Santa Barbara Weddings:
Everything You Need to Know
If you’re considering having your wedding in Santa Barbara, you’ll be thrilled to learn that there are a myriad of gorgeous Santa Barbara wedding venues—not to mention plenty of things to do in Santa Barbara. This coastal Californian city is often referred to as the “American Riviera,” and with good reason! Known for its agreeable Mediterannean climate and close proximity to the ocean, Santa Barbara is a beloved vacation spot—and an even more beloved wedding destination. Between Santa Barbara beaches, Santa Barbara vineyards, and the ever-popular Santa Barbara Courthouse, you’ll find the perfect place to marry your soulmate. In addition, you’ll find that Santa Barbara is an ideal destination wedding spot, as there are plenty of activities for guests to enjoy in the days leading up to your wedding. (The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and Santa Barbara Zoo are two of our favorites!) Browse hundreds of real Santa Barbara wedding celebrations to get inspiration, see how different venues have been transformed for each event, and you’ll understand why this charming city a favorite wedding destination for celebrities. The city boasts a roster of incredible Santa Barbara wedding vendors who will help you make your day a success. Once you’ve learned more in this Santa Barbara wedding guide, you’ll be ready to tie the knot in the place that insiders call the American Riviera.
Why are Santa Barbara weddings so popular?
What comes to mind when you think of Santa Barbara wedding venues? Maybe a gorgeous winery comes to mind, or perhaps you think of stunning Santa Barbara beaches. There is no doubt that the bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean is a fantastic place to celebrate your union. However, there are so many more things to do in Santa Barbara, places to explore, and locations to scout. The city is home to plenty of diverse Santa Barbara venues, so whether you are looking for Santa Barbara beachfront hotels or another unique spot to marry (like the Santa Barbara Zoo), you will find it here.
You might be wondering how this coastal city garnered the reputation as the American Riviera,” and it’s because of Santa Barbara’s stunning ocean views and sunny weather. With manicured lawns, Spanish-style architecture, endless white beaches, palm trees everywhere you look, it’s no wonder plenty of couples opt for a Santa Barbara Wedding. In addition, some couples who plan a destination wedding in Santa Barbara even opt to spend their honeymoon in the city, and find there are plenty of things to do in Santa Barbara. Consider this your ultimate Santa Barbara wedding guide.
In addition to daytime sights, there are nighttime locales that promise fun and variety. Santa Barbara welcomes couples and wedding parties, and there are many venues that cater to tourists. Since there is such a variety of places in the area, we recommend taking some time to explore the venues where you can get married in Santa Barbara, and begin to get a sense of what you might like.
Some couples visit the city with the goal of recreating a celebrity wedding or having a themed occasion in one of the iconic neighborhoods. Others want to incorporate unique venues such as the Santa Barbara Zoo or Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens into their big day. Get inspiration from other couples who tied the knot in Santa Barbara while making your plans by browsing hundreds of real weddings in this wedding library. You’ll be able to see which venues are your favorite, as well as which local vendors made the day come to life. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the details fall into place!
What is the best month for a Santa Barbara wedding?
You have two options when scheduling your Santa Barbara wedding ceremony and Santa Barbara wedding reception. One is to take advantage of the city's gorgeous weather. Travel specialists consider this to be the window between April 16 and November 11. For a Santa Barbara wedding on the beach, you might be better off scheduling your wedding during these months due to a low chance of rain. However, if you’re thinking about selecting one of these months for your vows, remember that June, July, and August are peak tourist months, and popular Santa Barbara venues may be booked already.
The other option is to plan for off-season weddings in Santa Barbara. Although January sees the most rainy days, which means that a beach wedding is probably in the cards, Santa Barbara hotels with indoor event spaces may have more vacancies than during the most popular months. Alternatively, you could choose to have your Santa Barbara wedding towards the end of the busy season. With shoulder season being March to May or September to November, you can have sunny weather minus the crowds.
What are the different types of Santa Barbara wedding venues?
After deciding on a wedding date, it is time to consider the location for your wedding in Santa Barbara. Consider the location’s guest capacity, if there’s a back-up option in case of inclement weather, and whether it’s a strictly indoor or outdoor facility. Of course, your wedding price point should also be taken into consideration—but we’ll discuss Santa Barbara wedding costs later. Here are some popular Santa Barbara wedding venues that you should consider for your big day:
Santa Barbara Hotel Wedding Venues:
Santa Barbara beachfront hotels are typically equipped to accommodate different event setups. Whether you want your wedding outdoors or you have to move it inside for inclement weather, many venues on the beach will be able to figure out how to make your big day beautiful, regardless of the weather forecast. In addition, some beachfront hotels offer Santa Barbara wedding packages, which makes putting your big day together especially simple. If you’re having your wedding ceremony in a church, you could select a hotel for your Santa Barbara reception venue.
Santa Barbara Courthouse Wedding Venues:
The Courthouse Garden is a favorite of most any Santa Barbara wedding photographer. With the historic 1929 building in the background, the location allows for fantastic photos. The property boasts six distinct locations, which makes it ideal for your wedding as well as any pictures you want your photographer to snap.
Santa Barbara Beach Wedding Venues:
Santa Barbara beach weddings are famous for a reason. Hosting a wedding with your toes buried in the white sand is possible when the Santa Barbara weather cooperates; however, remember that you need to get a permit before you can do so. For a romantic sunset wedding, choose Butterfly Beach, which faces east. If there are plenty of children at your party, choose East Beach, which is next to Stearns Wharf and its playground.
Santa Barbara Museum Wedding Venues:
For a wedding at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, select the Covarrubias Adobe, which has gorgeous Spanish influences and accommodates 90 people. There are many local museums that can accommodate your Santa Barbara wedding.
Santa Barbara Garden Wedding Venues:
Are you interested in having an intimate Santa Barbara garden wedding? If so, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is an excellent choice. You can bring your leashed dog, which appeals to many couples, and the lush background makes for stunning wedding photos. There are a number of elegant estates with gardens as well.
Santa Barbara Zoo Wedding Venues:
Looking for a unique, playful venue? The Santa Barbara Zoo might be the right fit. Not only does this venue cross one more decision off your list with their default caterer of Rincon Events, but you’re also able to host evening or daytime events. Best of all, any money spent on a private event benefits the Zoo.
Santa Barbara Ballroom Wedding Venues:
There’s a wide variety of excellent options if you’re looking to host your ballroom wedding in Santa Barbara. The city is ripe with opulent, ornate ballrooms that will help you get the wedding photos of your dreams. You could select a ballroom that is attached to a hotel, or you could seek out an estate venue.
Santa Barbara Vineyard Wedding Venues:
Santa Barbara vineyards will give your wedding day a Tuscan flair. In addition, since there are several vineyards local to the Santa Barbara area, you could find one that suits your wedding aesthetic best—and that has availability on your wedding date.
Santa Barbara Church Wedding Venues:
If you and your partner are planning a religious wedding, Santa Barbara is home to several beautiful churches that offer the perfect setting for saying “I do.” Your wedding florist will know how to make your church ceremony fit your wedding theme and aesthetic. Churches are an attractive ceremony option because you don’t have to worry about inclement weather upending plans.
Santa Barbara Ranch Wedding Venues:
No Santa Barbara wedding guide would be complete without mentioning that some of the city’s ranches make for ideal wedding venues. If you’re planning a rustic event, ranches are a great option for your Santa Barbara wedding reception venue.
Santa Barbara Estate Wedding Venues:
If you’re looking for something more private, you might opt to have your Santa Barbara wedding at an elegant estate. If you’re looking for something traditional and glamorous, an estate wedding venue might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Santa Barbara Restaurant Wedding Venues:
If your priority is to offer your Santa Barbara wedding guests some of the best food that the city has to offer, you might consider having your wedding at a restaurant with a private space—or to take over the whole restaurant. If you select a restaurant as your reception venue, it will be small, which makes it the best fit for an intimate wedding.
You will notice that almost all of these Santa Barbara wedding venues would be suitable for both the ceremony itself and Santa Barbara wedding receptions. This is convenient as you and your guests do not have to travel from the ceremony to the party location.
How much do Santa Barbara weddings cost?
In 2020, the average cost of a Santa Barbara wedding was $29,029—however, those numbers may be skewed due to the pandemic. Generally speaking, the smaller the gathering, the lower your cost will be (particularly because it will mean a smaller guest count). Therefore, a larger wedding in Santa Barbara that has several hundred guests will generally cost more. It’s not uncommon for couples to spend $33,700 or more on their Santa Barbara wedding. California has a higher cost of living than other parts of the country, which is why the price tag is higher than the average wedding cost in the United States.
Of course, it’s possible to have a gorgeous Santa Barbara wedding and stay within your price range, whatever it may be. Some couples even choose to elope at the Santa Barbara Courthouse. Others keep the party small so they can enjoy gorgeous Santa Barbara wedding venues, Santa Barbara beaches, or Santa Barbara vineyards without the higher cost. Working with a wedding planner will simplify the process, as they’ll be able to help you find Santa Barbara wedding packages from vendors they know and trust.
The bulk of your Santa Barbara wedding cost will come from the venue and catering. Considering how many venues in the city offer coastal views of Santa Barbara beaches, their premium rates are understandable. However, there could be some unexpected costs to be aware of—especially if you’re having an outdoor wedding. Santa Barbara weather is usually beautiful, but of course, sometimes it does rain. If you select an outdoor wedding venue and it rains, vendors have to move everything to the nearest indoor location—or you’ll need to reserve a tent or other back-up plan in case of rain. Account for these potential extra costs when trying to assess what Santa Barbara weddings cost.
What vendors do you need for your Santa Barbara wedding?
Selecting your venue is a critical part of the planning process, of course, but it’s equally important to research and carefully consider your vendors. Curating the right vendor team will help ensure that your big day goes off without a hitch. Unless you plan on a Santa Barbara elopement (in which case, it is up to you which vendors you do or don’t want to include), this is the list of vendors you should consider:
Santa Barbara Wedding Planners:
Santa Barbara wedding planners know the area well, which is helpful when you’re deciding which venue to choose and which vendors to select. In addition, wedding planners make the wedding ceremony run seamlessly, which takes the stress off you. Because wedding planners work in the industry, they’ll be in the know about which vendors are the best match for your big day. Your Santa Barbara wedding planner will have all of the insider info necessary to make your wedding day a success.
Santa Barbara Wedding Photographers:
Santa Barbara wedding photographers are skilled at capturing every minute of your celebration. The best Santa Barbara wedding photographers will know how to document the essence of you and your partner’s personalities, your wedding theme, and the ambiance of the American Riviera in gorgeous photographs.
Santa Barbara Wedding Caterers:
There are few things more important than offering the guests at your Santa Barbara wedding delicious food. Santa Barbara wedding caterers will cook up food that gives attendees the opportunity to taste some of the best of what the area has to offer. Many caterers favor a locally-sourced menu, which ensures that the food your guests will be eating is fresh and in season.
Santa Barbara Wedding Cake Bakeries:
No wedding in Santa Barbara would be complete without a cake. Santa Barbara wedding cakes are the perfect way to end your big day. If you’re unsure of where to start, our gallery of weddings in Santa Barbara could help. Peruse photographs of real couples’ weddings, and get inspired to reach out to a Santa Barbara wedding cake bakery once you’ve found Santa Barbara wedding cakes that suit your style.
Santa Barbara Wedding Florists:
Flowers elevate all Santa Barbara wedding venues. The best Santa Barbara florists know how to take your floral wedding design vision and turn it into something tangible. Whether you’re looking for a floral wedding chuppah for your wedding on the beach, or you want colorful table centerpieces for your Santa Barbara beachfront hotel, wedding florists specialize in arranging the blooms for your big day.
Santa Barbara Wedding Musicians:
Should you get a Santa Barbara wedding DJ or a band? Why not choose a String quartet? There’s a lot to consider when you’re selecting your wedding musicians. Some couples even opt for a wedding music band for their ceremony tunes and switch to a Santa Barbara wedding DJ for the second half of their big day. The more music, the merrier!
What are the neighborhoods of Santa Barbara?
While many Santa Barbara weddings take place downtown, there are nearby venues that are just as ideal. Carpinteria, for example, is a beach community. Because of its small-town feel, most Carpinteria wedding venues cater to smaller or mid-sized parties. However, no matter the size of your guest list, you can likely find a Carpinteria wedding venue that will accommodate your party. This isn’t the only beautiful neighborhood in Santa Barbara, however. The Funk Zone has a Bohemian flair and appeals to free-spirited couples. It goes hand in hand with the vibe of Isla Vista.
If your price point allows you to prioritize your Santa Barbara wedding venue location, head to Mission Canyon for gorgeous views. The same is true for The Mesa. Surprisingly, the American Riviera is a mixed bag when it comes to costs and venues. Upscale and elegant Santa Barbara weddings typically take place in luxurious Montecito wedding venues. There, you have a good chance of rubbing elbows with celebrities. Of course, a wedding bash in Montecito is on the higher end of the cost spectrum.
Santa Barbara has plenty of gorgeous neighborhoods. Most are either adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, or just a stone’s throw away. If you’re looking for a Santa Barbara beachfront hotel, you can certainly find that in one of the city’s gorgeous neighborhoods.
What are some fun things to do in Santa Barbara?
You’ll be happy to hear that this coastal Californian city boasts an array of fun things to do. If you’re unfamiliar with the area and you’re looking for fun things to do in Santa Barbara, ask the concierge at your hotel what locals recommend. If you’re planning a destination wedding in the city, include a list of things to do in Santa Barbara to help your guests feel right at home.
Include on your wedding website or welcome stationery for your guests that a visit to the Zoo is a fantastic experience. A leisurely stroll through the Botanic Gardens in the afternoon or a morning walk across the Santa Barbara vineyards are other wonderful ways to explore the area while reconnecting with nature. There are also opportunities for hiking, biking, sea kayaking along the beaches, and horseback riding. Golf is always a possibility, as is a walk through the arts district. In addition, you could suggest guests explore the many Santa Barbara neighborhoods.
If you want to include a local excursion for your guests as part of your wedding weekend’s events, be sure to factor that expense into your Santa Barbara wedding cost. One of the elements that make weddings in Santa Barbara so much fun is the opportunity to explore the city with friends and family members. Your wedding party will create unforgettable memories together.
Are there many Santa Barbara celebrity weddings?
One of the reasons that Santa Barbara weddings could have a higher price tag is because many Hollywood big names see the city as their playground.
In addition, many celebrities have tied the knot along the coast of California. Santa Barbara celebrity weddings include Chris Pratt & Katherine Schwarzenegger, Gwyneth Paltrow & Chris Martin, and Fergie & Josh Duhamel, to name a few. And Oprah lives in Montecito, making her one of the Santa Barbara celebrities you might just run into when shopping or eating out.
Want to look and feel like a celebrity yourself? Your Santa Barbara wedding photographer is your personal paparazzi on your wedding day, so you’re halfway there!
How do you get to Santa Barbara?
Yet another reason why the American Riviera appeals to many couples is the ease of getting there. The Santa Barbara Airport is just seven miles west of downtown, which makes reaching Santa Barbara wedding venues a snap. Alaska, American, Southwest, and United can bring guests to your wedding in Santa Barbara.
International guests heading for Santa Barbara weddings will likely fly into LAX in Los Angeles. From there, it will take them about 90 minutes by car to reach the American Riviera.
Ready to make your Santa Barbara wedding dreams a reality? Our local directory can help you find the vendors necessary to make it happen. Peruse pictures of real couples who said “I do” in the American Riviera, and get inspiration for how you can make your Santa Barbara wedding stand out!