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Wedding help for grad student in Bay Area

Hello friends.

I am a graduate student and so is my soon-to-be Husband. We are looking for an outdoor wedding venue and restaurant for our ceremony and reception. Both of us are transplants from the south and still need help knowing all the beautiful places around the bay area. But we are on a budget, and this is tough. Does anyone know of a location outdoors for late July that would be a little warmer than usual SF summer weather? and what do you recommend for cheap but awesome food/ reception sites? Now, when I say budget, I mean budget!! But I'm a do-it-yourself kind of girl so things will be cute, trendy, and perfect no matter what! Let me know what you guys think. Thanks!

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  1. Please, before we get started, tell us what your grad student budget is. The last one's was $50,000.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wolfe

      LOL. I was reminded of that thread, too.

      If you want warmer weather you have to balance distance vs. convenience, since the farther from SF proper you get the warmer is it likely to be. Where are you based? Where are your guests going to be based? How close do you need the wedding venue and the restaurant to be?

      BTW, if you really want a budget and are a do-it-yourself girl, then maybe consider one of the East Bay Regional parks for a picnic. Alternatively the Oakland Parks and Rec has some really nice venues that are reasonably priced and where you could save money by doing the decorating/clean-up yourself (or your friends), hiring a caterer and maybe supplying your own alcohol.

    2. Pier 23.

      Pier 23 Cafe
      The Embarcadero and Union St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      2 Replies
      1. re: steve h.

        "A little warmer than the usual SF summer weather."?

        1. re: wally

          It's on the water (absolutely stunning views out back), there's protection from the elements (I was there for a mighty storm that resulted in a double rainbow) and heat lamps are available.

          It's interesting. For a humble place, they sure do a lot of receptions at a very reasonable price point. Warm in June, in the Bay Area, requires assistance. Pier 23 does a good job. Who knows, they might even have some insight into a band?

          Pier 23 Cafe
          The Embarcadero and Union St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      2. If you are on a budget, want something outdoors, look into having your wedding at a park or a non-profit's garden.

        I attended a wedding this past October in a city park (but in Toronto), the building was a vine covered (gorgeous for the autumn wedding) tudor style house in a deep ravine (it's usuall a summer camp ground). The advantage of the wedding at the city park, no restrictions on the caterers/vendors. My friend's family did all the food, setup, planning.

        not sure where in the bay area you are, but here are some ideas:

        Fort Mason chapel http://home.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisi...

        Berkeley's Botanical Gardens http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/r...

        South Bay
        Hakone Gardens http://hakone.com

        SJ parks http://www.sjparks.org/weddings/

        1. You need to be very clear about what regions are reasonable, how big the party is expected to be, and what your actual budget is.

          The east bay south of Emeryville is usually fog-free and clear, as is dogpatch and points south along the inland area.

          1. I attended a beautiful wedding in one of the Tilden Park picnic areas (in the hills above Berkeley), but July makes things tricky. Often the fog burns off, but this past July we barely saw the sun all month. Picnic areas in parks in the hills further south (Joachim Miller, Redwood) are probably a better bet. The landscape up there is idyllic, with tall redwoods and cedars and grassy green picnic clearings.

            The wedding was wonderfully catered by the folks at Rick and Ann's in Berkeley, with imaginitive finger-foods. A full meal might be more challenging for a picnic area.

            1. Stern Grove in SF is a great low cost place for weddiing, reception etc. Contact city 's Park and Rec to reserve , do early . Very lovely and in a redwood grove with access to house. Have it catered or do yourself. You can do both wed and rec here.......parking onsite. Casual but very nice and very SF. It is sheltered and includes use of indoor two story house. 415.831.5500
              Ive been to weddings, receptions, charity affaires many times thru the years. It seems to be over looked by the mainstream but city workers in the know make good use of this wonderful spot . Very easy to get to and private.
              While your at it ask city what other spots available....I think some within the Presidio are available.

              4 Replies
              1. re: celeryroot

                Except Stern Grove is in one of the coldest parts of the city, and the Presidio isn't much better. Really, if you want to be sure you're not going to freeze, you need to go East, North or South.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  It is in a redwood grove and very sheltered. Ive been their . Have you?

                  1. re: celeryroot

                    Trees don't shelter you from fog. If the OP hadn't specifically requested "a little warmer than usual SF summer weather" then I'd agree with you.

                    1. re: celeryroot

                      I was in a wedding there this summer, in late June. Everyone dressed a little warmly, women had wraps, there was a moderate amount of fog but in a dramatic way. Although trees don't shelter you from fog, it was colder out on Sloat where the wind was whipping by - it's the wind that really chills you out there. Very nice wedding. Catered by the House of Nanking catering guys, whatever their name is, with a soju bar (ug). The food was decent.

                      From what I heard from another friend, though, it's not super cheap. Cheap is a very relative term. There are a lot of gorgeous places to get married that require nothing more than a picknick table reservation, then there are the few-thousand-bucks places, and upward. It's important to get a grip on the catering rules, as some places require you to use caterers from their approved list, or similar.

                      House of Nanking
                      919 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                2. We got married in Golden Gate Park's Shakespeare Garden in October. It was a bit cold but still lovely. A friend of ours also got married in GGP but in the Rose Garden. Both are fairly affordable options. Their prices are on the SF parks website.

                  Depending on the number of guests you are expecting, renting out a restaurant might be a good option since they may not charge any rental fee and only expect you to spend a certain amount.

                  1. Which school(s) are you and your fiancé attending? Universities often have charming venues available.

                    The peninsula, south of the airport, usually has warmer, less foggy weather than the city. Palo Alto has a couple of small, lovely parks. And the San Mateo Central Park. If your budget allows, there's always the beautiful Kohl Mansion in Burlingame.

                    (Sorry, but I seem to have trouble getting the links right.)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: pilinut

                      Kohl Mansion is stunning, and a wonderful place to have a wedding (I was in a wedding there this summer) but it's not cheap. The recommendations for East or South of SF are good ones, I've been to beautiful weddings and other events in some of the East Bay Regional Parks, so you could check into those and see which ones you could reserve.

                      1. re: pilinut

                        UC Berkeley rents out it's Faculty Club, which includes the nearby grassy knoll (Faculty Glade) for outdoor ceremonies. UC botanical garden and nearby Tilden park are also good options. They were pretty reasonably priced when we were looking years ago but not sure about recently.

                        1. I did not attend but a friend raved about a small wedding she attended at the Berkeley Rose Garden. It's a city park.