Wedding Venue Search: Orange County

We’ve been engaged for almost three years. Since 2007, Kathy has done a lot of research, and we even checked out a site in Malibu once, but today we officially started our search for a wedding venue.

There are so many things to do when you are planning a wedding. There’s food, cake, music, flowers, photographers, dresses, tuxes, invitations, rings … it’s scary! We didn’t want planning our wedding to be stressful, so we are working with an event planner/caterer.

Shannon is awesome — we just tell her what we want and she takes care of all the details. When we first met with Shannon, she asked us what we imagined our wedding would be like. Our ideal wedding would be outdoors with a beach or garden view. Nothing too big and flashy — small and intimate with our close friends and family. We wanted to be married in Southern California, since we’ve been here our whole lives. With this vision (and our budget) in mind, Shannon created a list of venues for us to consider. After we narrowed down the list a bit, we scheduled a day with Shannon so she could show us locations in Orange County.

We started the day with brunch at a crêperie across the street from San Clemente beach.


Then we met up with Shannon and she took us to a couple of wedding venues.

The first venue was the San Clemente Historic Cottage. The cottage and the ocean view were beautiful, but we weren’t allowed inside.


When our guide took us around back where the wedding would be, we were less excited.


Given how small the place was, and the rather long list of restrictions that our guide gave us, we quickly moved on to the next site, Casa Romantica.


We really liked this venue— it was one of our favorites in Orange County. Unfortunately, while there was a lot of space, the space was broken up into lots of different areas. Setting up a ceremony and reception for 100 was going to be tight. The photo above shows the beautiful ocean view, but we weren’t sure how we were going to fit everyone on the patio. The reception posed a similar problem — they had a courtyard and a large inside room, but both had a fountain in the middle.

The next site on our list was the Forster Mansion. The gate and the front yard were pretty (there are pictures on their web site), but the mansion was on a busy street, so there was a lot of noise from the traffic, and the back yard was more of a driveway than anything else. Other couples had apparently put up a big tent back there for their reception, but we weren’t really interested in having a tent — we wanted an outdoor wedding.

On the plus side, they did allow use of the mansion, and there was a really neat underground room with a full bar.


The last site we looked at was Soka University. The idea was to have the wedding at the Athenaeum garden, which sits behind a beautiful courtyard and building. (The second photo of the garden doesn’t do it justice.)

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We were amazed at how quiet the garden was. There was almost no noise at all, except for some birds singing. Together with the patio of the building, we thought we had the perfect location, but we later found out that Soka does not allow the reception to be held at the garden— we’d have to have it at the art gallery on the other side of campus.


While the art gallery was a neat building, we didn’t feel like it had the right “vibe”. The echoing white walls didn’t feel intimate. In fact, it reminded us a lot of a high school dance.

So at the end of the day, we went back home to re-consider our list.

Moms’ Birthdays

Oddly enough, both Kathy’s mom and my mom have the same birthday. We usually celebrate separately, but with the new decade comes new traditions — we celebrated together this year. Happy birthday, mom!

New Year’s

It’s a new decade! And just like last year, we spent new year’s with our high school friends.