Laguna’s hotels, resorts and galleries offer extraordinary venues for weddings large and small. – By Vicki Hogue-Davies
Many couples marry each year, but few are fortunate enough to tie the knot in Laguna Beach. For the lucky ones who decide to say their “I dos” locally, there are several spectacular places in town and in nearby Dana Point. Whether you opt for an outdoor ceremony in the fresh air and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, or to throw an inside grand affair, these special spots will ensure your wedding will truly be an affair to remember.
La Casa del Camino
A rooftop deck with panoramic ocean and mountain views and the symphonic sound of lapping waves ensures true Laguna ambience for weddings held at the historic La Casa del Camino. Built in 1929 and once a playground for old Hollywood, the Spanish-style hotel features remodeled rooms and public areas with furniture imported from Spain. About a dozen modern “surf suites” decorated by local surf brands and designers counterbalance the Old World charm. The large and airy ocean-view suites are favorites of bridal parties preparing for the wedding and of couples on their wedding nights, says Melissa DeAngelo, special events manager.
Additional options for wedding ceremonies and receptions include a wine room and adjoining outdoor courtyard—complete with burbling fountain—or the hotel’s K’ya Bistro and grand lobby. Couples can also rent out the entire hotel if desired.
“As a boutique hotel with only 36 rooms (and a beach cottage that sleeps six), it is a unique place for a wedding,” Melissa continues. For a place that accommodates as many as 130 guests, it is still charming and intimate. (1289 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-2446; lacasadelcamino.com)
Montage Laguna Beach
At Montage, incredible views and immaculate grounds combine with exceptional service for a day not to be forgotten. “There are two factors most couples love about us,” says Jamie Puffer, director of catering. “First and foremost, we only hold one wedding per day, so couples really appreciate that exclusivity. And we are on the water just 50 feet from the sand, on a cliff overlooking the ocean.” Able to accommodate up to 375 reception guests in its larger ballroom, the resort has two ocean-view lawns for wedding ceremonies. “One has more of a horizon view and the other has crashing waves,” Jamie says. “Couples will often have the ceremony on one lawn and cocktails on the other.” Options for smaller and less formal weddings are also available.
“Montage can accommodate just about anything,” she says. “We’ve had the USC band and cheerleaders, and even Cirque du Soleil performers here.” (30801 S. Coast Hwy.; 866-933-6438; montagelagunabeach.com)
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
Set atop a 150-foot bluff overlooking the ocean, the Ritz-Carlton’s stunning location combines with an experienced staff to make each wedding a unique event, says Eryin Choi, meeting and special events manager. “We customize [the catering] and create specialty drinks” she explains. “We [arrange] things that are really a representation of who the couple is, such as preparing dessert buffets using specific colors and creating wedding cakes to highlight a couple’s interests.”
To further customize the day, three outdoor locations overlooking the water are used for ceremonies. Where the ceremony is held depends upon the number of guests (the resort can accommodate up to 500). To help couples plan their nuptials, the Ritz-Carlton publishes the quarterly Weddings magazine, which is distributed in all guest rooms. (One Ritz-Carlton Drive, Dana Point; 949-240-2000; ritzcarlton.com/lagunaniguel)
Pacific Edge Hotel
Feel the sand between your toes and see the ocean lapping under your feet at Pacific Edge Hotel. Its beachfront location and casually elegant vibe make the property a perfect choice for a wedding, according to Bree Vetere, marketing coordinator. “We have the only restaurant in Laguna that is actually on the sand,” she says. The Deck, an open-air restaurant, is available for ceremonies and receptions, just steps from the water. The three-story beachfront villa allows for smaller indoor weddings with ocean views through French doors opening to the outside. Fully furnished surf cabanas with a private deck are also available in combination with the restaurant or for smaller events. A variety of wedding day arrangements can be organized for up to 150 guests.
“We have indoor and outdoor [accommodations] for a little of everything,” Bree says. “You can have elegance without stuffiness and be sophisticated without being over the top.” (647 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-8566; pacificedgehotel.com)
“People who come to us for weddings usually want something creative and different,” says Dora Wexell, executive director. “We are pretty unique as a venue; our building is [ultra] contemporary, and it is an art environment, so that sets the tone for everything.” The property houses subsidized artist residences and the 4,500-square-foot main space is open as a gallery when no events are taking place. There is always art on exhibit, and sometimes couples want to bring their own art for their day, Dora says.
Seven-Degrees’ wedding curators help couples plan, which includes meeting with the executive chef. Ceremonies usually take place on the outdoor terrace and receptions follow inside in the gallery space. “For formal dinners, we can seat up to 300,” Dora notes. “For more casual cocktail-style, stand-up affairs, we can accommodate up to 380. The space is like a blank canvas, so we can lay it out however people want.” (891 Laguna Canyon Rd.; 949-376-1555, ext. 106; seven-degrees.com)
Surf & Sand Resort
The beachfront Surf and Sand Resort opened more than 60 years ago, and although it has been changed and remodeled since, it still remains “a staple in Laguna,” says Michelle Olewinski, catering and conference services manager.
Wedding ceremonies can be held on the Catalina or Ocean terraces, depending on size. The larger Catalina Terrace allows for up to 180 guests. Receptions take place in either the Pelican Room, which pairs with the Catalina Terrace, or the Sand Dollar or Sand Castle Rooms. The resort also holds romantic wedding ceremonies right on the sand. “We do quite a few beach weddings, but not during summer because of the high tide,” Michelle explains. “These weddings are very casual. We can have acoustic music and lay down a couple of flowers.” (Structures, chairs and amplified music are not permitted on the beach.)
The resort focuses on seasonal cuisine in keeping with a local, organic aesthetic. It offers buffets and plated meals, including popular duet plates, which feature two dishes in one. (1555 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-4477; surfandsandresort.com)
Tivoli Terrace and Tivoli too!
European-style venues are not out of reach, even in California. Nestled in Laguna Canyon, Tivoli Terrace and Tivoli Too! are romantic choices for couples seeking enchanting outdoor garden settings. Owner June Neptune designed and hand-planted the gardens in the 1970s.
Tivoli Terrace features a French country garden with two levels allowing for a dramatic entrance. Ceremonies are surrounded by twinkle lights, antique wood, greenery and fountains. With Tivoli Terrace being the restaurant and caterer for the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters, culinary offerings are sure to please all palates. (650 Laguna Canyon Rd.; 949-494-9650; tivoliterrace.com)
Tivoli Too! transports ceremonies to Italy, welcoming guests with imported iron gates and a 60-foot mural of the Tuscany countryside. Inside, the lush courtyard features a gazebo which is a grand showcase for wedding cakes, and a cascading waterfall provides a sublime background. (777 Laguna Canyon Rd.; 949-494-6044; tivoli-too.com)
The St. Regis Monarch Beach
The St. Regis Monarch Beach has something for everyone looking to plan a wedding, says Kelly Odell, senior catering manager. “It is the best address for any couple’s most memorable day because of our five-star, five-diamond service, exquisite food and impeccable grounds,” she asserts.
Wedding ceremonies are often held on the signature Grand Lawn, which overlooks the resort’s pool and Pacific Ocean; the Pacific Lawn for those who fancy a garden setting; or for smaller affairs, the botanical garden. The 12,000-square-foot Pacific Ballroom, dramatically appointed with coffered ceilings, bronze chandeliers and frescoed scenes, holds up to 800 people for formal dinners. The elegant Monarch Ballroom holds 300 guests. “We also have the wine cellar for intimate gatherings of 50 people or less, and Club 19 located on the golf course, which can accommodate 150, and has breathtaking views of the course and the ocean,” Kelly adds. (One Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point; 949-234-3400; stregismb.com)
Experiencing your nuptials in elegant Laguna style is easy at one of these or the many other inspired local spaces. When it comes to great wedding venues, the town is home to countless fantastic places, from restaurants to seaside parks, to get married. Whatever location you choose in Laguna, you can count on a truly singular day. LBM