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. Typically you'll find the following types of redwood venues:
Hint: Click on the heading to sort by location, starting cost, or guest capacity. Best viewed on desktop.
* Please note pricing is subject to change and not regularly updated, so always inquire with the venue directly. Starting costs are estimates based on renting the venue for a weekend wedding for both ceremony and reception (if venue hosts both) with minimum number of guests (usually 50). Overall costs may vary depending on many factors including food and beverage minimums, lodging, renting for ceremony only, 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 | Los Gatos, CA
See photos from K + L's Nestldown wedding and F + E'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 E + M 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 A + V'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 A + T'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. The amphitheater offers a redwood backdrop and can be rented for $350-450 for the ceremony (but here's a local insider tip: I always take my couples to a redwood park nearby for portraits!) 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!
UC Berkeley Botanical Garden | Berkeley, CA
See photos from Y + B's UC Berkeley Botanical Garden and Julia Morgan Hall wedding.
The circle of redwoods at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden makes for one of the most beautiful ceremony sites. With trails meandering throughout the woods, there are plenty of photo opportunities everywhere you go. One important thing to note: you won't be able to access the grove before your rental time for photos, but you can adventure to the public side of the garden which is perfect if you love the variety of also having a desert backdrop! Julia Morgan Hall across the street can be rented for the reception.
Waterfall Lodge | Ben Lomond, CA
See photos from N + S'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 N + S 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.
Sparrow Valley Retreat | Santa Cruz, CA
See photos from M + T's Sparrow Valley Retreat Wedding.
Sparrow Valley Retreat is one of my favorite intimate wedding venues. With a ceremony site reminiscent of Nestldown with its terraced platforms built amongst the redwoods, this Airbnb cabin is perfect for smaller weddings. It is a bit tricky to get there as you'll have to drive through the windy mountain roads (shuttles are required for anything over 35 people as there's very little parking), but once you arrive you'll never want to leave. The wedding package includes access to the cabin the night before and night of the wedding for getting ready, and it even has an outdoor soaking tub for some extra relaxation.
Kennolyn Camp | Santa Cruz, CA
See photos from K + A's Kennolyn Camp Wedding.
If going to summer camps in the redwoods is nostalgic for you, you'll love Kennolyn Camp! This venue has two different sites you can book: the Hilltop Hacienda and Stone Creek Village and has packages that book the entire site for the weekend. If you truly want to go for a summer camp in the redwoods feel though, Stone Creek Village is the one to choose. Your guests can stay overnight and use any of the many recreational amenities - swimming pool, tennis court, basketball, the list goes on. You'll have use of the quaint town buildings that tell the history of the place. For the ceremony, walk down a staircase that winds through the redwoods until you land on the platform surrounded by trees on all sides. Keep in mind that everyone who is walking down the aisle during the ceremony (i.e. parents, wedding party, the couple) does need to be mobile enough though to make it down the stairs! For guests, golf carts can be used to transport those who need it. The reception then takes place just a short walk away, lit by string lights that add to the ambience as it gets dark.
The River House | Santa Cruz, CA
See photos from J + A's The River House Wedding.
Can't decide between a fairytale redwood venue and a rustic barn venue? You can have both at the River House, an estate located in the Santa Cruz mountains. Though the venue itself doesn't have too many redwoods on the property, the ceremony site does have a beautiful redwood fairy ring where you can say your vows surrounded by the trees. If you time it right, you might even get the most magical light streaming through your trees (having a photographer who's familiar with light in the redwoods is key!) For the reception, you can either have it indoors in the barn, or outdoors on the lawn.
Felton Guild | Santa Cruz, CA
See photos from L + M's Felton Guild Wedding.
When I posted photos from this wedding, a lot of couples asked me what this venue was - and it's easy to see why. Felton Guild has a beautiful redwood cathedral for the ceremony and a lawn with redwoods in the back for the reception. A few important things to note: 1) The space is difficult to navigate as a photographer due to the way the ceremony sits a few steps up and is surrounded by trees and greenery. I would recommend getting a second photographer for this venue, as there's limited space to move around without getting in the way of the guests. If you do seat guests in the back section of the ceremony site, the photographers and videographers will have to walk in front of them in order to get different angles. 2) The redwoods on the venue do have obstructions in them (i.e. tent, parking lot) so these may show up in your photos. While you could avoid these obstructions by strategically framing the photos, you would miss the sunbeams through the trees. But these caveats are made up for by the romantic fairytale ceremony site!
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park | Santa Cruz, CA
See photos from K + G's Henry Cowell Elopement.
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, but doesn't have the same redwoods backdrop). 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!
Big Sur Wedding Venues
Looking to truly escape the city and be surrounded by the beautiful outdoors? There's few places more magical than Big Sur. With towering redwoods, epic coastlines, and mountainous beaches, it's the perfect place for those wanting a nature-centered day. Though it can be difficult to plan larger weddings in Big Sur without a considerable budget, it is the perfect place for elopements, intimate weddings, and microweddings. Check out the Big Sur Wedding Venues Guide and Big Sur Elopement Guide for more information on venues!
Once you've got your venue booked, the next step is to hire a photographer! Ready to chat?