2010 08/06

The Top 5 Places to have your Outdoor Wedding in San Francisco

By Guest Blogger Louis Wertz

We all know that the Bay Area is full of spectacular sites for outdoor weddings. Bay Area Bride Guide has given you the rundown on a host of them. Those most profiled places tend to be out in the suburbs or further. But what if you want to say “I Do” under the canopy of heaven? These five outdoor wedding venues within San Francisco provide spectacular settings for your special day. But remember, weather in The City is most reliably sunshiney in the rain-free indian summer, about late August to mid-October, and do have a bad-weather backup plan at hand.

5. Baker Beach

You would be hard pressed to have a more memorable vista for your vows than the view from Baker Beach. The Golden Gate Bridge in the background makes for a perfectly romantic symbol of love and connection, and unlike nearby China Beach with its 50 guest limit and difficult parking, the limit on guests at Baker is set at 200. Permits are required and are available from the GGNRA; more information is here.

4. Alamo Square Park

Remember that amazing park where the Tanner family has a picnic in the opening sequence to everyone’s favorite TGIF sitcom, Full House? This is the park. And that view is still spectacular, with the Painted Ladies (a series of historic Victorian homes) in the foreground and the downtown skyline and Bay Bridge behind. Beware though, parking near this park is very difficult to find, and parallel parking on the steep hills that surround Alamo Square may have your out of town guests arriving in fits. Get a permit to reserve your spot and get advice about logistics from the city parks permit line at (415) 831-5500.

3. Sigmund Stern Grove

This slice of San Francisco’s pre-urban landscape lies in San Francisco’s Sunset District fog belt, which narrows your wedding window, but exchanging vows beneath its ageless redwood trees and towering eucalypts practically guarantees a splendid event. Plus, the historic and beautifully restored Trocadero clubhouse in the Grove makes the perfect place for the reception and a bad weather backup plan. Plus, plentiful parking and a driveway up to the Trocadero means everyone can arrive and leave in style.

2. Conservatory of Flowers

This Golden Gate Park icon has room for small weddings inside (<40 guests), but that’s just fine, because when you’re inside, you can’t see this perfect white wedding cake of a building. The delightfully landscaped grounds in front of the Conservatory greenhouse (make sure you ask to talk to the gardeners about when they have re-plantings scheduled) are a great spot for an intimate ceremony. The grounds are very popular on sunny summer weekends with locals, so beware that you’ll have a wide variety of “uninvited guests” looking on from nearby. The Conservatory has its own thoroughly helpful event planner who can help you make arrangements. Email Morgan Davis at mdavis@sfcof.org, or call at 415-846-0538.

1. Palace of Fine Arts Rotunda

This neo-classical wonder designed for San Francisco’s 1915 Panama-Pacific exposition by renowned Bay Area architect Bernard Maybeck provides the sort of timeless backdrop for a ceremony that imbues everyone present with a sense of peace and serenity. From the huge columns and dome to the turtles and swans paddling about in the pond just beyond, everything about this place seems designed to host an unforgettable wedding. The space accommodates up to 250 guests. Permits are required; speak with a helpful representative at the permit department at (415) 831-5500 for information. Reservations can, and should, be made a year to the date in advance, especially if you’re planning for a summer weekend.

Got your wedding in the works at another awesome outdoor venue in The City? Celebrate a friend or family members’ wedding at a special spot in SF? Share it with our readers! Comment below.

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