Where to get married near Eureka, CA?
April 5, 2010 8:21 PM   Subscribe

The future Mrs. timing and I have been pondering where & how we'd like to get married. One of the options we're considering is a destination wedding in or near the coastal redwoods in northern California (around Crescent City and Eureka). The catch is that we live in Chicago.

Four years ago, we road-tripped halfway down the west coast and spent a few days exploring the redwood forests. We really loved the scenery and are looking to find out if there is a wedding/reception site that would make it worth asking our friends and family to travel across the country to celebrate with us. Banquet halls need not apply.

We've searched online, and it seems that there are lots of suitable bed-and-breakfasts and other venues in and around Eureka; we've also found the Out 'N' About Treehouse Tresort (though technically not in the redwoods) in Takilma, OR. A long shot is the Cathedral Tree at Trees of Mystery outside Klamath. (A search of AskMe yields previous answers mentioning Sequoia Lodge in Oakland and Mount Madonna County Park near San Jose, but these aren't near the route of our road trip.)

We'd like to tap the collective wisdom here and assemble a list of places we should visit while we're on our investigative trip. If you have stayed at, attended a wedding at, or been married at such a venue in this part of the world and have any recommendations on places to visit (or avoid), we'd appreciate your advice!

A few details:
  • The ceremony would be outside
  • We would plan on inviting somewhere between 50-150 people (this can be flexible according to the venue)
  • The venue should be within 45-60 minutes by car of Eureka/Arcata airport or Rogue Valley/Medford airport (again, this can be flexible according to the venue)
  • We'd like to be able to have the ceremony near the reception
  • Since nobody would be local, nearby accommodations are pretty much a must
  • The ceremony would be non-denominational
Thanks in advance for your help!
posted by timing to Travel & Transportation around Eureka, CA (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Your idea cannot be surpassed. See the Avenue of the Giants on Hwy 1 north of Marin.
posted by noonknight at 8:37 PM on April 5, 2010

I got married at the Scotia Inn in 1998. It's 30 min. south of Eureka and is lovely all around.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:05 PM on April 5, 2010

Sounds like a lovely trip, but "nobody would be local"? Are you sure you don't want to reconsider the whole destination wedding thing? Especially in this economic climate, asking friends and family to shell out $$$ to schlep cross-country for your vows seems a little inconsiderate. No matter how inspiring you and the future mrs find your destination, a large percentage of your guests are not going to think it's so great. Everyone has his/her own taste in travel venues, and no one likes being told "timing has decreed you will spend your 2010 vacation fund in northern CA, even though you really wanted to go to Aruba or Norway."

Why not have a great local wedding that your friends and family can share with you without breaking the bank, and then send them breathtaking photos of redwoods that you see on the honeymoon?
posted by philokalia at 9:16 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

It sounds like a beautiful area to get married, but I would caution you to remember the kind of obligation this puts on your guests. Your nearest and dearest will feel obligated to spend a substantial sum to attend, whether they have the means or not. Guests who you're not as close with probably won't be able to make it, and you may miss having them as part of your day.

If you're at the age my wife and I are, you are probably going to several weddings every year, and the costs add up at a time in our lives when jobs and housing, etc are tenuous. We don't have much of a vacation budget. They may not get excited about big trees. (Yes, I've been to see the giant redwoods, and yes, they blew my mind, but not everyone will be excited about them.) No matter how compelling your destination is, the end result is that you're staking a claim to the vacation budget of your guests.

I don't know the means of the people you're thinking of inviting, but it you might want to recalibrate your expectations. For how many people in your life would you fly halfway across the country, get a hotel room, rent a car, etc? That's how many guests you should expect.

Start by gauging the interest among your closest family and friends, and if there is a lot of enthusiasm, look at venues.

I can vouch for what my wife and I did - find a transit accessible venue in the city most of the guests live, avoiding making anyone rent tuxedos, and have an open bar.
posted by thenormshow at 9:26 PM on April 5, 2010

I run the Avenue of the Giants Half Marathon every year. It's the only race I do over and over again. So beautiful.

We've stayed at the Gingerbread Mansion several times. Nice place and nice people. If you like that Victorian overdone thing, it's just the place. There are a few other B&Bs in that town too.

I really love Agate Beach. How can you argue with this photo. If you got married there, you could somehow incorporate agate into the wedding favors - maybe little fabric bags for guests to collect agate? Too cheesy? Agate jewelry for the mother's of the groom and bride?

I'm not sure there's anyplace for a wedding, but a drive through the "lost coast" section is pretty spectacular. It really is "lost" out there.

Also, that airport doesn't have many flights and they are all on small planes. You can drive in from airports in the Bay Area or Oregon - both drives are beautiful. If some of your guests want to take a few days or hate small planes, don't hesitate to suggest alternative airports / road trips.
posted by 26.2 at 9:36 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Are you sure you don't want to reconsider the whole destination wedding thing?

Start by gauging the interest among your closest family and friends, and if there is a lot of enthusiasm, look at venues.

I appreciate the perspectives, but they are entirely unrelated to the question as posted. We have considered and will continue to consider the cost involved for people to attend a destination wedding, and it will without a doubt be a factor in the final decision -- though people we would very much like to be at our wedding will have to travel no matter where we get married. There are other possibilities on the table, too, but since they are unrelated to the question, I did not mention them.
posted by timing at 9:37 PM on April 5, 2010

timing - Excellent answer! Welcome being second guessed on your wedding planning decisions.

BTW, I meant that Eureka/Arcata airport has small planes and few flights. I've never flown into the other airport you've listed. Eureka/Arcata also has very, very few cabs. You might be able to schedule a shuttle for guests, since they'll likely be arriving together on the few available flights.
posted by 26.2 at 9:43 PM on April 5, 2010

If this were me, I would try and find a redwood grove in the state park and have the wedding there, and maybe have the reception in a group campground. Being inside one of the bigger, quieter redwood groves is a really memorable experience. The place feels as holy as any church.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:05 PM on April 5, 2010

Benbow Inn in Garberville is lovely.

Or in Eureka itself:
The Carter House Mansion
posted by rags at 11:59 PM on April 5, 2010

I forgot to mention Ferndale. It's a little off the beaten path though.

Oh, and fall is the best time of year in Humboldt, spring would be second best. The summer can be chilly and gray.
posted by rags at 12:08 AM on April 6, 2010

For many of us nomads, we might have a few close local friends, but our true friends & family are spread all over the place. I know that if we were to throw a wedding party, about 95% of our guests would be travelling no matter what. And in fact picking a more convenient location - like the coast of CA - would actually make more sense than where we live at the moment. The question isn't "should we have a destination wedding," it's "how & where might work in this specific geographical area?"

A few options here. Are you thinking of having the wedding in the woods or park, and then a reception at a hotel or restaurant?

Also - keep in mind you can rent vacation homes. They become quite economical with a group, and afford the chance to have simple meals at home, bbq on the porch, hot tub at night, etc.
posted by barnone at 12:17 AM on April 6, 2010

Have you checked out your local boards on theknot.com? I know the ladies on the NH board are really helpful and are great about helping each other find venues and other vendors.
posted by NHlove at 3:39 AM on April 6, 2010

I hate to offer advice that adds to the expense, but this sounds exactly like what a wedding planner does - a local one will be familiar with the local venues. 2nding NHlove to check the message boards at the knot or indiebride.
posted by cestmoi15 at 5:07 AM on April 6, 2010

For wedding sites, I also recommend WeddingBee.com boards. You can also search the whole site for California.
posted by SarahbytheSea at 5:57 PM on April 6, 2010

There are no redwood groves within an hour drive of the Medford airport.

For 50-150 people, it might be more feasible to get a charter flight. The Eureka/Arcata airport is mostly served by fairly small planes, if you plan to have 150 people arrive on the same day it's going to be hard for some of them to get flights. Chartering a flight would let you use the Crescent City airport, which has some more choices for redwoods within an hour. I suggest you arrange ground transport in advance, your guests might have trouble finding enough rental cars at the small airports on the coast. Flights into MFR and ACV also tend to be expensive, so chartering might make more sense than you would initially expect.

For outdoor events in coastal redwood areas, I would recommend a tent. It rains a lot, although there are occasional sunny days. Maybe you could have the reception in the same place as the ceremony.

You don't specify what 'near' and 'nearby' mean in your question -- maybe you want a place for the reception within an hour away? The redwood park north of Orick will get you that close to accommodations in Arcata, or the redwoods east of Crecent City might be a possibility if you are looking for a town that's closer to them. I don't know what sort of accommodations the park service makes for weddings, but if you have 150 people I'd suggest a bus as parking can be a problem in the parks (I've never had a problem, but I'm not 150 people).

There is some private land with redwoods, but I don't have any leads on that other than to say it exists.

Trees of Mystery is set up to handle larger groups of people, they have a large parking lot complete with statues of Paul Bunyan and his Big Blue Ox. It's an anatomically correct Ox which will either entertain or horrify your guests, possibly both. Probably about a half hour drive from there to anything like a Comfort Inn or Motel 6. (It's a good road trip stop even if you aren't considering it, just to see the parking lot statues).
posted by yohko at 1:52 AM on April 7, 2010

Clarification -- by chartering, I mean from the nearest major hub that would be convenient for everyone, which will probably be SFO.
posted by yohko at 1:54 AM on April 7, 2010

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