Different Types of California Wedding Venues

How to Choose from California Wedding Venues and Make the Right Choice

If you’ve begun planning your wedding or are anticipating that your significant other will propose to you soon, congratulations! Whatever stage you are in in the wedding planning process, one of the first decisions you will have to make is where to host your wedding – AKA your wedding venue. There are lots of types of California wedding venues, and all are different to cater to your different wedding needs and vision.

Whether you’re looking for beachfront vibes, wine country comfort, an urban experience, mountain energy, or seaside chic, California is home to just about any type of wedding venue you could dream of. But what is really important is to decide what your priorities are for your wedding day. Napa Valley or Sonoma County may be the ideal for the wine aficionados and foodies while couples who are religious can pick a church or temple. Couples who love the idea of having an entire weekend with guests may consider the comfort of a bed & breakfast/overnight stay (although we advise against this!). Whatever your style, read below for a very brief overview of a majority of the different types of California wedding venues below to help you plan your dream wedding.

Wedding Venues Near Me

When looking to find a wedding venue some people will simply put in the google search “wedding venue near me” but that really limits your options.  Do you really want to go to an event venue that everyone has already seen?  Is your main goal to have a venue that’s simply close to home?

We each have a picture in our mind of our perfect wedding day.  As you look through the types of wedding venues below, think about the stage to create your dream wedding.  Are you looking for a beautiful blank canvas to design your wedding day, or do you want an all-inclusive wedding package?  This is your big day, take your time and make the best decision for you and your wedding guests.

Ballrooms/Hotel Venues in California

Ballrooms and hotels are a popular choice for couples looking at California wedding venues. The reason? It’s super convenient for you and your guests. Some of the pros include working with an experienced staff, having your rentals included, and of course, quick and convenient access to accommodations for your guests. A hotel or ballroom is a great option for guests who are looking for convenience, don’t need a lot of customization at their wedding, or wedding couples who are looking to do a destination wedding.

But, it has its downsides. Hotels and ballrooms often lack flexibility, such as forcing you to use their vendors, often have lots of hidden costs and may have other restrictions that surprise you down the road.  Another consideration is, your wedding pictures may look like all the other weddings they host.

Banquet Hall/Restaurant Venues in California

Foodies who are looking for convenience and simplicity may consider banquet halls or restaurants in their search for California wedding venues. On the upside, you’re almost guaranteed to get a great meal at your wedding equipped with staff who are trained in handling large parties. And the best part? They usually already have many of the rentals you’d need to purchase elsewhere –– tables, chairs, linens, centerpieces, and more.

The downside? Space is usually pretty limited and restaurants and banquet halls aren’t exactly designed with things in mind like a venue specifically made to host weddings. Think about your grand entrance, dancing, bouquet toss, and other parts of your wedding celebration when looking at California wedding venues.

Barn/Farm/Ranch Venues in California

This is the category that Mountain House Estate technically falls under. We’ll do our best not to be biased, but we’d like to think we’re pretty great (and so do lots of wedding couples and vendors) 😉.

However, we’d like to preface that we are not your typical “barn” or “farm” or “ranch”. First of all, we don’t have any cows, horses, or other barn or farm animals on site. And hey, it’s for good reason. This might seem picture-perfect, but in the dead heat of summer when these animals are pooping, that smell (and flies) is definitely going to intrude on your wedding. And we don’t find that to be very romantic.

Couples often use the word “rustic” when doing online searches for California wedding venues. And what they’re typically looking for is all of the vibes of the countryside, rural and outdoor wedding, but don’t think about some of the cons.

Which are: weather, lack of air conditioning/heating, lack of toilets, and so much more. Of course, since Mountain House Estate was conceived and designed to be a rustic wedding venue that tackles all of these issues instead of leaving them in hindsight, you won’t encounter them when you celebrate here.

Beach Venues in California

Ah yes, the beach. One of the most sought after concepts in California wedding venues. Beaches are simply beautiful, inviting and the epitome of romance. In concept, they’re the ultimate place to get married.

But the reality? Sand blowing in you and your guest’s faces, uninvited guests walking along the beach during your ceremony, and inclement weather issues. Some things are just more romantic in concept than in actuality. The beach is definitely one of those things.

And consider, California has coastal access laws, making the beaches open to the public.  Unfortunately, that means, you might have wedding crashers, and they have a legal right to be there.  Is there someone you would prefer to not have come to your wedding?

Bed & Breakfast/Inn/Overnight Venues in California

We were going to write about the pros and cons of doing an overnight wedding venue, but we already did so in this other article. Click here to check it out.

Country Club Venues in California

At a country club, you can likely have your ceremony and reception both indoors and outdoors, allowing you to enjoy the best of both worlds or saving you from inclement weather. You’re almost guaranteed that the grounds will be well-maintained, and the food is usually pretty tasty.

So what’s the catch? Well for one, these can be on the pricier side of California wedding venues. And it’s also very unlikely that you’ll have the entire venue to yourself –– they’re likely hosting other events, and if it’s a country club, there will be people golfing, eating, and enjoying their country club benefits. So it’s not exactly private or exclusive.

And be careful about those extra charges.  Just like ballrooms and hotels, the initial price they give you sounds pretty enticing.  But every service has an additional charge.  Water on tables, coffee station, cake cutting – yup, they charge you per slice.

Church/Temple Venues in California

Whether Jewish or Christian or whatever your faith may be, a church is a great option if religion plays an integral part in your relationship. Churches are definitely a more traditional type of California wedding venue. So when searching for California wedding venues, it may be a great option if you’re looking for something more classic. Churches definitely set the stage for a grandeur style and there is a much more structured approach to how your wedding timeline will be. Another benefit is that it’s not as expensive as some other California wedding venues.

However, a church usually can’t lend itself to the reception, so you’ll have to then find and rent another place for your after party. What’s more is that the photography options are a bit limited in this setting. For instance, at Mountain House Estate, we have about 40 acres that lend a myriad of photo opportunities.

Here at Mountain House, we see many couples that get married in the church, with a small intimate ceremony inviting just their closest family, in the morning.  Then, in the afternoon, they have a wedding ceremony with all their family, friends and other wedding guests.  Then the wedding reception and celebration follows late into the evening.

Museums & Gallery Venues in California

History, museums and art galleries fall under this category. These are definitely more on the unconventional side of California wedding venues. And while they can create a unique vibe for your wedding day, they’re typically better for smaller and more intimate weddings (fewer guests) because of the limited space settings. The other caveat is that because these were not designed for hosting weddings, you may need to put in more time and effort, or hire a wedding planner, to host these appropriately.

And if you have a very specific theme in mind for your wedding or color scheme, you may have to nix that in one of these spaces because you’ll need to work with their existing decor and choose decorations that fit with the aesthetic.

Animal Sanctuary, Zoos & Equestrian Facilities in California

What could be cuter than having animals at your wedding? Some animal properties are now also hosting weddings to meet demand. They’re an exciting and distinct experience for your guests, but there are some limitations you should think about before you look at these types of California wedding venues. The first thing to consider is that these are not designed for weddings; their main focus is their animals, not your special once-in-a-lifetime day.

But there’s more. Your wedding day is subject to the sights, sounds and smells that these California wedding venues provide. Flies, dust and manuer are hard realities. Also, not very romantic. Have you seen the video of the animals getting ‘frisky’ during the ceremony? Maybe that’s not how you want your wedding day to be remembered. And finally, your sound levels during your reception may be disrupting or stressful for the animals.

There are Even More California Wedding Venues

There are many other types of California wedding venues that we didn’t cover in this article, but this covers some of the most Googled and researched online. We hope that you find a venue that is perfect for you.

About the Author, John Alden

John Alden is a Wine Country Wedding expert and the owner of Mountain House Estate, a Northern California wedding venue located in Cloverdale, Sonoma County. Over the past 5 years, John has tirelessly worked to keep the property in pristine condition and has unmatched expertise about wine country weddings. In his free time, he enjoys working on classic cars in his garage.