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Finding a venue that’s not only stunning but also affordable is one of the trickiest parts of planning a budget-friendly wedding. Especially in one of the most expensive US states — California. That calls for a bit of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Hopefully, this article will get your innovative juices flowing, give you some affordable venues to explore, and provide ideas that are right for you!
Campsites and Parks
I know campsites might not sound glamorous, but California delivers some breathtaking nature. Whether you are looking for the desert, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, beaches, or anything else in between — California has all the terrains. These are some of our top affordable favorites:
Joshua Tree Ranch Los Angeles in Lancaster, CA
With this off-the-grid venue, you can get married among the Joshua trees and high-desert foliage. They have affordable packages ranging from camping to luxury glamping.
- Rental Fee: ranges from $750-2,000 (depending on package and dates)
Sequoia Peterson Grove in Sanborn Park in Saratoga, CA
There’s something so mystical and magical about getting married under ancient trees. Also, this site can accommodate up to 300 guests, so if you still want a big wedding for less, this could be a great venue option.
- Rental Fee: Prices vary and run up to $495 with a $120 wedding fee –also, a $6 entry fee per vehicle.
AutoCamp Yosemite in Midpines, CA
Honestly, this place looks like refined luxury while being among nature. Upper Flat is a favorite for wedding ceremonies because of its secluded setting among rustic redwoods (perfect for a small wedding ceremony). You can stay in an airstream on-site or have guests camp somewhere nearby for a low-cost option!
- Rental Fee: starts at $500 for a small ceremony
Insider Tip: National and state parks offer special-use permits for a fraction of the cost. Visit the National Park Service’s website to find the permit requirements for the park of your choice, where fees will run you around $100. Visit California State Park’s website for a breakdown of getting married at each park and requirements for each.
Whether a chapel or a church, this is definitely a traditional choice for a wedding setting. However, California has countless options across the state for a practical and seamless wedding experience.
Monterey Stone Chapel in Monterey, CA
This venue is all about adopting the simplicity of weddings. They offer a chapel gazebo wedding, beach weddings, or help find a wedding venue in the area. Jennifer and Gabriel chose the chapel gazebo elopement to not let COVID stop their union, featured in our Real Weddings section.
- Jennifer and Gabriel paid $400 for the gazebo/chapel, but prices vary on location, date, and guest count.
Art Museums and Libraries
Some museums and libraries are art themselves, making them perfect wedding venues! But, as far as choosing a budget-friendly option, start to think local rather than big names. Smaller museums and libraries can still radiate artistic appeal for a unique choice for a wedding.
Malaga Cove Library, Art Gallery, and Olmsted Garden in Palos Verdes, CA
Located on the coast of Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County, this Mediterranean-style library offers a coastline breeze through a wall of french doors. The stone scapes, fountains, gardens bring such a serene wedding setting and guaranteed stunning pictures.
- Rental Fee: $450 per hour, minimum 3 hours
Long Beach Museum of Art in Long Beach, CA
This outdoor venue overlooking the ocean is simply breathtaking — especially during sunset. The historic 1911 craftsman museum building enhances the artistic feel with the exposed brick. But, what makes this venue stand out is the palm tree and ocean backdrop.
- Rental Fee: $500 for the venue or an elopement package
- To keep costs down, book during the week!
While wineries are not the cheapest wedding venue option, many smaller, lesser-known wine regions and wineries can offer a winery atmosphere for a lower price. So, if a winery wedding is what you want, but not at the Napa prices, look into these regions: Santa Ynez Valley, Paso Robles, Santa Cruz Mountains, Sierra Foothills, Hopland, Ramona Valley, Livermore Valley, Clarksburg — and there’s even more I promise.
Bargetto Winery in St. Soquel, CA
This historic wedding venue brings a crisp atmosphere with a creekside Italian-style stone courtyard and a rich green backdrop. It also includes an indoor barrel room for drinks and dancing and a cottage for getting ready.
Zinke Wine Co in Los Olivos, CA
This venue has a clean, modern farmhouse feel with a rustic yet cozy backyard feel. With a firepit outback, long-dining tables, string lights, and lots of sitting areas — this space is pretty much all set for a wedding!
- Rental Fee: $1,500 and up
Milagro Winery in Ramona, CA
Say your vows with the backdrop of grand trees and rolling meadows set in the San Diego mountains. With a pond and willow trees flowing beside you, this is the type of winery wedding that has all the natural charm.
- Elopement packages start at $1,200 for 3-hour event for 10 people
The positive to having a warehouse as your venue is the ability to customize your layout and bring in exactly what you want. If you have a specific vision for your wedding, a warehouse is a perfect option. It doesn’t have to be a dingy warehouse; it really can be transformed into the wedding of your dreams.
Pannikin Building in San Diego, CA
With a clean white exterior and brick interior, this warehouse is the perfect canvas to create the wedding decor you are looking for with designated areas and levels such as the: main floor, cellar (downstairs bar), and dance floor. They have it mapped out to create a lovely wedding in the heart of downtown San Diego.
- Rental Fee: Ranges from $1,500-5,000 for event
The Century in Modesto, CA
This venue option makes it as easy as possible with pre-made packages, customizable online, and taking care of the heavy-lifting for you! Plus, they break it all down for you on their site to make the decision process transparent and seamless.
- For budget-friendly options, look into Civil Ceremony and The Collective Package.
Instead of going the hotel route, inns offer lower price points while usually giving historic or individualized styles. Both of our California picks are lush coastal gems! It also makes it convenient to host all events in one place with sleeping accommodations on-site.
Agate Cove Inn in Mendocinono, CA (FAV)
This luscious garden overlooking the ocean cliffside is one of our personal favorites for its quaint-charm but grand views. Eri and Amy’s elopement shared pictures with the stunning natural backdrop and a complete breakdown of their wedding budget in our Real Weddings section.
- Agate Cove Inn has an elopement package for $1,625 for up to 10 people.
Weller House Inn in Fort Bragg, CA
A restored Victorian inn with an exotic green garden overlooking the Mendocino coast – you can use either their ballroom or garden! This vintage venue is also right across the street from the glass beach — filled with a rainbow of sea glass!
- Rental Fee: Ranges from $200 to $2,200
Picking a restaurant is often overlooked, but many are ready to accommodate large groups and offer private patios or rooms. It’s a perfect setting for a foodie couple! Plus, most restaurants are already well-decorated, so you’ll save on decor.
Coco Palm Restaurant in Pomona, CA
Known for their excellent Cuban dining experience, they also have grand indoor and outdoor spaces with a relaxing view of the inland empire. Tip: do a ceremony outside during sunset; it looks magical.
- Rental Fee: Starts at $599
There are so many options to get creative on venue options; we only went into a few! Here are more venue ideas to look into if the above options weren’t a fit for you.
- Garden or Greenhouse
- City Hall or Courthouse
- Community Center
- Farm, Ranch, or Barn
- Country Club or Spa
- College Campus or School
- Lake, River, or Beach
- Ski Resort
If you are still lost, start thinking of naturally beautiful places near you that have a tie to you and your fiance! Or you can find even more venue locations on our Savvy Wedding Venues and search by any state or area.
See this guide for more tips on How to Find Affordable + Unique Wedding Venues.