In June of 2008 we flew to L.A. to begin our search. I had always pictured myself having a beach wedding but after calling around to the two places we were considering (Shutters and Casa Del Mar) I quickly realized that we would need to look elsewhere for a site. The venues had Food & Beverage minimums of $30,000- just for the food and drinks! We planned on having a small wedding, estimating about 60 people in attendance so getting to $30K with 60 people was not going to happen, not to mention that we had not even planned on spending that much for the entire wedding much less just the food!
Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica.
Amazing high end, beach hotel right on the sand.
Right next door to Shutters is Casa Del Mar. Built in
the 1920's the fully restored hotel is amazing with
its Art Deco design and decor. So fab! Love it!
From L.A. we moved down the coast to Laguna Beach, hoping that a smaller town meant smaller venues and more affordable pricing for us. There were a few really unbelievably gorgeous venues right on the beach (Occasions at Laguna Village) but unfortunately most of them we deemed too "public", meaning that the actual ceremony sites were in public view or spaces therefore leaving no control over random people viewing or walking through the ceremony. If there was one thing we knew for sure, it was that we didn't want to have the ceremony anywhere where that random "fat, hairy guy dressed in a Speedo" could wander through or ultimately get caught lurking in the background of our wedding pictures. Of all the places we looked at in Laguna there was only one that we seriously considered, the Surf and Sand Resort. Ultimately we decided against it, deeming the private terrace that overlooked the ocean to be too small to hold our anticipated 60 guests. With no time left to look at locations in other cities we headed back to Ohio without a wedding site.
Located in the middle of town, Occasions at Laguna Village
has an amazing view of the beach and ocean.
Also at Occasions is this side terrace, to the left of the deck
in the above picture. Unfortunately, both are attached to a
restaurant that has a deck where they serve guests on a patio
that overlooks both of these areas. Basically, you'd be getting
married in public and in front of anyone choosing to dine
al fresco that evening, which in Laguna (or anywhere
in L.A.) is everyone.
The view from the terrace at Surf and Sand is incredible
but definitely would be a tight squeeze for guest lists over 40!
It is also located right off of 6 privates suites so you and your
guests must book those rooms in order to have your
On wedding overload and a bit discouraged, we took a break for a few weeks. After one last round of scouring the shores of Southern California, from Santa Monica to Huntington Beach, Dave finally suggested we look elsewhere at something completely different, something away from the beach. I conceded and left the image of a beach wedding behind, opening my mind to all the possibilities. I was actually excited at that point because anything was possible!
Firestone Winery in Los Olivos, CA (45 minutes north of Santa Barbara) was one of the first venues I came across and seriously considered. I found a few other possibilities but basically Firestone was the "one" from the first time I saw photos of the variety of ceremony and event areas they had. (Read about the trip we took to Santa Barbara after we booked the venue in this post.)
Ultimately, two things sold me on the venue: the giant, old oak tree that we'd be getting married under and the gorgeous, amazing Barrel Room where we'd have dinner. So unique and different!
Dave and me under our tree!
Dinner in the Barrel Room.