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Santa Barbara wedding reception

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Can anyone help?? I'm struggling to find a restaurant in Santa Barbara or Goleta for my wedding *reception* dinner. We're doing a small wedding on a tight budget; however, we're spending money on photography and food, as both are important to us.

We've talked to a number of places and it's been interestingly challenging to find places that can handle 25-30 people, allow them to stay a few hours (because this is a reception, not a rehearsal, and our family would like to linger), and have dessert (cupcakes) brought in -- while still being affordable.

Dessert issues: one restaurant actually told us flat out, NO, nothing can be brought in -- which was sad and caused us to strike it off our list. We just want to bring in cupcakes and no service would be required! I'll even give the staff some cupcakes for being good sports...

Some of the restaurants we've liked and could handle us require buy-outs of space or the whole restaurant, which have costs way beyond our budget. $60/head PLUS alcohol costs PLUS tax and tip PLUS a room buy-out of a couple thousand is just not workable. Our wedding is on a Friday and I totally understand that Friday is a tough night for restaurants, but in light of that I'm struggling!

If any Santa Barbarians have advice or suggestions, I'd really appreciate it!

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  1. Check out Blue Agave, my friend had her reception there. They will work with a budget and give you half the upstairs, next to the awesome fireplace. I especially love their margaritas, but great food too.

    1. We had ours at Stella Mare, I can't imagine it was that expensive. My parents are VERY thrifty. Pretty room. We had a good time.

      1. El Paseo is getting a good reputation for budget friendly receptions in a very romantic and historic spot. http://santabarbara.com/dining/review...