SF Bay Area
A Guide for Engaged Couples Curated by Wedding Photographers
SF Bay Area
A Guide for Engaged Couples Curated by Wedding Photographers
There are so many gorgeous and incredible San Francisco Bay Area wedding venues. As an engaged coupled just starting your wedding venue search, things can feel a little overwhelming. That’s why we have put together this easy to scroll through guide to some of our favorite SF Bay Area wedding venues.
There are also lots of guides out there for SF Bay Area wedding venues. But, very few (if any) of them are curated by wedding photographers. Of all the vendors that will be important players in your wedding story, none of them will understand and appreciate the visual storytelling potential of a wedding venue better than top quality wedding photographers. This guide includes wedding venues that our team of professional wedding photographers and visual storytellers have photographed over the past few years. All of the photos included are from wedding stories we have photographed. And so, our creative team have experience and familiarity with each of the San Francisco Bay Area wedding venues included.
The list of SF Bay Area wedding venues includes classic wedding venues, indoor venues, outdoor venues, Napa and Sonoma vineyard wedding venues, ranch wedding venues, iconic San Francisco wedding venues, redwood forest wedding venues, beach wedding venues, Big Sur wedding venues, Carmel Valley venues, luxury wedding venues, affordable wedding venues, trendy wedding venues, ceremony venues, reception venues, and more. Feel free to post a comment at the bottom or get in touch with us if you have any questions or ideas you’d like to share.
The Berkeley City Club (image above) is an architectural masterpiece designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan. Wedding ceremonies are held on the open air terrace or in the drawing room downstairs. Cocktail hour is often in the stately library room. Dinner and receptions are in the grand ballroom (image above). Multiple interior courtyard gardens and a gorgeous pool room provide many great photo locations. Few SF Bay Area wedding venues say classic with as much taste and character. With really nice hotel rooms and a high-end restaurant on-site, the Berkeley City Club is also an all inclusive venue option and is fabulous for wedding photography. Though, the wedding venue does require a mastery of lighting and low light photography a skillset that often requires years of experience for a photographer to master.
The Presidio in San Francisco is a pretty dreamy location for a wedding venue. And The Golden Gate Club (image above) really delivers. A Wedgewood Weddings managed venue, the Golden Gate Club has capacity for both indoor and outdoor wedding ceremonies. Views of the Golden Gate Bridge and close proximity to the Bay and all The Presidio has to offer, make the wedding venue an incredibly attractive option for engaged couples. The large indoor ballroom is a great space for dinner, dancing, and an evening wedding reception. More info here.
Gamble Garden in Palo Alto (image above) has a storied history. Back in 1902 this gorgeous farm house and gardens were built “in the country” outside the city limits of San Jose for a grand total of about $6k. In the mid-1980’s the Gamble family made this impressive property a public garden and education space. The historic farmhouse and gardens make for an incredible outdoor wedding venue. Located in the midst of downtown Palo Alto – a short drive from San Francisco and San Jose – the venue is really ideal for intimate weddings, micro weddings, and for wedding receptions that have 75 or fewer guests. As photographers and visual artists, we love this gem of a SF Bay Area wedding venue. Here Comes The Guide link.
The Brazilian Room in Tilden Park (image above) is one of our favorite SF Bay area wedding venues. Located in the East Bay just minutes uphill from downtown Berkeley, this mountain retreat is a fabulous sanctuary. The rustic house is perched at the top of cascading glen full of pine, eucalyptus, and towering redwood trees. The building’s old english architecture is a dreamy compliment to the natural surroundings. It’s a deeply peaceful setting and a photographer’s paradise. Cocktail hour on the flagstone patio as the sun sets through the trees is a dreamy combination of nature and culture. Here Comes The Guide link.
The UC Botanical Garden (image above) is a magical oasis in the East Bay hills. Located in the city of Berkeley just above the UC campus, this wedding venue includes an outdoor amphitheater in an old growth redwood grove, a cactus garden, and a cute rustic reception venue. Many of our clients also choose to have their wedding ceremony at the UC Botanical Gardens and then follow with a reception at the Berkeley City Club (see #1 on the list above). Here Comes The Guide link.
There are numerous incredible Big Sur wedding venues. Hyatt Carmel Highlands (image above) really stands head and shoulders above them all. The redwood deck is the perfect Big Sur outdoor ceremony location. Perched on a cliff’s edge with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean the Hyatt Carmel Highlands gazebo is ideal for a sunset ceremony. Luxury wedding clients will also love the gorgeous indoor dining area and ballroom. High-end accommodations also make this wedding venue an attractive option for weekend long celebrations and welcome parties. Here Comes The Guide link.
San Francisco City Hall is an architectural treasure and a gift for SF Bay area wedding venues. The fourth floor gallery (image above) is one of four different locations within SF City Hall to have a wedding ceremony. The fourth floor gallery at SF City Hall is great for private weddings with up to 75 guests. Many of our SF City Hall wedding clients choose to have their ceremony at City Hall and then combine that with a reception at a separate San Francisco venue and/or a photo adventure to some iconic locations around the city. Reserve your San Francisco City Hall wedding here. Also, Here Comes The Guide link.
San Francisco City Hall is an architectural treasure. The Mayor’s Balcony (image above) is one of four different locations within SF City Hall to have a wedding ceremony. The Mayor’s Balcony at SF City Hall is great for smaller and more intimate weddings with up to 25 guests. Many of our SF City Hall wedding clients choose to have their ceremony at City Hall and then combine that with a reception at a separate San Francisco venue and/or a photo adventure to some iconic locations around the city. Reserve your San Francisco City Hall wedding here. Also, Here Comes The Guide link.
The Fairmont San Francisco is a luxury wedding venue near Grace Cathedral. Perched at the top of California Street The Fairmont SF (image above)offers incredible views of the surrounding city. The indoor ballroom is exquisite. The rooftop gardens at The Fairmont are also a fabulous option both for your ceremony and for cocktail hour. Many of our Fairmont Hotel wedding clients get ready at the hotel and then have their wedding or reception at a nearby outdoor wedding venue, such as the Palace of Fine Arts. The Fairmont is one of our favorite SF Bay Area wedding venues. Here Comes The Guide link.
The Palace of Fine Arts is yet another iconic architectural masterpiece in San Francisco. As an SF wedding venue it’s great for outdoor elopements and micro weddings and for larger weddings with a higher guest count. It’s also a fabulous location for engagement sessions and wedding day portraits. For Gen and Chantal’s wedding (photo above) they had a great ceremony on the Mayor’s Balcony at SF City Hall. Then the entire wedding group rode around San Francisco in a private street trolly. We stopped at 5 or 6 iconic locations for mini photo sessions along the way.
Nestled in the idyllic rolling hills outside of Petaluma, California Olympia’s Valley Estate is a gem of a Sonoma wedding venue (image above). Here is where a rustic farm venue meets Sonoma vineyard and mixes together with a little country elegance. The estate has gorgeous outdoor areas for ceremony, cocktails, and for dinner. Most weddings use the rustic barn space for dancing and reception. Here Comes the Guide link.
Perched on a cliffs edge overlooking the Pacific Ocean, The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay (image above) is one of the most gorgeous stretches of California coast in the entire state. The Ritz Carlton brand is synonymous with elegance and luxury. There are multiple potential outdoor ceremony locations – most of which have glorious views of the beach and ocean. The hotel’s grand ballroom is a fabulous option for a big reception and dance party. Most of our Ritz Carlton wedding clients have also hosted a welcome party the evening prior to the wedding day at the Observatory which includes the Miramontes room and a fun terrace with fire places and outdoor seating. Here Comes The Guide link.
The Oakland Aviation Museum is one of those SF Bay Area wedding venues that is listed in the ‘best kept secrets’ category. It’s a quirky and fun venue with nearly endless space. Many wedding clients choose to have an informal outdoor ceremony. Dinner and the reception often take place inside of a beautiful renovated airplane hanger. Vanessa and Liz (pictured above) had a 1950’s aviation themed wedding which was a perfect compliment to the venue.
Located in the Dogpatch neighborhood The Pearl (image above) is a multi-level wedding venue and it is a stunner. The rooftop terrace offers incredible views of San Francisco and the bay and is great for an outdoor ceremony, cocktail hour, or a reception. Their indoor ballroom is a more classic setting for dinner and an evening party. The Pearl is one of the best urban wedding venues in SF. Also the surrounding neighborhood (image above) has some really great photo locations. Here Comes The Guide link.
Picturesque. That’s the word that comes to mind when we think about Mountain Terrace – a fabulous wedding venue in Woodside, CA perched on a ridge line in the mountains overlooking Palo Alto and Stanford University. A quaint and rustic farm house with a large generous deck (great for outdoor dinner) gives way to a large open grass meadow surrounded by groves of redwood trees (image above). There are so many incredible photo locations both on and nearby this amazing SF Bay Area wedding venue. Here Comes The Guide link.
There are so many fabulous Napa vineyard wedding venues. And Solage Auberge Resort and Spa in Calistoga, California is one of the finest. While it is not a vineyard itself, the Solage resort property is surrounded by vineyards on every side. Solage (image above) offers really great outdoor and indoor wedding options along with luxury accommodations. The spa alone is worth the visit. Here Comes The Guide link.
The Purple Orchid (image above) is a fabulous outdoor wedding venue nestled in the rolling hills of wine country east and north of San Jose, California. If you love the idea of having your ceremony and reception surrounded by grapevines on a gorgeous rustic farm property – this might be a perfect venue for your wedding. In addition, Livermore sees more than 261 sunny days per year. Do the math! Here Comes the Guide link.
This east bay resort and hotel has some serious appeal for luxury wedding couples. With panoramic views of the entire Bay Area, a historic grand hotel, fragrant rose gardens, and luxurious amenities it is a favorite for both local and destination wedding couples. The Claremont Hotel (image above) has a multitude of amazing spaces for wedding celebrations, cocktails, dinner, and dancing. These include the Claremont Ballroom, the Empire Ballroom, the Lanai Room, and the Hilary Tenzig Room. Here Comes the Guide link.
Carmel Valley is easily one of the most gorgeous regions in all of California. Minutes to Monterrey and Big Sur and incredible redwood forests and literally in the middle of wine country, what more could you want? We think the folks at Here Comes the Guide described Quail Lodge (image above) best:
“With 850 acres of lush gardens, tree-shaded lakes, rolling meadows, and a beautifully designed golf course, Quail Lodge has been a favorite Carmel Valley venue for over 50 years and a premier destination for weddings and other special events.
“Located on the sunny side of the Monterey Peninsula in the scenic Carmel Valley, Quail Lodge offers a wonderful selection of indoor and outdoor settings, including Quail Meadows, a popular and picturesque ceremony site that takes advantage of the glorious weather. A peaceful lake plays host to the occasional blue heron or covey of resident quail, and tree-covered hillsides form a gentle wave along the horizon. Whether you add a flower-laden bridal arch or let the scenery form the backdrop, this splendid spot will take your breath away.
“Quail’s other scenic venues feature naturally inspired settings that are perfect for receptions, parties, and rehearsal dinners. From their intimate private rooms and outdoor terrace, you and your guests can enjoy tranquil garden and poolside views. Receptions for larger groups are held in the elegant Peninsula Ballroom, which boasts a cathedral ceiling and three walls of windows that showcase the spectacular surroundings. Wherever you gather, friends and family will be treated to exemplary service and the finest-quality fare. The chefs at Quail Lodge specialize in delicious local, organic California cuisine, and they lavish the same care on their event meals as they do at Edgar’s, their popular on-site restaurant.”
Golden Gate Park in the Presidio of San Francisco (image above) is one of the most iconic urban parks in the world. With more than a thousand acres of woodland, meadows, trails, gardens, museums, and botanical gardens Golden Gate Park has many incredible SF wedding locations. Indoor wedding venue options include Lake Merced Boathouse, Sunnyside Conservatory, and the Stern Grove Clubhouse (Trocadero). Outdoor wedding locations in Golden Gate Park include The Rose Garden, Shakespeare Garden, Lafayette Park, The Botanical Garden, Portals of The Past, Fuchsia Dell, The Chineses Pavilion, and Chain of lakes. Reservations for these popular wedding sites can be made up to a year in advance. And the fees are quite reasonable.
If you are dreaming of getting married in a magical redwood grove and you also want the amenities of a full wedding venue, Deer Park Villa (image above) in Marin County might be the perfect venue for your wedding. Situated on a gorgeous 4-acre property in Fairfax, CA wedding couples will appreciate the well manicured gardens, a spacious bridal suite for getting ready, both indoor and outdoor options for dining, and both indoor and outdoor options for dancing. Few SF Bay Area wedding venues offer such a fabulous combination of nature and culture. Here Comes the Guide link.
With the setting sun behind you and the golden gate bridge in front of you, Baker Beach (image above) in the Presidio near Lands End is a gorgeous setting for a wedding ceremony. Beautiful, iconic, and affordable … but keep in mind that permits are required for any size wedding at Baker Beach. Find more info here at the Golden Gate National Recreation area site.
Even just saying out loud the phrase “vineyard wedding” feels amazing. Because vineyard weddings are amazing. Wente Estates & Vineyards (image above) is a top level SF Bay Area wedding venue. According to the fine folks at Here Comes The Guide, “situated in a picturesque canyon at the southern end of the Livermore Valley, Wente Vineyards Restaurant, Event Center and Golf Course is surrounded by grapevines, sycamore groves and rolling hills. The site, with its beautifully landscaped grounds, is a versatile setting for corporate retreats, special events, and of course, Tri-Valley Wine Country weddings!”
There are so many different gorgeous natural landscapes and beautiful wedding ceremony venues in SF Bay Area it can hard to really stand out as unique. Well, the Muir Beach Overlook (image above) is as unique and dramatic a wedding venue as can be found in the entire Bay Area. Located less than 45 minutes drive north of San Francisco on Highway 1 in Marin County, this epic ceremony location is perched atop a sheer cliff that falls hundreds of feet straight down to the Pacific Ocean below. The best time of day for a wedding ceremony at Muir Beach Overlook is closer to sunset. It is a roll of the dice with weather. Here’s a link to a complete guide on how to reserve a permit for a Muir Beach Overlook wedding. Permits begin at $400 for a max capacity 100 guest ceremony.
We love science. And we love photographing wedding celebrations. And we love gorgeous panoramic views of the entire SF Bay Area. Combine all three and you have the often overlooked Berkeley wedding venue, the Lawrence Hall of Science. The venue has both outdoor and indoor space. The outdoor landing (photo above) is equally fabulous for a sunset wedding ceremony and for cocktails or your reception and dancing. Inside the museum space offers a great interior space for dinner and dancing. Interested couples can contact the venue directly via their website here.
The Presidio in San Francisco is a delightful escape from the city. Here you’ll find inspiring ocean views and rolling hills of coastal pine, cypress and eucalyptus trees. You’ll also find a few gorgeous and iconic SF wedding venues. The Inn at The Presidio (image above) is often used by our wedding clients as a place to get ready, a staging ground, and for weekend accommodations for themselves and their wedding guests. Nearby wedding venues include: The Golden Gate Club, The Presidio Chapel, The San Francisco Film Centre, Baker Beach, Marshall’s Beach, and The Log Cabin.
Located in Ross, California the Marin Art and Garden Center (image above) is another one of our favorite SF Bay Area wedding venues that often flies just underneath most people’s radars. The Marin Art and Garden Center is a non-profit green culture center and it cares for an absolutely gorgeous and diverse 11-acre property. The property includes great space for getting ready and an option for indoor dancing (if that’s what you’re after). But in our humble opinion, it’s really the outdoor and garden landscapes that make this Marin wedding venue shine. Most of our wedding clients host spring, summer, or fall weddings here and have both the ceremony and the reception in an outdoor setting. Tents are an option, too. The property boasts a Magnolia circle, a redwood forest amphitheater, a rustic barn with a Japanese themed pond, an outdoor stage and an edible garden. If you are looking for the perfect combination of nature and culture, this might be a really great wedding venue to consider. The Marin Art and Garden Center can accomodate up to 350 guests and they have a great list of recommendations for catering partners.
The Delancey Street Foundation (image above) is another San Francisco wedding venue you’ve probably never heard of before. The venue is a non-profit foundation located on Delancey street near the Embarcadero (600 Embarcadero) in South Park. Their website is not very modern (which is unfortunate). But don’t let that stop you from considering this hidden gem. The property is AMAZING. We photographed Mark and Brian’s intimate wedding ceremony and reception here and immediately fell in love with the urban SF wedding venue. They have a private outdoor garden park (image above), a gorgeous outdoor patio that is great for cocktails and music, and a really beautiful indoor space (with exposed wood beams and high ceilings) that is ideal for dinner and a wedding reception. They also have top level options for catering in-house, which is a huge bonus. In addition the venue is literally adjacent to the waterfront which provides some really cool opportunities for wedding photography and creative portraits. Also, by having your wedding at Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco, you’ll also be supporting their mission to help the homeless, ex-convicts, and former substance abusers to find affordable housing solutions. Their work is really inspiring. Contact them directly here. helping
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again here, vineyard weddings are fabulous. There are countless vineyard wedding venues throughout the SF Bay Area from Napa and Sonoma to Livermore and Monterrey. Brasswood Estate Vineyard in St. Helena, California is really fun Napa wine country wedding venue. The property has gorgeous rolling hills with vineyards and woodlands, a great outdoor ceremony spot (photo above), a beautiful rustic barn with high vaulted ceilings that is perfect for dinner and an evening dance party. With full bar and catering options on-site, Brasswood Estate is a very attractive Napa wedding venue.
Nestled in the idyllic rolling hills outside of Petaluma, California Rosewood Estate is a beautiful Sonoma wedding venue. Rosewood Events (image above) is an all inclusive wedding weekend venue. This will help make planning your wedding much, much simpler. As it says on their website, Rosweood has “lovely flower gardens, extraordinary ridge-top views, lavender and daisy fields, river beds, bridges, split-rail walk ways, willow trees, grape vines, redwood groves and more. Rosewood estate boasts a beautiful tent for a covered reception for up to 200, and a covered, lighted gazebo for cocktails with a fabulous games area. Your ceremony can be under redwoods or a giant willow tree or against a backdrop of rolling hills and blue skies. You can choose cocktails on the lawn, in the garden or under the redwoods.” Visit the Here Comes the Guide page.
The Merchants Exchange building (image above) is one of those unique San Francisco indoor wedding venues. Located in the lobby of the Merchants Exchange on California Street in downtown SF, the arched ceiling and narrow corridor make for a very visually interesting ceremony spot. This urban SF wedding ceremony spot pairs perfectly with the renowned Julia Morgan Ballroom (see post 32 below), which is located on the 15th floor of the same building. See the Here Comes the Guide page.
When one thinks of luxury weddings in San Francisco, it’s impossible not to think of the famed Julia Morgan Ballroom (image above). Julia Morgan was a renowned architect during the early 1900s who designed more than 700 buildings and spaces including The Hearst Castle, The Berkeley City Club, and The Julia Morgan Ballroom. She was the first woman to be admitted to the l’Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the first woman architect licensed in California. Her design aesthetic created spaces in the Mediterranean Revival style with ornate structural detail that fill any visitor with a sense of awe. The Julia Morgan Ballroom is no exception and it’s a fabulous wedding venue for dinner and dancing. (See post #31 above for it’s sister ceremony site, “The Merchants Exchange”.) Situated on the 15th floor of the Merchants Exchange building in the financial district of San Francisco, this is an all inclusive urban luxury wedding venue. More info on the Here Comes the Guide page.
Nestled in the Capay Valley of California, Taber Ranch (image above) is a distinctive and amazing SF Bay Area wedding venue. Close your eyes and imaging rolling hills of long fescue grasses and wildflowers, wine vineyards, rustic barns, and exquisitely manicured garden scapes. This Capay Valley wedding venue offers a stunning hilltop ceremony site, wonderfully decorated and lighted areas for cocktails and games, and one of the coolest barns for a wedding reception that we’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for a really great outdoor and rustic ranch wedding, Taber Ranch in Capay might be just the right choice.
We admit that San Luis Obispo is a little bit of a stretch to be on a list of San Francisco Bay Area wedding venues. To be fair, it is roughly a three hour drive south from Oakland. But give us a moment to make our case. We’ve now photographed two weddings at the Madonna Inn (image above) and it is easily one of our favorites.
Of the hundreds and hundreds of wedding venues that we have photographed over the past 10 years no single wedding venue quite captures the quirky and unique columns like The Madonna Inn. (A close rival might be the Bankers Suite in Astoria, Oregon). Built in 1950s this San Luis Obispo wedding venue stands out for it’s one-of-a-kind and audacious design aesthetics. The quirkiness of it all has attracted offbeat and non-traditional wedding couples for decades. That being said, don’t be fooled by the strangeness of it all. The Madonna Inn is a very reputable hotel and wedding venue and is a one stop shop for your wedding. First, everyone can stay on site. They have a large collection of some pretty amazing accommodations including a large bridal suite. Second, they offer all bar service and catering in house. Third, they have an on site spa. And fourth, in addition to quite a few great on-site venues to choose from, the natural landscapes are enticing and picturesque. Visit the Here Comes the Guide page for more info.
If you’re looking to have your wedding in a tranquil and peaceful setting surrounded by Japanese structures and an elaborate Japanese garden – this is the wedding venue for you. Hakone Gardens (image above) is an 18-acre traditional Japanese garden in Saratoga, California – roughly a twenty minute drive from downtown San Jose. The landscapes are absolutely stunning and there are multiple authentic Japanese buildings on property making it a perfect venue for both indoor and outdoor wedding ceremonies and receptions. Many people think Hakone Gardens is best reserved for elopements and smaller intimate weddings. But that’s not entirely true. The outdoor ceremony and reception options can accommodate weddings with up to 180 guests. As visual artists and storytellers we LOVE everything about Hakone Gardens weddings. Learn more here at the Here Comes the Guide page.
Hacienda de las Flores is a sumptuous wedding venue in Moraga, California managed by Wedgewood Weddings. The property is a nine-acre historic estate that has been restored to magnificence and now primarily hosts weddings and events. The estate boasts an authentic Spanish-style mansion surrounded by fabulous patios, gardens, and an ornate Pavilion complete with large Corinthian columns. Hacienda de las Flores is private and secluded and is one of the most beautiful garden outdoor/indoor wedding venues in the East Bay. Most couples tend to have their wedding ceremony on the large lawn bordered by giant pine trees. The patio (image above) is a great option for dinner and dancing. More info on the Here Comes The Guide page.
Situated on top of a high knoll among the rolling hills of Santa Clara County, California, Willow Heights Mansion has incredible panoramic views of the vineyards, canyons, and ridge lines (image above). This is the landscape we see when we close our eyes and think about a summer California wedding. Having your wedding at Willow Heights Mansion gets you full access to the mansion and the entire property. This includes great accommodations and spaces for getting ready, a ceremony spot with top level views (image above) and a great indoor space for dinner and dancing. This Morgan Hill wedding venue is kinda like a really fancy ranch. The surrounding landscapes alone are worth considering it for your wedding.
If you are planning a Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony, we highly recommend this gorgeous church in Navato in Marin County. The Nativity Greek Orthodox church (image above) is designed with a Spanish architectural theme meaning it’s got gorgeous high ceilings, arched doorways, and lots of natural light. There’s also some incredible outdoor and patio space on-site. In addition there are tons of incredible reception venues nearby. Following the wedding ceremony pictured above, we drove to Olympia’s Valley Estate (#11 on this list) in Petaluma for the wedding reception.
Yes, Sonoma vineyard weddings are generally amazing. If you’ve ever been wine tasting in Sonoma you’ve probably driven past Viansa Vineyard (image above). Perched on a hilltop overlooking Sonoma valley it is easy to understand why so many couples choose this wine country wedding venue. Rolling hills of grape vineyards, a romantic underground wine cellar, and the gorgous Tuscany style villa with tiled roof and terracotta walls add to this wedding venue’s charm and appeal. Pictured above, Caree and Arthur enjoy a private tasting and lunch on one of Viansa Vineyard’s platforms as part of their micro wedding elopement. The venue offers special and affordable rates for smaller weddings. Viansa Vineyard can also accomodate large wedding celebrations with up to 400 guests. *photo above by our talented Ambassador Photographer, Stan. Here Comes The Guide link.
Some of the most gorgeous outdoor SF Bay Area wedding venues are also quite affordable. San Francisco and the entire Bay Area are blessed with an incredible number of public parks, state parks, and beaches. Often times the permitting fees are very reasonable for reserving these beautiful and unique wedding venues. Pictured above is Jackie and Alex’s intimate wedding ceremony in Lafayette Park – an iconic San Francisco park located in Pacific Heights with epic views of the bay, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge. According to the San Francisco Recreation & Parks website, permits can be reserved for both wedding ceremony and receptions starting at $294. Not bad for a world class view.
We’ve had the honor of photographing a few weddings at The Grove & The Union Hotel in Occidental, California. If you’ve ever been to Occidental you know that this little mountain town in Sonoma County is incredibly cute and literally surrounded by coastal redwood forests. Just a 25-minute drive from the Pacific Coast and 1hr north of San Francisco, the town itself is only about two blocks long. And that is exactly what makes this little California town such a special place for your wedding celebration. The Grove (image above) is a gorgeous outdoor amphitheater complete with a stage in the middle of a mystical redwood forest. Saying this is an ideal redwood forest wedding venue is the understatement of the century! The Union Hotel in Occidental is a fun reception venue that pairs perfectly with the Grove. The Union Hotel provides catering, bar, a cute reception venue and accommodations.
As we have mentioned previously some of the most outstanding outdoor SF Bay Area wedding venues are also very affordable. San Francisco and the Bay Area are lucky to have an incredible number of public beaches, parks, state parks, and forests – most of which are potential wedding and elopement venues. Pictured above are our elopement clients Jen and Ryan. Land’s End is literally at the edge of a continent with sheer cliffs that descend to hidden pacific ocean beaches. As wedding photographers and storytellers we normally scout out these types of wedding photo locations in advance. Find out more about reserving your San Francisco beach wedding here.
What’s not to love about the Asian Art Museum? The historic and regal building is itself a work of art. Pictured above is the grand staircase that leads up to the Loggia – an airy arcade with a decorative vaulted ceiling (image above). This space is sometimes used for the wedding ceremony but most often serves as a welcome location and for cocktail hour. Samsung Hall is an elegant high ceiling space that is equally magnificent for an indoor wedding ceremony and for dinner and dancing. And, let us not forget that we are surrounded by beauty – both inside and out. The Asian Art Museum is located close to San Francisco City Hall and is a short distance from iconic San Francisco neighborhoods such as SOMA, Hayes Valley, Cathedral Hill, and The Mission. Here Comes The Guide link.
Rustic ranch settings are a really fun subset of SF Bay Area wedding venues. Driving along the picturesque Nicasio Valley Road heading north and west from San Rafael, you’ll pass through a few mesmerizing redwood forests before arriving in this quintessential North Bay landscape of long grass and rolling hills. Rancho Nicasio is a great rustic ranch wedding venue in Marin County (image above). The outdoor areas include a forest nook great for a wedding ceremony, beautiful gardens, a large lawn and patio, and an indoor stage and dance floor. This rustic venue really shines for it’s outdoor ceremony and reception options. Rancho Nicasio also offers all inclusive packages with options for full bar and catering. They can also accomodate weddings with up to 300 guests. Here Comes the Guide link.
An often overlooked among SF Bay Area wedding venues, Mission Rock Resort has some huge appeal. The waterfront property sits on the bay in the Dogpatch near Crane Cove Park and the Chase Center (home of the Golden State Warriors). This little hidden gem is kinda amazing. They have a gorgeous wooden deck that is literally a peninsula floating on the water (image above). It’s a great spot for a small to medium size wedding ceremony. Their interior restaurant space and outdoor wrap around decks make this an all inclusive wedding venue. Though, its a San Francisco wedding venue you’ve probably never heard of. This SF wedding venue can accomodate weddings up to 200 guests.
Driving north from St. Helena along the picturesque Highway 29 the winding tree covered road is surrounded by vineyards. Just a few miles out of town, you drive up over a small incline and there is one of the regions most historic buildings – Freemark Abbey (image above). The 19th century stone building practically hugs the road and it is an absolutely gorgeous building and property. The recently renovated Freemark Abbey Winery in St. Helena has partnered with TwoBirds/One Stone – an award winning California inspired yakitori restaurant – and the results are amazing. This is an all inclusive Napa wedding venue with great indoor and outdoor options.
Stable Cafe is an adorable restaurant with outdoor wedding reception space in the middle of the Mission District of San Francisco (image above). Every wedding reception we have photographed at Stable Cafe has been preceded by the client’s wedding ceremony at San Francisco City Hall. The two make a great pairing. The outdoor courtyard at Stable Cafe is an urban oasis – so much so it’s easy to forget that you are still in the middle of the city! And the food is often sourced from local farms. The venue also has a covered area with a fireplace and an indoor area that is good for dancing. Stable Cafe is best suited for smaller weddings with up to 75 guests.
Rounding out our list of SF Bay Area wedding venues is the simple country luxury farm and estate in Yolo County called Park Winters (image above). This private estate is a charming bed and breakfast that is your one stop shop for a rustic AND elegant wedding venue. The property has a charming victorian inn, a renovated barn, a chic pool and hot tub, and great spaces for getting ready, for your ceremony, and for large receptions. Located on the outskirts of Woodland, Park Winters is technically closer to Sacramento than it is San Francisco. This wedding venue has so much charm and appeal we had to include it on our list. For outdoor weddings, Park Winters can accomodate up to 300 guests. Here Comes the Guide link.
Drew Bird is recognized as one of the top 20 wedding photographers in California and one of the top 100 Destination Wedding Photographers in the world by the Wedding Photojournalist Association. He is currently based in Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area and creates elopement and wedding photography stories for clients world-wide. Get in touch with Drew.