Best Redwood Forest Wedding Venues in California
Updated for 2021!
Redwood forests are a really popular type of wedding venue right now, and I’m completely on board with that! Especially since I live in the middle of redwood paradise. The amount of couples searching for the best redwood forest venues in California has skyrocketed. But there is a problem!
Tons of couples want to plan their destination weddings in redwood forests, but it’s hard to really know how great the venue is without being there in person. Why? Because there might be a cool grove of trees where most photos are taken, but turn around and there’s a different story like an ugly building. Or it simply feels like you’re just in someone’s backyard instead of a forest. Or something about the venue doesn’t complete the nature experience you’re going for.
Redwood Forest Wedding Venue Expert!
I LOVE venues where you feel swallowed up into wild nature from every angle. That’s why I’ve put together this list of my favorite redwood forest wedding venues in California! And why listen to me on this subject? Well, I have had the honor at photographing at most of the great redwood forest wedding venues in the state. I have inadvertently become an expert on the subject. So if there’s one thing I can do besides photography, it is recommending the best redwood forest venues in California!
These venues are not listed in any particular order of greatness!
1. Waterfall Lodge / Ben Lomond, California
I wrote a whole blog about this venue here! Waterfall Lodge is a gorgeous venue retreat in the Santa Cruz Mountains, about 30-ish minutes from Santa Cruz. You have a choice from two different sites for your ceremony, and nice patio areas for the cocktail hour and dinner. A beautiful lodge built from reclaimed wood serves as the dance space. There are even a bunch of cool little 1970s cabins for you and your guests to stay in, summer camp style! Book this place out for the weekend and you have an instant private retreat.
This venue will keep your guests staring up at the incredible trees, surrounding you in every corner of this venue’s property. And yes, there IS a waterfall too! Fun fact: I actually held my own wedding at Waterfall Lodge. The towering green trees and the kind staff made our day feel extra magical.
2. The Island Farm / San Gregorio, California
Island Farm might be the real showstopper on this list. This venue is part of a working ranch that encompasses breathtaking hilltop views, ponds, a creek, and lush giant redwoods. It is located near Half Moon Bay, California. You will have a magical day filled with wild, inspiring nature if you’re lucky enough to snag one of the limited dates at Island Farm. Two tastefully built deck areas host the dance floor and ceremony beneath a crazy redwood canopy. There’s a lot to stay about this special family-owned venue!
The Island Farm is an exclusive, private estate and doesn’t have a website of its own. For information about weddings at this venue, contact Paula Le Duc Catering.
3. Sparrow Valley Retreat / Aptos, California
Sparrow Valley Retreat is a dream come true for laid back couples who love the outdoors and woodsy environments. Redwood trees tower around the ceremony deck in a fairy ring, hand built by the owners themselves. Guests may sit on rustic benches built into the small hillside that looks down on the ceremony area. Walking into the wooded ceremony space feels like entering a lush cathedral of earthy fragrance and sunbeams.
The rest of the venue is truly an intimate retreat that highlights the natural environment. Couples who book this venue get overnight lodging in a beautiful house that the owners built themselves. There are other “habitats” on the property as well, and more being built as I type! While you’re there, why not take a hike down to Valencia Creek, sunbathe on the lawn, or relax in the sauna or bathtub jacuzzi?
After the ceremony, guests can enjoy cocktail hour on a spacious deck and migrate over to the banquet tables for dinner. Oh and the tables? The owners milled the wood from their property and hand built these stunning, giant tables that perfectly compliment the woodsy environment. If you couldn’t already tell, the owners put a lot of love and sweat into creating this wonderful space.
Originally this venue was only serving intimate weddings, but soon they will be accommodating large weddings too!
4. UC Botanical Garden / Berkeley, California
Uniquely situated just outside the city bustle of Berkeley, this stunning venue is surprisingly nature-filled. But then again, it is a botanical garden! The UC Botanical Garden has a really neat-o amphitheater in the middle of a breathtaking redwood grove. Guests enter through a special side gate into this lush land of trees to witness the ceremony before joining the reception. Small receptions can be held a short walk away in one of two halls in a different part of the garden. Here, there is an amazing tropical greenhouse and an arid house filled with cacti. You and your guests can wander through the paths around the redwoods and through the garden. Its a beautiful experience with no shortage of photo opportunities. This venue is best for smaller weddings since the reception halls are intimate. But, you can host a fairly big group for your ceremony here and then party elsewhere, like the stunning, historic Berkeley City Club! The town of Berkeley is a 5 minute roll down the hill from the UC Botanic Garden.
5. Glen Oaks Big Sur / Big Sur, California
Glen Oaks is a lodge and event venue that is spread out into many little cabins and rooms on both sides of Highway 1 in Big Sur. The Big Sur River runs right through it. Take a little hike through the Glen Oaks property and you’ll feel like you’re really in the woods. It’s a powerful feeling, especially since it’s so easy to access. The cabins are modern and pretty dang chic, too.
At Glen Oaks, couples can book a full wedding (up to 100 guests), a micro wedding in a fairy ring, or book a stay to elope on the property.
6. Ventana Big Sur / Big Sur, California
Ventana Big Sur is a luxury resort that offers both high end hotel rooms and glamping like you’ve never known it. There is also a regular ol’ tent camping area! One of the cool advantages of this venue is that you can bask in sunshine and enjoy the ocean views by the pool, or walk 5 minutes into the shade of a stunning redwood forest. Not a lot of Big Sur venues offer both types of scenery. This venue is accommodates big weddings AND small elopements. They have three different ceremony sites specifically for intimate weddings (two in the redwoods, and one on a sunny patio overlooking the ocean).
7. Roaring Camp / Felton, California
Roaring Camp is a unique venue that offers a super FUN experience for everyone: an open-air train ride through old growth redwoods to a redwood grove ceremony site! The wedding party and guests all board the old steam train before the ceremony and are brought back afterward to party in the giant barn! For couples who choose not see each other before the ceremony, no problem! One partner rides in the front of the train with their wedding party members, and the other rides in the shaded caboose. The 30 minute train ride is a spectacular experience for everyone. And honestly, I think the train ride through the towering trees is a beautiful, meditative way to get your mind and heart right before walking down the aisle. Couples can choose between two different redwood groves for their ceremony (my favorite is the “New Grove” because the light is so dang beautiful there!).
The barn at Roaring Camp is extremely spacious and rustic. It is located in a large, sunny open area dotted with trees. Guests can spread out onto a lawn area with a fire pit, explore the large grounds, and even sneak over to the Redwood Loop at Henry Cowell State Park next door!
…That’s it for now! But more favorites are added regularly!
Other great redwood forest wedding venues:
Want to see other great wedding venues? Check out this blog post about Santa Cruz area wedding venues!