All Things Wedding

The Best Wedding Venues in San Diego

by Alexandra Wolf
August 28, 2020

Whether it’s the weather that brings you to San Diego or not, you won’t be able to resist the pull of America’s Finest City! Locals and visitors alike take the time to enjoy the greatest things to do in San Diego, from some of the best beaches in California to the world’s best zoo. With historical districts, galleries, and museums abounding, the art-lover and explorers alike love San Diego. There are iconic amusement parks, Balboa Park, and literally millions of beautiful walks and picnic spots. It’s also a craft brewery and nightlife mecca — San Diego has something for everyone. No wonder you’re looking to get married here! We’ve curated a list of the best weddings for all styles, from urban sophistication to fairytale gardens.

The Best Garden Venues

Ethereal Gardens  

Dreaming of a garden wedding? Set on acres upon acres of edible gardens, surrounded by old-growth orchards, and 100 acres of organic herb and vegetable farms, your completely private wedding venue is sure to surprise. This is not your average venue: not only is it gobsmackingly gorgeous, but they are open to creative ideas and unconventional outside vendors like photo booths, food trucks, and more! With exemplary service and world-class farm to table cuisine, your guests will be blown away by the quality and freshness of the food. You can also choose between different styles of service to fit your needs; you won’t be constrained to a policy. You can hold your ceremony in the Barn, Chapel, Meadow, or the lawn, and each location is equally beautiful. The natural beauty of the spaces is not only unparalleled but helpful, too —  forgo truckloads of decorations and highlight nature’s bounty. If you are searching for the perfect blend of ethereal bliss and natural elegance, this is the garden for you.

Grand Tradition Estate and Gardens

Grand Tradition Estate & Gardens is one of San Diego’s most exclusive and unique wedding venues. With more than 35 years of professional service devoted to hosting special occasions, the staff definitely knows what they’re doing. You’ll choose between two jaw-dropping wedding sites, Beverly Mansion and Arbor Terrace; we don’t know which to choose either! Beverly Mansion is a hilltop reception space, overlooking Grand Tradition’s iconic heart-shaped lake and offering a wonderful indoor/outdoor setting. Adornments include crystal chandeliers, glass-panel doors, and a veranda with a picture-perfect view of the lake. You can exchange vows at the mansion’s elegant lakeside gazebo, or in front of the Compass Garden’s waterfall. Your additional option, Arbor Terrace, will make you feel like you’ve arrived in a tropical paradise. The ceremony spot is shaded by lush, green canopies of palms and showcases a towering waterfall centerpiece. Your reception will follow, held in an open-air, satin-draped, and tented pavilion. Don’t forget about the terraced stage, outdoor fireplace, and a beautiful waterfall just above the dance floor!

Best Big Guest List Venues

The Condor’s Nest Ranch  

Does spending a few days before your wedding relaxing with your loved ones in a beautiful country setting pique your interest? Up to a weeklong stay in the place where you plan to say “I do?” And what if, after a few days among mountains, woodlands, dramatic vistas, and some delightful farm animals, you could arrive at the altar as relaxed as a cat in the sun? Wedding venues that offer that experience are hard to find, but we know of one hidden away in Pala! It’s a wonderful Old-World California estate, set in a classic San Diego back-country landscape, halfway up a mountain with oaks, cactus, palm trees, bougainvillea, and dramatic granite boulders and outcroppings. To top it off, it basks in SoCal’s year-round glorious climate. The Condor’s Nest Ranch is a delightful property with a plethora of charming attractions: an enclosed barnyard that is home to an extended family of llamas, horses, donkeys, pigs, chickens, and goats, as well as lambs, peacocks, a cow, a long-horned steer, and an alpaca! The low-slung, red-tiled, 5-bedroom/4-bathroom house is enhanced by patios and trellises, while windows frame the spectacular view of the Pala Valley and Pacific Ocean. The 6,000-square-foot residence is sophisticated and appealing; the furniture and appliances are state-of-the-art, and western art and antique collectibles evoke a laid-back vibe. You’ll feel like you’re renting a villa for a weeklong getaway, not stressed about wedding planning! On the wedding day, your guests will come up the hill to celebrate on the lawn beside the house and pool, with the mountains as a backdrop. An old, tall ash tree stands majestically above as you exchange vows. Receptions rock out by the pool or over by the property’s second house, a rustic 2-bedroom cottage decorated with old business signs, license plates, and western paraphernalia. A timeless red barn contributes a final touch to the easygoing retro feel of this country getaway. The Condor’s Nest Ranch is a restful escape — no matter how tense you are when you arrive, you’ll be two things that almost never go together: newly married, and totally relaxed!

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the venue of my DREAMS.

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Rancho Bernardo Inn 

Rancho Bernardo Inn has so many spectacular sites for ceremonies, receptions, and photo ops, that even the most ardent romantics (like us!) could renew their vows yearly and still find unique spots. This 280-acre resort melds its California Rancho history with modern amenities to create a four-star retreat without a drop of stuffiness. So whether you want a wedding that’s posh, or casual and relaxed, you can host it here and feel pampered in the process. We suggest starting at the Aragon Lawn: the fairy-tale garden is lushly bordered by white roses and trees, and a long center aisle leads to a trellised arbor. Serve cocktails and dinner on the adjacent Aragon Terrace, replete with more signature white roses. The terrace wraps around to reveal another grape arbor that’s perfect for a sun-dappled reception. Don’t miss out on the outdoor fireplace, which provides a warm glow in the evening. If you prefer a more formal atmosphere, start with cocktails in the Aragon Foyer. Then, head for dinner and dancing in the stately Aragon Ballroom, which boasts honey-toned walls, a high ceiling, and gorgeous chandeliers. Both of the Inn’s restaurants are ideal for your rehearsal dinner or your pre/ post-wedding brunch. One restaurant, AVANT, highlights the best that Wine Country cuisine has to offer, showcasing the freshest locally-sourced ingredients, including produce from the garden. Veranda Fireside Lounge & Restaurant, which is inspired by the olive trees, gardens, and villas that dot the Mediterranean coastline, has a sensational patio (complete with outdoor fireplaces and fire pits) that overlooks the rolling 18-hole golf course. It’s never too early for a little wellness indulgence… stop by The Spa for their seasonal Made Fresh Daily treatments, which are created in-house. Between the breathtaking golf course views, award-winning services, and fabulous wedding and dining facilities, you and your guests will never want to leave! 

The Best Beach Venues

L’Auberge Del Mar

Whether you’re dreaming of an intimate ceremony or a grand celebration, you’ll find your wildest dreams at L’Auberge Del Mar. Amenities like romantic seaside accommodations, a relaxing spa, and a stunning selection of wedding and reception venues overlooking the Pacific Ocean only begin to describe the beachfront beauty of this resort. From the simple splendor of an elopement to a grand seaside ceremony, L’Auberge offers breathtaking backdrop options for your romantic beach wedding in San Diego. Host an elegant reception on one of the terraces. Located in the resort’s courtyard, the Sunset Terrace offers gorgeous sunset views over the ocean, with the Del Mar coastline and scenic village as your panoramic backdrop. It’s the perfect fit for intimate ceremonies and cocktail receptions, as the terrace can accommodate from 120 to 200 guests. And, if you choose a Noble House resort for your wedding reception and ceremony, you’ll get a complimentary romantic honeymoon package. 

Bali Hai Restaurant

The Bali Hai Restaurant has been a favorite event venue in San Diego for over 60 years, boasting one of the best views in SoCal. The spectacular view of San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline make it the perfect location for your beach wedding. This versatile venue provides Polynesian-inspired dining and has served over two million of their signature famous Mai Tais. The tropical flair of the space will lend an enchanting island atmosphere to your event, and their events team is fully prepared to lead you through it all. We suggest hosting your event in the unique Hawaiian Village. The open-air pavilion is located directly on the San Diego Bay, but cocktails under the thatched roof will make your guests feel as though they’ve left the country!

Best Intimate Venues

Rancho Valencia 

Only a short hop away from downtown San Diego, this 40-acre resort sits high on a plateau overlooking the rolling hills of Rancho Santa Fe. It’s designed in the tradition of early California haciendas: clusters of stucco and tile casitas, terraces, fountains, and gorgeous foliage abound. The resort is versatile, featuring plenty of indoor and outdoor event spaces available year-round, and they can accommodate all phases of your wedding. For rehearsal dinners, the Boardroom is stately and elegant, with an open-beamed ceiling, plantation shutters, and its own palm-bordered patio. The wedding party will enjoy the benefits of The Spa Rancho Valencia, a 10,000-square-foot paradise for the senses whose tranquil décor, Italian fountains, pools, and treatment rooms beckon you to unwind. Drawing on natural, wildcrafted essential oils and marine-based products, the Spa offers an extensive menu of treatments for skin, face, and body designed to promote relaxation and wellness as your big day approaches. For your intimate wedding, we’ve narrowed it down to the best spaces: the Sunrise Room and the Patio. Your ceremony will take place on the patio, a long rectangle of Mexican pavers with a fountain at one end, and a large trellis flanked by flowers at the other. Later, your guests will step into the Sunrise Room, named for the morning sunlight that floods the space. It’s a ceramic wonderland with bright blue, yellow, and green hand-painted tiles covering the walls, and an impressive fireplace. After the wedding, take advantage of the recreational activities as well as nearby beaches, shopping, golf, and more relaxation.

Horton Grand Hotel

Celebrate surrounded by romantic and intimate elegance at this historic San Diego wedding venue, the Horton Grand Hotel. Couples have gotten married here since 1887; thousands before you have chosen this venue! Their team has hosted many an intimate ceremony, and they’ll take care of all the details. You can choose between two spaces for your unforgettable day: the New Orleans Courtyard or the Copley Alley. Spacious and full of charm, the Horton Grand’s New Orleans-style courtyard is as inviting as it is practical. It makes your event truly special: allow the wonderful décor of beautiful plants, trees, and a tranquil fountain to set the tone for your memorable and relaxed ceremony and reception. The private Copley Alley is a truly unique space to call your own and customize. It’s perfect for your more informal and small gathering and provides direct access to 3rd and 4th avenues for ease of loading. The open space to freely move creates a world of possibilities. Bring the Alley to life, and get creative! Incorporate quirky activities and attractions for your guests: the hotel has hosted everything here, from farmers’ markets to mini-concerts, car shows, game spaces, art installations, beer gardens, and receptions. The only limit here is your imagination for your event, and the Horton Grand invites you to consider these charming spaces as blank canvases in the heart of the city.

Best Affordable Venues

The Pannikin Building 

The Pannikin Building offers 5,700 sq. ft. of unique event space in downtown San Diego, bringing forth the old-time beauty only found in some of San Diego’s most historic buildings. Original exposed brick, vaulted ceilings, open beams, and beautiful wood floors offer a blank canvas for you and your love to dream up your perfect vision. Located in the Heart of the Gaslamp District, your wedding may take place in one of the three spaces: the Main Floor, the Dance Floor, and the Cellar. Mix and match these for the perfect wedding of up to 250 people! The 1,500 sq ft downstairs bar area is ideal for cocktail hour, and your beau can retreat to the fun and fully furnished Groom’s Lounge for a little respite. The best part: all licensed and insured vendors are allowed, so you can get creative with your unique and reasonably-priced event!

Lafayette Hotel 

Are you a fan of old Hollywood glamour, but your fiancé is more of a hipster? Do you lean toward a garden setting, while they prefer an urban vibe? Don’t despair: there’s a perfect wedding venue for both of you! The Lafayette Hotel, originally built in the 1940s, ingeniously mixes elements of its storied history with the vibrancy and edginess of its revitalized North Park location in the ultimate mash-up venue. A vintage marquee and circular drive lead to the grand, red-brick Colonial building, adorned by soaring white columns. Inside, the lobby features ornate ceilings, crown molding, and a sparkling crystal chandelier. Among the eclectic décor are a plush round settee and a baby grand piano — what better place to lounge fashionably and take flirty album shots? The completely unique ceremony site is called the Conservatory. It’s bathed in natural light, and the backdrop of your ceremony will be the entire wall of floor-to-ceiling multipaned windows and french doors. Before you start imagining something traditional or boring, look to the sky: suspended from the high ceilings are dozens of colorful, upside-down parasols giving the entire area a fantastically whimsical garden atmosphere. Seating for your guests offers an equally unexpected twist with a wonderful mélange of wingback, ladder-back, upholstered, and Chiavari chairs. When you’re ready for cocktails and champagne, step outside to the lovely Veranda which overlooks the hotel’s supreme swimming pool. For an unforgettable reception, check out the Mississippi Ballroom. You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into another world of Hollywood soirées and elegant supper clubs. This amazing, two-tiered ballroom features soft, recessed lighting hitting its circular ceiling, columns with etched flourishes, and the original hardwood dance floor. The stage is a knockout: the backlit clamshell adds high drama to your live band or DJ, first dance, or sweetheart table. With space for you and your guests, incredible menu selections, a helpful staff, and an endearing mix of retro touches with modern quirks, this venue may be what marriage is all about: combining different elements to create something even better than the sum of its parts.

Best City Venues

University Club Atop Symphony Towers

The University Club atop Symphony Towers is one of San Diego’s most exclusive urban retreats. This uber-chic, downtown penthouse club exudes subtle elegance, not to mention panoramic views of the entire city. Many of San Diego’s elite business and cultural luminaries are among its members, but toss out any preconceived ideas you might have of stuffy rooms and a country club atmosphere: with recent expansion and renovation, this 34th-floor venue is modern and stunning. The elevator whisks you to the stylish entry where you are greeted by the inviting bar and lounge. It’s highlighted by dark ceramic floors and a striking color palette of crisp white and black punctuated by vibrant splashes of color on high-backed sofas and contemporary chairs. Huge floor-to-ceiling picture windows frame spectacular vistas including, but not limited to, the San Diego Bay, Pacific Ocean, Coronado Islands, and downtown skyline. The club even provides binoculars on each of your tables, so you can get a bird’s-eye peek of the Padres in action down at Petco Park. Speaking of action: you’ll find the Media Room nearby, featuring a 103″ flat-screen TV and an array of donated and signed baseball bats hanging on the walls. You can start by exchanging vows in the Founder’s Room, overlooking the Coronado Islands and Pacific Ocean, then move to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the awe-inspiring Ebb + Flow Lounge. Glittering chrome chandeliers spiral from the ceiling like tiered sculptures and art is everywhere, from classic oils to a changing display of local artist pieces that you pass while entering your main space, the Laureate Ballroom. This grand room is the hub for your grand wedding! Ocean-inspired carpet and sleek banquet chairs highlight the rich, muted colors of the room, making the sensational views of lush Balboa Park through walls of glass even more dramatic. Live music is encouraged: they’ve had everything from rock’n’roll to mariachi bands and even the USC marching band. And, the talented chef and culinary team are used to catering to a discerning group, so they use only local, organic, and sustainable ingredients, and put a contemporary spin on classic favorites and new creations alike.

The Pool House

If you’ve ever been to The Pool House, then you already know it’s a special venue and enjoyable any time of day, any time of year. You may think it’s just for parties, but it is ideal for weddings too! Would you rather have your wedding by a pool, or not by a pool? The answer is clear: pools always make the party more fun. It’s located in The Pendry San Diego, the city’s premier luxury hotel, so there’s no need to worry about where you and your party will stay. You’ll enjoy world-class accommodations in a vibrant Gaslamp Quarter setting. The Pool House offers the ultimate poolside scene, with a gorgeous hotel rooftop location from which you can enjoy unparalleled views of San Diego by day and night. Their creative menu includes cocktails, wine and beer, and a variety of food to heighten your enjoyment. The Pendry boasts one of San Diego’s best seafood restaurants on-premises: Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine. Innovation meets coastal cuisine here, with dishes like Lobster Carpaccio with crispy shallots and sherry ponzu, and Spicy Grilled Octopus with fermented chile, crispy garlic, and cilantro aioli. Your guests can enjoy cabanas and daybeds to soak up the California sun throughout their stay, and celebrate with you in style. 

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Birds eye of The Pool House.

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