Northern California is famous for its redwood forests, so it's no wonder that redwood wedding venues are one of the first options couples look at when planning an outdoor wedding. As a Bay Area wedding photographer, I've captured so many beautiful redwood weddings and am here to help you get started on your search! Check out this guide on Bay Area and Santa Cruz redwood wedding venues with information on pricing, guest capacity, location, and sample wedding galleries.
Bay Area and Santa Cruz Redwood Venues at a Glance
There are so many redwood wedding venues in Northern California, but how do you sort through them all? One easy way to start is by narrowing down what you envision for your wedding. If you're looking for a fairytale wedding that transports you to another world, Nestldown is a dream venue (hence its high price tag). If you love redwoods but prefer the outdoors in limited doses (you know who you are), Deer Park Villa, The Mountain Terrace, and UC Berkeley Botanical Garden bring the outdoors to you. For the DIY wedding on a budget, check out Saratoga Springs or city-owned venues that typically have few to no outside vendor restrictions like Piedmont Community Hall, Stern Grove Clubhouse, Roberts Regional Recreational Area, Joaquin Miller Park, and Mill Valley Community Center. A bit further out from the Peninsula, you'll find a few getaways like Island Farm, a stunning private estate, and OVY Camp and Event Center, a summer camp that provides a full weekend rental with lodging included.
For adventurous and outdoor-loving couples, heading down south to Santa Cruz is the way to go. These venues feel like true redwood retreats away from the city. A favorite for boho weddings, Slowcoast/Laughing Canyon is a redwoods venue for making your dreams come to life with no vendor requirements and two cabins onsite. Many venues in the area like Waterfall Lodge, Sequoia Retreat Center, Amphitheatre of the Redwoods, YMCA Campbell, and Sand Rock Farm also provide accommodations onsite so you can spend more time with guests. If you've ever dreamed of entering your wedding on a 100-year old steam train, checking out Roaring Camp. State parks like Big Basin, Henry Cowell, and Portola Redwoods are great options for planning a redwoods wedding on a budget if you're don't need all the facilities of a traditional venue.
Hint: Click on the heading to sort by location, starting cost, or guest capacity. Best viewed on desktop.
* Starting costs are based on renting the venue for a weekend wedding for both ceremony and reception with minimum number of guests (usually 50). Costs are subject to change and may be lower if only renting for ceremony or planning a wedding in off-peak season or on a weekday.
Here's a map of the venues, you can also click through each venue for sample wedding galleries.
Tips for Planning a Redwoods Wedding
Nestldown | Saratoga, CA
See photos from K + L's Nestldown wedding and A + C's Nestldown wedding.
Nestldown is a dream venue for a fairytale wedding, just half an hour away from San Jose Airport. Its grand staircase down to the ceremony site is one of the highlights of the private estate, and one of my favorite spots to capture portraits where the light seems to always shine through the redwoods ever so perfectly. Many of the redwood trails are carved right into the hillside so you get the feeling of the being in the woods without having to hike. This large property also has access to a historical house for getting ready, outdoor reception area overlooking the pond, and indoor barn for dancing. Plus you get to arrive in style with their vintage car or by train as you enter cocktail hour! Yes, it's one of the more expensive venues in the Bay Area, but it's truly a one of a kind venue.
Saratoga Springs | Saratoga, CA
See photos from S + C's Saratoga Springs wedding.
Saratoga Springs runs a full schedule with multiple locations for hosting weddings, but if you've ever seen photos here, you will likely recognize Longbridge. This wooden bridge is one of the most unique backdrops for a rustic reception under the twinkle lights. If you want to be truly surrounded by the redwoods, Cathedral Grove is a great spot for couple portraits with sun streaming through the trees and a small wooden bridge crossing the stream. One thing to note is that typically Saratoga Springs books multiple weddings on the same day and same time, but at different locations. Luckily this means that you can take photos at Cathedral Grove while hosting your wedding at Longbridge, but it can be rushed for those hoping for a more private experience. If you've always dreamed of a sparkler exit, check out this venue as not many venues in the Bay Area allow them!
The Mountain Terrace | Woodside, CA
See photos from G + B's The Mountain Terrace wedding.
The Mountain Terrace is what I call redwoods-lite - it has access to redwoods without truly being in the redwoods. With a view overlooking the peninsula, it's just 30-45 minutes away from San Francisco International Airport. Ceremonies are held on the grassy field with redwoods as the backdrop, and receptions can be either held outdoors in the same area or indoors. It's the perfect blend for city dwellers with a love for the outdoors!
Deer Park Villa | Fairfax, CA
See photos from R + C's Deer Park Villa wedding.
Deer Park Villa is one of the most romantic redwoods venues in the North Bay, not too far from San Francisco. While many venues have string lights in the reception area, Deer Park Villa is the only one with string lights over the ceremony site (which also serves as the outdoor reception site). It is also what I call redwoods-lite - it is fully paved and has redwoods without actually being in a redwood forest. With an indoor area for dancing and sparkler exit to end the night, Deer Park Villa is one of the most popular venues for rustic and boho weddings.
Piedmont Community Hall | Oakland, CA
See photos from M + R's Piedmont Community Hall wedding.
For those planning a redwoods venue on a budget, city-owned venues like Piedmont Community Hall are always the first place I recommend. M + R got ready in a gorgeous house nearby, and didn't let the rain stop them from having a beautiful wedding. Piedmont Community Hall does offer an outdoor redwoods amphitheatre for $450 (or $350 with hall rental) for the ceremony. Receptions can be held outdoors or indoors with the 8-hour hall and patio rental for $3700-4550. Because public venues typically don't have any preferred vendors, they're perfect for planning a nontraditional wedding like how these two catered BBQ for their afternoon celebration!
Laughing Canyon/Slowcoast | Davenport, CA
See photos from J + C's Slowcoast/Laughing Canyon Wedding, J + M's Slowcoast/Laughing Canyon Wedding, A + C's Slowcoast Wedding, and J + C's Slowcoast Wedding.
Here's to my boho couples: I've photographed so many weddings at Slowcoast and Laughing Canyon, and it's always one I can't wait to come back to. Tucked away in the redwoods of Davenport just north of Santa Cruz, these two venues work hand in hand to create an epic celebration in the redwoods. Slowcoast requires 3 nights booking at their two cabins (but who wouldn't want to stay in an awesome cabin?!) - a 4 bedroom lodge for your wedding party or family that accommodates up to 12, and a romantic cabin up in the woods for just the two of you (and if you've never used Airbnb, use this link for $55 off your first trip). As you walk down the path, you'll see Laughing Canyon, the neighboring property. String lights light the way through the woods and across the creek to the ceremony and reception sites. Each of my couples chose their own unique touches to their wedding, from driving a red convertible from their redwood ceremony to their reception, to rocking those festival vibes with a variety of food trucks to choose from, to my very first couple who designed their very own macrame wedding arch. And what better way to celebrate that "just married" feel than by running into the ocean for a day-after session just a short drive away!
Waterfall Lodge | Ben Lomond, CA
See photos from A + D's Waterfall Lodge wedding.
If you're like me and have always looked longingly at A-frame cabins in the woods, Waterfall Lodge is your dream venue. With 9 A-frame cabins and 12 other cabins onsite, it was the perfect choice for A + D to host their multi-day wedding so that they could provide accommodations for guests onsite. The outdoor ceremony site was a short walk away from the rustic wood-paneled lodge where they danced the night away. With string lights overlooking the patio, it is one of my favorite venues to photograph at. Appropriately located on Hidden Falls Trails, it's a bit harder to find with limited to no cell service, but definitely gives that retreat vibe for those looking for a getaway.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park | Santa Cruz, CA
See photos from J + F's Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Wedding.
Santa Cruz is one of my favorite places because it's where the redwoods and coast meet. Not far from downtown Santa Cruz, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park brings you back in time as you explore old-growth redwood trees up to 277 feet tall. Intimate wedding and elopement ceremonies can be held at the redwood ring (maximum 20 guests) or larger weddings can be held at picnic lot 1 (maximum 150 guests). Fees are minimal compared to wedding venues so it's great for those who don't need all the aspects of a traditional venue. If you're getting married nearby, you can also apply for a permit to take your portraits at Henry Cowell like these two did!
Once you've got your venue booked, the next step is to hire a photographer! Ready to chat?