Sunny days, scenic views and a dash of celebrity sizzle are just some of the reasons why couples are California dreamin’ when planning their big day. No matter your style or interests, the state has got the perfect wedding setting, from the vineyards and gourmet scene in the north to the beaches, mountains and vibrant cityscapes of the south. Here, we spotlight three Cali favorites.
Photo Credit: Meadowood, Napa Valley
Meadowood Napa Valley
Though Meadowood often makes news for its fine dining restaurant (Chef Christopher Kostow is one of the youngest chefs to earn three Michelin stars), there is much more to this breathtaking Napa Valley resort. For one, you can choose from a variety of venues and, with all the natural beauty, you don’t need to spend much on decor. The croquet lawn is popular for rehearsal dinners and Sunday brunches, maybe with a barbecue, while ceremonies often take place on the lawn or in a tent on the golf course, between two ponds. There’s also an indoor-outdoor event space with wraparound terrace that’s perfect for dinner and dancing for up to 250, and after-parties,with karaoke, can take place in the Grill. Of course, food and wine are a big part of the draw here, and every event feels like a personalized fine dining experience. From creating stations that highlight the bride and groom’s hometown foods and crafting elaborate dessert displays, to organizing a taco truck with to-go boxes, Meadowood has done it all. The team can also organize special entertainment (like live acrobats) and help plan weekend activities—winery tours are popular (wedding packages start at $250 per person for a seated dinner and include full bar, hors d’oeuvres, wine pairings, a cake and champagne. Facility fees start at $1,500; meadowood.com).
Photo Credit: Meadowood, Napa Valley
Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
Occupying prime L.A. real estate between Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, the Four Seasons makes all guests feel like celebrities — especially couples on their wedding day. The most popular site for ceremonies (as well as award season events) are the recently renovated and expanded Weatherly Garden/Weatherly Room/Promenade, connected indoor-outdoor spaces with porcelain tile floors and 14-foot ceilings with chandeliers, all surrounded by lush gardens and palm trees. The chic ballroom, suitable for up to 250 guests, has also been updated, and enjoys plenty of natural light through the arched windows. With the help of the expert on-site catering and pastry teams, events can be personalized; one bride requested a Monet’s Garden theme for the dinner, for example, with lily-pad plates for salads and carved-ice roses in the sorbet. Others have had made-to-order Korean barbecue or provided late-night foot massages for female guests. Signature Los Angeles elements can also be incorporated in the weekend, such as groomsmen enjoying pre-ceremony time at one of the city’s shave-barber shops. Above all, the hotel prides itself on the service and attention to detail that has led to 25 years of regular guests (wedding packages start at $275 per person for a one-hour cocktail and hors d’oeuvres, four-course seated dinner, a cake, premium bar, champagne toast and service. Location fees start at $2,000; fourseasons.com).
Photo Credit: Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
Scented by lavender and rosemary bushes and dotted with Spanish Colonial-style red-roofed buildings, this lush resort offers casual elegance and warm service. Ceremonies can take place at several sites around the 220-acre property, including the 1920’s Hacienda Courtyard, Recreation Field, Artist’s Cottage Lawn (under a 200-year-old oak tree) or Herb Garden, all of which are backed by views of the Topa Topa Mountains. Receptions for under 50 guests can be hosted in the private dining room and patio of the Maravilla restaurant, while the Anacapa and Hacienda Ballrooms — both with fireplaces and outdoor areas — can hold 220 and 350 guests, respectively. On-property activities include making your own spa products, hiking and golf (Ceremony site fees are $4,000. Receptions have a $4,000 food and beverage minimum; ojairesort.com).
Photo Credit: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
Legally Wedded: In order to tie the knot in California, the bride and groom must apply in person for a marriage license at any of the state’s 58 County Clerk’s Offices. The couple must present valid picture identification, such as a driver’s license, and, in some counties, a birth certificate as proof of age. If either or both were previously married, the date of the divorce or death of spouse must be provided. If it took place within the past 90 days, a certified copy of the divorce decree or death certificate is mandatory. There is a fee of between $35 and $100, depending on the county, and some offices only accept cash. There is no waiting period, and the license is valid for 90 days. — Samantha Bonizzi