We all know that weddings cost a lot of cash—around $38,700 on average, according to WeddingWire’s 2019 Newlywed Report. However, that average can vary dramatically depending on where you live; a couple in Arkansas may pay only $18,596, for example, while Manhattan lovebirds can drop as much as $88,176 for an “average” wedding!
Why are these costs so different? One word: location. Most couples allocate 50% of their wedding budget toward their venue, and venue prices in major cities can be sky-high. But here’s a secret: it doesn’t have to be that way! Let’s take a look at some of the most cost-efficient venues in one of the most expensive areas in the United States: Southern California.
South Coast Winery (Temecula, CA)
$98–152 per person
Temecula is a sunny city in Riverside County, known for its 1,300 acres of wineries. Visitors to the area can enjoy delicious California wines and beautiful views, both of which are must-haves for a wedding. And if you want to have an outdoor celebration that won’t break the bank, South Coast Winery is one of the best spots to tie the knot.
South Coast Winery is a Mediterranean-inspired winery and resort sitting atop 63 acres of Temecula wine country. The vineyard boasts several outdoor wedding spaces, with space for small ceremonies or 500-person parties alike. This resort even offers packages that can care for your needs from the rehearsal dinner through the reception, all for a fraction of the cost of other venues.
Inn of the Seventh Ray (Topanga, CA)
$1,450+ per event (ceremony only)
If you want a small wedding that reflects the romantic and bohemian vibe of Topanga Canyon, there’s no better spot for you than the Inn of the Seventh Ray. This garden-style venue is filled with natural beauty, from towering shady trees to a small creek along one side of the property.
Inn of the Seventh Ray is ideal for intimate weddings (the space can only accommodate a max of 250 guests), so it’s certainly worth a look if you want a small celebration. The setting is like something out of a fairy-tale—and their price is a dream come true for any Angeleno couple!
Renaissance Newport Beach Hotel (Newport Beach, CA)
$2,250–5,000 per event
Newport Beach is the last place most Californians expect to find low-cost wedding venues. This beach community is known for its affluent citizens, upscale shopping, and fancy restaurants. But believe it or not, you can have a beautiful beach wedding for a reasonable price—you just need to know where to look.
The Renaissance Newport Beach Hotel features elegant ballrooms, coastal-inspired outdoor spaces, and that carefree California vibe everyone loves. Best of all, this venue boasts some incredible prices! Their all-inclusive packages can run between $98-155 per person, so you can have a large wedding (the hotel can house parties up to 700!) without breaking the bank.
Lobo Castle (Agoura Hills, CA)
$5,000+ per event
Ever dreamed of getting married in a castle? Don’t book that flight to Europe just yet and don’t call Disney, either; you can have a medieval-inspired wedding just by heading over to Agoura Hills! In 2008, designer Denise Antico-Donlo transformed her family’s property into a gorgeous castle. Then, she did the best thing ever: opened it up to all of us!
Lobo Castle features stunning views of the Santa Monica mountains—but honestly, I think you’re guests’ eyes will be fixed on the venue (it’s a castle, after all!). The venue is available for rent all year round, which means you can live your fairy tale princess dreams whenever you decide to tie the knot.
Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden (Long Beach, CA)
$2,195–4,900 per event
The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is truly a secret paradise in the city of Long Beach. The garden is located on the campus of Cal State Long Beach—but once you step inside, you’ll feel like you’re in a whole new world. You and your guests will be in awe of the bonsai trees, weeping willows, and tranquil koi ponds filling this 1.3-acre garden, making it a great spot to celebrate your love story.
Cal State Long Beach hosts weddings at the garden Friday-Sunday, and costs vary depending on the type of wedding you want to have (ceremony only, ceremony and reception, morning vs. evening event, etc.). However, there are a few things to keep in mind: the garden only has space for 150 guests, and couples must choose from the college’s list of approved caterers.
Apples Bed and Breakfast (Big Bear, CA)
$10,995+ per event
Southern California is best known for its beaches, but this region also has some beautiful forest retreats—like Big Bear. This city is surrounded by towering pines and rustic tranquility, which makes it a perfect spot for couples looking for a sweet, country-style wedding.
Nestled in the city of Big Bear, Apples Bed and Breakfast is a Victorian-style venue with a beautiful, tree-covered lawn that’s ideal for outdoor weddings. They also offer all-inclusive packages (complete with catering, lighting, tables, chairs, linens, and an evening in the bridal suits) for a much lower cost than other SoCal venues. If a quaint, rustic wedding sounds appealing to you, you should pay Apples a visit—I think you’ll love it!