Today we’re sharing how three of our brides, Taylor, Kate, and Jasmine, nailed the process of picking a wedding venue in Ventura County.
When you’re planning a wedding, it’s always on the brain, which is why we are so excited to announce a new column just for the engaged couple –
It’s called Advice from the Aisle, and the goal of it will be to hear from past couples about what they LOVED about their wedding, as well as ideas that you may not have thought of! Not just how to divvy up planning duties, but all of it–the emotional, the practical, the downright unique (especially the downright unique)! As Santa Barbara wedding photographers, we’ve spent the better part of the last decade capturing weddings large and small. We can totally offer plenty of advice but here’s the thing: there’s no better advice than from people who JUST got married, so we thought it would work best if we deployed the newlyweds to share their sage wisdom. We couldn’t think of a better way to start than by discussing venues because that’s typically one of the first items checked off the planning list.
Taylor: We searched high and low before settling on California State University, Channel Islands. The university had only done a handful of weddings, and it just felt so fresh and different from your typical full-packaged venue. We brought EVERYTHING in and had a team of people who created the perfect space.
We’ve had a lot of friends and family who attended CSUCI and had suggested getting married there as kind of a joke. We visited it at like 10PM on our own one night and knew that’s where we wanted to get married. We love the Spanish and California Mission style, and CSUCI encompassed it all while also having the creepy old Hotel California vibe (google Camarillo State Mental Hospital, and you’ll see what I mean)!
Kate: Other than the fact that it was ‘our’ wedding (which made it the MOST special), Collins Ranch was so unique and different. The property had all the elements of Ojai I had grown up loving. The road weaves through golden fields which lead up to a barn and the mountainside landscape had massive boulders sprinkled throughout. We loved the “open” barn feel where each side opened up with a spectacular view. You really felt like you were dining in nature but with the comfort of a nice seat and a well-dressed table!
The whole venue felt so familiar and dear to me, but it also had elements I had never really seen before which I loved!
Danny’s family and many of our guests were flying in from out of state, and a good number of them had never seen California before. From our ceremony at San Buenaventura Mission with the ocean breeze flowing through the tropical gardens to the golden chaparral mountainside of Collins Ranch, they got a taste of why we love California so much!
Jasmine: I already knew what criteria I had in mind for our perfect venue: on-site ceremony and reception accommodations, PARKING, vendor flexibility, restrooms, electricity… just to name a few. I mentioned obvious ones like potties and power because you’d be surprised that some really beautiful venues require that you bring in your own generators and mobile restrooms. I wanted everything to be easy access, not only for our guests but for setup and strike. I researched a few cute places in LA, then did some Google mapping and discovered they were on very busy streets with nightmare parking.
I probably emailed a little less than a dozen venues requesting availability and more information. Some were great but outside of our budget or had a fixed vendor list, and some didn’t even respond at all. That was a big bummer, especially coming from the industry and knowing how important it is to make those client connections even if it doesn’t work out in the end.
Once I found Topa Mountain Winery on Instagram and saw how gorgeous it was, I quickly began my research. TMW Event Coordinator, Sonia, was on it from my very first inquiry email. She was always quick to respond via email, phone, and even text! I was so impressed and immediately felt a sense of calm from her stellar communication.
The venue was out of budget for us for a weekend date (even a Thursday), but once she broke down pricing for their alternate dates (when the winery is normally closed) I eagerly requested a tour. Same incredible venue and accommodations for a fraction of the price? SIGN ME UP!
Both sets of our parents joined my fiancé and me for the tour, and we all fell in love. TMW was the only venue we visited and we put down a deposit the same day – it just felt RIGHT. It checked off every one of my boxes and exceeded all, and I mean ALL, of our expectations on the big day. Literally every inch of that place is a photo op, with Ojai’s famous pink moment as the backdrop. Even though the winery was pretty local to a lot of our guests, most had never been and raved about it all night – even days later!
I’m so excited to visit the winery on anniversaries, or whenever really, and open a bottle with my now-husband. Topa Mountain Winery couldn’t have been more perfect for us, and we will treasure it forever.
A big thank you to these brides for sharing their process in picking a wedding venue in Ventura County! Want to see more from these beautiful wedding days? Kate’s wedding at Collins Ranch in Ojai was featured on Grey Likes Weddings, Jasmine’s Topa Mountain Winery Wedding was featured over at The Wedding Standard, and Taylor’s wedding at CSUCI is showcased on 100 Layer Cake.