As a Santa Barbara wedding minister, I’ve been all around the county at the city’s most beautiful wedding venues. But my favorite still is the Santa Barbara Courthouse. Just off of Santa Barbara’s highly walkable State Street, with its Spanish-style architecture and its preponderance of unique little shops and restaurants, is the magnificently designed Courthouse. Someone once called it the most beautiful place in American where you can be sentenced to death. But while capital punishment is currently on a moratorium in California, you can experience the flipside of that coin by getting married there.
As a Pacific Palisades wedding minister, I’ve worked with beautiful Bel-Air Bay Club plenty of times. Above the event center are the lush hills and stunning homes of Pacific Palisades, below are beaches that continue for miles in either direction. The Bel-Air Bay Club, situated on a bluff overlooking Pacific Coast Highway as it winds parallel to the coastline, offers views of it all at its prime location in Pacific Palisades.
Built at the end of the Roaring Twenties, the Bel-Air Bay Club has a long history in Los Angeles’ social scene. With red-tiled roofs and a whitewashed exterior it’s reminiscent of the Spanish colonial style, one of the last remaining of its kind that were once so abundant in throughout LA.
In sun-soaked Simi Valley, just after coming out of the San Fernando Valley, sits the Vineyards, one of the best Ventura wedding venues. For over thirty years the Vineyards has been operating as one of Southern California’s best wedding venues, and hundreds of couples have had their Los Angeles marriage ceremonies there. You can be the next.
Stroll through its beautifully landscaped grounds, green with well-maintained foliage and yellow with the soft light of the sun. Fountains and archways are plentiful along the path that leads to the wedding altar, where seating enough for dozens can be arranged.
Although Diamond Bar isn’t usually thought of as a premier wedding destination, it has some of of the best Los Angeles wedding venues. The Diamond Bar Center is one of them.
In the San Gabriel Valley at the edge of the Chino Hills sits the Diamond Bar Center. Unless you’re looking for it, you probably won’t know it’s there. Driving up the hills through the sparse chaparral foliage (and at the right time of year a poppy bloom!) the wilderness opens out in front of you as you reach the Diamond Bar Center.
Along the stunning coast of Orange County in the seaside town of Laguna Beach sits Heisler Park. Heisler Park is a popular Laguna Beach wedding venue in one of the best areas in California – and the nation – to get married. Thousands flock to Laguna Beach every year to experience its beauty and unique flavor, and you can be married amongst it.
Laguna Beach, with its quaint atmosphere, beautiful homes, and dazzling natural beauty, is a top destination for Orange County wedding ceremonies. While it has the same upscale spirit that much of Orange County is know for, it maintains the beach town vibe that often feels lost from other nearby cities.
Airport weddings are great for those who want to get married in Los Angeles for legal reasons. Los Angeles County is one of the few places in the United States the issues a confidential license, which is a plus for many couples. Unlike a public marriage license that you obtain by waiting in line at the County Clerk’s office, a Los Angeles confidential marriage license doesn’t require witnesses for your ceremony and doesn’t make your marriage records public once they are filed – only you and your fiancé can access them. In other words, the LA confidential marriage license is great for a private ceremony and those couples that don’t want heaps of junk mail crowding up their mailboxes.
Malibu, with its “21 miles of scenic beauty,” is one of the top destinations for an LA Beach Wedding. As opposed to the sprawling urban feel of the rest of Los Angeles County, Malibu is wedged in between the beach and the mountains and is built almost entirely along Pacific Coast Highway. Along the thoroughfare you can find fine restaurants, beautiful homes, and, of course, beaches like El Matador.
El Matador is one of Malibu’s and Southern California’s most beautiful beaches. A few miles past Point Dume – another popular wedding venue – El Matador begins where the city fades. Storefronts grow more sparse, mansions less frequently dot the hillsides, and the beaches spread out undisturbed. What houses there are are obscured by tall trees and so subtly fade into the beach atmosphere that you hardly notice their presence.
Hundreds of planes arrive at and depart from the Los Angeles International Airport – better known as LAX – every day. An LAX wedding is perfect for couples in town for only a day but who want to get married in LA. I have performed plenty of impromptu wedding ceremonies at LAX and other airports throughout Southern California.
But if you’re in town for only a day or perhaps even just the layover between two flights, why would you want to get married at the airport? Well, besides being a unique wedding venue of its own, LAX is the gateway for out of state visitors to obtain a confidential marriage license. Los Angeles County is the only county in the United States that offers couples confidential marriage licenses.
Step away from the observatory and you’ll find numerous trails winding between the rugged chaparral landscape. The towering trees and hill shrubs take you miles away from the city into scenes reminiscent of much larger Angeles National Forest, making it hard to believe that you’re still in the center of California’s largest metropolis.
Outside, the Observatory is a great starting point for hikes in the surrounding hills and forest. Paths that wrap around the building branch off into the rugged undeveloped chaparral landscape, leading up to the Hollywood sign (if strenuous hiking is your thing) or down through the park.
Inside, you can take in the Art Deco interior. Step in to the rotunda, look up at the ceiling, and let your jaw drop as if to eat up the divinely inspired fresco floating above you.
Few places so perfectly combine great views, great architecture, great history, and great scenery as well as the Griffith Observatory, all while being within easy reach of the city. For anyone looking to have a Hollywood wedding, why not choose the Griffith Observatory?
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Located at 1900 Ocean Boulevard on a bluff overlooking the coastline, Plunge provides some of the best views in town and possibly the best at a restaurant. Those tables closest to the windows, unobstructed by anything else, present you with nearly 180 degree panoramas stretching from the Palos Verdes Peninsula to Long Beach’s southernmost tip and further.
Its sleek décor and creative food match the brilliance of the view, if they don’t outdo it. Walking up the sun-flanked staircase and stepping into the minimalist hallway gives a window look at Plunge. The brilliant interior, the captivating culinary scents, and the sweeping view come together to create the perfect Long Beach wedding destination.
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The center of Seal Beach – both in a geographical and sightseeing sense – is the Seal Beach Municipal Pier where Main Street meets the water and the Pier begins. Take a stroll on the Pier to see panoramic views in all directions: Downtown Huntington Beach to your left, the Long Beach skyline to your right, and the boundless sun-kissed ocean straight ahead.
On either side of the Pier, Seal Beach offers its golden beach sides to anyone desiring them. Surfers ride waves and visitors lounge in the sun, but the beach is rarely filled to an uncomfortable capacity. A Seal Beach wedding can be performed anywhere along the beach, perhaps with more privacy than the bustling pier.
Anywhere in Seal Beach has the potential for an amazing wedding venue. The sandy shores, the quaint pier, the restaurants of Main Street, its oft-overlooked park splicing the town in half, and many more. Having a Seal Beach wedding is certain only to delight.
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At one end of Bluff Park sits the charming Long Beach Art Museum. Its signature dark brown wooden exterior makes the building itself a Long Beach landmark. But venturing inside and to the museum’s quaint courtyard greets you with its modest but stunning art collection. For a catered wedding reception, your wedding entourage can dine at Claire’s at the Museum.
Heading in a different direction, Bluff Park leads to the Long Beach Pier. There, your guests can congregate at the Belmont Brewing Company, situated just off the beachside walking and biking trail. The Belmont Brewing company has extensive indoor and outdoor seating that will prove comfortably sized for any wedding party. For a catering option to take to a different wedding reception venue, try a local favorite Primal Alchemy.
Bluff Park has a seaside setting, panoramic views, ample open space, and a prime location in the city; essentially all you can ask for in a Southern California wedding venue.
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Sustained by the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Getty Center opened in 1997. The complex’s unique white facade is uniquely modern while still calling back to previous eras of human history. The Getty Center finds itself straddling two ridges on the outskirts of the city bordering the prosperous Bel Air neighborhood. Its prime location offers some of the best views in Los Angeles. In the foreground sit beautiful mansions, and in the distance high-rise buildings mixed among the unique neighborhoods that provide Los Angeles with its charm.
In my four decades as a wedding minister in Los Angeles, I have officiated thousands of ceremonies at numerous wedding venues for people getting married in LA. Some of these venues I have only been to once, others multiple times. Few, however, are as popular as Point Dume. I have been fortunate to be part of dozens, if not hundreds of wedding ceremonies at Point Dume. Every time I’m here I am taken aback by its awe-inspiring natural beauty.
To the south the Long Beach skyline soars above the rest of the city. Farther in the distance to the north the astonishing high-rises of Downtown Los Angeles declare themselves the heart of California. On clear days the completely unobstructed mountains display themselves in all their glory with snow-covered faces or verdant visages depending on the time of year.