Budget-friendly Southern California wedding venues

Getting married is so expensive these days, but there are at least a few ways to cut down on the expenses. The biggest expense by far is your guest list, so if you can have a small wedding, that will make a big difference on your wedding budget.

Your next biggest expense is your wedding venue. To keep costs down, look for a venue where you can hold both your ceremony and your reception. Another thing to keep in mind to save money — think all inclusive. Just like an all-inclusive resort, where you can get your room, food and a few activities in one package, there are some venues that provide everything — the venue, the linens, the food, the cake, the decorations, etc.

Since last year, I’ve been compiling a list of Southern California wedding venues that brides say have given them a great deal, or have contacted me for consideration as a venue that offers a great deal — and I’ve seen evidence online to support it. I haven’t had personal experience with any of these venues, so take these suggestions as just that — suggestions for wedding venues you should check out.

Highland Springs Resort

Highland Springs Resort

Highland Springs Resort in Cherry Valley (Riverside County) is home to olive fields, an 1,100-year-old oak tree and a lavender farm, which makes me think it must smell wonderful out there. A recent Yelp review notes that “resort” is a bit of a stretch, but that could work in the favor of a budget-conscious bride. Going back to 2011, a poster on WeddingBee says she was quoted $8,000 for a party of 200, including the venue, tables, chairs, linens, flatware, cake and food — quite a deal.

A little closer to me, the Strathearn Historical Park in Simi Valley is run by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District — an agency I have personal experience with, actually. The agency runs quite a few beautiful parks in the Ventura County area, including Oak Canyon Community Park, where I had my second son’s 1st birthday back in August. (Oak Canyon Community Park has a beautiful lake and an amphitheater in its own right, but is maybe not the best wedding venue. It was perfect as a summer birthday party venue though!) Strathearn, however, features a 100-year-old church, a gazebo and a barn that would be perfect for a rustic wedding. Judging by Rancho Simi Recreation’s rentals FAQ, a wedding at Strathearn probably could not exceed 225 people, but at the same time, probably wouldn’t exceed $2,000. Because their prices are so reasonable, and their parks so beautiful, they’re popular, so make your inquiry quickly and book Strathearn fast.

Photo by Culver Events

Photo by Culver Events

Culver Events wants to give brides a package deals for low, low, low prices. Culver Events Center was apparently a 1920’s speakeasy at one point, and is now a place for weddings, film shoots, birthday parties and other events. When you have a wedding here, you have it for the whole day — and let me tell you, speaking from a decorator’s point of view, that’s a big deal. Just to rent the venue for their max capacity of 150, it would cost $5,450. However, they offer an all-inclusive deal (price was not disclosed) that would cover everything — officiant, photography, flowers, music, etc. How stress-free and awesome does that sound?

I first read about the Historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse on the Well Heeled Blog. It doesn’t surprise me that this courthouse is so beautiful — so much of Santa Barbara’s architecture is — but I was not aware of this building’s presence in the first place. Renting this courthouse for their wedding cost $240 for two hours — what a steal, and its so gorgeous and timeless. After your wedding, you can just go have a big family dinner at one of Santa Barbara’s beautiful oceanfront restaurants.

Be forewarned — when you visit the website of Serendipity Garden Weddings, make sure your volume is turned way down, because music plays as soon as you launch the site. While that is a huge pet peeve of mine, as an Internet professional, there’s no denying that the venue is beautiful and affordable. I appreciate folks who are upfront about their pricing — at Serendipity, all-inclusive weddings in 2013 cost $13,500 plus an 8 percent tax and admin fee. That price goes up to $14,500 in 2014, and in all cases, that goes up $1,000 for Saturday weddings. That package includes chairs, tables, centerpieces, heaters (if needed), table settings, linens, bridal suite, parking attendants, a horse-drawn carriage, a baby grand piano and pianist, a DJ, catering, golf carts for shuttling guests, dinner, cake and personal flowers. Whew! Serendipity is the most expensive venue on this list, but they also include the most amenities, so, wow.

One thought on “Budget-friendly Southern California wedding venues

  1. Unfortunately I was quoted $17,000+ for the Highland Springs Resort … for a party of 150. I guess the prices have risen significantly since we are no longer in the recession.

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