Top Spots to Tie the Knot
By Garrick Ramirez
With both a loving climate and scenery you could spend the rest of your life with, Santa Cruz is the perfect backdrop for your big day. Here’s a handy guide to our favorite wedding venues with plenty of wow for a memorable celebration. All you need is the rice!
Add Monterey Bay to the wedding party with a stirring waterfront venue. You’ll be completely enveloped in bay’s splendor at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. Perched on dramatic ocean bluffs, Seymour offers numerous options including the great Exhibit Hall which sparkles with aquariums and ocean exploration displays. Outside terraces sport breathtaking views of of the bay made all the more present by the crash of the surf. Bonus: your wedding at the Seymour helps support vital conservation and education efforts.
Other stunning bayfront spots include Dream Inn which sits directly on Cowell’s Beach and Seascape Beach Resort whose expansive lawn peers over the rolling waves of Seascape Beach.
Guests’ memory of your bash-of-the-year reception might be foggy but your ceremony won’t be at one of the following hilltop venues. Located at the top of Soquel Mountain, the 300 redwood-filled acres of Kennolyn lend a rustic, outdoors feel to your occasion. At the center of the property sits a romantic Spanish-style hacienda with a festive courtyard and terrace with killer sunset views. The all-inclusive setting feels private and unhurried as Kennolyn hosts only one event per day. And since it doubles as a camp, their lodging can be transformed into a luxury retreat for guests with quality bedding and linens. Also, Kennolyn composts nearly all event-related waste so your wedding will be as green as its surroundings.
Tucked inside historic Pasatiempo Golf Club, Hollins House is a Golden Era gem with spectacular views of Santa Cruz and the bay. Built as the golf course’s original clubhouse in 1931, it is now a full service restaurant that features local, organic food. Weddings are set outdoors in gardens dotted with fountains, fruit and oak trees. Come evening, the party moves inside the house’s handcrafted interiors to dance under crystal chandeliers.
Another inspiring hilltop option is Chaminade Resort & Spa whose lofty perch offers sweeping views of the Monterey Bay.
CHARMING & UNIQUE
If you’re looking for a unique experience, Santa Cruz offers settings that are truly one of a kind. Wineries naturally inspire festivities and Bargetto Winery has been celebrating since they opened in 1933, the day after prohibition was repealed. Weddings are held on their secluded grounds overlooking Soquel Creek. During cocktail hour, guests enjoy Bargetto’s famed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in captivating wine cellars lit by iron chandeliers. Outside, lights strung over a Tuscan-style courtyard with views of the creek and surrounding trees create an enchanting atmosphere.
Did you know Cabrillo College hides a beautiful, historic mansion on its campus? Built in 1911 as a summer home, the Sesnon House is a stunning Mission-style home in a uber-private setting surrounded by large pines and redwoods. The elegant home serves as a restaurant for the campus’ culinary arts program whose on-task team caters events. Two dining rooms and beautiful private backyard with mature gardens provide the ideal indoor-outdoor wedding. Sesnon hosts only one event per weekend so they can lend their full attention to the bride and groom.
Seascape Golf Club hosts wedding parties on an 18-hole golf course situated along the Monterey Bay highlands. Guest take advantage of the striking 10th hole surrounded by redwood and eucalyptus groves. Following the ceremony and a cocktail hour on the greens, guests head inside to an airy reception room with a panoramic view of the fairways. It’s an all-inclusive venue which means couples arrive to a completely customizable, turn-key occasion.
Other unique venues include Hilton Santa Cruz / Scotts Valley nestled in redwood-covered foothills, Best Western Seacliff which sits on six beautiful acres with koi pond and garden patio and the truly unique Roaring Camp Railroad where guests can ride a vintage steam train through redwood forests to a secluded mountain ceremony.