Small weddings have always been a great option, but COVID restrictions have forced many couples to re-examine their guest list and think small. Every year I have several clients that choose a more intimate celebration over a large bash and I always love them. So for all of you thinking of planning a smaller wedding this year, this is for you! I have compiled a list of awesome venues that are great for a smaller wedding.
If you want to get married in 2021 we all have to be realistic: planning a small wedding is going to be the reality for months to come. Honestly, most venues can be made perfect for a small wedding; it is all about how you design and use the space. One of the best parts about small weddings is, when done right, your budget will go much further towards making more memorable guest experiences.
This list is an extensive list of venues in the Monterey, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Pebble Beach and Big Sur area. Just an FYI, many of the venues in this list are amazing for both intimate weddings and larger weddings!
For the sake of ease I am defining the Monterey Peninsula as the City of Monterey, Seaside, Marina, Pacific Grove, and other smaller areas surrounding Monterey.
Sanctuary Beach Resort
This upscale luxury resort is located right on the sandy beach and dunes. It is ideal for couples that want 65 or less guests, a beach ceremony and great upscale food at the reception.
Monterey Beach House
Located on the main beach in Monterey, the Beach House is ideally located close to the heart of Downtown Monterey and the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf. This venue is ideal for couples looking for a beach ceremony and an indoor reception at a great price point.
The Barns At Cooper Molera
Located right in the heart of Downtown monterey this rustic and historic barn is perfect for the couple seeking a rustic yet elegant wedding in a convenient location. This barn offers really beautiful details and a private setting despite being in the heart of Monterey. Having a small wedding here is perfect as it offers plenty of options for indoor or outdoor spaces for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.
Sitting up the hill from downtown Monterey, the Perry house is a charming historic Victorian home with a fabulous ocean view. This property is really perfect for couples seeking old world historic charm. Perry House is ideal for 80 guests or less as the ceremony and reception generally take place in the same space.
Wave Street Studios
Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Cannery Row, this modern cafe/studio is located on the Recreational Trail that runs between Cannery Row and Wave Street. This is a great spot for couples looking for something more modern and not focused on nature. It is ideal for a small wedding of 50 people or less and can be a difficult space for catering, so small and simple is key here.
InterContinental The Clement Monterey
Located right on the historical Cannery Row and just steps from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Clement is an upscale, modern hotel that overlooks the crashing waves of the expansive Monterey Bay. The upstairs Pacific Ballroom and Terrace are great for more intimate receptions and have all the modern amenities of an upscale oceanfront hotel.
The Monterey Plaza Hotel
Located on the historic Cannery Row, this upscale hotel is full of old world nautical charm. While this is one of the larger hotels in the area and can accommodate up to 300 people in their main ballroom, they have a couple of smaller rooms with beautiful views of the ocean to accommodate more intimate weddings.
The Club at Pasadera
The Club at Pasadera is located on HWY 68 between Monterey and Salinas, this sundrenched golf course is a great option if you are looking for a golf or country club style wedding. They have beautiful outdoor locations and courtyards that are lovely for different sized weddings, ranging from 10 people to up to 50 or more.
This beachfront hotel is located on the outskirts of Monterey right on the beach. The level and easily accessible beach is great for the ceremony, and they have a great garden space or indoor ballrooms for small weddings. The Monterey Tides is also an excellent value because it offers a lower price point than most of the other beachfront options in Monterey.
De Tierra Vineyards
This gorgeous hacienda home allows weddings for up to 32 people and has multiple homes on the property where your guests can stay for a retreat-style wedding. This property is full of gorgeous natural details, including vineyards, olive groves, and massive agave and cacti. Personally, I think it is one of the most beautiful venues in the area and a hidden gem.
Carmel is often used to refer to the small town of Carmel-by-the-Sea and the surrounding areas. There is limited space in the Carmel area so there are not as many options, especially for larger weddings, but there are some incredible venues for events and gatherings.
La Playa is set hidden in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea and is a beautiful historic mansion turned intimate upscale hotel. The courtyard is perfect for intimate ceremonies and the non-traditional ballroom can be perfect for smaller groups.
The L’Auberge is a historic chateau turned into a 20 room luxury hotel. Most famous for the highly acclaimed michelin starred restaurant Aubergine, this property also hosts small weddings. Their courtyard is an ideal option for a wedding or reception of 60 or less but they also have a cool and unique wine cellar that provides a very memorable dinner experience for 10 or less.
The Mission Ranch is Clint Eastwood’s property sitting right along the coast and feels like a quaint country getaway. The venue has a barn setting and patio that is great for smaller weddings. The ceremony spot overlooking the coast is often visited by the grazing sheep that live on the property.
Tehama Golf Club
Tehama Golf Club is a hidden gem within the area. Overlooking Monterey Bay, this stunning property has spectacular views of the ocean and surrounding hills. The stone work and natural beauty of the area make it lovely for any size wedding. They have beautiful outdoor spaces that can be used for gorgeous intimate gatherings.
Carmel Valley is the more country and rustic part of the Monterey Peninsula. The area is home to beautiful wineries, farms, and ranches. This is my personal favorite area for weddings as the weather is warm and sunny and there are a ton of beautiful options!
Folktale winery is well known and a popular spot for weddings it has certainly earned its spot as a leading venue. The property is full of beautiful spots for any size wedding and reception, from intimate elopements to large soirees there are so many options on the property. One of my favorite spots at Folktale Winery is the Vineyard house.
Gardener Ranch is a beautiful wedding venue that has onsite accommodations for for up to 40 guests. If you are looking for an intimate, retreat style wedding where you and your guests relax for the whole weekend this laid back, stunning property is perfect. While their peak season pricing is at a luxury price point they offer off season pricing and packages at an incredible value.
Holman Ranch is a retreat style wedding venue with 14 guest rooms on the property. The private estate setting is nestled high in the hills above Carmel Valley and surrounding vineyards. While this property can accommodate large groups it is also perfect for a smaller wedding looking for a top flight private getaway.
The Holly Farm is a weekend getaway style wedding venue that has onsite accommodations for up to 24 people. This property is nestled into a hillside and features lush gardens. If you want to host a private weekend getaway this is an excellent option.
Saddle Mountain Ranch
This campsite has something for almost everyone, including RV sites, campsites, luxury cabins and glamping tents. The Glamping tents are wildly popular for couples with an adventurous spirit and offer a fun, alternative spot for a wedding.
Bernardus Lodge is a luxury resort set on beautiful grounds. Quite simply, this venue offers great locations to go along with excellent food. It is ideal for larger weddings but would be perfectly suited for a smaller wedding allowing you to focus on a great touchpoint of guest experience.
This private estate sits up above carmel valley and has sprawling views looking all the way to the ocean. This Chateau really makes you feel like you were transported to France as the outside of the property is very beautiful and picturesque.
Pebble Beach is home to some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world as well as the iconic 17-mile drive.
Pebble Beach Resorts
The Lodge is home to the famous 18th Hole which is a beautiful ceremony location. While Pebble Beach is more suited for larger weddings, if you’ve dreamed of an iconic luxury golf course wedding do not rule out the Pebble Beach Resorts. Venues include the Inn at Spanish Bay, The Lodge, Fairway One Complex, and the Beach and Tennis Club.
Poppy Hills Golf Club
This public course in Pebble Beach has a great space that can be used for a small tent wedding. It has exceptional views and towering trees that make for a gorgeous backdrop.
Big Sur is just 50 mins south of Monterey and Carmel and boasts world famous rugged cliffs and expansive ocean views. Big Sur is really the perfect spot for intimate weddings but be advised- it requires a larger budget than most expect.
Wind and Sea Estate
This private estate, about an hour south of Carmel, sits right above the water and is a beautiful location for an intimate ceremony and reception. This venue is really ideal for 40 or less people although it can accommodate up to 70.
Post Ranch Inn
This resort is the pinnacle of luxury in Big Sur. They are currently only offering elopements but under normal regulations they offer weddings for up to 40 guests.
The art gallery/ cafe is a unique and architecturally interesting building. They offer small weddings for less than 30 or you could have a micro ceremony nearby and follow it up with an intimate dinner at COAST.
Glen Oaks Big Sur
If you’re looking for towering redwoods this is the place. This lovely hotel has charming upscale rooms and the location is perfect for a romantic wedding. It also happens to be close to beautiful beaches.
Big Sur Stone House
This private residence is pretty far south but is a lovely property with a very small house providing overnight accommodations. Ideal for a wedding of less than 50.