Santa Cruz has long been known to Californians as a counterculture capital. But it’s even more so the natural beauty of the Santa Cruz coastline that draws so many to the area—you can enjoy the surf and sun and marvel at towering redwoods in the same day. And that’s what makes the Bay Area’s favorite beach getaway a superb backdrop for celebrating your nuptials. From gorgeous historic buildings to tranquil redwood groves to dramatic coastal views, it may just be the perfect location for your wedding. Here are the best wedding venues in and around Santa Cruz!
For a combination of classic California architecture and picturesque outdoor scenery, look no further than Sesnon House. Located on the campus of Cabrillo College, the beautiful house and grounds make it beloved by couples and guests alike. The backyard terrace and lawn provides great ceremony and reception space for larger weddings, while house itself is perfect for a smaller ceremony and reception (including space for dancing). And the venue only hosts one wedding per weekend, so you’ll have privacy as well as the full attention of their amazing staff!
Typical cost: $2,500–$3,500
Bonus: In-house catering is provided by the excellent Cabrillo Culinary Arts Catering program.
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If you’re looking for a place to really enjoy the coastal environment that Santa Cruz offers, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center could be just the place to spend your wedding day. The center is dedicated to marine science and conservation, while also serving as a truly unique wedding venue where you can get married by cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The outdoor deck offers unbeatable ocean views for your ceremony, while the indoor reception area has space for dining and dancing.
Typical cost: $3,350
Bonus: You will have sole access to the aquarium and exhibits after hours, so you and your guests can view the fascinating marine life and learn about ocean conservation during the cocktail hour! An added bonus: all the proceeds of renting the venue contribute to the center’s research and conservation work.
Hidden away in the Santa Cruz mountains, Kennolyn is an all-inclusive venue that offers a wedding experience that is anything but common. Home to summer camps since 1945, Kennolyn boasts two amazing venue options: the Hilltop Hacienda features spectacular views of Monterey Bay, while Stone Creek Village has redwood groves and a rustic lodge with a cozy fireplace. The site also offers an incredible array of amenities and options for recreation, including a swimming pool, tennis court, and an outdoor amphitheater.
Typical cost: $7,500
Bonus: Stone Creek Village has cabins located onsite, which you and your guests can rent as part of their two-night “Stay and Play” package.
A local institution, this Capitola restaurant is known for excellent food and drink. It also routinely shows up on lists of “most romantic restaurants” in California, so it’s no surprise that many couples choose to tie the knot here. The trolley (pictured above) that takes you down through the garden to the main restaurant adds a picture-book quality to an already enchanting locale. Even more importantly, the staff are attentive seek to provide you with an amazing experience.
Capacity: 18-120 (depending on the venue)
Typical cost: $100–$2,000 facility fee, $250 ceremony fee
Bonus: The restaurant offers custom wedding cakes handmade by their pastry chef.
Seascape is known not only for it’s great ocean views, but also its staff’s excellent service and attention to detail. It’s also surprisingly affordable, given all that their amazing location offers. You can have your ceremony at the scenic wedding bluff (one of the top outdoor locations in Northern California), and they have three reception venue options to suit weddings both large and small.
Capacity: 70–250 (depending on the venue)
Typical cost: $1,750–$2,750
Bonus: They offer several perks for weddings during the winter and fall, including free use of beach fire pits and reduced ceremony fees.
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