While planning my own wedding, the most difficult part for me was finding unique Southern California wedding venues. Working in the wedding industry, I had worked at a variety of incredible venues, but because of the nature of my work it was really important to me to find a place that would be memorable for me and not a place where I would be photographing countless other weddings.

As a kid growing up in the 90s, I watched my fair share of movies that contained weddings somewhere in the plotline. Between Steel Magnolias, Father of the Bride, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Three Men and a Little Lady, my sister and I would gush over the elaborate, and sometimes flat out ridiculous wedding details. Big, poofy dress and eccentric wedding planners never failed to entertain us and made us both fantasize about what our own weddings would be like.

Now that we’re in a completely different time, it’s been fun to see how the wedding trends have changed. When people used to think of weddings, they thought of gorgeous, elaborate churches with a lavish reception in a gigantic ballroom to follow. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with those weddings. It’s a classic combination for a reason, right? However, we all have to admit the classic, traditional way is simply not for everyone.

With all of that being said, I have compiled a list of my favorite unique Southern California wedding venues for those brides who want to break from the traditional wedding and do something a little more outside-of-the-box.

Oviatt Penthouse, Downtown Los Angeles

My favorite thing about The Oviatt Penthouse is the style. This historic, art deco building is perfect for couples who want an elegant, stylish wedding but with a little more character than your run of the mill ballroom. Not to mention, it’s perfectly located in the heart of downtown LA, so there’s no shortage of excitement and urban backdrops for photos. Another thing that’s really nice about this place? Because it has such a distinct style, you don’t necessarily have to go too elaborate with your decor. If you’re the kind of bride that doesn’t have the energy to deal with a blank slate, this is definitely a venue to consider.

unique southern california wedding venues

unique-southern-california-wedding-venues-37

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venuesto view more photos from this wedding, click here.

The Estate on Second, Santa Ana

The Estate on Second is a colonial style building with a lot of history, and yet due to the recent renovations, has a lot of modern flair. With it’s four different areas for ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception, there could be a lot of versatility, depending on the size of your event. Another cool thing is that they have a super cute bridal suite so the bride can comfortably get ready here, rather than having to sit in a car/limo decked out in full wedding gear. Unlike the Oviatt Penthouse, the Estate on Second is definitely more of a blank slate so if you’re a creative bride that has a vision, this would be a great place to start.

unique-southern-california-wedding-venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venuesto view more photos from this wedding, click here.

Cold Spring Tavern, Santa Barbara

Oh, where do I even start with this venue? To be totally honest, I have no idea how this place isn’t flooded with weddings constantly because it is a GEM. Hidden about 20 minutes outside of Santa Barbara proper, this venue feels like going way back to the 1800s. In fact, that’s how long it’s been around! This place has been serving food and drink since 1865, so it’s pretty legit. Everything about this place feels authentic and charming. Rustic brides, look no further!

Also, I have to mention that the food here is INSANE. Probably some of the best wedding food I’ve ever had.

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venuesto view more photos from this wedding, click here.

Meditation Mount, Ojai

Meditation Mount, as it sounds, is the perfect venue if you are the type of bride who wants your ceremony to be a peaceful, romantic, and introspective sort of event. One thing that I always tell my clients while we’re taking portraits is that more than anything, I want them to be present. Don’t worry about the guests, don’t worry about the food, don’t worry about anything that’s going on around them. All I want, is for them to be in the moment and spend time with their new spouse. All that being said, because of this location, the bride and groom were already in the mindset of being present and appreciating everything that the day was about. They both took some time before the ceremony to meditate and it absolutely helped them in the long run. There was no stress, no worry, only joy and thankfulness.

Sure, this place may not be your jam if you’re the kind of couple that wants loud music, lots of liquor and epic dance parties, but I believe this is the perfect venue for people who are looking for something more intimate and peaceful.

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venuesto view more photos from this wedding, click here.

Reptacular Animals, Sylmar

Have you ever wished that you could have a zebra at your wedding? Or that you, in full wedding attire, could take time in the middle of your reception to go feed some baby cows? Because if so, Reptacular Animals is totally up your alley. This is probably the most unique venue on the list and sure, it might sound way too out of the box for a wedding day…but this wedding was a hit with the guests. During cocktail hour, the staff brings out a variety of animals including a zebra, a camel, and a variety of birds and small animals for guests to play with. This is the perfect venue for animal lovers, who aren’t afraid to get their hands a little dirty on their wedding day.

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues

Unique Southern California Wedding Venues