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January 17, 2017

Where to Say “I Do”

By Adam

By: Kristen Castillo

Once you have a wedding date, the next decision deals with the where, specifically where you will have your ceremony and reception. There are many factors to consider when selecting a venue, including styles, locations, menus and availability. You’ll also spend some time debating the pros and cons of each type of venue. That’s why San Diego Style Weddings is breaking down the different venue options to help you decide where to say, “I Do.”

 Leah Marie Photography

Hotels and Resorts

San Diego has many hotels and resorts from coastal retreats to urban getaways. Hosting your wedding at a hotel or resort means built in luxury and full service amenities. These venues have a variety of indoor and outdoor ceremony and reception spaces.

Accommodations. You and your guests can stay on-site for all the wedding festivities. Often you can get a discounted room rate since you’re having your event at the venue.

Experience. The catering and banquet staff at hotels and resorts have lots of know-how about weddings. Count on them to make sure your celebration is without any problems.

Fixed décor. Most hotels and resorts are already decorated which, while good for many couples, can be limiting, especially if you’re looking for a blank space to design.

Limited Views. If your wedding is indoors, your event may be in a windowless banquet or ballroom. A good alternative? The hotels or resorts often times have available outdoor spaces with a garden or patio, which allows for fresh air and natural light.

If the reception is at a hotel, guests can stay at the hotel without worrying about driving after having too much to drink. Couples love the convenience all of this offers to their guests.

Darla Mercer, Catering and Special Events Manager, Humphreys Half Moon Inn & Suites.

 Eisenhower Photography

Golf Club with Resorts

You don’t have to play golf to know how alluring a wedding at a golf club can be. From manicured lawns and bubbling fountains to cozy spaces and tasty catering, golf resorts know how to pamper their guests.

Our lush green fairways sit against a rolling hillside, creating a picturesque backdrop for photo opportunities. In addition to the sweeping views, the 18-hole championship golf course also serves as a fun day-of activity for the bridal party.

Chelsey Beeson, Marketing Manager at Pala Mesa Resort

Lush Greenery. With so many pretty spaces at the club and on the course, golf resorts have many impressive photo opportunities.

Impeccable Service. The banquet staff aims to please, which means no wedding detail will be overlooked.

Exclusive. You may need to be a member or know a member to host your event at the resort.

Lack of Privacy. Since the club is open to others, especially golfers, you may have some unexpected guests at your wedding, like golfers teeing off in the background.

Our location is perfect for a destination wedding and has everything on property to set the stage for a weekend of events: from indoor and outdoor rehearsal dinner locations, a spa and tranquility pool perfect for the ladies, a championship golf course for the gentlemen, to a variety of wedding ceremony sites and reception venues, heavenly guest room accommodations, to relaxing farewell breakfast venues, all located on site.

Fran Bruun-Anderson, Director of Catering at Rancho Bernardo Inn 

 Leah Marie Photography


Who needs Napa when San Diego and Temecula have so many charming wineries? A winery wedding can be romantic, quaint and very intimate. You’ll likely get to savor many made-on-site wines throughout the celebration.

Photo Opportunities Whether in the barrel room or in the vineyards, wineries have lots of beautiful places to take photos.

One Event at a Time. Typically wineries only host one wedding at a time so you’ll have the place to yourselves and will get all of the staff’s attention.

Lack of Lodging. Most of the Temecula or San Diego wineries don’t have accommodations on site which means you’ll need to secure a room block at a local hotel. You may need to provide transportation to and from the wedding too, especially for guests who’ll be drinking wine.

A Turn off for Non-Drinkers.  Consider whether or not your wedding guests drink alcohol, especially wine. If you have many non-drinkers on the guest list, the themed venue might not be a match.

There are endless photo opportunities: down the vineyards, in the sprawling grassy rose garden, or the romantic barrel room and the natural beauty of the vineyards compliments the romantic celebration of a wedding.

Steffi Habermann, Event Manager at Orfila Vineyards and Winery

Tim Otto Photography

Off Premise Venues 

If your venue doesn’t have an on-site caterer, you’ll have to hire a caterer to handle the food and beverage for your event. It’s a lot of fun and a lot of responsibility since you’ll need to choose every element from cocktails to appetizers to entrées and sides. The right caterer can serve up taste and sophistication throughout your celebration.

Impeccable Service.  Independent caterers aim to please! They’re used to delivering great food and high levels of service for every event.

Custom Menus. Whether you want a traditional sit-down dinner or an informal small-bite style reception, an off premise caterer is committed to preparing menus and meals to wow you and your guests.

Often Pricier than On-Site Catering. Compared to a venue with an all-inclusive wedding package, you’ll often pay more for an independent, off premise caterer.

Need to Coordinate with Other Vendors. It’s often up to you and your planner to coordinate food and drink plans with the caterer and the venue. Since you have multiple people working together, you need to make sure everyone is in the know about your catering needs.

Find a great venue and then find a great caterer that really goes above and beyond to satisfy their client. Flexibility of cuisine and styles is a benefit of hiring an offsite caterer.

Eric Bauer, Corporate Executive Chef at Festivities Catering 

 True Photography

Parks & Museums

Looking for a non-traditional ceremony and reception site? Consider a local park or museum. Both venue types offer something different than a standard wedding venue. Parks show off San Diego’s beauty, while museums offer culture and sophistication.

Interesting, One-of-a-Kind Venues There’s nothing cookie cutter about a museum or park wedding. You and your guests may be impressed by such a refreshing wedding site..

Great Weather If you’re hosting an outdoor wedding at a local park or on a museum’s patio, you’ll benefit from San Diego’s incredible weather – sunshine and warm temperatures throughout the year.

Budget Friendly Parks Save a bundle by getting hitched at a park. The County of San Diego’s indoor and outdoor event space prices start at $150!

Insurance & Security Liabilities often surround events held at museums since the artwork is very valuable and could be damaged. Most museums build insurance and security costs into the wedding package.

A La Carte Services Many museums and most parks don’t offer on-site catering. You’ll need to hire your own food and drink vendors (often from the museum or park’s preferred vendors list).

Hours of Operations Vary Some museums and parks have limits on when a party can start (nothing before noon for example) or finish (such as the wedding must end by 11 p.m.), as well as the duration of the event. Plus event noise can be a nuisance for other park goers or museum attendees.

The Museum’s world-class art collection, historic Spanish Baroque architecture and location in the heart of Balboa Park provide an unparalleled venue for weddings. A wedding at the Museum offers guests exclusive viewings of the world-renowned art collection galleries on display.

Lauren Fimbres Wood, The San Diego Museum of Art 



There’s nothing like the excitement of a casino! Combine that lucky feeling with getting married and you’re in for a great time. 

Weddings are a specialty at Pala and our experienced catering and banquet team has created and implemented every aspect of a wedding event, from the rehearsal dinner to the ceremony, the wedding banquet and the sendoff. And with our manicured gardens and surrounding Palomar Mountains, ceremonies can be conducted indoors or out with the added bonus of spectacular photography.” Our lush green fairways sit against a rolling hillside, creating a picturesque backdrop for photo opportunities. In addition to the sweeping views, the 18-hole championship golf course also serves as a fun day-of activity for the bridal party.

Alonzo DiCarlo, Director of Sales and Catering at Pala Casino Spa & Resort 

Built-in Fun. Where else can you get hitched and then play poker or slots, savor cocktails, relax poolside, and see a glitzy show?

Convenience. Casinos have everything you need including lodging, meals, shopping, spa treatments and entertainment. Your guests will always have something to do.

Can be Noisy. While your event may be held in a quiet area of the casino, most of the venue is crowded, busy and loud, which can be a distraction..

Not Necessarily Formal. The overall look and feel of a casino is built more around a fun experience, than a formal one.

 Leah Marie Photography

Stand-Alone Venues

Couples often choose stand-alone venues, from private homes to formal event spaces, as a way to ensure a secluded event.

Décor is Often Included Stand alone venues host weddings and events all the time so they have a built-in décor scheme. Plus they likely will let you rent or use many additional touches they already have, such as charger plates and table linens.

Personal Often stand-alone venues only host one party a day so your wedding will be the center of attention

Restrictions You may have to work with the venue’s preferred vendors, such as a specific caterer or florist.

Limited or No Guest Accommodations You and your guests will typically have to stay the night at a nearby hotel since most stand-alone venues don’t have on-site accommodations.

It’s nice to enjoy a special day without having outside traffic entering into the venue. It feels like an important day surrounded by only family and friends you never experience strangers walking through your ceremony or reception.

Lisa Carusa of Stone Garden Events.  


As you can see there are pros and cons to every venue, it is important that you find the wedding venue and vendors that are right for you!