by Jolene Rae Harrington, Media and Communications Director
Sometimes you have to make a little extra effort to get something you really want. Nothing Herculean, mind you. Not even as strenuous as your after-work spinning class. But to secure that magical location, the one the Wedding Fairies have sprinkled with pixie dust just for you? Now that may require thinking outside the box and venturing a bit beyond your usual stomping grounds. Where wedding venues are concerned, going the extra mile can lead to spectacular sites overlooked by less imaginative souls.
But you, oh Savvy Sojourner, know that the journey itself is part of the reward. Whether traversing unspoiled country roads or a traffic-free stretch of the Pacific coast on the way to your off-the-beaten-path wedding destination, you're the one slowing down to take in a field of wildflowers, or opening the window to catch the scent of fresh-mown hay on the breeze So give yourself a mental pat on the back for choosing the road less traveled—it will take you to a celebratory setting that's just right for you.
Come with us while we explore three out-of-the way gems...
Ben Lomond, in the hills northwest of Santa Cruz
Built in the '30s, Highlands House reigns over 43 acres of verdant county parkland. In front of the mansion, a vast lawn is ringed by towering oaks and redwoods. Say your vows in the gazebo at one end, and have an al fresco reception at the other. Or fête your guests inside the house, where multipaned windows look onto the garden, abloom in spring with whisper-pink camellias and magnolia trees. A selection of pleasant salons lets your gathering really spread out—gifts, buffet, cake and dancing each have their own attractive space. You'll also appreciate the sizable changing room upstairs—you can even toss your bouquet from the balcony! Highlands House has a laid-back environment—and a low rental cost—sure to soothe wedding jitters.
Cambria, on the Central Coast halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco
One of the highlights of Highway One's famously scenic drive is Cambria, an artist colony known for its pristine beaches, hiking trails and small-town friendliness. On a tranquil, woodsy hilltop overlooking town is Cambria Pines Lodge, a Central Coast wedding favorite. Built in the '20s as the rustic retreat of a European baroness, the pine-log lodge is beautifully landscaped, with grassy paths meandering through world-class gardens. Both ceremony and reception can be held on a pretty expanse of lawn ringed with flowers and Monterey pines, and elegantly dressed for the occasion. Fireplace suites, an organic kitchen, and an on-site spa will keep you pampered and relaxed.
The Eastern Sierras
Mammoth Mountain isn't just for skiers anymore. In fact, leisure-seekers come here year-round for golf, fishing, hiking—or to just kick back in the serene alpine environment. Still others, enticed by the drama of the terrain and the deluxe amenities of the newly expanded Mammoth Mountain Resort & Village, come here to wed. A wide assortment of venues lets couples customize their Mammoth experience to suit their personal style. Want traditional? The Mountainside Conference Center in the historic Main Lodge provides a wide-angle view of the ski slopes. Want modern sophistication? Then consider the state-of-the-art Grand Sierra Lodge at the heart of the new Village. If you prefer rustic charm, then tie the knot on the shores of Twin Lakes at the intimate Forest Chapel. Adventurous couples can transport their guests via gondola to Parallax, a fine-dining restaurant at mid-mountain—or even marry on an 11,000-foot summit!
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Some clients may have paid to be placed in our editorial and some of these links may be affiliate; however, we never include a venue, vendor, or product unless they have a proper place here. This is part of our Core Values. We create our website first and foremost to be good for the couples using it to plan their Big Day. We won't stray from that for a few advertising dollars. #scoutshonor