Over the last few years we’ve had the opportunity to work at dozens of incredibly lovely venues. But there are a few that really stick out in our mind as spaces that go above and beyond to accommodate guests while providing a stunning backdrop for which to celebrate your most special of days. Here’s a short list of places we’ve been to that set the standard for sophisticated, unique and downright impressive ceremony and reception spots. These recommended venues are all capable of accommodating your ceremony, cocktails, dinner and dancing on site.
The SHED, Healdsburg CA ( www.healdsburgshed.com ) – a 2014 James Beard Award winner for Restaurant Design, this stunning 2-story space in the heart of Healdsburg has many faces- specialty cookware supply store, café, organic market, local wine purveyor. Their ethos is simple- source the best possible ingredients from local farms and create an unforgettable dining experience for all who enter. But it’s the 2,700 square foot open-air 2nd floor Grange, capable of seating 125 and complete with a side wall projection screen & A/V inputs that seals the deal for us. The massive sliding wooden wall on one side retreats to reveal a state of the art kitchen that is more than capable of wowing your guests with its presentation and culinary output. Recently the venue has paired with the renowned Paul Mahder Gallery (just a short walk away) to offer all-in-one ceremony and reception packages.
Paradise Ridge Winery, Santa Rosa CA ( www.prwinery.com ) – Nestled in the hills of Santa Rosa, we first stumbled upon Paradise Ridge in the fall of 2014 and it has since been not only one of our favorite venues to work at, but it also produces some of our favorite wines with their Sauvignon Blanc and Rockpile “Posse” Blend leading a very strong pack. This venue not only has the advantage of offering multiple areas in which to entertain your guests (including a fantastic ceremony space for about a hundred), but also some ridiculously beautiful scenery compliments of the surrounding area and grounds themselves. It is storied that the original founder of the winery, Marijke Byck-Hoenselaars, promised his love he would build a sculpture garden upon arrival on this site. And build it he did, enlisting multiple artists (including the famous Burning Man Temple designer David Best) to contribute pieces which dot the entire property. This contributes to an absolutely beautiful, classy-yet-whimsical setting.
Brazilian Room at Tilden Park, Berkeley CA (http://www.ebparks.org/activities/corpfamily/br ) – This venue is a favorite of ours for a few reasons- the gorgeous backdrop for a wedding ceremony, the easy accessibility for guests (no stairs to deal with!), the comfy coziness of the rustic, almost log-cabin-like main dining and reception hall (complete with fireplace). It’s also pretty easy on the wallet as well, being one of the more affordable venues for the couple on a tighter budget. Just make sure you lock the address into your GPS before heading to the venue, as its somewhat-remote location lends itself to lack of cell reception at times. Luckily, there is free WIFI for those of you who feel the need to live-Tweet the day.
The Thomas Fogarty Winery, Woodside CA (http://www.fogartywinery.com/ ) – The Santa Cruz Mountains are home to this iconic winemaker which specializes primarily in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Their venue, capable of handling up to 216 guests, is one of the more impressive venues we’ve seen in wine country and offers state of the art accommodation against the backdrop of their beautiful Damiana Chardonnay Vineyard. Hilltop placement makes for a stunning ceremony space with near-360 degree views and their 4,000 square foot hillside pavilion and corresponding “Hill House” indoor cocktail lounge/dance floor create a warm and inviting atmosphere for all.
SSS Ranch, Calistoga CA (http://www.triplesranchnapa.com/ ) A very new addition to the Napa Valley venue list, this space is actually SO new that they were still completing construction on a significant portion of the property when we visited in late February! But what we saw was enough to leave us not only drooling over the property, but having our own fantasies of weekend-long family reunions and friendly get-togethers. What makes this place so amazing? For starters, it sleeps 30. That’s right, 30. Between the quaintest bungalows we’ve ever seen to the historic grand Victorians you’ll have more than enough room to spread out. It has a large in-ground pool and infinity hot-tub. The ceremony space, a lovely old tree which serves as the matriarch of the property, has a dedicated power line running out to it making amplification a piece of cake. And the owners have gone to great lengths to maintain the old world charm of the entire property through painstaking restoration and maintenance. This place is still relatively under-the-radar so make sure to inquire before word starts getting out!