Santa Cruz Wedding Venues / Where to Get Married in and around Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz Wedding Venues / Where to get married in and around Santa Cruz, California


I recently realized there aren’t many great or unsponsored resources about Santa Cruz wedding venues. Many of the resources available don’t even have great images that capture the spaces well. So I have compiled a few of my favorite wedding venues in the Santa Cruz region in hopes that it will offer some useful guidance to folks looking into getting married here!



Davenport Landing


REAL QUICK: Why Getting Married in Santa Cruz is a Good Idea

First of all, let’s talk about what makes Santa Cruz and the surrounding area really special!

Santa Cruz is known for its moderate climate, natural environment, coastline, redwood forests, alternative community lifestyles, and socially liberal leanings. It is also home to the University of California, Santa Cruz, a premier research institution and educational hub, as well as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an oceanfront amusement park operating continuously since 1907.

Source: Wikipedia

Santa Cruz and the surrounding region has dank redwood forests. We have incredible beaches. We have amazingly refreshing coastal weather that is rarely too hot nor too cold. Fun fact: Santa Cruz is on a sun belt in Monterey Bay, meaning that we get a lot more sun, more warm weather and less fog than our neighbors to the north (Half Moon Bay) and south (Monterey). It’s an amazing place for a getaway whether you are from far away or just “over the hill”.  If you want to make a whole weekend out of your wedding, you’ll have endless beauty to enjoy and endless activities for your family and guests to be entertained with.

Real fast, let’s dig a little deeper into the situation about the redwood forests: WE HAVE SO MANY BREATHTAKING FOREST AREAS. Seriously. Big Basin State Park, Nisene Marks State Park, Henry Cowell State Park, Pogonip, and Land of Medicine Buddha to name a few. Not only are these great places to explore (or maybe even elope in) but these wooded areas create an amazing backdrop for portraits.


 Santa Cruz Mountains Redwood Forest


1. Fern River Resort in Felton, California

Vibe: Redwood paradise with a creek, outdoor ceremony & reception areas and lodging

Fern River Resort is a super special wedding venue  tucked away in the redwoods of Felton. I seriously don’t know why, but it seems like not many people are aware of this amazing little Santa Cruz mountain venue.  You can rent this whole place out for a weekend retreat and have your wedding among super tall redwoods and an amazing creek!  There are lots of great places to get married among trees in Northern California, but this one has a uniquely gorgeous setting. When I’m there I feel like I’m at summer camp in the best possible way!

Sidenote: where else can you set up a photo booth inside the base of a giant old tree?

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2. Rancho Soquel in Soquel, California / “The Wedding Connection” Venue

Vibe: Outdoor Barn Venue, amazing gardens

Rancho Soquel is part of a network of venues run by a local wedding planning company called “The Wedding Connection“. This particular venue is for you if you want an outdoor wedding somewhere sunny, gorgeously landscaped with a ranch vibe.  The grounds are blooming with amazing gardens. You can follow paths throughout the grounds that wind through large oaks and over a creek. Keep walking and you will find yourself in a number of different little hidden, charming zones, each as picturesque as the next. The ceremony and dinner reception area is on a large grassy area in front of an amazing wooden barn. There are other zones for cocktail hour and a dance floor!

Something I love about this venue is that you can wander around and explore, play bocce ball, admire horses in the pasture, and generally have a mini vacation just being here for the day. There is plenty of space to spread out, too.

Sidenote: why not take advantage of the space and hire the local photo booth company, the Booth Bus to bring some fun into the post-dinner reception?!

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3. Ampitheatre of the Redwoods at Pema Osel Ling in Corralitos, California

Vibe: Serene redwood paradise, redwood amphitheater for ceremonies, outdoor and indoor reception spaces, camping cabins and yurt lodging for guests

Amipitheatre of the Redwoods is part of  a retreat center called Pema Osel Ling, so it’s tucked away in the most peaceful, quiet neck of the woods. If I were to sum up how I feel about this venue, I would say that it’s a really down to earth, laid back kind of place for couples who want something made special by outdoor splendor without frivolity. Getting there is a fun and beautiful adventure on its own! Coming from highway 1, you follow a few backcountry roads that wind gently around past orchards and gorgeous forest. If you want a place to host all your friends overnight with a camp vibe, this is the spot!

Sidenote: The coordinators at Amphitheatre of the Redwoods are SO GREAT. Eden will take care of you in every possible way with a genuine smile on her face.



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4. Seascape Resort in Aptos, California

Vibe: Coastal resort hotel, outdoor ceremony location with amazing ocean views, indoor reception spaces

Seascape resort has a totally different vibe than the venues above, in that it is pure coastal bliss outside! The ceremony area is a dream with a view that sits atop some pretty amazing bluffs.  Receptions are indoors. If you are looking for a classic and beautiful place to get married that isn’t too tucked away from civilization, this is it.

Sidenote: something I really love about this venue is that you can hold an after party beach bonfire with your guests! The beach is privately owned by the resort so the rules are more flexible than your average beach.

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I will be posting more blogs soon about wedding venues in different Northern California regions. I will also be posting a blog on ideas for elopement locations! Stay tuned.

Check out some full posts of my favorite weddings, here! 





All Images by Melissa Ergo.

Fern River Resort Wedding- Planning and Design by Big Sur Weddings

Rancho Soquel- images by Melissa Ergo for Blake Weber.