Is your dream California wedding a little off-the-beaten path. Try these Monterey wedding venues. (Photo: Getty Images)


Wonderful, Way-Out Places to Say I Do in Monterey

You can stress about cake and colors, but if you don’t nail the venue, it’s going to be “just another wedding.” Don’t sweat the minutiae; tie down an unconventional wedding space to keep guests talking. When it comes to Monterey weddings, getting hitched in a haunted church or posh art exhibit might make you consider doing this more than just once.

An Artsy Affair

Adventurous grooms who think it’s a Zorro-themed ceremony won’t get cold feet. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the Monterey Museum of Art-La Mirada for what it is. This chic gallery wrapped in a cozy Spanish villa is an intimate space, but has versatility. The Drawing Room and Patio accommodates large gatherings, and Gouverneur Morris Guest House serves as a lavish bridal suite and reception hall for more intimate Monterey weddings.

Wow Factor: MMA-La Mirada was once a private residence where celebs wined and dined. One hundred varieties of roses under Spanish gables make bad wedding photography impossible.

Passion Meets the Past

The Old Whaling Station is filled with artifacts from a time when harpooning whales was just another day at the office. Bring a sweater, as Monterey nights can get crisp, and most of the venue’s charm lies outside the vintage adobe walls. It’s easy to get lost in fantasies about bygone eras walking along cobblestone paths surrounded by stately oaks.

Wow Factor: A peace treaty was signed with the gentle giants of the deep, but fixtures at the Old Whaling Station make for great conversation. The tile in parts of the surrounding sidewalk is made entirely from whale ivory.

White Dresses and White Sand

Beach weddings are unfairly associated with international airfare, so a matrimonial beach bash in Monterey is music to your cheap uncle’s ears. Monterey Beach Weddings packages everything from altars to cocktail shrimp. Put a ring on it at scene-stealing locations like Lovers Point Park, then retire to a catered reception at Gatherings, an elegant Pacific Grove home minutes from Cannery Row.

Wow Factor: Kick off your shoes for a reception in the sand at Monterey Beach House. They throw the classic California beach party and, depending on your style, they can pull out the white linens or the limbo stick.

On a Matrimonial Mission

At least one relative may give you the stink-eye if the ceremony isn’t in a church. If it’s someone paying for Junior’s college tuition, book the Royal Presidio Chapel. This National Historic Landmark near Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the oldest cathedrals in the U.S., and the chapel has undeniable charm. Ornate murals crumble with time, but real-deal devotion is made of stucco.

Wow Factor: Guest lists may require trimming to fit into one of the nation’s smallest cathedrals (1,700 square feet). But being able to hear the officiant and not having to invite second cousins is a win-win.