Looking for help with venue for 5 guest budget wedding in the US!!!
March 7, 2013 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Looking for help on venues for intimate wedding with 5 guests somewhere in the USA. We are focusing on California (San Fran) but it doesn't have to be there. No reception needed. Just want a nice place to say our vows and then we're all heading out somewhere for a nice dinner.

I'm immigrating to the US ( K1 visa still processing so no wedding date can be set yet) and we hope I will be there by August. We would like to drive to California (San Fran) to be married with a few friends and family. However, we are willing to look at other options around the USA.

We'll have 5 guests total - and almost all wedding packages I find online are for insane large weddings with 100+ people. We only want a ceremony venue and a place to go for dinner after (no private reception hall needed).

This is going to be a modest affair and we hope to have a romantic time with a few nice pictures out of the deal. I am in Canada and he's in New Jersey so we can't even visit places in San Francisco. Any locals or others who have been to/held intimate weddings in the area have any ideas they might be wiling to share?

Any help would be extremely appreciated!
posted by Serendipitous to Travel & Transportation around United States (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
City Hall in San Francisco is a beautiful building.
posted by kat518 at 1:29 PM on March 7, 2013 [10 favorites]

Wait, so with five guests and the two people getting married and maybe an officiant, you're eight people total? You don't need a venue, exactly, you just need a place to stand around.

How about the Pulgas Water Temple?
posted by purpleclover at 1:30 PM on March 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Muir Woods would be my first choice for this.
posted by bfranklin at 1:32 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Asilomar is a historical YMCA resort south of San Francisco. It's not fancy in the least but it is very beautiful and they do weddings. http://www.visitasilomar.com/weddings.aspx

But City Hall is also beautiful and as purpleclover says, with that small a wedding party you could get married anywhere as long as you do it fast enough.
posted by GuyZero at 1:35 PM on March 7, 2013

If it were me, I'd drive up from SF to Guerneville (somewhat lame tourism site--think Redwoods) and get hitched at/around there--Stay at the Boon Hotel, which is gorgeous, and they have a Boon Cafe with great food.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:35 PM on March 7, 2013

Palace of Fine Arts is a very common SF Wedding picture venue, and if you're quick you can say your vows there. Call them up and ask if it would be okay to say your vows in the Rotunda.

A City Hall Wedding can be gorgeous, here's a link to a photographer who seems to know all about it.

If you're into the funk factor, and you want to make a donation to an amazing group of people, check to see if someone at Glide Memorial Church can marry you. Cecil Williams was the long time minister there (as seen in the Will Smith movie, The Pursuit of Happyness).

An amusing notion would be to get married on the Sausalito Ferry!

If you can imagine it, you can do it. You aren't a very big party and folks in San Francisco will be happy to help you make a wonderful event of it.

A good meal would be at Poesia in the Castro.

Mazel Tov!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:36 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

If trees are your thing, with all respect to and inspiration taken from bfranklin's suggestion, rather than braving the crowds at Muir Woods then I'd head up to Roy's Redwoods up in Nicasio or one of the parks down around near Felton.
posted by straw at 1:37 PM on March 7, 2013

Cross the bridge, head over to Berkeley and walk out to the tip of The Albany Bulb. Panoramic Bay Views, it's quiet. Even if the city is covered in fog, the views are still spectacular.

As an added bonus, there is a lot of fun graffiti on the way out.
posted by bobdow at 1:39 PM on March 7, 2013

I'll second that City Hall in San Francisco is very nice and fitting for small groups.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:39 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another vote for City Hall! Secure the last appointment of the day and you can linger after being married under the rotunda at the top of the staircase. It's GORGEOUS inside and your photos will be stunning. After, there are any number of wonderful restaurants to go have a celebratory dinner.
posted by quince at 1:41 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you want trees, the YMCA's Camp Campbell (sorry with all the YMCA suggestions, it is a bit odd) in Boulder Creek CA (again, south of SF near the valley, but not as far as Santa Cruz, closer to Big Basin state park) has a chapel in a ring of redwood trees. Again, they have info on wedding parties: http://www.ymcasv.org/ymcacampcampbell/html/groups_weddings.html. It says seating for 250 guests, but that's sort of crazy, the chapel is fairly small and would not feel too big with a small wedding party. Plus, post-wedding zipline.
posted by GuyZero at 1:44 PM on March 7, 2013

My former boss did this in San Francisco (right down to the 5 guests, I think!) in the Presidio, at Inspiration Point. A busload of tourists pulled up right after, and I imagine him being very okay with that. You may want something more private, though.
posted by deludingmyself at 1:44 PM on March 7, 2013

I've been married twice (same person both times, mind) at City Hall here in San Francisco* and it is indeed very beautiful.

If you decide on an outdoor spot, please keep in mind that August here in the city is often foggy and cold; it will be warmer inland (like, in a park in Oakland or Berkeley).

* No one here calls it San Fran, just fyi. It's San Francisco, or SF, or the City
posted by rtha at 1:57 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would do the entire thing, soup to nuts (pun intended) at the French Laundry.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:59 PM on March 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you want a really good motel room in a nice neighborhood, try the Nob Hill Motor Inn. It's Russian Hill and I've stayed there forever.

It's between Van Ness and Polk Street on Pacific. Van Ness is nothing to write home about, but Polk Street is really cute now. Teavana, Starbucks, a great little cheese shop right on the corner. Also, there's free parking!

Tons of great little places for noms on Polk, and the 45 Bus a few blocks up will take you to Chinatown, Union Square and down to Moscone Center.

Although when I was in town for a conference in September, I stayed at the St. Francis on Union Square and that was pretty great too!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:02 PM on March 7, 2013

For eight people, I would look into doing something outside at the Palace of the Legion of Honor. As rtha noted, however, August can be foggy and chilly, so if the museum-adjacent outdoor wedding idea appeals, there is also the Rodin Sculpture Garden at Cantor Arts Center on the Stanford campus. August on the Stanford campus is the opposite of chilly and foggy. It would be an hour south of San Francisco, but much more reliable weather-wise.
posted by ambrosia at 2:54 PM on March 7, 2013

N-thing City Hall. We got married there and it's lovely. Such a big space that its busy and yet feels somewhat private.
posted by mamabear at 3:07 PM on March 7, 2013

Yep, another city hall vote. I've been to three city hall weddings in the past four years, all have been fantastic.
posted by foodgeek at 3:21 PM on March 7, 2013

Oh, and an upside to City Hall is that there are lots of excellent restaurants very nearby (mostly on or near Hayes St between Franklin and Octavia). I think a City Hall wedding only works if it's a weekday.
posted by rtha at 3:30 PM on March 7, 2013

Yeah, just go to San Francisco City Hall.
posted by trip and a half at 4:38 PM on March 7, 2013

Another vote for City Hall. It was surprisingly gorgeous, intimate, and joyous. Here is a site with some more info on getting married there. The ceremony will be performed by a deputy marriage commissioner, and it felt special and beautiful, not rote and business-like. They do a really nice job. It's fun to see all the other couples. If you get married in the morning, you can go to brunch or lunch at the Neiman Marcus rotunda. Then go for a fancy dinner later that day!
posted by barnone at 5:30 PM on March 7, 2013

Response by poster: Oh my goodness! I just took a nap and came back to look and am amazed at all the wonderful suggestions! Thank you all who have posted - I will definitely look into all of this!
posted by Serendipitous at 5:36 PM on March 7, 2013

Response by poster: My apologies to locals - apparently my laziness this afternoon in typing "San Fran" at work might offend! I was trying to fit San Francisco in my original short question line and had to cut it down, then I cut and pasted in my longer post later as I was running out the door.

*San Francisco*

posted by Serendipitous at 5:51 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

My fiancée and I are in the hunt for wedding venues in the Bay Area. One place we fell in love with was far too small for us, but might do well for you. The Sunnyside Conservatory is gorgeous, and surrounded by native plants. Exterior, interior.
posted by themadthinker at 5:59 PM on March 7, 2013

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