Why We’re the Best Choice of Bay Area Wedding Venues Outside of San Francisco, CA
A Local Destination Wedding is the Best Experience for Bay Area Couples seeking Bay Area Wedding Venues
here’s why you’ll love mountain house estate:
– 40 private acres with rolling hills & redwood/oak trees
– your wedding, your way. byob & byo vendors (including food trucks)
– outdoor and indoor ceremony and reception locations
– gorgeous dressing suites
– custom-designed lighting, decor & rentals
– unlimited photo opportunities
Keep reading if you want to learn about some considerations of having your wedding in the Bay area or near the Bay Area.
When you begin your search for Bay Area wedding venues, you might feel overwhelmed with all the considerations to take into account.
In this article, I’m going to touch on “local destination weddings,” discuss the benefits to a wedding venue outside of the metro Bay area, budget considerations, venue considerations, climate considerations, and so much more to get your wheels turning.
Mountain House Estate takes you into a completely new world, far from the city’s hustle and bustle, and allows you to relax and have an exclusive wedding experience.
Jillian + Justin fell in love with wine country & are San Francisco residents.
Let’s define a local destination wedding.
Let’s first define a destination wedding; any wedding that you and your guests have the choice to stay overnight because you are 1-3 hours from your home. So having your wedding in the North Bay, East Bay, or South Bay can technically be a destination wedding, depending on the traffic.
A local destination wedding near the Bay Area allows your guests to choose to stay overnight or not.
What if you want to have a wedding a few hours’ drive from San Francisco? You don’t have to stay overnight here. Wedding guests who aren’t dancing the night away can get home at a reasonable time.
However, we think that reserving a block of rooms in a good hotel and giving your guests a fun list of local activities before or after your wedding can give them the ultimate experience.
You can let them know what you plan to do before or after your wedding day and even include them in the activities.
A local Bay Area wedding allows you to create unforgettable memories with your closest wedding guests.
A local destination wedding near Sonoma offers you coastal and inland experiences, so you get the best of both worlds. Here’s a quick overview of some of our favorite things:
Our favorite things to do on the Sonoma Coast
– Visit historic Fort Ross
– Check out the rock formations and beach at Sonoma Coast State Park: Schoolhouse Beach, Portuguese Beach & Goat Rock Beach
– Hike at Bodega Head
– Whale watching between January – May
– Hike at Sea Ranch
Our favorite things to do in Inland Sonoma County
– Visit Florence Avenue in Sebastopol
– Walk through the Sonoma Plaza
– Tour the Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma
– Gawk at the redwoods at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
– Take a stroll through downtown Petaluma (Victorian-era buildings, antiquing, riverfront dining, etc.)
– Go wine tasting and antiquing in Healdsburg (excellent restaurants, wine tasting rooms, boutique shopping, antiques, spas, museums, etc.)
Our favorite places to eat in Sonoma County
– Oakville Market for a great deli lunch
– The Barlow (an outdoor market made up of over 30 restaurants, cafes, and other merchants in Sebastopol)
– Fishetarian Fish Market (Fish & chips, chowder & other favorites, served with beer in a waterfront market with picnic tables.)
– The girl & the fig (upscale and diet-friendly)
– Diavola Pizzeria
– Amy’s Drive-Thru (yes, like the brand of vegetarian mac & cheese that you either love or hate at your local California grocery store)
– Catelli’s (upscale Italian with a twist)
And we can’t talk about Sonoma experiences without talking about wine country.
Some of our favorite areas to go wine tasting are Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, and Yorkville Highlands. There are tons of tasting rooms within the city and bay views, but it doesn’t compare to a few days in wine country (just our opinion 😉).
Metropolitan Bay Area event spaces usually aren’t “event only.”
Event spaces that aren’t venue only (hotels, wineries, golf courses, museums, restaurants, etc.) make your wedding an afterthought. Their real reason for hosting weddings – to sell your guests their primary business – for wineries, get your guests on their wine club list.
For hotels, it’s to sell rooms. For museums, it’s to increase their guest count. Each has its own priorities, and it’s not your special day.
Metro wedding venues may not be the most distinct or breathtaking backdrop for your wedding photos.
Something else to consider about the best wedding venues is your wedding photography. After your wedding is said and done, your photography is the most important and visual way to look back on your wedding. You could hire the best wedding photographer in the world, highly rated by Wedding Wire, The Knot, and Martha Stewart Weddings.
But if you don’t have a beautiful backdrop, your wedding photos will look just like everyone else’s photos taken at that location, such as San Francisco City Hall, the Palace of Fine Arts, or the San Francisco Mint.
Most venues in the Bay Area simply can’t prioritize your big day (and they aren’t as experienced in weddings).
The best California wedding venues are just that; wedding venues. Not wineries, restaurants, bars, golf courses, museums, etc.
And here’s yet another consideration: because these businesses double as Bay Area venues, places like the San Francisco City Hall are essentially “wedding mills” AKA afterthought venues, AKA the Walmart of weddings.
In other words, you’re given an exact time to be in and out.
If you’re running late or stuck in traffic, or a vendor is late, tough luck.
Expect to be pushed and rushed.
Or like a hotel or some other venues, there may be other events taking place during yours, which can get hectic.
Recently we heard about two events with timelines ending at the same time. This dumped everyone into the parking lots together, where the resulting traffic jam resulted in fists flying.
Our recommended photographers will go above & beyond to get the perfect shot!
Here’s the harsh reality of having your wedding at some public California wedding venues and outdoor event spaces in the Bay Area.
Their main focus will always be their members or whatever they’re selling. At a golf course, for instance, they’ll force you to use their in-house catering.
All-inclusive wedding venue/catering packages reduce your wedding planning time expenditure, but it also reduce your ability to customize and match your wedding vision.
If you get married at a venue such as a golf course in the Bay Area, will it be closed to the public and members during your wedding?
The Oasis (bridal suite) at Mountain House Estate
Here’s the harsh reality about winery venues in the Bay and elsewhere.
First and foremost, their focus is on making and selling wine. Your big day is not their main priority.
Most wineries are owned by a giant, multinational corporation that makes tens of thousands of wine cases under multiple brand names. At wineries, dozens of people are working to make tens of thousands of wine cases that are then forklifted into semi-trucks and shipped across the country. It’s busy and noisy.
When you tour a winery for your wedding, you’re unlikely to be meeting with a person who specializes in weddings.
This person is usually a winery employee with the title of event manager, or wedding coordinator, who has to check with their managers if you have any special requests or needs for your wedding day.
A great photo opportunity outside of our Oak Tree Terrace
Food trucks at our wedding venue
A winery wedding venue wants to sell wine to you and your wedding guests (which is a no-brainer when you think about it).
So why do wineries host weddings? They want to sell wine to you. Most wineries will quote you a low wedding venue fee but require you to buy their wine to serve your guests. And many don’t allow beer or any outside beverages.
How do you feel about wedding crashers?
Winery weddings are famous for them. There are dozens of stories about the public innocently crashing expensive weddings at wineries.
More photo opportunities at Mountain House Estate
Yes – another unique photo opportunity on our property!
Mountain House Estate has one of the best microclimates in the area.
Before you even set off for a wedding venue tour, google the average temperature, rainfall, wind, and other climate factors.
When you arrive, ask the venue to see how knowledgeable they are. For instance, you’ll notice that our climate information is for Yorkville here at Mountain House Estate.
Our address is Cloverdale, but our weather is more similar to Yorkville.
You see, our mailing address is Cloverdale, but as we are almost 1,000 feet in elevation above Cloverdale and are located right on the mountain pass (Mountain House – get it?) between Alexander Valley and Anderson Valley.
We have a unique microclimate that is most like Yorkville to our west, rather than Cloverdale, Geyserville, and Healdsburg to our south.
On a hot summer day, we’ll be 10 degrees cooler than those down in the valley. Meaning your cocktail hour on our outdoor patio will be a breeze! Speaking of…
Having your ceremony and reception at Mountain House Estate is a breeze, literally.
It wasn’t until we lived here that we understood the uniqueness of our microclimate. As Mountain House Estate is the mountain pass at 1,220’ in elevation on Highway 128, from here to the Mendocino Coast is downhill.
It’s a 1.5-hour drive to Mendocino’s artist community.
It’s a gorgeous drive and a winding valley the entire way. This provides a cooling breeze on many summer afternoons.
And we’re far enough away from the coast that we don’t get much fog at all.
A wedding at Mountain House Estate is the best way to have the ultimate wedding experience without compromise.
You will be happy and walk away with a lifetime of memories. That’s why we don’t have to use crazy sales tactics, slash pricing, or other desperate measures that some venues do to lure you in.
We wish you all the luck and love in the world in finding the perfect venue + your happily ever after 🧡
FILED UNDER: Northern California, Ceremony Sites, Santa Monica, Our Favorite Venues, Bridal Party
Here are some climate considerations – because crazy high winds and your hair/makeup won’t get along. 💇🏼♀️
Okay, this section might be a tad boring to some of you. Still, we’re serious; the weather is so drastically varying in all parts of the Greater Bay Area that we want you to know what you’re getting yourself into, from the smell of garlic lingering in the air to wild gusts of wind.
If you want to skip this section, the gist is that fog, rain, cold weather, congested narrow roads, smog, and other factors can interrupt or ruin your special day.
Because of the greater Bay Area’s proximity to the ocean and mountains, hills, valleys, and other geographic features, every part of the greater Bay Area has its unique microclimate. Here’s what each part of the greater wedding venues Bay Area is known for.
Bay Area Peninsula
The days are typically warm and mild, but the cold, damp fog moves into many areas at night.
Known for its cold foggy nights when the wind blows in through the Golden Gate Bridge.
Along the waterfront are Alameda, Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, Hayward, Fremont, Martinez, and Alamo. These areas are subject to the Bay’s coastal influence, so breezy and chilly evenings are a reality.
San Jose and Santa Clara get some coastal influence from the finger of San Francisco Bay that touches the South Bay, but this coastal influence is cut off by the Santa Cruz Mountains to the south, except along the Hwy 101 corridor.
Highway 101 goes through a mountain pass towards Morgan Hill, Hollister, San Juan Bautista, and Gilroy to the Greater Bay Area Southern Inland.
The further down this valley you go, the dustier and warmer it will be in the summer.
It goes from warm to scorching hot because it’s further away from the Bay and ocean influence.
It’s dustier because the fields are tilled in the summer for the crops in this agricultural area.
Hollister and the surrounding area are famous for their earthquakes, averaging about two per day of a magnitude 1.5 or higher.
Coastal Marin and Sonoma County offer scenic rolling hills and some ocean views. But with the ocean influence comes the colder evenings and damp fog. The Highway 101 corridor from the Golden Gate Bridge to Petaluma influences The Bay.
Petaluma was once known for chicken ranches and dairies – and still has a few.
You can see the cows grazing on the hillsides. But remember, with cows comes odor and flies.
Napa has its coastal influence due to the Napa Valley.
Because of the Napa River and the Napa Valley that runs up to Calistoga, fog can get trapped in the valley; it’s the reason they planted grapes there in the first place.
But moisture and condensation may not be great for your hair, makeup, and wedding photography.
As you move up the Napa Valley to St. Helena, Rutherford, and Calistoga, the coastal influence moderates.
This area is essentially a bowl rimmed by mountains. Overall, it has a lovely climate and there’s great diversity from Redwood trees to sandy beaches.
Santa Cruz, Aptos, and La Selva Beach
Anytime you get close to the coast, you get coastal influence. This is great because it moderates temperatures. Some areas are known for, and love, their fog – La Selva Beach, for instance. In the afternoons, the fog will come in full force across Highway 1.
I hate wildfires, but it needs to be mentioned here.
Much of the area above Santa Cruz burned in 2020, including Felton, Boulder Creek, and Ben Lomond.
Side note: having a wedding anywhere around Santa Cruz, and you’ll have to deal with the substantial homeless population. Most aren’t aggressive but don’t walk alone if you are female.
Monterey County is home to Castroville, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel Valley, Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove, Cannery Row, Big Sur, and Monterey.
Carmel Valley has the best climate of all of these locations because it’s a valley that doesn’t empty into another area.
The wind isn’t an issue. But, there are two downsides to consider:
It’s a tourist attraction that results in many tourists wandering around with cameras; with that comes bumbling, oblivious foot traffic. You’ll know what I mean when you get trapped behind them on the one-lane roads.
It’s where the rich and famous live – it’s expensive—hotels, food, experiences, and everything costs extra. Fill up your gas tank before you get to Carmel Valley, or you’ll be reaching deep into your pockets.
Just follow Highway 101 north, through Santa Rosa, Larkfield, and Windsor, where you will enter Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, and Dry Creek Valley.
This area is close enough to the Pacific Ocean for temperature moderation but not affected by inland valleys that cause daily wind as you see at the Altamont Pass, as evidenced by the wind turbines.
Even better, the area hasn’t been overrun by corporate wineries like Napa. And you can still find reasonably priced hotels. Unless you want to get fancy and stray at the Macarthur Place (around $700/night)
How do we know so much about all of the different microclimates within the Bay Area?
Hi, John here, owner of Mountain House Estate wedding venue :) So how do I know about these different areas, why do I give this advice? I grew up in Santa Cruz County, Watsonville, and Aptos (Corralitos).
My grandparents lived in Santa Cruz.
We rode horses into Felton, Corralitos, through the Santa Cruz mountains, and up to Loma Prieta.
Later in life, I got a job in Livermore and commuted to San Leandro – ick. I traveled weekly through a significant portion of the state.
Later, I had real estate offices in Marina, Monterey, and Carmel, where we serviced Big Sur, Carmel Valley, Pebble Beach, Laguna Seca, and Seaside. I lived in Carmel and Marina – just north of Fort Ord.
So later in life, I had a choice, where do I want to live?
I got out a map, crossed off areas I had visited and didn’t care for (high humidity, tornadoes, snow, metroplexes, desert), and decided I wanted to stay in the Bay Area, specifically in Mendocino county. And here I am.
Don’t tell anyone; I’m trying to keep the secret of this beautiful place to myself.
Here are a few reasons why outdoor wedding venues are a great choice for you:
Direct sunlight is great for photos.
When you choose an outdoor wedding venue, you can take advantage of natural sunlight. You don’t want harsh shadows in the background of your wedding photos from a wine cellar or indoor venue.
The direct sunlight will provide even light for all of your guests and well-lit surroundings for wedding photographs.
With fountains, ponds, and lovely landscaping, outdoor wedding venues will provide a beautiful backdrop for your wedding photographs. The natural setting will make your photos timeless and unforgettable.
There are many outdoor wedding venues to choose from.
If you live in a temperate climate, there are plenty of places to hold your ceremony and reception outdoors. You can have your wedding at a vineyard with a country landscape or near a lake surrounded by trees. Whether you want a rustic barn wedding venue or an elegant garden wedding, there is a place for you. In California alone, from the Santa Cruz Mountains to Half Moon Bay and Napa Valley.
Outdoor weddings are intimate and personal.
When your ceremony and reception take place outdoors, it will have a much more intimate feel. You don’t have to worry about being in another room because of the size of your guest list or budget.
If you want all of your guests to share in the celebration, an outdoor wedding is a perfect choice.
Outdoor seating offers plenty of room for your ceremony and/or reception.
An outdoor ceremony and reception will provide many options for seating arrangements. You can have long tables for guests to sit at or picnic-style seating. Whatever feels most comfortable for you, an outdoor setting gives you the space to choose.
Outdoor venues provide plenty of space for dancing.
When you have an outdoor wedding, your guests aren’t restricted to one room for their entertainment. If you hire a band or DJ, they will have ample room to set up and play. You can decorate the surrounding area with lights to illuminate dancing or string lights in trees for a more natural look.
Outdoor weddings can be more affordable.
Many outdoor wedding venues have lower costs because they don’t include extras that you won’t use, like forced vendors (hotel venues are notorious for this), chandeliers and formal seating arrangements. Your guests will still be comfortable and have the food they want without the added cost of covering luxurious details your guests won’t care about.
Having an outdoor wedding allows you to enjoy every aspect of your celebration. If you could hold your special day anywhere, where would it be?
Take a look at online venue listings for inspiration. Or come take a tour of Mountain House Estate if your ideal location is a mountain terrace, rolling hills, redwood groves, Oak groves, gardens, and landscaped grounds.
Whatever your style, you’ll find outdoor wedding venues of all shapes, sizes, and prices to suit your budget.
When you search for places to hold your wedding, think strategically. For example, if your date is available but the location isn’t what you were hoping for, give it a second look and see if any changes would make it work.
The best outdoor wedding venues will allow you to have everything you want in one place.
When you can have your ceremony and reception outdoors, there’s no need to worry about renting extra equipment or hiring a coordinator for additional services.
We wish you luck in finding your perfect outdoor wedding venue!
Northern California is home to many gorgeous wedding venues:
Northern California is home to many gorgeous wedding venues. Whether you’re looking for a grand, traditional setting or something more intimate and modern, there’s an ideal location waiting just for you.
One of the Bay Area’s most popular wedding venues, Wente Vineyard is located in Livermore. The vineyards have been passed down from generation to generation. Wente Vineyard is a true California experience with award-winning wines served on the premises in its cozy setting.
Fort Mason Center
Fort Mason Center is a premiere Bay Area wedding venue in San Francisco. This Fort Mason location has an outdoor and indoor space, which provides the perfect setting for your special day. The beauty of this Bay Area location is that it has access to stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, which will make your wedding pictures one-of-a-kind. This Fort Mason venue also offers catering services
The Guglielmo Winery is a perfect place for couples looking for Bay Area wedding venues. This winery has an elegant architecture that comprises of a traditional Tuscan-style villa and vineyards.
The Rancho Room is a beautiful, spacious venue. This room has high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows that allow for natural light to flood in.
Hyatt Regency San Francisco
The Hyatt Regency San Francisco is one of the most popular Bay Area wedding venues and it has a lot to offer. The hotel’s architecture makes for an elegant setting that will make any bride feel like a princess. This is the perfect place for couples who want their wedding to be in a city with all of its cultural attractions but have that laid-back California vibe.
Berkeley City Club
The Berkeley City Club is a historic venue nestled in the heart of downtown Berkeley. With its grand ballroom and stunning views, it’s no wonder that this location has been the perfect place for many happy couples to tie the knot.
The Presidio Cafe – Presidio Golf Course & Clubhouse Country Club
This is one of San Francisco’s favorite golf courses, so if golf is a must on your wedding day, this is a venue to consider.
Hacienda de las Flores
When you’re looking for a Bay Area wedding venue, the first thing that springs to mind is San Francisco. But there are so many other options! If you want something different and exciting but still close to home, we recommend checking out Hacienda de las Flores in Contra Costa County.
Willow Heights Mansion
Willow Heights Mansion is a beautiful, serene and intimate venue located in Santa Clara County. The mansion has been an icon and it’s no doubt why – the architecture is stunning. It is a magical place for those seeking to have an intimate and romantic wedding.
Woodside Restaurant is a sophisticated, yet comfortable atmosphere for your event. The restaurant’s rustic charm and old-world flare make it the perfect backdrop for any wedding ceremony or celebration.
Terrace Winery (The Terraces)
Terrace Winery is a family-owned and operated winery located in Napa Valley. The Terrace, with its rolling hills and vineyards, offers a picturesque setting for your wedding experience.
La Hacienda Morgan Hill Restaurant/Wedding Venue
La Hacienda Morgan Hill is a restaurant/wedding venue with breathtaking views of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Located in rural Morgan Hill, this historic ranch offers onsite ceremony sites, a variety of reception styles and elegant accommodations for your wedding guests.
Mountain Terrace at Woodside
This gorgeous wedding venue offers stunning Redwood trees and natural beauty. It’s located in Woodside, CA.
Most couples are searching for Bay Area wedding venues and also looking in other nearby areas.
It’s easy to see why couples are interested in Bay Area wedding venues. The area is filled with beautiful scenery, a variety of activities and so much more!
The Bay Area offers some of the most romantic and beautiful wedding venues in Northern California. Whether you’re searching for a location with an urban feel or something more rural, there are many options to choose from.
Woodside, CA (California)
Woodside, CA is a town located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Woodside has many attractions for couples who are searching for wedding venues including hiking trails and other outdoor recreation opportunities.
Oakland, CA is known for its diverse population and its urban feel, which makes it a perfect destination for weddings. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding in the Bay Area, Oakland is home to many parks and open spaces that are perfect for tying the knot.
Oakland is also home to many unique wedding venues, including museums, restaurants and hotels that are great for hosting a wedding reception or ceremony. The Oakland Museum of California
San Jose, CA
San Jose is not too far from San Francisco. It is located in the heart of Silicon Valley. The city has a lot of hotels, restaurants, and bars that can accommodate any size of the group.
Napa is of course, famous for it’s wine, but it’s also a beautiful place to get married. Although we think there are better and more options in Sonoma, we understand that some people want to get married in Napa for sentimental reasons.
Half Moon Bay, CA
Half Moon Bay is a small coastal city in San Mateo County, California. It is located on the Pacific coast near the mouth of the Pajaro River and is a very earthy place to host your wedding.
South Bay, CA
If you are looking for a Bay Area wedding venue, the best experience is to have it in your own backyard. The South Bay has some of the most unique locations that will make your day unforgettable.
Morgan Hill, CA
Lafayette, CA (wedding venues in Lafayette CA)
San Ramon, CA
What is the best way to narrow down my search for Bay Area wedding venues?
The best way to search for Bay Area wedding venues is to think about the kind of wedding you want to have, what your budget is, and then search through our website. If we’re not a good fit, you can search Google or the Knot for other weddings venues.
What are some things that I should consider when looking at outdoor wedding venues Bay Area?
When searching for outdoor wedding venues in the Bay Area, the weather is the most important consideration to think about. Does the venue have a backup plan for rain or will you have to purchase extra for tents? Think carefully before you narrow down wedding venues in Bay Area outdoor.
Affordable Wedding Venues Bay Area
Affordable is a buzzword when it comes to wedding venues in San Francisco. It’s a city that is known for its sky-high prices and exorbitant costs, which can make finding the perfect place to say “I do” seem like an overwhelming task. However, there are some affordable San Francisco wedding venues that can help you have your dream ceremony without breaking the bank.
That being said, your wedding day is not something you want to bargain on!
Wedding Venues in Bay Area CA
The Bay Area is a great place to get married! There are many beautiful wedding venues available in the area. Here are some of our favorites:
– The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay
– The Palace of Fine Arts
– Cavallo Point in Sausalito
– The Fairmont San Francisco
– The Four Seasons Hotel in Silicon Valley (Palo Alto)
Wedding Venues Bay Area California
The Bay Area is a fantastic place for weddings. You’ll love San Francisco, Oakland, and Silicon Valley wedding venues. Aside from all the venues (including ours) that we’ve mentioned in this article, we encourage you to do your own research!
Mansions for Weddings in California
All of these tags describe Mountain House Estate, although we are not technically located in the Bay area. We are in Cloverdale in Northern California. Most of our wedding couples and guests come from the Bay Area, San Francisco, San Jose, Napa, South Bay, and Northern California. We’ve hosted weddings since 2015. Our venue is a moderate price, although some from the Bay Area may call it an affordable price compared to hotel or other club venues in Carmel-by-the-sea and other high-end Northern California destinations.
Wedding Venues in California Redwoods
Nestled among the ancient California Redwoods in San Francisco and Berkeley, CA is a world of lush green scenery that will make any bride feel like she has finally found her happy place.
In the Bay Area, there are a number of beautiful destinations for those looking to tie the knot among these ancient trees. Whether you’re set on an indoor or outdoor ceremony and reception venue, the Bay Area is sure to provide the perfect setting for your special day.
Wedding at Hearst Castle Cost
If the bride and groom are looking for a bit of Hollywood glam while they tie the knot, then Hearst Castle is an ideal spot. This castle-like venue offers unparalleled views on what is sure to be one of the most memorable days in your life.
Venue capacity is something you need to be aware of when searching for wedding venues in the Bay Area.
Bay Area Counties & Reception Venues
There are lots of counties in the Bay Area including San Francisco, Santa Clara, Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo, Napa, and Sonoma just to name a few!
Where you pick your wedding venue will largely depend on what style and setting you want for your big day.
What’s next? Let’s schedule a property tour or talk about your wedding vision