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Wedding Venue: Garden Court Hotel Your Oscar Moment

Posted Mar 6, 2015 by Gloria Atherstone

Photography by: Geoff White

About the Venue

I love the Garden Court Hotel in downtown Palo Alto. It is the only luxury hotel in downtown Palo Alto and has the same charming character of this incredible academic town that lies at the heart of this community. If you have not had a chance to visit the Garden Court, go take a peek, it will surprise you!

From the the street, the unimposing hotel seems very typical; however, once you enter the lobby you will see how the quaint and small entrance leads you into a grand Mediterranean-style courtyard with fountains, brightly flowering bougainvillea, and traditional French doors that lead to wrought iron railings and private balconies. You get the feeling that you are walking down a quiet lane somewhere in France or Italy, especially as you look towards the rooftops where you’ll see a few guests enjoying a glass of wine on their balcony.

Ask the Expert

The styling of the bridal party sets the tone for the event – the attire and accessories are the building blocks for the rest of the design. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to express your individual style, but remember to have fun and live out your dreams. The aisle is in place, the music is cued, the doors open and it is your time to shine. As a planner, I like to call this a bride’s “Oscar Moment.”

The dress is obviously the key to this spectacular moment. Whether you have a multimillion dollar designer gown or you have found a vintage bargain, as long as the dress expresses your style and personality, your entrance will be remembered. What’s next is dressing your entourage. If you are the star of the show and your costume is the dress, the costume choice for the supporting characters is equally important. Remember, the supporting cast’s fanciful frocks will be the backdrop for many of your wedding photos.

How do you choose a dress that looks equally impressive on all of your attendants? The key to success is letting them pick the dress. Make picking out the bridesmaid’s dress an event by setting up appointments, complete with champagne and strawberries. Find dresses that are a reflection of the style that you are trying to achieve, but also bring in the personalities of your bridesmaids. Instead of choosing a dress and trying to fit it to the body styles of the bridesmaids, pick out a color or range of colors and have your bridesmaids pick out their own dresses. This is the perfect way to let everyone look great, express their own style, and quite possibly have a dress they might consider wearing again.

Once you pick out the dresses, the fun begins. Accessories are the different elements that you can use to highlight your wedding ensemble. Shoes, hair pieces, shoe clips, necklaces, earrings, hand bags…the list is endless.

I love how this bride had each one of her attendants choose a unique parasol – this is a great original accessory, one that can reflect style and makes for fun photos! Think outside the box and really have fun with your accessories. Think of them as props for the photos, a great way to bring in color, style, and personality!


Wedding Venue: The Legion of Honor a Rainy Day

Posted Mar 5, 2015 by Gloria Atherstone

Photography by: Stephanie Williams Photography

About the Venue

Wow. This wedding is so spectacular and it’s obvious the bride, groom, and photographer certainly made the best of a drizzly San Francisco day. The Court of Honor at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor is best known for the famed sculpture of Rodin’s “Thinker,” but as many couples have found, this incredible demonstration of neo-classic architecture is one of the most incredible locations to host a wedding ceremony you can imagine.

The Legion sits on a bluff where the Pacific meets the bay and tall red spires of the Golden Gate Bridge are the backdrop for many spectacular wedding photos. This couple’s album is spectacular. As you can see, a quick trip to the beach and a few rainy day accessories can be adapted to create a bit of whimsy and fun. Brilliant! It almost makes you wish for rain on your wedding day.


Wedding Venue: Silverado Resort and Spa Costume Change

Posted Mar 4, 2015 by Gloria Atherstone

Photography by: Marcel & Meher Photography

About the Venue

Silverado Resort and Spa has been entertaining wedding guests for over 100 years and by now, I am sure they have probably seen just about about everything. This classical wedding is so soft and romantic. I love how the couple has used so many different backdrops from the resort to build a great wedding album. The outdoor spaces at the resort seem almost endless, and therefore the possibilities to create a wedding that is uniquely you is also limitless.

Ask the Expert

For many couples,  a “traditional” wedding celebration is just what they had in mind. But some brides and grooms today are taking more chances and using their creativity to make their wedding memorable and a stand out celebration.

There are four basic elements that everyone will take home from your celebration: the dress, the ceremony, the food, and the entertainment. Did they have a good time? Non-traditional, show-stopping entertainment is becoming increasingly more popular at today’s weddings. We’re not talking about the same old band or DJ. We are referencing truly unique experiences that will keep your guests discussing your wedding over coffee with friends in the weeks to come.

If you want to incorporate a bit of  “Live Wedding Theater” into your wedding reception, you might want to do as this couple did and incorporate your cultural heritage. Chinese Dragon dancers are a way to “bless” your event and will really wow the guests with the energy and symbolism. This is a perfect time to change into the traditional garments to surprise your guests.

If you love dancing and want to share that passion with your guests, a Spanish Flamenco dancer is the way to go; you can even have them give mini lessons. A poet is another fun idea – they can do poems for your guests throughout the evening, which is a great way to engage your guests in thought and emotion.

Weddings are meant to be fun! Think outside the box and wow your guests throughout the night – entertainment is a great way to do so.

I Do Venues wants to recognize the talented team of wedding professionals who helped to make this bride’s dream a reality: Photographer – Marcel & Meher Photography, Florist – Valley Flora, Cake – Sweetie Pies, Entertainment – Peter Rudolfi.


Wedding Venue: Ruby Hill Golf Club

Posted Mar 3, 2015 by Gloria Atherstone

Photography by: Michelle Walker Photography

About the Venue

Talk about exclusive. The Ruby Hill Golf Club in Pleasanton redefines the word. Ruby Hill Golf Club is a prestigious Jack Nicholson designed course in the rolling hills of Tri-valley Wine Country. The club is part of a prestigious gated community and, just to come by and view the facility, one needs an appointment to get through the front gate. Once you arrive, you will slowly make your way up the hill to the Golf Club. The homes that surround the 18 holes of this incredible course are every newlywed’s fantasy dream home.

The Italian inspired architecture seems to roll through the entire community. When you reach the top of the hill and see the grand villa waiting to greet you, a sweet smile at your discovery will pass over your face. This golf club transcends the normal idea of a cookie cutter country club wedding. As you walk into the Fireside room, take a step back and soak it in. The room is flooded with natural light from unique domed skylight that is the focal point of the room. The French doors and the collection of large picture windows that surround the soaring 40 foot ceiling all add to the beauty of the room.

The bride and groom wait at that landing at the top of the staircase, overlooking their party. As they are introduced, they descend down opposing sides of the grand Tuscan stairwell which meets at the bottom for an appropriate first dance or kiss. This grand scene is not difficult to imagine as you tour the facility. The columns, wall sconces, and attention to detail that create a warm and elegant feel in the space allow you to draw the perfect picture of your celebration. If you are looking for an incredible venue in the East Bay, you have to call and make an appointment.

I Do Venues wants to recognize the talented team of wedding professionals who helped to make this bride’s dream a reality: Photographer – Michelle Walker Photography, Designer/Planner – Kristen Jensen of Sugar Rush Events, Florist – The Flower House, Cake – Katrina Rozelle, Lighting – Brad Kinney Productions, Videographer – Thomas Hughes, Rentals – Stuart Party Rentals.


Wedding Venue: The Fairmont Hotel

Posted Mar 2, 2015 by Gloria Atherstone

Photography by: Michelle Walker Photography

Ask the expert

It has taken longer than usual this year but it seems that the flowers are blooming, the sun has come out and the bright colors of summer weddings are finally arriving. Winter colors tend to be cooler and more reserved so it’s exciting for us to see the color collection of spring and summer weddings coming our direction.

This wedding, photographed by the wonderful Michelle Walker, is a combination of Tiffany blue (every bride loves that little blue box) paired with the wonderful and crisp tones of kumquat and melon.

The Fairmont Hotel is San Francisco at it best. The truth is this particular location requires very minimal decor, as the venue itself is so incredible. I love how this couple has taken the warm peachy tones found in the marble columns and built a wonderful look around them. The crisp white linen brings the right amount of attention to the classical look of the chiavari chairs. The combination of the colors, textures, and heights of the flowers is brilliant. There is a combination of tall arrangements and low profile arrangements which creates more interest in the room than having all of the arrangements be matchy matchy.

The hints of Tiffany blue infused throughout this party evokes a subtle hint of whimsy. The groomsmen’s ties, the favors on the tables, the flicker of the votives, and the bridesmaid’s dresses – all in the same shade – make a great statement. Love it!


Wedding Venue: BR Cohn Winery The Perfect Ceremony Location

Posted Feb 26, 2015 by I Do Venues

Photography by: Micah and Megan Photographers

About the Venue

There is a reason why so many brides choose the wine country to host their nuptials. Actually, there are many reasons: beautiful weather, amazing scenery, and of course, the wine. BR Cohn Winery offers the true experience of a wine country wedding right in the heart of Sonoma. The gorgeous 90 acre venue nestled between the Mayacamas and Sonoma Mountains is host to several vineyard view ceremony sites including the amphitheater, which is perfect for a bride with a sense of drama, with its grand stage and terraced lawn overlooking the Sonoma mountains.

If your taste tend to run a bit more “outdoorsy,” another fantastic option to consider is Oak Hill which offers panoramic vineyard views set within a lush grove of  Live Oak Trees. Nothing makes a more sensational backdrop for a wedding ceremony than a massive and sprawling tree like the one that marks the spot for ceremonies at Oak Hill. Receptions at BR Cohn take place in the Olive Grove, a lovely outdoor space shaded by 140 year old French Picholine Olive Trees. The white twinkle lights adorning the olive trees give the space nighttime sparkle. BR Cohn produces stellar wines as well as some of the region’s most talked about olive oils and balsamic vinegars, so your guests can sip and nibble on the bounty of the land while enjoying the scenery.

Ask the Expert

There is something so soft and romantic about an all-white bridal bouquet. With the natural backgrounds, towering trees, and stately buildings at BR Cohn, the bouquet, whether in white or color, should be lush and offer flowers such as peonies, tea roses, and hydrangea with the addition of some wildflowers to tie in the beautiful landscape. Try adding in anemones, thimbleweed and foxtail to add rustic flair to your bouquet.

Everything about the styling of this event speaks to the location. Using long wood tables without linens in the Olive Grove allows the decor to blend beautifully with the natural landscape and speaks to the low key charm and winery setting of the event. Using wood chairs in a different tone gives visual interest while keeping the design from being fussy or overdone. Additionally, the king style tables feel communal and festive. This couple used simple white on white linens and dishware which allow the wood furniture, floral arrangements, and gorgeous scenery to make the statement.

Pops of color were brought into the design with the flowers in purple, blue and yellow. The flowers are sweet and simple wildflowers which look as if they were plucked straight from the gorgeous grounds to adorn the dinner tables. Collections of milk bottles and mason jars with small arrangements work well on this type of table as they are small and easy to talk over and work well in clusters so there is no part of the table left un-embellished. There are many types of vessels that will work for creating this type of look – long wooden wine boxes overflowing with garden flowers can be mixed in with smaller arrangements in vintage tea cans and white porcelain vases. Trips to flea markets and antique shops can yield magical finds for your centerpieces, and this eclectic and romantic look works perfectly against the white buildings, olive trees, and twinkly white lights of BR Cohn’s Olive Grove.

The cheerful blue and yellow block printed table numbers are designed with the same bicycle artwork as the invitations. Tieing the invites back into the event design brings the entire wedding style full circle and helps guests feel connected to the details of the event. The blue and yellow motif is vivid and fun and adds to the generally comfortable feel of the day.

I Do Venues wants to recognize the talented team of wedding professionals who helped to make this bride’s dream a reality: Photographer – Micah and Megan Photographers, Designer/Planner – Jenne Hohn and Michelle Dillon of Jenne Hohn Events, Florist – Chestnut and Vine Floral Designs, Catering – Melissa Teaff Catering, Lighting – Lux Productions, Rentals – Classic Party Rentals, Cake – ABC Baker.


Los Altos History Museum Lights, Camera, DIY!

Posted Feb 25, 2015 by I Do Venues

Photography by: Gavin Farrington Photography

About the Venue

How about a sun-drenched, country-style adventure at this incredibly intimate and gorgeous setting lit to perfection? With all the charm and finesse of a barn wedding, Los Altos History Museum is an incredibly fun and sophisticated indoor/outdoor location. Nestled among heritage oaks and surrounded by the oldest apricot orchard in Silicon Valley, the property includes a historic wooden house that towers three levels high at 8,200 square feet. Sprinkled with 1930’s decor, what’s known as the Smith House offers an aspiring collection of historical artifacts surrounded by tall glass doors, wood floors, and soaring ceilings. Filled with romance, nostalgia and lush gardens, the outdoor ceremony and reception locations are warm and magical! The brick courtyard provides a truly lovely ceremony and reception space (as you can see in the photos above). This location is perfect for a wedding of up to 230 people. For ceremonies of 140 or less, you can say your vows under the beautiful heritage Oak tree at the Smith House garden set up. Reminiscent of old Lake Tahoe, this true garden setting is tucked between the Smith House and the gazebo area. At night, ceremony locations are transformed into a warmly lit reception. With outdoor dining under twinkly cafe lighting (provided by the venue), you can dance the night away inside the Museum.

Ask the Expert

Mark Perry, wedding coordinator at the Museum, ‘absolutely encourages DIY!’ In fact, many couples come to this quaint and unique venue with concepts and ideas that are typically homegrown. This wedding is a great example that demonstrates making the space your own, from the colorful ribbon backdrop to the delicious array of “homemade-style” cakes. All DIY creativity is welcomed, and almost any color palette under the sun or specialty design scheme could fit right in at this venue.

Gavin Farrington, who did a gorgeous job at photographing this wedding, shares a little behind the DIY inspiration:

Mei (the beautiful bride) put a lot of work into going around to a ton of antique and vintage shops, so everything was matched but mis-matched. For the scheme of the wedding Mei knew that she wanted a soft, romantic feel, giving the scene in the Disney film Tangled with floating lights as an example. The wedding took place on May 5, Cinco De Mayo, and they thought it would be a fun thing to include a piñata. The kids had a blast with that! On a limited budget, Mei was looking for a less well-known and more unconventional venue with a beautiful natural setting and lots of trees. She stumbled across Los Altos History Museum from a friend’s wedding on Facebook. Usually when you hear the words history museum, you don’t automatically think wedding venue…but it’s an open, outdoorsy space with crawling plants and vines that is isolated, it makes it feel really pretty and ideal.

I Do Venues wants to recognize the talented team of wedding professionals who helped to make this bride’s dream a reality: Photographer – Gavin Farrington Photography; Floral – Annie Siu Floral and Events; Cake – Schuberts Bakery; Catering – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme; Entertainment – DJ Mike Ewing.


Glittery Pink Soiree at San Ysidro Ranch

Posted Feb 24, 2015 by I Do Venues

santa barbara wedding venues

santa barbara wedding venues


Glitter Glam Ranch Style

San Ysidro Ranch is a gorgeous setting for your BIG DAY! As one of the most luscious Santa Barbara wedding venues, today’s venue is great for small wedding celebrations. Romantic cottages or colorful, fragrant gardens offer a breathtaking warmth for your wedding ceremony and reception. A true whimsical, romantic atmosphere to be enveloped in, creating a backdrop as special and unique as your love for one another!


santa barbara wedding venues

santa barbara wedding venues

Photography by Jen Rodriguez


Endless Design Possibilities

Since this intimate space only allows for so many of your closest family and friends, (up to 60 guests in the Hydrangea Garden and up to 30 guests in the Wine Cellar) you might have a little extra room in your budget to put towards a great design! At this picturesque setting, almost any color palette or theme will work flawlessly. We love the choice of today’s couple to use glittery tablecloths by La Tavola, in this fun glitz and glam design that brings a fresh sparkle against the natural backdrop!



Wedding Credits: Venue – San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara; Photographer – Jen Rodriguez Photography; Wedding Day Coordination – Sophie Spier of Amazing Days Events; Floral Design – Camilla Svensson Burns Couture Floral & Event Design; Catering & Wedding Cake – San Ysidro Ranch; Sequin Linens: La Tavola Santa Barbara



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