Whether the happy couple is planning a regal wedding or your readers just enjoy daydreaming, below are picks from Visit California for some of the classiest and most unique California locations to plunge into lifelong commitment.
A Mediterranean oasis surrounded by lush green vineyards and olive trees, Casa Real (“The House of Royalty”) evokes old-world luxury in the heart of Livermore Valley Wine County. For an indoor affair, the porcelain tiles and 12-foot limestone fireplace of the Amber Room and the classical arches and chandeliers of the Grand Salon provide the perfect setting. For an outdoor celebration, the Sun Garden offers elegance and tranquility in a verdant walled courtyard complete with decorative fountains and fragrant citrus trees
The Palace Hotel has been the first choice for elegant San Francisco weddings for over a century. The Grand Ballroom offers a stunning 8,964-square-foot space with 18-foot ceilings, brilliant antique drop chandeliers, rich red and gold carpeting and elaborate crown molding, creating the perfect setting to hold the royal wedding of your dreams.
California’s most famous castle is the perfect hilltop location for a fancy wedding affair. If the estate’s natural surroundings alone don’t take your breath away, the castles grounds certainly will. Hearst Castle is the ultimate back-drop for couples looking for glamour and splendor on their wedding day. Receptions are held outdoors on one of the Castle's many picturesque terraces and guests are treated to a private tour of the grounds.
The Amphitheatre of the Redwoods is part of the Pema Osel Ling Retreat Center, a name that means “Lotus Land of Clear Light.” Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, this venue offers an intimate forest experience with a natural soundtrack of chattering blue jays and wind whistling through the branches. Tie the knot beneath a soaring canopy of redwoods on the edge of a hillside with the distant turquoise waters of the Monterey Bay in the background. Celebrate with a reception in the Gallery Meadow overlooking an Asian fountain courtyard and art gallery.
For an unforgettably San Franciscan wedding, combine the picturesque and historic Palace of Fine Arts with the bustling activity of the Exploratorium. Exchange vows beneath the beautiful Greco-Roman rotunda, walk through the arched entry of the neighboring Exploratorium into a world of wonder for a truly “interactive” reception. The Main Corridor, an enormous space with exposed industrial grids and a towering ceiling, is filled with intriguing exhibits like the 18-foot-tall tornado you can touch or the cloud rings you can send flying up into the air with a push of your hand. These and other interactive displays, developed in-house by a combination of artists and scientists, make for truly unique wedding entertainment.
Your big day will have you literally floating on air when you book D&D Ballooning’s hot air balloon wedding over Southern California wine country. Weddings can take place in the balloon basket – with your guests flying in nearby balloons and hearing your vows over the radio – or on the ground before or after your flight.
It’s hard to find a more stunning backdrop for your wedding than Yosemite National Park, one of the country’s most iconic natural wonders. The Ahwahnee offers an elegant, historic setting for intimate ceremonies and receptions, combining breathtaking scenery with the luxury and services of a four-diamond hotel. A favorite amongst the royals, Queen Elizabeth herself stayed here in 1983 and one of the suites is lovingly named “The Queen’s Room,” making this spot perfect for couples looking to add a royal touch to their big day. Exchange vows on a beautiful lawn with the wonders of Yosemite National Park as your backdrop, host a cocktail reception with views of Glacier Point, and enjoy a four-course banquet in the hotel's Solarium.
For a romantic, picture-perfect Beverly Hills wedding, look no further than Montage Beverly Hills. The venue reflects the area's glamour estates of the 1920s and '30s, overlooking the artfully sculpted green-on-green tones of the Beverly Canon Gardens, the Montage Terrace offers a stunning outdoor Beverly Hills wedding location. Graced with Mediterranean-inspired architectural details, dramatic inlaid tile and lush gardens of its own, this 5,000-square-foot terrace accommodates intimate weddings, receptions and special events with each and sophisticated city style.
The suites at Auberge du Soleil, decorating a luscious green hillside, offer spectacular panoramic views of the Napa Valley, its vineyards and the Mayacamas Mountains. The peaceful location offers privacy and intimacy for small, classy weddings in one of California’s most beloved parts of wine country.
For the quintessential California wedding, you can’t get much better than the sands and sea of Pebble Beach. The Inn offers the whole spectrum from an intimate ceremony warmed by a fireplace to a spectacular ballroom accommodating 350 guests. Two outdoor ceremony sites provide dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean and the dunes surrounding the acclaimed The Links at Spanish Bay.
Grace Cathedral is the Episcopal Cathedral of the Diocese of California and an iconic house of prayer for all across the world. The cathedral offers five separate venues to suit any desired wedding size and style. For a larger spectacle, The Nave offers 90-foot ceilings, sweeping archways, and 26 stained glass windows. Those holding more intimate affair can choose between the Chapel of the Nativity, adorned with stone pillars and an Adoration mural or the vaulted Chapel of Grace. For truly unique space, look no further than The Labyrinth, where guests sit in a circle around the beautifully executed Chartres' labyrinth on the floor.
This Orange County chapel was built in 1909 in the Old Towne historic district of Orange and still evokes the old world allure of a bygone era. The ivy-covered chapel features magnificent stained-glass windows and a classic bell tower and steeple, while peaceful cherub fountains, garden benches, ivy-covered arches and quaint flower-lined paths with stepping stones adorn the exterior courtyard. Following a traditional ceremony in the chapel, hold an intimate reception in the Victorian Room, which is accented with crystal lights, candles, antique furnishings and a fireplace, infusing the room with a distinct old world parlor charm.
You can’t get much more traditionally Californian than this famed San Diego resort, named the number-one wedding destination in America" by the Travel Channel. With a variety of premier outdoor sites and 42 different beautifully decorated indoor rooms, the Hotel del Coronado offers something for every type bride and groom. With choices such as the Windsor Lawn, the Beach, the Garden Patio, the Ballroom, the Carousel Room and the Coronet Room, this destination is the place to go for the perfect Southern California storybook wedding.