California Wedding Venues // Best Locations for Gorgeous Wedding Photos

Allison and Spencer envisioned garden party vibes with skyline views for their wedding day, so this downtown winery offered the perfect ambiance for the occasion. Even though there was no rain in the forecast, it poured buckets of luck on their wedding day. The rain lasted just long enough to get their movie-worthy shots of umbrella kisses. Then, the skies parted just in time for their al fresco garden ceremony. (I always pack extra photogenic umbrellas just in case Mother Nature decides to throw a curveball like this.) But, the unexpected shower left us with a gorgeous glistening glow—no filter needed! The air was clean and fresh, and we couldn’t have hoped for a more stunning backdrop! If you’re on the hunt for the most beautiful California wedding venues, I’ve got some tips and recommendations for you!

Which California Wedding Venue is Right for YOU?

The key to getting gorgeous images on your wedding day finding the perfect locations for photos—and not just for couple’s portraits. With photogenic locations, you don’t have to worry so much about walking around to find the right lighting or best angles. Your photos look great no matter where you are. You can relax, enjoy, and do your thing while I work my magic with the camera.

As an added bonus, wedding venues with built-in photogenic backdrops mean less work in the design department. Let the natural ambiance shine through for warm, authentic photos all day long.

But it’s not just about the ceremony. Consider the locations for all your biggest moments—from getting ready portraits to newlywed sendoff. Allison and Spencer did a fantastic job of picking romantic spots to enjoy every part of their day to the fullest. Finding the right locations will elevate your overall wedding experience, and you’ll get those gorgeous heirloom images, too! Often, a picturesque farm or vineyard will check all the boxes and deliver a dreamy backdrop for the entire day.

Here are some location tips to consider for your wedding day:

Where will your wedding party get ready?

loved the hotel Allison and Spencer chose for getting ready—The Ambassador. While warm, rich colors may feel luxurious, that’s not always best for photos. This hotel featured minimalist design with neutral colors that great for photos—very modern and chic. No matter your style and personality, a neutral canvas and extra windows to let in natural light will help you get those perfect getting ready photos. A blank, bright canvas will allow us to focus more on the details and personal connections more than distracting hotel décor.

Where do you want to take first look, wedding party, and couple’s portraits?

If you aren’t at an outdoor venue like a farm or vineyard, find a hotel with an epic roof for wedding party shots or a first look! A roof or cool lobby space (or beautiful outdoor space if you go the Airbnb route) is so important! Allison and Spencer opted for photos around the city, which fit their personality so well!

How can you elevate your ceremony backdrop?

Set the stage for the most romantic first kiss! If you want exceptional ceremony portraits, try for a space with as much natural light as possible (but without direct sunlight if possible). For fall and spring weddings, I love the look of this winery’s garden area with all of the draping greenery and exposed brick. Typically, outdoor ceremonies work best for great photos.

It goes without saying that California offers some of the most romantic outdoor venues in the country (hence all the destination weddings). If you’re looking for some spectacular local farms and vineyards, you can’t go wrong with these outdoor California wedding venues:

Cielo Farms Malibu | Malibu, CA

CaliPaso Winery | Paso Robles, CA 

Randhawa Ranch | Temecula, CA

Milagro Farm Winery | Ramona, CA

Let’s get this party started! Don’t forget reception lighting.

The dance floor at this wedding was soooo epic. Some reception venues have very small dancefloors that are poorly lit, so consider that for your reception photos. You might look for a spacious venue with a large dancefloor and good lighting, or consider some uplighting for your reception venue.

Need More Recommendations for California Wedding Venues?

I’m happy to help! When you book your engagement and wedding photography, I’m happy to provide local vendor and venue recommendations as well! I’m passionate about all things wedding, and I’m here to help make sure your day is one for the books! 

Visit hannawalkowaik.com for more wedding resources!

Wedding Vendor Team

Hair | Karina with Three One Two Bridal
Makeup | Dani with Three One Two Bridal
Cake | Alliance Bakery
Floral | Victoria with Atmosphere Events Group
Caterer | City Winery
Ceremony Site | Emily Fitzgerald at City Winery  
Reception Site | City Winery
Music/DJ | Dustin Drase at Toast and Jam  
Brides Dress Designer + Shop | A&BE Bridal Shop
Grooms Suit Designer + Shop | Men’s Wearhouse
Invitations | Minted
Videographer | Ben with Whole Heart Video