Wedding Guide

Published by 2024-2025 FREE Best of Monterey Bay® Wedding Guide

MONTEREY’S LUXURY OCEAN FRONT HOTEL 750 Cannery Row Monterey, CA 93940 (located next door to the Monterey Bay Aquarium) • Wedding ceremonies are staged on an expansive landscaped courtyard facing the sapphire-blue waters of the bay with magnificent panoramic coastal views accommodating up to 250 guests. • Two fire pits provide an ambient glow, particularly romantic at sunset. • Couples say their vows with the bay in the background, while sea birds trace graceful curves on the horizon and otters and sea lions perch atop the rocky shore. • Two ocean front ballrooms providing seating for 50 to 225 guests. • 208 guestrooms & suites, The Spa, Fitness Room, Pool & Whirlpool along with ocean front dining and award winning cuisine in the C restaurant + bar. InterContinental The Clement Monterey was designed as a serene coastal retreat for personal rejuvenation and spectacular private celebrations. Call our Wedding Coordinator for a personal tour at 831.375.4500 Wedding ceremonies are staged on an expansive landscaped courtyard facing the sapphireblue waters of the bay with magnificent panoramic coastal views accommodating up to 250 guests. InterContinental The Clement Monterey was designed as a serene coastal retreat for personal rejuvenation and spectacular private celebrations. Call our Catering Coordinator for additional information (831) 642-2009 an expansive landscaped courtyard facing the sapphire-blue waters of the bay with magnificent panoramic coastal views accommodating up to 220 guests. • Two fire pits provide an ambient glow, particularly romantic at sunset. • Couples say their vows with the bay in the background, while sea birds trace graceful curves on the horizon and otters and sea lions can be seen in the water. • Two ocean view ballrooms providing seating for 50 to 220 guests. Fitness Room, Pool & Whirlpool along with ocean front dining and award winning cuisine in the C restaurant +bar.

REFRESHINGLY CLASSIC 400 Cannery Row, Monterey Something Blue Begin your journey together at the centerpiece of Monterey Bay. Elegant architecture, exceptional cuisine and unparalleled views set the stage for a day you and your guests will remember forever. To plan an appointment:

For Beautiful Weddings All Year Round In The Monterey Conference Center is the perfect location for that classic yet modern couple. The venue is located just steps away from the waterfront and charming historic Downtown Monterey. Book your wedding day at or call (831) 646-3770. One Portola Plaza, Downtown Monterey Monterey


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If you want an unforgettable wedding, we suggest an unforgettable venue. We understand the importance of a first impression, whether it’s from sitting in the middle of a lush vineyard or entering a grandeur restaurant with 40 feet ceilings. Folktale Winery offers a Provence style ambiance with multiple venues in the warm sun of Carmel Valley. Seventh & Dolores, an architectural landmark in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea, brings sophistication and elegance to your special day. Contact our dedicated event team to learn more. or BEST SPECIAL EVENT VENUE SMART MEETINGS JAMES BEARD FEATURED CHEFS #1 REASON TO VISIT MONTERY SAN FRANCISCO CRONICLE BEST WINERY TO VISIT MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY CALIFORNIA WINERY OF THE YEAR CALIFORNIA TRAVEL ASSOCIATION

Contents Congratulations! You’ve already done the hardest part of getting married— finding the love of your life and agreeing to make a lifelong commitment. Now it’s onto the details, and perhaps your first serious test of your communication skills and the compatibility of your organizational styles. The good news is that you’ve already chosen Monterey County as a place to get married, so you can’t lose no matter how the details unfold. Whether your budget (and taste) calls for an upscale resort or a public park on a rocky promontory or grassy field, the places are magnificent and memorable. The hospitality community here is eager to serve you, from catering to dress fitting to planning. Some of the services, trends and ideas are included in this guide, which starts with a helpful calendar of how to think about planning. Mostly, this time in your life is an invitation to dream. Do you want an intimate gathering or a big blowout? Do you want a multi-day adventure or short and sweet? Spirituality or levity? Like your marriage, your wedding is yours to craft uniquely for the two of you. Enjoy the journey—and congratulations. -sara rubin 14 fashion forWard 22 guesT LisT 28 on The Menu 30 sCeniC Venues Founder & CEO Bradley Zeve Publisher Erik Cushman Editor Sara Rubin Art Director/Production Manager Karen Loutzenheiser Contributing Writers and Copy Editors Erik Chalhoub, Dave Faries, Celia Jiménez, Pam Marino, Agata Popeda, Sara Rubin, Walter Ryce, David Schmalz Photographers Evynn LeValley, Ryan Chard Smith, Michael Dadula Graphic Designers Alexis Estrada, Lani Headley, Kevin Jewell Advertising Keith Bruecker, Diane Glim, George Kassal Business Development Director Keely Richter Cover Photo Ryan Chard Smith The Best of Monterey Bay® is published by Milestone Communications, Inc., a California corporation. The entire contents are copyright 2024. No portion may be reproduced. 831-394-5656. MICHAEL DADULA 12 The Best of Monterey Bay ® Wedding Guide 2024-2025 LAYERS CAKES 9 Soledad Drive, Monterey 831-655-1544 | SENSATIONAL Layers_1-2h_WG24_GK.indd 1 2/21/24 12:58 PM

(831) 622 5461 Photo by Danny Dong (831) 622 5461 Photo by Danny Dong

14 The Best of Monterey Bay ® Wedding Guide 2024-2025 Evynn LeValley Photography Fashion Michael Dadula Some brides bring a lifelong dream of their perfect dress, down to the details, to their engagement. Some bring a blank slate and have no idea where to start. Wherever you are on that spectrum, specialists at bridal boutiques and tailors can help develop a concept from scratch, or dial in the details for fit and comfort. Ericka Engelman is mostly a seamstress, but she’s also part counselor—listening to what a bride (or the mother of a bride or a groom) hopes to feel like and look like on the big day, then channeling that into what is possible within the constraints of fabric, zippers, buttons and such. “We all have a different idea of what we want and what we look like. I’m not here to change that, just here to make that happen,” Engelman says. “I just have to figure out a way to make the dress you’ve given to me into that ideal in your brain.” Her business, Ericka Engelman Couture, is about 60/40 alterations/ custom-made dresses. She works out of the modest living room in her home south of Salinas, a setting that belies the ornate designs and ball gowns that are growing in popularity these days; Fashion Forward Wedding style takes a turn away from simple. It’s time to embrace big, fabulous dresses. By Sara Rubin Evynn LeValley Photography


don’t be surprised if a cat wanders in during your fitting. “What I have seen is that people are going for the all-out, ball gown fantasy again,” Engelman says. “I am talking hoop skirts, trains that are 12 feet long. I need to move all the furniture in the studio to even get these dresses in.” There’s data to prove it: For one recent dress, the hoops alone weighed in at seven pounds. “That’s just the hoops,” Engelman adds for emphasis. In many ways, the change in fashion reflects the change in weddings themselves. And a lot of that parallels the pandemic—from an era of tiny weddings or Zoom weddings, there is an opportunity again to get people together in large numbers and make weddings that feature a series of events over multiple days. “It seems like weddings have gone fantasy too,” Engelman points out. “Some people get married at Disneyland in the castle. We’ve gone from keeping things simple and elegant and sleek to, ‘We are going full in, let’s do it all!’” Doing it all when it comes to the dress often means ornate (see trains and hoops, above). But that of course is not practical for the variety of a multi-day event, so brides often request multiple outfits. There are mix-and-match configurations—a lacy top, for instance, that might pair with an elegant skirt for the ceremony, then pants for a dance party. The multi-outfit concept also holds true at Magnolia Monterey Bridal, located on Cannery Row. Owner Tina Fashion MICHAEL DADULA RYAN CHARD SMITH 16 The Best of Monterey Bay ® Wedding Guide 2024-2025 ElkhornSlough_1-3h_WG24_KB.indd 1 2/22/24 2:50 PM

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Chang says dresses with detachable items—sleeves or overskirts—are popular this year. “It gives a second look,” she says. “It looks like a different dress.” A bride may walk down the aisle with one look, then remove the sleeves and overskirt after the ceremony for more of a party vibe. Or brides will shop for a second outfit altogether. “The second dress may not be as extravagant,” Chang says. “Something that is short, easier to party and dance in.” Some old traditions remain ever-popular. Chang sees a lot of brides who walk in certain they don’t want a veil; then they try one on, and change their mind. Chantilly lace is coming back, and “crepe satin is a staple that is never going to go out of trend.” A-lines are always a go-to, as are plunging necklines—but necklines are rising, with halter tops and square necklines growing in popularity. Ultimately the look depends on the venue— beach weddings or winery weddings tend toward less ornate, while cathedral weddings might be better suited to more of a gown. For bride or groom, fashion is increasingly about celebrating what makes a person feel good. A trend for all genders is perhaps a reflection of the body positivity movement—instead of baggy clothes that hide someone’s shape, a suit reveals it. Men’s fashion continues on a trajectory away from tuxedos to suits, and slimmer-fitting suits. “They want to show they have arms and thighs,” Engelman says. “The brides do, too.” As far as color, there’s not much variation, even in suits. Of course there is flair to be found in ties, boutonnieres and even socks. (On The Beach Surf Shop in Monterey reports they’ve sold their brashly colored socks to grooms, and even entire wedding parties. They carry socks with geometric shapes in neon, a pattern of shaka signs and orange birds of paradise on a black background, among others.) “Men are having more fun with fashion,” Engelman says. “They’re not just stuck in one look.” That is a trend unto itself—the idea of not being stuck in one look. The idea of matching dresses for a bridal Fashion RYAN CHARD SMITH 18 THE BEST OF MONTEREY BAY ® WEDDING GUIDE 2024-2025 201 Alvarado Street • Monterey Complimentary parking at the Portola Hotel and Spa 647-9000 • Spa on the Plaza WE CUSTOMIZE OUR PACKAGES TO FIT YOUR BRIDAL PARTY’S NEEDS WE CAN ACCOMMODATE GROUPS LARGE OR SMALL and add happiness and relaxation to your wedding experience. A PRIVATE MEETING ROOM intimate and luxurious we CuStoMize our PACkAgeS to fit your bridAl PArty’S needS we CAn ACCoMModAte grouPS lArge or SMAll A Privite Meeting rooM SPA dAy for your bACHelorette or bachelor party The Best Spa For Your Wedding Party In Monterey County ’19 Voted Best spa for skin Care SPA DAY FOR YOUR BACHELORETTE The Best Spa For Your Wedding Party In Monterey County ’23 VOTED BEST SPA FOR SKIN CARE spa-plaza_1-3v_WG24_gk.indd 1 2/21/24 1:48 PM

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party is out, and instead brides are more typically selecting a color, then inviting their bridal party to choose what feels flattering to their own body, not to mention comfortable, within that. The photo lineup of women in perfectly matching dresses and perfectly matching shoes is out. Some couples choose unique styles or a bit of flair that captures them— think roller skates on the dance floor, or custom sneakers. And for some brides, a dress represents something bigger than just a piece of fashion. Maybe it’s mom’s old dress from 40 years ago, chopped up and reassembled, transforming an outdated high, modest neckline into an elegant scoopneck. Or in the case of Liz Gogliucci (formerly Gheen) from Salinas, it’s a lace tablecloth that Engelman transformed into a magnificent, flowy dress for a wedding just a few months ago. “I wanted something more vintage that looks like it was passed down from your grandmother,” Gogliucci says. Engelman found a handmade lace tablecloth for Gogliucci’s dress, and the bride loved it. She ended up with a matching flower girl dress for her niece, both in elegant, flowing tablecloths-turned-dresses. For Engelman, it’s an art form— finding the blend of challenging, interesting and fun. “I like to play in the fantasy,” she says. EVYNN LEVALLEY PHOTOGRAPHY Fashion MICHAEL DADULA 20 THE BEST OF MONTEREY BAY ® WEDDING GUIDE 2024-2025 Beautiful wedding attire and perfect accessories to complement the special day. Jewelry, Purses, Scarves & Gifts 211 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove Across from Grove Market 831-655-2422 • @victoriuspg Accessorize! Victorius_1-3s_WG23_dg.indd 1 2/16/23 9:56 AM (831) 624-7404 Your unique, momentous occasion requires our special touch... Traditional, Non-Traditional including Interfaith, spiritual or secular ceremonies LGBTQ+ Friendly In our forested sanctuary or location of your choice UUCMP_1-6v_WG24_kpr.indd 1 2/23/24 10:30 AM

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22 The Best of Monterey Bay ® Wedding Guide 2024-2025 Guests Michael Dadula Most wedding guests are blessings, some are dang near liabilities, but they are all there to witness your union. It’s helpful to know what you might expect of these folks, and how to handle them if they are not living up to their best wedding guest selves. The Scene Stealer They give long, self-referential toasts. They dance like everyone’s watching. They angle for prominent placement in photos. Your wedding is your day, but the Scene Stealer sure doesn’t act like it. How to handle They may not even be aware they’re hogging the spotlight, so someone should discreetly inform them. If that’s not enough, it may take a more conspicuous public warning. Send your fixer to do it. The Fixer Usually this is someone in the wedding party, but not always. This is your go-to, your soldier, the person who will drive elderly relatives to the reception to make sure they get there, or snatch a mic from someone about to say something unworthy of the occasion. How to handle Identify your fixers and keep them close so you can whisper your instructions in their ear. Old World Uncle He’s from the Old World, be it Italy, Korea, Chad or Alabama. He’s not young enough to be down with your crew, but not so elderly to be content to quietly watch the proceedings. And he shares his opinions—loudly—like how, in the good ol’ days, women weren’t so liberated like they are now. The Gathering A guide to various types of wedding guests, and how to get the best out of them. By Walter Ryce 23 We Have A Steak In Your Future steaks, prime rib and seafood Dinner Reservations 831-373-3778 763 Wave St., Monterey • The Whaling Station Steakhouse offers private and semi private dining areas for groups of 8 to 50. Call us today to reserve, answer questions or to hear about easy menu packages ’23 Voted Best Steakhouse and Martini whaling-station_1-3s_WG24_gk.indd 1 2/21/24 1:50 PM Weddings & Events AT THE MUSEUM     PGMUSEUM.ORG A natural choice for your special day. A unique, affordable and flexible venue with indoor/ outdoor options. Plan for a small, intimate wedding in our scenic garden, or utilize the entire facility to accommodate up to 150 guests. Call us today to schedule a site visit. For more information, contact the Marketing & Events Coordinator at (831) 648-5716 x16. PGMuseum_1-6v_WG24_DG.indd 1 2/21/24 1:46 PM SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW, SOMETHING SCHEID, SOMETHING BLUE TOAST YOUR WEDDING IN STYLE WITH SCHEID’S ISABELLE SPARKLING Carmel-by-the-Sea San Carlos & 7th | 831.626.WINE (9463) Pouring from 11am Daily Estate Winery Tasting Room 1972 Hobson Ave., Greenfield | 831.386.0316 Pouring from 10am Daily SCHEIDVINEYARDS.COM Scheid_1-2h_WG24_kpr.indd 1 2/21/24 3:11 PM

How to handle He may just need a little public display of respect; feed him some compliments. If that doesn’t work, sic an even older relative on him. Uncle doesn’t want that beef. Problem Couple They seem fine—laughing and joking—then some trigger sets them on a different course, of bickering and arguing. And once that train gets going, the next stop is Embarrassment Junction. How to handle Assign two people in your wedding party to monitor them. At the sign of trouble, split them up until they cool down. The Mystery You or your betrothed can identify most of the people at your wedding. But who is that mysterious person? Who are they with? They’re keeping to themselves, but maybe they’re just shy. They greet you affectionately, but no one seems to know their name. How to handle Don’t trip. But if you’re the kind who obsesses on that kind of thing, ask them a leading question: “Are you a friend of my mom’s?” That should prompt them to divulge their connection. Cranky Elder If you are lucky, you have more than a few elders at your wedding. They’re wise. They’re a blessing. But they just can’t go and go like you can. They might start to get obstinate or irate. You want to respect them, but with cane in hand, they’re slowly starting to cross a line. How to handle Maybe they’d like to sit in a quiet room with tea and a friend. Maybe they want to get home to watch their shows. Give them a hug, and give them what they want. The Controller Some people need to control their environment. When that environment is your wedding, that can be a problem. If they’re in charge of any aspect of it, their attention to detail can be valuable, but their compulsiveness can lead to stress and tempers. How to handle If you have a controller in charge of anything, make sure they have plenty of helpers (teens or adolescents are game) so they don’t bear the burden themselves. If they’re not in charge of anything, remind them of that fact and offer them a drink. MICHAEL DADULA Guests 24 The Best of Monterey Bay ® Wedding Guide 2024-2025 CasaMunras_1-3h_WG24_GK.indd 1 2/21/24 12:52 PM 25 We Don't Do Bland We only Do Custom Meals to Match Your vision Get Authentic! Chef Tim Wood and his Team are Your Private Chefs Email today to start the conversation woodies_1-3s_WG24_KB.indd 1 2/23/24 11:58 AM Rental includes kitchen, ballroom, and studio, as well as full support from our friendly, helpful staff who are dedicated to making your special day a success! Learn more: Dining Capacity: Soper Community Center - 85 Laguna Grande Hall - 225 Spectacularly Affordable Venues ✦ ✦ ✦ Soper Community Center & Laguna Grande Hall ✦ Receptions ✦ ✦ Quinceñeras ✦ ✦ Babyshowers ✦ ✦ Special Events ✦ 986 Hilby Ave, Seaside 831-899-6800 city-seaside_1-3s_WG22_kb.indd 1 2/7/22 1:50 PM 471 WAVE STREET MONTEREY (831) 655-0264 P M Visit us for “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue” “ANTIQUE MALL OF THE YEAR” Professional Antique Mall Magazine ’23Voted Monterey County’s Best Antique Shop OVER 140 DEALERS 21,000 SQUARE FEET The Largest Antiques and Collectibles Mall on the Central Coast CR-antique_1-3v_WG24_GK.indd 1 2/21/24 12:53 PM

The Ex The who? Oh yeah, some people are liable to invite exes to their wedding. Maybe they’ve continued to be friends who care about each other’s well-being. No judgement. Unless it goes wrong. Then everyone will definitely judge. How to handle Don’t do it. But if you really want to, have a talk or two—you, your betrothed, and your ex—to make sure there are no issues lurking beneath the congenial surface. Let everyone else know that they’ll be there, and have an exit strategy ready. Get it? “Ex”-it strategy? Drinky McRuins Sober, they are the model of good form. Get a few drinks in them and… not so much. They get more gregarious, a sarcastic streak creeps into their comments, they get louder and more obnoxious. Next thing you know they’re knocking over drinks, yelling at the caterer, or worse. How to handle Slow down their access to alcohol and increase their intake of food. If they’re heading to full-on drunkville, cut them off. If all else fails, make sure they have a safe ride home and 86 them. The Anxiety Inducer They’ve got horror stories about weddings they’ve read about. If someone coughs, they suspect pneumonia. If anything can go wrong, they’ll discuss it. Because the Anxiety Inducer can’t contain their fears, it’s spilling over onto you. Now you’re wondering if the cake has been sitting out too long and is going to cause E. coli poisoning. How to handle Quarantine this person from your presence, and keep any conversations brief, before you hear about the time that a wedding candle caught fire to… whatever. Crazy Kids As you’re exchanging vows they exclaim, “This is boring!” They’ll horde three plates of cake at the same time. They run everywhere they go, and they stop by crashing into people. They are the ultimate disruptors. And that’s a good thing. How to handle Let yourself smile and laugh at their antics. Everyone else will too. Guests 26 THE BEST OF MONTEREY BAY ® WEDDING GUIDE 2024-2025 Gentlemen Prefer Cigars CIGARS CIGARETTES CUTTERS PIPES PIPE TOBACCO PUNCHES TORCHES OPEN 10AM–10PM 7 DAYS A WEEK 765 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey 831-645-9021 M I B Light Up Your Wedding PREMIUM CIGARS

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28 The Best of Monterey Bay ® Wedding Guide 2024-2025 Catering After three decades of catering some 30-40 weddings a year, Nancy Rohan of Paradise Catering in Carmel Valley can speak of change. Where a certain amount of formality was expected in the past, couples now sometimes call for a taco truck, a pizza truck—or both. At the same time, however, Rohan points out that meals served at receptions today still tend toward tradition. “For most of our weddings it’s beef and fish, 90 percent of the time,” she says. Those who keep watch of catering trends note that assumptions have eased over the past decade. It’s possible to find sushi bars or regional street foods, passed appetizers and—particularly—plant-based options at both rehearsal dinners and wedding receptions. But within these more casual offerings is an interest in nostalgia, including sit-down, white tablecloth multicourse meals. “Some people want stations,” Rohan says. Those stations may be interactive—building your own pasta plate, for example. “Family-style is very popular.” Family-style, where guests at a table serve themselves from trays brought to the table, is a way to share a sense of community. It is seen as a replacement for buffet service, which fell from favor in the wake of the pandemic. There are, however, two concerns that shape meal service at current weddings. One is a desire to reduce waste. Brandon Miller, chef and owner of the mobile kitchen Chef Brandon Miller and known for preparing authentic paellas—his pans and equipment are imported from Valencia— serves on biodegradable bamboo plates with bamboo utensils. And his preparation highlights another trend, for more interactive service. “It’s part cooking show,” observes Miller, who is more often booked for rehearsal dinners; his paellas can serve up to 80 people for full meals. “A lot of people take pictures. It’s a good crowd-pleaser.” Miller makes chorizo and stock from scratch and sources fish from boats plying Monterey Bay. He favors organic ingredients, whenever possible—and it’s usually possible in Monterey County. Local and seasonal dining is in demand. And that suits Paradise Catering, which has its own one-acre garden in Carmel Valley. For wedding parties, they are able to provide heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables just picked from the earth, when the season allows. “We try to do farm-to-table as much as we can,” Rohan explains. “It’s the way most of us want to eat.” Like Miller, they select seafood from local fishing boats. Produce is so local, she adds, “It comes from the backyard.” The biggest trend is variety. Just as couples are no longer bound to formal dinners—some even forego the wedding cake in favor of a dessert bar— there are caterers around to meet the range of requests. Casas de Humo Barbecue is a well-regarded mobile kitchen based in Salinas. R Truck dishes out Italian favorites and more. Roaming Feast provides for more dressy affairs. There are larger established operations, such as Golden Coast Event Planning, and new businesses of similar scale. Coastal Roots Hospitality, for instance, owns three very popular mid- and upscale restaurants in addition to the catering service. There are many other catering operations—and food trucks, and pop-up kitchens—covering Monterey County. So whether the desired menu calls for filet mignon, tacos al pastor or vegan empanadas, someone is ready to serve. In Season While many wedding receptions remain formal affairs, the trend is for more options. By Dave Faries Michael Dadula Michael Dadula

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30 The Best of Monterey Bay ® Wedding Guide 2024-2025 Evynn LeValley Photography Parks Once the very big decision is made of whether to get married, there come a number of other decisions, albeit not as big. One of the most important is: Where are we going to tie the knot? Of course, those who don’t want to make those decisions can always get married unceremoniously at a local city hall or perhaps a Las Vegas drive-thru, but most couples opt for at least a modicum of pomp and circumstance— something special, maybe small and intimate, but reflective of the love the couple shares. For those who don’t want to go big with expenses, and maybe the number of invitees, public parks are a great option. They’re in beautiful places, usually surrounded by nature, showcasing some of Monterey County’s highlights. They are extraordinary, and also more affordable than many alternatives. (One thing to be aware of is that these are public spaces. Depending on the park and the specifics of the venue, there may be other people walking by.) Monterey County has no shortage of such places, from South County’s San Lorenzo Park, a tree-filled gem along the Salinas River, and all the way north to Moss Landing State Beach, backed by rolling dunes. State Parks properties in historic downtown Monterey are an ever-popular option, thanks to elegant gardens and their proximity to hotels and restaurants, but so too is Monastery Beach, just north of Point Lobos and west of Highway 1. To each their own. The first thing a couple needs to figure out if they want to go that route is who has jurisdiction over the location of choice: a city, or a park district? From there, it’s just logistics, but timing is also important—if the ceremony is outside, there is weather to consider, of course. (Summer is often cold and foggy; some of the best weather is in Love Publicly Public parks in Monterey County can be a beautiful—and perhaps more affordable—option for a wedding day. By David Schmalz

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the fall, but there’s the possibility of wildfire smoke to be aware of.) There might also be other constraints, like if endangered snowy plovers are in their nesting season, which is the case for Marina State Beach, which is closed to weddings from March through September. Another thing to consider is whether a couple just wants a ceremony in a park, and perhaps a reception somewhere else. John Hiles, manager of State Parks’ Monterey sector, says that while beach weddings are popular—Monastery Beach is the most popular—State Parks doesn’t allow for receptions on the beach. For that, a couple needs to find another spot to gather and celebrate after the ceremony. But State Parks does have gems in downtown Monterey that can accommodate both. Kaitlyn Moreland, State Parks’ manager of events in Monterey’s historic downtown, says the Memory Garden is the most popular, in part because it allows for the most people, and also because the garden is planted in a variety where there’s always at least one type blooming on any day of the year in any season. Moreland adds that California’s First Theatre, which reopened in late 2023 after being closed for more than two decades, will also be available sometime soon for weddings, and one bonus is that it already has a built-in bar. Various city beaches and parks are also beloved wedding venues. Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove is a favorite for weddings of up to 100 people. The City of Monterey offers permits for weddings on Del Monte Beach. County parks are also popular spots, whether it be Jacks Peak or Toro Park, and Bryan Flores, who leads the county parks department, says people even get married at Laguna Seca Recreation Area—maybe it’s a car enthusiast thing, given that it’s home to the famous race track— and also at Lake San Antonio. San Lorenzo Park in King City is particularly popular, he says, perhaps at least in part because it has a kitchen caterers can utilize. And he maintains that, if one plans to get married in a park, there’s no better deal than the county. “None of [the other parks] have wedding packages like we do,” Flores says. Parks EVYNN LEVALLEY PHOTOGRAPHY MICHAEL DADULA 32 The Best of Monterey Bay ® Wedding Guide 2024-2025 LionverPsaPcioifinc tGrove Consistently Voted Best Place to Get Married in Monterey County The romantic City of Pacific Grove offers breathtaking coastal locations for wedding ceremonies at Lovers Point Park, Berwick Park and at the historic Point Pinos Lighthouse. Contact the Pacific Grove Recreation Dept. for reservations and permits. City of Pacific Grove Recreation (831) 648 - 3134 • 302 16th St., Pacific Grove PGRec_1-3h_WG23_dg.indd 1 2/14/23 3:26 PM

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