Whether you have always dreamed of your wedding or reception along the shore, in a forest of majestic redwoods, at a mountain winery, or in an elegant ballroom or charming inn, you’ll find the perfect place in Santa Cruz County. With its beautiful natural setting, proximity to several major airports, and extensive conference facilities, Santa Cruz is also a great place for corporate conferences, business meetings, or group gatherings of any size. For a full list of businesses in Santa Cruz that can help you plan the perfect event or wedding, visit the Weddings & Events section of the Chamber business directory.
Traditional wedding venues: Santa Cruz has everything from charming bed & breakfast inns to conference centers to historical landmark restaurants to host your special day for just the two of you, or for 1,000 guests. Wedding venues can provide just the location, or everything from flowers to food.
Beach or seaside: Sea and Beach wedding themes make for memories of colorful sunsets, sunrise illuminating silver clouds, the sounds of waves, seabirds, and water stretching to the horizon. Many oceanfront resorts and hotels in Santa Cruz and are ready to make your dream of a wedding by the Monterey Bay a reality. Or, consider getting married at the Santa Cruz Harbor lighthouse or at any of the county’s beautiful beaches with a barefoot walk down the aisle.
Redwood forest: Having your ceremony in a redwood amphitheater in the Santa Cruz mountains will be a memory no one will ever forget. Beautiful stands of ancient redwoods cover the rolling Santa Cruz Mountains, side by side with meandering streams and accessible via smooth forest paths.
Wineries: Many Santa Cruz wineries have beautiful historic buildings perfect for your celebration or are located in the redwood forests where you can host your wedding or reception. Wineries can provide hors d’oeuvres, wine (of course!), and a bridal suite for dressing and photographs, and you provide your own caterer and cake.
When planning for a wedding in a non-traditional venue, take into account the following:
• Permission to hold a ceremony or reception in the location.
• Available facilities (Restrooms, benches, shade, meeting rooms, kitchens, parking, hours of operation, etc.)
• Physical features such as accessibility, sand dunes, cliffs, high tide line, privacy, etc.
Business Venues: Hold your business event at a seaside, forest, or winery location, or at one of the beautiful conference and meeting venues for small and large groups, some with beautiful ocean views and historical buildings. To have all the details taken care of from start to finish, consider conference and meeting venues with lodging.
Be sure to check out the list of local Santa Cruz wedding and event venues.
A great caterer will do more than just make good food. He or she will pay great attention to details, making sure the presentation is just right, the food and wine are served at the right temperature, the servers are well-groomed and attentive and that clean-up is efficient and thorough.
At your Santa Cruz wedding or event, some local specialties you might want to include are:
• fresh seafood, including Dungeness crab, lobster, and halibut
• farm-fresh produce, such as lettuce, spinach, artichokes, berries, and apples
• delicious desserts from Santa Cruz bakeries and chocolatiers
Whether you're planning a wedding or event, a gift will help attendees remember their Santa Cruz visit.
Wedding Registry: Register your gift wish list with a local Santa Cruz shop to make gift buying easy for your guests. Many Santa Cruz shops will let your guests purchase your present over the phone or online, have it gift-wrapped, include a personalized gift card, and ship it directly to you or have it ready for pick up if your guests want to bring the gift to the reception.
For your wedding party: Giving a token of appreciation to bridesmaids, ushers, groomsmen, and others who have taken a role in the wedding planning process has long been a custom. Including something to remind them of Santa Cruz will make it that much more special. Some ideas include an ocean themed picture frame, a small glass bowl or vase, a photo album, gift basket filled with Santa Cruz gifts, keychain, Santa Cruz wine, local artwork, or something else to remind them of your Santa Cruz wedding.
For your event attendees: Thank your guests for their attendance with a Santa Cruz souvenir or locally made gift, or a custom-made promotional item.
For great gift ideas, consider Santa Cruz Gifts & Jewelry, local Food & Wine, certificates for spa services, or personalized promotional items.
Weddings: The selection of songs can fit with the theme, style, and setting of the wedding. For a formal church wedding, it should be the more traditional classical or religious pieces to be in harmony with the formal nature of the setting. A less formal setting allows for broader choices, so find songs that have an emotional or sentimental meaning. A fun option is to send your invitations with a place on the reply card to write down a favorite romantic song. Having the band or DJ play your guests’ chosen favorites will be a big hit.
Business Events: Plan for some entertainment during your event or after a long day of meetings.
Experienced local Santa Cruz wedding musicians, bands, singers, and DJs will be able to help you select and play the perfect playlist.
Santa Cruz florists can create beautiful bouquets and flowers to decorate your event, including beautiful blossoms, foliage, vines, fruits, and herbs. Santa Cruz’s mild climate means there are always wildflowers in bloom, plus our local flower farmers offer traditional and exotic flowers year round.
Cakes and Desserts:
Visiting Santa Cruz bakeries and restaurants and sampling their cakes and desserts will be a delicious detail to savor. Fresh fruit fillings made from local berries such as strawberries and raspberries, delicious chocolates from local chocolatiers, or pastries and desserts from local bakeries are a great finish to your day.
Weddings: Think about renting a luxurious Rolls Royce, a vintage car, or even a sexy sports car to take you to your hotel. Or, if you’re having your wedding in the forest or at a mountain winery, have a horse drawn carriage take you for a romantic ride to the reception after the ceremony. Getting married by the water? Think about heading off in a boat after the reception. And, don’t forget to decorate your ride!
Business Events: If your attendees are coming from or meeting at a central location, consider hiring a limo or shuttle to take care of the driving.
Photography and Videography:
Beautiful photographs and videos along Monterey Bay, in the redwoods, at a mountain winery, or in a beautiful hotel are a great way to remember your event. Hire a professional photographer or videographer. Make sure you engage the services of someone who has experience photographing weddings and events in Santa Cruz. Ask for a photography package that includes all of the shots you want to have, including pictures of you enjoying the beautiful Santa Cruz surroundings.
Your Santa Cruz wedding can be the perfect start to your Santa Cruz honeymoon. Beautiful, well-appointed hotels, deluxe restaurants, world-famous attractions, a lively music and arts scene, fun annual events, and year-round outdoor activities make Santa Cruz County a great place for your honeymoon or destination wedding, shared with everyone who comes to your wedding.
For more than 120 years, Santa Cruz Chamber members have been committed to improving our community for everyone who visits, works, or lives in Santa Cruz County.
For a list of local Santa Cruz Chamber members that can help you with your wedding plans, visit the visit the Weddings & Events section of the Chamber business directory.
Content provided by Coastal Wedding Magazine.