Ideal weather, ocean vistas, gorgeous architecture and laid-back beach vibes converge in the coveted Southern California metropolis of San Diego. These exceptional ingredients make this seaside city an optimal place for couples to pledge their love, especially if they’re hoping for picturesque outdoor event spaces. But beyond the beauty of San Diego’s wedding venues is the fact that many of them are offered at astonishingly low rates, allowing couples to score their dream venue without blowing their budget.
Allow the versatile foliage of Southern California to decorate your big day with everything from flowers, palm trees and ferns, to cacti and towering bamboo stalks in the stunning setting of San Diego Botanic Garden. Ceremony and reception sites include The Victorian Gazebo Lawn, The Walled Garden and Lawn House Garden. Ideal for larger celebrations, The Victoria Gazebo Lawn is a large grassy expanse flanked by a mosaic of lush plants and mature trees. The Walled Garden has a secret-oasis ambiance, as it’s surrounded by an adobe and tile wall, in addition to ferns and trees. Adding to the historic appeal of this “secret garden” is the adjacent Larabee House, which can also be used for ceremonies and receptions.
And then there’s the tropical setting of the Lawn House Garden that is optimal for more intimate gatherings. The tranquility of this gardenscape is enhanced by the soothing sounds of a waterfall. As California has superb weather almost every day of the year, there is never a bad time to utilize this mesmerizing venue.
Typical Cost: $1,500 – $5,000
Bonus: Wedding funds go towards the conservation of this 37-acre urban retreat.
Inside the walls of this 1887 Queen Anne-style Victorian mansion, couples will stand in awe as they take in the exquisite stained glass windows that sparkle with the likeness of exotic animals and flowers, stunning displays of redwood and a Steinway grand piano that offers that finishing touch of old world elegance. After they’ve reveled in the indoor luxury they can step outside Britt Scribbs Manor to pledge their love under a soaring camphor tree, or in a palm tree lined arbor filled with the ocean breeze.
When it comes time for the reception, a twinkle-light-adorned brick patio doubles as a gorgeous setting for cocktails and dinner, before being transformed into a dance floor. For those that don’t want the party to end, The Loft on the third floor of the jewel-hued mansion offers plush furniture, a television, bar and perfect vibes for an after party.
Typical Cost: $7,000 and up for event space. $65 and up per person for food and drink
Bonus: The seven opulent guest rooms in the house can be utilized overnight.
Begin your wedding celebrations in this popular San Diego city park with an al fresco ceremony in the Casa Del Rey Moro Gardens, which were designed in 1935 to emulate the Moorish gardens of Ronda, Spain. These gardens include fountains, a reflecting pool, a wishing well and landscaped foliage. After the ceremony you’ll move to one of the three event spaces in The Prado, located in the adjacent House of Hospitality. One of the largest spaces is the palatial 5,500 square-foot Grand Ballroom with chandeliers, 27-foot high hand-stenciled ceilings, and a theatrical stage. Before heading into the ballroom guests can enjoy cocktails in the Fountain Courtyard that features a garden landscape.
On the second floor of The Prado is a charming Spanish-style room, which opens to two terraces and accommodates parties with up to 80 people. Another smaller venue is the more contemporary Alhambra space with an open beamed ceiling and a balcony overlooking the Casa Del Rey Moro Gardens. This venue is truly extraordinary, as it provides exquisite spaces for shockingly low rates.
Typical Cost: $1,700 plus $350-$550 for each additional hour, depending on selected space
Capacity: 80-320 depending on selected space
Bonus: The park’s central location in the city makes it easy to access from many of San Diego’s most popular accommodations.
Elegance and Mother Nature converge at this sprawling winery that provides expansive, unobstructed views of wine country and meticulous rows of grapes as couples say their I do’s. For those that have an infinity for nature, yet also relish convenience, Orfila Vineyards and Winery offers the best of both worlds, as it’s a short drive from the city but allows guests to feel like they’ve been dropped in a remote, whimsical wonderland.
After the ceremony, the party relocates to a vine-covered arbor where guests will sip on delicious libations, including the finest wines Orfila has to offer. Then, everyone will settle under a 6,000 square-foot pavilion for dinner, before kicking off a dance party on the hardwood dance floor under a tapestry of custom lights. When it’s all said and done, couples don’t have to worry about anything but enjoying their wedded bliss, as Orfila staff complete all breakdowns and clean up.
Typical Cost: $4,450 – $5,650
Bonus: The vineyard and winery is filled with dreamlike photo backdrops, such as the ambrosial rose park, maze of grapes and the rustic barrel room.
A sparkling ocean view provides a radiant backdrop at this Spanish-style clubhouse, built in 1927. The half-acre the clubhouse sits on provides gorgeous outdoor spaces for ceremonies in the ideal Southern California climate, which is enhanced by a tranquil fountain, and vibrant arbors and trellises. When the cool ocean breeze pushes in in the evening, guests can move into the large indoor area, which provides an elegant ambiance for receptions with its stained glass windows, hardwood floors, French doors, chandeliers, and crown moldings. If you’re hoping for nuptials with classic California vibes, The Thursday Club is an optimal venue.
Typical Cost: Starts at $3,900
Bonus: This venue is only .5 miles from Sunset Cliffs National Park, which provides jaw-dropping settings for photos.
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Bailey Gaddis is a travel writer and author of Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood. In addition, she works as a childbirth preparation educator and birth doula who supports mothers-to-be and new mothers. She is also a regular contributor to media outlets including Disney’s Babble, Working Mother, Pregnancy & Newborn, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and Woman’s Day. In addition to her childbirth-prep work, she volunteers for families in need of postpartum support. She lives in Ojai, California.