Hello my Bay Area bride-to-be’s!! How tired are you of googling a million places in this vast state to find the picture perfect wedding venue? Probs real tired. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the best, coolest, prettiest, cutest, dopest San Francisco Bay Area wedding venues that I recommend you visit first! These are fool-proof and gorgeous – sign on their dotted line and call a sista up, because I’m SO there.
If you haven’t seen my LA Wedding Venue List, be sure to check those out if you’re thinking about SoCal!
Any crazy plant ladies out there? Not only is the outside of the greenhouse structure the perfect white ceremony backdrop, the interior is full of tropical plants! Check out a recent engagement session I photographed there!
A thing of Rooftop Dreams! The indoor reception area is just as cool.
Rooftop views of the Ferry Building and Bay Bridge and walking distance to the piers. Need I say more?
This place is so iconic to SF and right by the water! You can easily see the Bay Bridge from outside and hear the romantic ticking of the train departure sign.
This place has class for daysssss. Gives you that New York Public Library vibe here on the West Coast!
The best rooftop bar in SF! This boutique hotel was designed by genius, Kelly Wearstler, so obviously it’s freaking amazing! One of my favorite spots to grab a drink at sunset!
The perfect white loft & blank canvas – you could seriously pull anything off here!
Wait, am I in the South of France? Sure feels like it. Also … three words: Wine Cave Reception! I’m photographing a wedding here in July and I cannot wait to share it with you!
Luxe Calistoga spot by the Auberge Hotel group, who always slay. I had the privilege of photographing a wedding here last year (peek it here) and I get to go back for another this Fall! Keep it coming, brides!
The perfect Petaluma estate complete with barn-style reception space. Yes, that’s lavender lining the walkway to the front door!
Vines, grassy lawn, rose-covered walls, what more could you ask for?
The lightness of this place makes me feel like they took the best of Malibu and combined it with the best of Sonoma.
Literal perfection – everything you’d expect to find in Sonoma (or the south of France for that matter).
This place is perfect for the artistic & creative couple – plus, there’s a great view of Oakland & Lake Merritt from the terrace – bonus!
The East Bay actually has a totally thriving wine country of it’s own! It’s called the Tri-Valley area & Wente is a gorgeous spot right in the heart of Livermore.
Want a Palm Springs wedding vibe without having to leave the Bay? Here’s your answer!
I’ll be honest – I don’t know if these guys allow weddings for just anyone, but I’ve seen them do at least one. This spot is one of our favorites in our town to grab a cold beer and chill – the interior is cute af and the patio is so relaxing and perfect for a laid-back reception!
Another East Bay wine country spot, but one with a city-loft vibe – best of both worlds!
NorCal Destination Spots
Lake Tahoe is an incredible destination spot! The view from this balcony is insane – plus, you can take a fun gondola ride and if you did a winter wedding, there’d be snow!!
Iconic lavender fields with the whimsical ferris wheel in the back! It was voted the #1 wedding venue for great service in the American West by BRIDES Magazine and one of the most beautiful wedding venues in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveller.
This place is all about TEXTURE! White brick, natural brick, garage doors, it’s just stinkin’ cool.
Photo Credit in order from top to bottom:
Steve Cowell Photo, Anna Wu, This Love of Yours, Melanie Duerkopp, Jose Villa, Cheers Babe Photo, Rebecca Yale, OneLove Photography, Cheers Babe Photo, Duy Ho Photography, KT Merry, Macarthur Place, Koman Photography, OCMA, Cheers Babe Photo, Cheers Babe Photo, Lilouette, Alameda County Fairgrounds, Photography by Monique, Lisa Lefkowitz, and BLOC Venue.
Best Wedding Venues in Palm Springs, Orange County, San Diego & Santa Barbara
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Hello my LA bride-to-be’s!! How tired are you of googling a million places in this vast state to find the picture perfect wedding venue? Probs real tired. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the best, coolest, prettiest, cutest, dopest Los Angeles wedding venues that I recommend you visit first! These are fool-proof and gorgeous – sign on their dotted line and call a sista up, because I’m SO there.
Right in LA’s thriving arts district (which has THE best views of the city skyline) is Row DTLA. They have multiple venue options from ground level to rooftop, but the B1 | 777 Rooftop pictured here is the ultimate dreamy wedding spot & can fit a ton of guests!
Between trendy Venice Beach and growing Culver City you’ll find Festoon LA, the perfect West LA wedding venue. The space is small, but gorgeous – the kitchen was designed by LA design maven, Sarah Sherman Samuel & the dining & lounge areas by 100 Layer Cake! You can fit 60 guests seated – an amazing option for a more intimate wedding or even your rehearsal dinner. It is so instagram-worthy it hurts!
The Fig House
If color is your jam, then The Fig House was literally designed for you (and you are designed for me – ha!). This is another amazing venue with a super-star designer behind it! The owners hired HGTV’s Emily Henderson to design & curate the space. This literally perfect LA wedding venue is nestled in between downtown & Pasadena, right in Highland Park. Love me some East LA!!
Okay, here we begin a series of amazing wedding venues owned by the Marvimon group! They take old buildings & bring them new life with super unique details! This is Grassroom in DTLA, where you’ll find a jungle-like courtyard for the coolest ceremony and insanely cool triangular door openings that lead you to the reception space!
Literally next door to Grassroom is Valentine DTLA! I am obsessed with this geometric door mural they have and the rest of the space is just as special and unique!
I feel like the coolest couples in LA get married at Millwick. I don’t know what it is, but this place just oozes cool-factor and has jungle vibes for days! It’s also in the arts district as well & there’s some super cool opportunities around the venue for outdoor portraits with a city view in the back.
Okay so The Forge is technically a photo studio (with an impressive installation wall of cow skulls). I know they’ve hosted weddings before & there is just a ton of room for creativity in this space if you or your event designer/stylist is ready to dream up something really cool! If you need help doing that, my wedding florist/event designer has designed a wedding in this space before!
Over in Hollywood, Lombardi House will give you all the barn-vibes you’ve ever wanted, but in the most modern & cool way (thank you white walls)! Not only are both indoor spots super beautiful, their courtyard spaces are equally breathtaking!
The Ruby Street
Previously a suffragette house, then a civil rights meeting place, and even a progressive church, The Ruby Street in Highland Park is such a unique spot to say your “I do”s and celebrate! I just adore their historic stained glass windows!
Ohhhhhh my goodness – where do I even begin with Hudson Loft? Oh right! I GOT MARRIED HERE!! Obviously I am super biased, but this is one of my favorite venues – and it’s more than just sentimental for me. It’s the perfect industrial loft right in the heart of bustling downtown & has so many options. There’s incredible getting ready spaces, prep rooms, a stunning rooftop & view, and even a giant freight elevator that we actually drove our car into & used for our grand exit!
Pronounced “honeypot”, this all white industrial space was actually the runner-up for our wedding. I love that you can open up the garage door at HNYPT and let the natural light in! Also the rafters give you tons of opportunity for some insanely cool hanging decor!
Office Party is literally the office of one of LA’s coolest entrepreneurs that you can rent out for your party! There’s this cool space and an outdoor courtyard for cocktail time!
The Surfrider Malibu
Ok wow, gorgeous!! I honestly don’t even know if The Surfrider hotel allows events or not, but if they do, it’d be epic. Their rooms are like, perfect California chic – even if you’re getting married elsewhere in Malibu, this would be an incredible space to get ready in for the day!
The Ebell of Long Beach
One of my dear friends got married here at The Ebell of Long Beach a couple years back. Not only is it like, house plant heaven, the Mediterranean style space (especially the amazing tile floor) is just super dreamy!
The Line Hotel
If you’re looking for something poolside, then The Line Hotel in Koreatown (K-town) is your spot! They actually have like, 5 or 6 different venue spaces within this one hotel & they’re all really amazing! Not to mention, the concrete walls in the rooms makes for really cool getting ready photos (which is why I got ready here the day of my wedding!).
Mr. C Beverly Hills
This place is ALL classic LA glam. There’s poolside space, city view balconies, literally everything you think of when you picture “Old Hollywood”. Mr. C is a hotel in Beverly Hills and it’s ready for your extra-ness, boo.
Dang, dude. Saddlerock is so bomb. They have 4 event spaces, 100 acres of wine vines AND zoo animals (zebra, camel, giraffe, llama, alpaca, yak, highland cow, etc.…)!
Greenhouse at PLATFORM
If you’re hoping to get married somewhere near Culver City, Greenhouse at PLATFORM is an amazing option! Platform is basically a trendy boutique shopping center & the Greenhouse sits upstairs onsite. The name speaks for itself – gorgeous glass house! Bonus – one of my favorite murals in LA by Jen Stark is located on the parking structure here!
Tallulah’s is a super yum Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica – right near the beach! You can rent it out for an intimate wedding or rehearsal dinner & it is so colorful and gorgeous inside! Also, who doesn’t want to serve Mexican food at their wedding/rehearsal dinner?
Beverly Hills Hotel
Pretty sure this icon of a hotel speaks for itself! The Beverly Hills Hotel has been LA’s go-to spot for movie-stars and celebs for over a century. The banana-leaf palm wallpaper in the halls is ridiculously memorable, the gardens are spectacular and their reception hall will make you lose your mind.
Last but not least, the Wilshire Loft is such a cool spot if you’re looking for a rooftop wedding venue that’s RIGHT in the the city – you’re actually surrounded by the downtown high rises, which feels so cool. It’s kind of a blank slate, so you could get really creative with your decor here!
[All images are sourced from google, pinterest, the venue’s websites and the venue report. I reallllly tried to find image credits for each, but it just wasn’t happening!]
Are you ready to book one of these amazing Los Angeles wedding venues for your big day? Click the inquire button below so you can have your gorgeous spot & all the mems captured!
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Welcome back to your course, Weddings 101: The Road to “I Do”! This monthly series will provide you with a whole lot of clarity, destroy myths about how you’re “supposed to” plan a wedding and all the things you should know before your wedding day. I’m so glad you’re back. If this is the first lesson of the course you’ve read, I’ve linked parts 1 through 3 below so you can access those & get caught up!
Today, we’ll be talking about the Reception and what happens (or should happen) when your wedding is over. This post is so FULL of information, so grab a notebook and settle in because this info is RICH!
determining the best time for sunset photos
From my eyes, this is SO crucial! The best time for sunset photos can be determined based on the time of year you’re getting married as well as small considerations based on your venue and its placement. For example, if your wedding takes place in the Fall or Winter, your sunset session will take place much earlier than a wedding in the Summer months.
As a rule of thumb, I google the exact sunset time for the wedding date – let’s say it’s today (July 27th in San Francisco), so sunset isn’t until 8:22pm. Can I get a hallelujah for these long Summer days? California is such a dream! In this instance I’d try to schedule a 20-30 minute photo session with just my couple about 30-60 minutes before the sun sets to get that golden hour light. So for today I’d start sunset photos at about 7:45pm.
Another thing to consider is your particular venue. If you’re getting married at a venue that’s tucked behind a large mountain range or in a more wooded area, you should consider doing your “sunset” photos earlier just in case the sun dips behind that mountain range before the true sunset time.
Lighting at your reception may be something you haven’t yet considered, but it can truly make a big difference in your images. If your reception is going to take place outdoors, a)You’re my favorite, because natural light will always win in my eyes (and the camera’s) and b)all you need to really consider is having minimal light when it gets dark such as candles on the tables and string lights on the dance floor.
If your reception is indoors, in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with candlelight! It’s one of my favorite lighting looks because it’s super warm and gives off a very romantic feeling. The more, the better, just make sure you know your venue’s rules in regards to fire regulations.
Other options to consider are uplights or fixtures. Uplighting adds a warm, subtle glow to the space, making sure there’s no bright spots. Read this article HERE for some great do’s and don’ts when it comes to uplighting. Your reception space may also already be equipped with lighting fixtures such as chandeliers and wall sconces that can usually be brightened or dimmed based on your preference.
Lastly, make sure there is at least SOME light on your dance floor! This is a common misconception because couples often like that dark, clubby feel on the dance floor, but it’s not ideal for photos. With no light in the room, our cameras have no spots to sample from and it makes focusing really difficult, resulting in terrible, blurry photos.
toasts & table visits
We’ve all been to that wedding where the best man had one too many tequila shots before his toast and starts rambling on about the groom for 20 minutes. Inapprops! Try to prepare your toasters by asking them to stick to about 2-5 minutes so that the rest of your guests can enjoy the evening & get on the dance floor.
It’s always nice when the couple visits each table after finishing their meal (while everyone else is finishing) so you get to say Hi and welcome each guest personally. It’s great for hugs too. However, this is typically not an important time to have your photographer with you & it actually the best time during the reception for us to take a break and eat dinner ourselves!
to toss or not to toss (and other traditions)
The tradition of the bouquet toss and the garter toss goes way back. But ya know what? If you don’t wanna do it, just don’t! It’s your wedding and you don’t have to! In fact, I’d suggest only doing it if you have A LOT of single friends who will be totally down (and not shy) to come to the dance floor to compete. There’s nothing more awkward than 4 single and ashamed girls on the dance floor pretending to be interested in catching your flowers!
This goes for other traditions as well, like cake cutting or parent dances – I give you a no rules policy! Do what feels right 🙂
the grand exit
If you plan on orchestrating a grand exit from your reception, there’s a few things to keep in mind. On camera, things like glow sticks don’t tend to read very well, but balloons, bubbles and sparklers are great! Sparklers definitely look stunning on camera, so here are a couple pointers. 1) Purchase the extra long ones so you get plenty of burn time. The short ones run out SO fast! 2) Make sure the venue has a WIDE passage for you to go through. Remember: you are literally handing fire to over 100 intoxicated people. You do not want that aisle to be super tight to cram through – might cause a fiery fiasco!
now, hear about the reception from a wedding planner!
As usual, I have my dear friend Kellyne of Hand & Heart Events here with me to help you babes understand every aspect from a planner’s point of view in addition to mine. She details everything that you probably haven’t even thought about yet!
flow of events
The flow of the events at your reception can make or break the guest experience. Your wedding coordinator will work with you and your vendors to create a detailed timeline that will be used as guide throughout the entire day. Specifically for my clients, I make sure there is time allotted to all those important reception events – wedding party entrance, toasts, first dance, cake cutting, and everything else in between.
The last thing you want is to burden your maid of honor or family friend to feel like they’re working the reception rather than enjoying it. For that reason, your planner is there on site to cue your DJ, communicate with photographers/videographers (so they don’t miss a shot!), make sure your dad has his dancing shoes on, and that you and your boo have a full glass of champagne for toasts!
I also keep an eye on all the little details as the night progresses. I make sure lights are dimmed, candles stay lit, and flowers are moved or repurposed to get the maximum enjoyment of those blooms. My team and I set up dessert, make sure the cake is set with utensils and plates for cake cutting, and replenish any sweet treats so the dessert table never looks bare. This whole time, you & all of your guests stay worry free (and likely on the dance floor)!
Throughout the evening, a coordinator is responsible for packing up personal items, gifts/cards, guestbook, etc. to make sure they’re stored in a safe place for you to take home or pick up the next day. As the evening winds down, we make sure rentals and decor are broken down and packed up, final payments and tips are distributed to vendors, and we ensure that the venue is left it tip-top condition!
Although the wedding may be over, a coordinator’s job is still going! At Hand & Heart, we love to check in with couples after the wedding to make sure all loose ends are tied up and to touch base about any final details. I am always available to you after the wedding, should you need anything (that includes a post-wedding glass of wine, too)!!
You Made It!
Cheers Babes from Jess & Kellyne! You made it through Weddings 101! Tune in next month for a HUGE SURPRISE (coming Labor Day weekend)!!! Xx