Where to get married in Northern California
June 29, 2005 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Bay Area Wedding Filter: I'm getting married next year, and we're looking for a site near our home in San Francisco. Ideas?

We're looking for somewhere that could accommodate around 75-80 guests, preferably with some nice outdoor space, spaces for both the ceremony and reception, maybe BYO booze and catering and that won't break the bank, as we're financing this ourselves. We've put together a list of places to visit, but I thought I'd be remiss if I didn't consult the oracle that is AskMe. So, where did you get married in the Bay Area, or alternatively, where have you attended a wedding here? Bonus points for ideas on how to not to begin our wedded bliss with piles of nasty debt.
posted by hwickline to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
my friends got married here, in the russian river valley, near bodega bay. and it was glorious.
posted by alkupe at 8:58 AM on June 29, 2005

(and cheap)
posted by alkupe at 9:00 AM on June 29, 2005

Some friends of mine were married in the Brazil Room in Tilden Park in the East Bay. I wasn't at the ceremony, so I don't know any specifics about the place, but the building has a really nice patio that overlooks one of Tilden's botanical gardens. I'm not sure how the prices compare to other spaces.
posted by istewart at 9:15 AM on June 29, 2005

I've been to a couple of weddings at the Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. It's a nice place, and, apparently, reasonably priced.

(Me, I got married at the Alameda County courthouse in Oakland -- not exactly what you're looking for.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:27 AM on June 29, 2005

We got married in Tilden Park, in the meadow of Padre picnic area. We used Costco carports for shade, had potluck catering, and volunteer sound folk. Built a dance floor out of 2x4's, plywood and "stagestep" vinyl flooring for the afternoon. It was wonderful. There were dragonflies.

We looked at the Brazil Room, but it's pretty popular -- you have to book waaay in advance (and it cost money, which we didn't have)
posted by 5MeoCMP at 9:35 AM on June 29, 2005

A friend got married at Sutro Park, which is a lovely place near Land's End and the Cliff House. I've lived in San Francisco for 20 years +, but had never been there. The wedding was lovely, though you're always taking a chance with the weather, of course. I see on the website that there's a link to other outdoor NPS wedding sites in the bay area, as well as reception sites. These folks did their reception at the Maritime Museum (across from Ghirardelli Square), which was a really fun place to have it.

Another friend had her wedding at the Conservatory of Flowers in GG Park, though that place can only accommodate a relatively smaller number. They just had their reception at an outstanding Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown.
posted by jasper411 at 9:55 AM on June 29, 2005

A friend of mine had a similar sized wedding at the Berkeley Faculty Club on the UCB campus.
posted by Boydrop at 10:06 AM on June 29, 2005

The most classic -- almost cliched, even -- San Francisco wedding, of course, is at the Palace of Fine Arts.

I threw a wedding reception for about 60 people at one of the clubhouses in Stern Grove (not the gorgeous Trocadero, but one of the more generic "park and rec hut" places) and it went swimmingly and was a lovely setting.

Check out the Park and Rec site for more inspiration.
posted by majick at 10:42 AM on June 29, 2005

What time of year are you getting married? Have you picked a date? There is often more flexibility and bargains to be had if you aren't getting married on a Saturday in June.

The Brazil Room is lovely but requires booking ahead well over a year in advance.

One thing to keep in mind: you say you are planning on 75-80 guests- are they all local? It's often the case that San Francisco weddings get a higher yield- more guests show up because it's an attractive destination.

One place we considered when we were looking for venues was the Hillside Club in Berkeley. It's not free, but as venues go, it's not outrageously expensive, and it's a charming place.

Here's a link to a list of suggested venues. Some of them are out of your price range (they were out of mine as well) but it's worth checking out. We had our reception at the Berkeley City Club, it is a beautiful venue and everything was wonderful, but it doesn't meet your criteria (they provide the catering and the booze, and while we didn't break the bank, it wasn't exactly economical.)

Here's another resource for you to check out: the discussion of wedding venues on the Berkeley Parents Network.

I got married at the beginning of the month, and still have a million wedding-related links bookmarked. I can also recommend a fabulous florist who worked wonders on a low budget. Email me (in profile) if you'd like.
posted by ambrosia at 10:43 AM on June 29, 2005

My parents had a beautiful ceremony on top of Mount Tam. Think about it: Pacific Ocean stretching away to the horizon, gently waving grass all around you...
(Of course, I've only seen the pictures)
It might be tricky to do catering up there, there's always the amphitheater.
posted by slimslowslider at 10:48 AM on June 29, 2005

I was married at the Faculty Club at UC Berkeley, which has a beautiful room (or rather, 2 beautiful rooms and 1 very nice room) and several outdoor patio areas. I recommend it highly. Hillside club is nice, too, as Ambrosia noted. the Palace/Temple of the Winds (?) - a wonderful Maybeck building and grounds - is also for rent up in the hills.

Personally, I've been to 3 weddings at the Brazilian Room in Berkeley's Tilden Park and I can't think of a better indoor/outdoor wedding/reception venue.
posted by luriete at 11:56 AM on June 29, 2005

I love Stern Grove and Sutro Park and the Shakespeare Garden. One of the loveliest weddings I ever attended was at Alice Eastwood Group Camp on Mt Tam in Marin. It was catered by Black China Bakery and Berkeley Bowl. Glorious fun, and the bride and groom pulled it off for a song.
posted by rdc at 2:58 PM on June 29, 2005

My wife and I were married at the Bancroft Hotel in Berkeley: it's a bit quirky, but my wife and I loved it.
posted by AmaAyeRrsOonN at 3:05 PM on June 29, 2005

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