The San Francisco Bay Area is a stunning tapestry of historical landmarks, rolling hills, seaside escapes, and luxury resorts. It also happens to offer an impressive assortment of wedding venues that are ideal for smaller weddings.
From a mysterious Victorian mansion and a conservatory of exotic foliage to a plush country club and a marine center perched over the ocean, Northern California has extraordinary venues that suit a variety of tastes. Read on for 10 small wedding venues in the Bay Area to host an intimate celebration.
1. San Francisco: Conservatory of Flowers
A whimsical venue of orchids, lilies, bromeliads, exotic trees, and a rainbow of foliage from climates around the world, Golden Gate Park’s Conservatory of Flowers is perfect if you want to feel transported on your big day.
For an alfresco wedding ceremony, opt for the lawn or the Palm Terrace in front of the Vestibule, the intricate glass entrance to the conservatory. As you say “I do” in the gentle California breeze, you’ll have views of the verdant grass and large swaths of flowers on one side and a stunning structure of glass adorned with jewel-hued insets on the other. The effect is mesmerizing.
You can also choose between the West Gallery, the Conservatory, and the Orchid Pavilion for a small ceremony. Afterward, head inside the building for drinks among eccentric Madagascar Palms and ferns, and migrate to the Orchid Pavilion for the reception. You can also select the Palm Terrace or the Terrace Lawns for an outdoor reception.
Typical Cost: $3,500 – $20,000
Bonus: The venue allows a full buyout, which means you and your guests have free rein of the event spaces.
2. Oakland: The Terrace Room
Constructed in 1927, The Terrace Room in the East Bay area is like a time capsule to the early days of Art Deco. It honors the architecture of a bygone era with three-foot bronze pendant light fixtures and original wrought-iron elements.
The venue space also dazzles with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide sweeping views of Lake Merritt. This feature is especially resplendent at night when twinkle lights surrounding the lake cast a romantic reflection on the water.
After tying the knot in front of enormous windows, enjoy a sumptuous meal before your first slow dance on the wooden, herringbone-patterned dance floor. You can even have a pianist play a tune on the black, grand piano.
Typical Cost: Rental fee starts at $650; food starts at $40/per person
Bonus: The venue’s upscale American cuisine is some of the best in Oakland.
3. Sonoma: MacArthur Place
A luxury event venue with first-rate staff and on-site catering, MacArthur Place is a one-stop-shop for almost all your wedding needs. Its wedding packages not only ensure ample sophistication but allow guests to leverage the lavish beauty of this historic garden property. Notable wedding packages include the Inner Circle and the Grand Affair.
- The Inner Circle wedding package caters up to 30 guests. It provides an intimate ceremony location, an officiant, a seasonal bridal bouquet and boutonnière, a petite wedding cake, a couples massage at The Spa at MacArthur, two hours of access to manicured grounds for photos, and much more.
- The Grand Affair package accommodates up to 150 guests. It offers exclusive access to the West Lawn and the Coach House for the ceremony, as well as the gardens for the reception. It also includes world-class food for the cocktail hour and reception, among other luxurious perks.
Typical Cost: Starts at $5,500
Bonus: All packages include a two-night stay in premier accommodations for the wedding couple.
4. Napa: Meadowood Napa Valley
The exclusive Meadowood Napa Valley rests on 250 acres and features elegant structures that emulate New England architecture from the early 1900s. With white balconies, gabled roofs, and gray clapboard siding, it’s one of the most magnificent venues in wine country.
As manicured lawns surround the venue, most ceremonies take place outside under soaring trees and the clear California sky. The multi-tiered clubhouse is perfect for smaller celebrations and looks out onto the green fairways and gardens.
With award-winning cuisine, top-notch service, luxury accommodations, and a haven of natural wonders, it’s an excellent venue to host your nuptials in this enchanting expanse of California.
Typical Cost: $2,500 – $25,000
Bonus: The Restaurant at Meadowood is a Michelin three-star restaurant overseen by James Beard and staffed by award winners Chef Christopher Kostow and Director Nathaniel Dorn.
5. Half Moon Bay: The Hastings House Garden
If you want your wedding day to have a secret garden ambiance, opt for The Hastings House Garden. This picturesque Bay Area wedding venue is a wonderland of unfettered nature that opens to a grass-covered clearing ideal for an intimate celebration.
As the venue is adjacent to the ocean, a pleasant, light wind is almost always winding through the trees, carrying ambrosial scents of the garden and creating a lovely climate even on balmier days.
While you’ll catch the most blooms in spring, summer, and fall, the grounds have been designed to feature an impressive display of flowers year-round.
Typical Cost: $1,000 – $3,500
Bonus: Your vows will be set to the soothing soundtrack of crashing waves.
Find The Hastings House Garden on Facebook.
6. Pleasanton: Castlewood Country Club
The gated Castlewood Country Club is bathed in sophistication. Whether it’s the winding, palm-lined drive overlooking the Amador Valley, the massive aquamarine pool, the opulent California Mission-style clubhouse, and the spectacular views of the countryside, the venue is ideal for happy celebrations.
Take advantage of the scenic grounds by pledging your love on the lawn where an ancient oak tree will bless you and your partner as you recite your vows.
Afterward, head to the intimate Del Pozo Lounge for your reception where a gleaming dance floor and Spanish-style chandeliers await.
Typical Cost: $1,000 – $5,000
Bonus: The bridal party can rest in style in the Ladies Lounge, which includes plush carpeting and furnishings, card tables, and views of the golf course.
7. San Jose: Winchester Mystery House
Winchester Mystery House is a historical landmark and Victorian masterpiece under construction from 1886 – 1922. It’s said to be one of the world’s most unusual mansions.
While you’ll be able to explore the home’s mysterious interiors, the best place to tie the knot is the Front Gardens where the structure’s enthralling façade serves as a backdrop.
From there, sip cocktails in the Greenhouse before getting the party started in The Carriage House where original redwood and a tapestry of string lights create a magical, vintage effect.
If you want to host a micro-wedding, take advantage of the Elegant Estate Elopement package. You’ll say “I do “in front of the fireplace in the restored Twin Dining Room before enjoying a seated meal for up to 12.
Typical Cost: Packages range from $2,500 – $11,000
Bonus: Thanks to the mansion’s seemingly endless interiors and ethereal exteriors, your wedding photos will surely be unique and memorable.
8. Woodside: The Mountain Terrace
Set among redwood groves in the quaint town of Woodside, The Mountain Terrace embraces the glory of Mother Nature. Fall in love with the expansive lawn disappearing into a wall of redwoods and oak trees and the sun filtering through branches. And when you walk to the edge of the lawn, you’ll experience broad views of the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay to the Fremont hills.
While you can host your ceremony and reception on the lawn, you can also utilize the redwood deck glowing under market lights and spilling onto a cozy area with a tree swing and fire pit.
You can also opt for the indoor dining room and dance area, featuring a fireplace and an antique oak bar adorned with Doric columns and backed by a three-part mirror. It’s the place to be on a chilly night.
Typical Cost: $2,000 – $8,000
Bonus: The venue provides discounts for many of the most stunning local hotels.
9. Santa Cruz Mountains: Seymour Marine Discovery Center
Sitting on a 100-acre marine science campus, Seymour Marine Discovery Center is a haven for lovers of the deep blue. It features the skeleton of a blue whale and sightings of seals, sea lions, southern sea otters, humpback and gray whales, dolphins, and porpoises, depending on when you visit. The grounds are also home to wildlife like monarch butterflies, snowy egrets, and nesting barn swallows.
As its wood-planked buildings are situated on a bluff above the ocean, the event center offers dramatic views of the sea and the Santa Cruz coast.
If you utilize the Shipwreck Deck for the ceremony, your aisle will be a nature trail hugging a cliff bordered by yarrow, lupine, beach grass, and daisies. Meanwhile, most receptions take place in the Feliz Room and the Patio.
Typical Cost: $3,350
Bonus: You and your guests can explore the interactive exhibits and aquarium, getting glimpses of the lives of moon jellies, a monkeyface eel, swell sharks, and an octopus.
10. Livermore: Murrieta’s Well
A rustic-chic winery located in the bucolic Livermore Valley, Murrieta’s Well provides charming indoor and outdoor event spaces. The Vineyard Terrace is the most popular option for ceremonies, as it’s organically decorated with red and white tree roses, hanging flowers, and vibrant flowerbeds.
You can use a unique aisle as you glide down a mosaic staircase, replete with antique Spanish tiles, that flows from the upper deck lounge to the Vineyard Terrace.
For the reception, the Barrel Room is a striking space featuring thick, wooden beams and pillars, a towering ceiling, stone walls, and wine barrels that date back to the 1800s. Tasteful chandeliers and gilt-framed mirrors also add a bit of sparkle.
Typical Cost: Rental fee is $1,000 – $5,000; packages start at $150/per person
Bonus: You don’t need to hire a caterer, as the venue’s award-winning restaurant has a catering staff that will work your reception.