrington, Director of Creative Content
As a born-and-raised California girl, I knew one thing for sure—when I got married, it would be on the beach. Not next to the beach, not overlooking the beach or on an ocean view terrace, but actually on the sand.
Francesca and Justin first met at six a.m. at an aquatic center where Justin was a Masters Swim Team coach and Francesca a new swimmer in his class. Francesca felt attracted, but was occupied with studying for her medical exams. Still, they saw each other frequently at Starbucks where she studied and he would “breeze in for tea.
WANTED: A special place for a romantic escape. Scenic, natural surroundings required. Must be lavished with sensual creature comforts. Obliging yet unobtrusive service preferred. Does this imaginary classified ad sound like something you might have written? If so, we’re answering your cry for help with a dozen of the best places in California for a romantic weekend—choice spots bound to inspire relaxation and heartfelt moments. (No need to thank us—an emailed photo of your happy, rejuvenated selves will do!)
Fortunate is the bride who weds in Marin County! Surrounded by water on three sides, Marin is a scenic wonderland whose natural treasures—ancient redwood forests, a dramatic coastline, and a wide range of flora and fauna—make for dynamic celebratory settings. Here are 10 unique wedding locations, each offering a different way to experience Marin’s legendary beauty:
Out-of-the-ordinary scenarios can become your reality if you wed at one of the Bay Area’s acclaimed art galleries or museums. No longer the sole province of school field trips, galleries and museums have found a fresh calling as novel places to throw a party. Here are locations for an artful Bay Area wedding.
Friends and relatives who've come from afar often stay for a few days, and they won't want to sit around twiddling their thumbs before and after the wedding. Since you're not going to have the time to play Tour Guide, have a list of activities prepared in advance. You can include familiar options like Disneyland and Universal Studios, but Southern California offers so much more.
Invaluable tips on how to select a wedding location in Northern California. Your first big decision is to select a location that makes geographical sense to you, your family and the majority of your guests. Get more tips for choosing your Northern California wedding location from the HCTG experts.
Invaluable tips on how to select a wedding location in Southern California. Your first big decision is to select a location that makes geographical sense to you, your family and the majority of your guests. Get more tips for choosing your Southern California wedding location from the HCTG experts.
Palm Springs is HOT and we're not talking about the temperature. The Palm Springs of the new millennium is young, chic, and a great place to party. Here are some of our own suggestions for local activities and “can’t miss” Palm Springs ceremony and reception locations.
Estate wineries, golf courses, day spas, new hotels and historic downtown areas exert an unquestionable appeal in the Tri-Valley area. We're going to take you on a quick tour of some the Other Wine Country's best wedding and special event locations.
You no longer have to wrestle with your conscience to have a celebration that is both beautiful and "green"— here's how.
While I’ve lived in the Bay Area for 30 years, I took my very first trip to Lake County only recently when I rented a house on Clearlake for a much-needed family vacation. Now that I’ve finally visited, though, I’m already starting to wonder when I can return to this peaceful region north of the wine country. Of course I managed to scout out some ideal wedding ceremony, reception and rehearsal dinner sites while there. A couple of my new favorite places:
We dined in the Lake Room upstairs, which extends over the lake and has views on three sides plus a fireplace and it’s own bar. This room, as well as the Gondola Room on the opposite side of the restaurant, is a charming space for a rehearsal dinner, reception or other kind of private party.
I recently visited Ca’ del Sole Ristorante for Here Comes The Guide, and I have to say: If you’re looking for a great venue for wedding rehearsal dinners, wedding receptions and bridal showers, this North Hollywood restaurant should be on the list:
I confess to major butterflies for my interview with celebrity wedding planner and TV show host, David Tutera at the elegant Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena last month. I needn’t have worried. He was warm and charming, and very open to sharing his wedding planning pointers. Later when I dished the dirt with two of his “My Fair Wedding” Season 2 brides, Dee and Quiana, they both agreed that he was way more personable and down-to-earth than they had expected. I was particularly excited to confirm that David and I were in complete agreement about several key “Wedding Dos & Don’ts.”
The Dream Inn, a Santa Cruz landmark, has just reopened after a fantastic retro-chic makeover—and their stylish new oceanview banquet space is so ready for primetime.
Sure, plenty of zoos have the requisite elephant or giraffe… but the Santa Barbara Zoo has something more: 30 acres of lush, exotic gardens laced with majestic ocean views! Such stunning scenic attributes make the location a “natural” setting for out-of-the ordinary weddings.
I spent my 4th of July at The Carneros Inn in Napa for the wedding of Christy & Christian. It was such a treat to be a part of this event. Not only did I get to go to one of my favorite places in Wine Country but I got to witness a truly beautiful wedding. Martha Stewart eat your heart out!
Who says a vineyard wedding means you have to use bunches of deep purple grapes to decorate your cake, centerpieces, and bridal bouquets? For a garden wedding, I’d rather take my cues from a tossed salad: crisp greens with tomato and carrot-colored blooms. I’ve been in love with this cabbage leaf arrangement from Panacea Event Floral Design since we posted it. It makes me hungry just looking at it!