Once beacons for early explorers to navigate their way through the forested lands of Northern California, the redwoods in Redwood National Forest aren’t only beautiful, they also represent thousands of years of life and natural prosperity. Standing beneath the beauty of these enormous creatures, a destination wedding among the redwoods allows couples to usurp the overwhelming emotion of time standing still and infuse that energy and harmony into their ceremony.
For couples that are blending religious traditions or want to avoid the religious aspect of the wedding altogether, the Redwood National Forest harbors a canopy of life where all people no matter origin, background, or spiritual preference can gather and admire nature’s most precious resources.
1. Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
Three-fourths of a mile from the park entrance, Armstrong Redwoods Reserve in Guerneville sees much less foot traffic than other parts of the park and lends itself to a quieter and much more private ceremony. Accommodating up to 150 people and 40 vehicles in their picnic area, this space is perfect for casual couples who want a rustic affair. Seating and facilities are provided for your guests, but there will be no linens or touch-operated faucets. Instead, picnic tables and park bathrooms abound.
For an after-wedding treat, there are dozens of easy walking trails which are perfect for photographs and reflection. This can be a fun way to show off the redwoods to those who may have never had the pleasure of seeing them in person. If you choose Armstrong Redwoods, there is no amplified music allowed, so opt to bring in acoustic instruments for the wedding music. Besides, strings and percussion are so much more fitting in this environment.
2. Pema Osel Ling
If you want to get married in the woods but don’t like the idea of picnic tables and dirt floors, the Amphitheatre of the Redwoods at Pema Osel Ling is a Buddhist retreat in the Santa Cruz mountains perfect for you. With theater-style seating, a raised platform, and an incredible redwood backdrop, couples can have a wedding in this amazing portion of nature without having to get their hands dirty.
Logistically, this site is surprisingly affordable and their alcohol policy requires no corkage fee for outside wine brought in. While you can’t have music past 11 pm, guests can snag one of the shared cabins on the 24 campsites surrounding the location to keep the party going into the wee hours of the night.
Large and easily customizable, you can plan a destination wedding of up to 400 guests here if you so wish. Also, since it is a retreat, you can easily get the event catered. If you want the convenience of the outside world and the enchantment of the Redwood National Forest, this blend is perfection.
3. University of California at Berkeley Botanical Garden
This botanical garden itself is stunning, but only the amphitheater can hold up to 130 guests situated in the heart of the redwoods. Seemingly etched into the earth with floating benches and a solid stone altar for nuptials, this location is perfect for an outdoor or indoor wedding (they have several gardens and terraces to choose from). While there is a by-the-hour rental fee, the garden itself has preferred caterers which make planning your dinner easier. A very well-maintained area and accessible, this option makes sense for anyone who wants to take the guesswork out of a national park wedding.