14 Jaw-Dropping Wedding Venues in Magical Big Sur, California
It's no secret that California is loaded with hundreds of stunning wedding venues, but what may be surprising is just how much variety the state has along its 840 miles of coastline. While Southern California is known for surfer beaches and NorCal is centered around trendy and colorful San Francisco, the rest of the state's coastline packs in plenty to see and do. And one of the most beautiful areas of California is Big Sur, the section of Central Coast just south of Monterey snd Santa Cruz. Big Sur is where you'll find famous Highway 1, the coastal road built high on the cliffs with never-ending views of crashing waves and hidden coves and waterfalls.
Big Sur's surroundings are the main draw, with lush forests of redwood trees, coastal parks with rocky terrain jutting out above the ocean, and dozens of hiking trails and viewpoints for novice hikers and expert campers. So it's no surprise that the best wedding venues in Big Sur are all about the views, from modern, luxury hotels built high on cliffs to rustic venues next to babbling streams. While Big Sur has a reputation for being pricey, it doesn't have to be, especially if you pick a venue that can also arrange your catering and major vendors. You'll also have the added benefit of being near the country's best food and wine-growing regions, ensuring your wedding dinner is delicious – and wines from the nearby Carmel Valley are some of the best in the country.
Whether you dream of a beach wedding with ocean views or prefer to pose for photos in a near-tropical garden, you'll find it in and around Big Sur.
Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California
Ideal for small weddings of less than 40 people, the Post Ranch Inn is one of California's most elegant hotels. Built into the cliffs of Big Sur overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it's an intimate resort where luxury and five-star service come standard. Celebrations can be indoors or outdoors, and it's especially well suited to microweddings and elopements.
Post Ranch Inn is a high-end, luxury venue, so you can rest assured they know how to host an elegant celebration. But if you want to offer your guests something different during a welcome dinner, just head up the road to one of the restaurants around Monterey Bay. You can treat your guests to a welcome dinner at a seafood restaurant on the pier, then wow them the next day when they arrive to the terraces of the Post Ranch Inn. The architecturally modern hotel is both romantic and impressive, designed to compliment the views – and highlight the fabulous Big Sur sunsets. It's one of the pricier wedding venues in Big Sur, but if you're willing to splurge on your special day, you won't be disappointed.
Cambria Pines Lodge in Cambria, California
For a rustic (and affordable) wedding near Big Sur, the Cambria Pines Lodge is an excellent choice. A stone patio covered by a rustic wood roof and supported by tree trunks makes an excellent setting for a sunset reception, and the ceremony location in front of a 1920's-era red barn adds a touch of country charm. One of Cambria Pines Lodge's most compelling reasons to book is its variety of locations for wedding photos, ranging from curved trellises covered in purple bougainvillea to wooded sites with lush ferns and arching trees.
Big Sur Lodge in Big Sur, California
The quintessential Big Sur wedding venue, Big Sur Lodge is in one of the area's most well-known parks: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. This venue is in the woods, rather than on the coast, making it ideal if you'd prefer to say "I do" in the shadows of centuries-old trees. Fortunately, you'll be just a few miles from the coast, so you could host your welcome dinner or farewell brunch on the beach but have your actual wedding ceremony tucked into the woods. Big Sur Lodge is well-suited to Bohemian and rustic weddings, though the hotel's event coordinators can also arrange ceremonies against the backdrop of the Santa Lucia mountains in case you prefer a more elegant affair.
Big Sur Lodge's pricing is on more affordable end of venues in the area, making it ideal if you're choosing a venue in Big Sur for the views and ambiance but don't want to go overboard on cost. Big Sur Lodge creates custom menus for guests and can also handle pre- and post-wedding events like the rehearsal dinner or girls' brunch. The venue can host ceremonies of up to 75 guests or receptions of more than 200 in case your big day includes friends and family from far and wide.
Folktale Winery and Vineyards in Carmel, California
Any number of adjectives could describe Folktale Winery and Vineyards. The tasting room is charming, romantic, and trendy, with a modern glass-and-steel gazebo opening to a courtyard with lawn games, seating, and a stone fireplace. You'l; find several ceremony sites among the acres of vines, and none of the winery's event spaces are more romantic for an evening reception than the barrel room. Complete with candelabras, a lofted ceiling, and stacks of oak barrels filled with aging wine, the room is a true stunner. And it doesn't hurt that the winery operates a highly rated restaurant that can handle all of your wedding catering needs, too.
Loma Vista Gardens in Big Sur, California
Loma Vista Gardens checks all the boxes when it comes to wedding venues in Big Sur. You can have your reception in a mountain-view garden with romantic vineyard vibes, or host your wedding ceremony on the patio surrounded by trees, succulents, and hanging market lights. It's a photographer's dream, especially if you hope to have Fido in your photos: it's dog-friendly, so couples obsessed with their pups won't have to leave them at home. It's equal parts vintage, rustic, and elegant, and even somewhat affordable, at least by Big Sur standards.
Pro tip: if you decide to say "I do" at Loma Vista Gardens, book extra time for post- or pre-ceremony photos. The venue has a variety of different backdrops from succulent gardens to wooded walks and even an authentic round-roofed yurt, so you'll likely want more time than you think to capture it all without feeling rushed.
Windows on the Water in Morro Bay, California
If you decided to elope or have an actual ceremony of just you two and a few guests, that doesn't mean you have to skip the reception. And Windows on the Water is one of the best restaurants north of Big Sur for having a belated wedding reception. The waterfront restaurant has a V-shaped wall of windows that ensures all your guests have a fabulous view of Morro Rock and the bay beyond. And since you'll be in the heart of California's fruit- and vegetable-growing region, you can expect all of the items on your custom wedding menu to be mouthwatering. Small wedding receptions can rent just as room in the highly rated restaurant, while larger gatherings can rent the entire space.
Ventana Big Sur in Big Sur, California
Ventana Big Sur is an ideal option for couples who want a modern setting against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Options for ceremonies and receptions include the Ocean Meadow Lawn, complete with a modern greenhouse, or the Sur House Terrace and Bar, accommodating up to 200 guests. Of course, if you do want a more rustic setting, Ventana can happily accommodate your reception under a redwood grove or next to the oversized stone fireplace in the wood-paneled Loft at Ventana. Ventana also specializes in microweddings, offering packages for celebrations with fewer than 30 guests. It's a luxurious getaway for you and your guests.
Holly Farm in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Just a few minutes north of Big Sur in Carmel-by-the-Sea is Holly Farm, a stunning wedding venue that manages to be equal parts rustic, European, and borderline tropical at times. Your guests can play bocce ball on the sprawling lawn or pose for photos next to vintage cars and surfboards. Perfect for outdoor weddings, ceremonies and receptions are held near the large barn or in the shadow of massive trees. If you want your wedding to feel like a hidden celebration tucked into a lush overgrown garden, you'll definitely want to consider Holly Farm.
Big Sur River Inn in Big Sur, California
If you're planning a Big Sur wedding on the water but don't want a toes-in-the-sand celebration, look no further than the Big Sur River Inn. Special events like wedding ceremonies are outdoors on the creekside lawn, with the sounds of rustling trees and the nearby river as the backdrop for exchanging your vows. The staff at Big Sur River Inn can manage everything from your decor to lodging to menus and flowers, and receptions are usually held on the redwood deck overlooking the river. Adorned with hanging market lights and heaters to ensure the party continues long after sunset. Big Sur River Inn is one of the more romantic wedding venues in the Big Sur area for couples envisioning a romantic celebration.
Quail Lodge and Golf Club in Carmel, California
Set against the backdrop of the Santa Lucia Mountains, Quail Lodge and Golf Club is an inviting and relaxed wedding venue in posh Carmel, just north of Big Sur. Both of the lodge two outdoor wedding venues – a sprawling lawn and a wooden deck atop a central lake – can be configured for ceremonies or receptions, and the bright, airy indoor space lets in so much light that you'll feel like your outdoors, even if it's raining. Carmel and the Big Sur area are generally expensive locations to say "I do," but Quail Lodge is comparatively midrange. It's an ideal location if you're hoping for a large wedding but can't make it work in your budget at any of the boutique Big Sur wedding venues.
Bernardus Resort and Spa in Carmel Valley, California
Elegance, thy name is Bernardus Resort and Spa. Long known as a staple of the Carmel Valley's luxury resort scene, Bernardus' "modern wine country" aesthetics are an ideal backdrop to a black-tie affair – though sun dresses and polo shorts are equally fitting. Your wedding weekend will be catered by the resort's indoor-outdoor Lucia Restaurant and wedding ceremony will be held in the ivy-covered courtyard, complete with an outdoor chandelier. While Bernardus certainly isn't one of the more affordable wedding venues near Big Sur, it offers luxurious experiences like farm-to-table dinners, private wine tastings, and even tours through lavender fields for you and your attendees.
Cass House in Cayucos, California
Rather than marrying north of Big Sur in a town like Carmel or Monterey, why not head south to the laid-back beach town of Cayucos? One of the cutest wedding venues near Big Sur is Cass House, a perfect venue for smaller weddings of up to 100 guests. The actual Cass House is a charmingly restored Victorian home, which includes four elegant rooms for your wedding party to get ready. Cass House works with a local wedding planner, Sage and Stone Events, which can organize ceremonies in the outdoor gazebo or across the street on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Receptions are usually under the open-air, modern dining space at Cass House, paired with the roomy patio for cocktail hours and late-night.
Oceanpoint Ranch in Cambria, California
Steps from Moonstone Beach in Cambria is Oceanpoint Ranch, which covers nine beautiful acres of Pacific Ocean coastline. It's one of the few wedding venues south of Big Sur that has its own private stretch of beach, so give it a look if you're dreaming of a romantic ceremony and reception overlooking the sea. There's really nothing Oceanpoint Ranch can't arrange, from welcome bonfires on the beach to local food trucks and desert buffets for your reception. They have several venues made for weddings of different sizes, so while they're able to accommodate 250-person galas, they also have smaller venues that'll feel full with 50 or so guests.
Almond Springs in Pasa Robles, California
Ideal for large weddings of more than 300 guests, Almond Springs is an elegant, family-owned farmed tucked into the rolling hills of Pasa Robles wine country. While barn weddings and bohemian-rustic celebrations are the obvious fit with this venue, the owners are very flexible and accommodate just about anything you want for your wedding. You can work with any vendors or caterers you like, keep the party going with music as late as you'd like, and pose for photos in any of the farm's venues, like an old-fashioned miners cabin or authentic Wild West saloon. Pasa Robles is a bit far from Big Sur at around two hours, but your guests can easily add a day on before or after the celebration to see Big Sur, especially if they're driving from the San Francisco Bay area.