It almost feels like you can't have a wedding in Santa Barbara without also getting photos at the Santa Barbara Courthouse. This iconic location is known for it's beautiful Spanish influenced architecture paired with greenery that'll make you swoon. When Priscilla + Marshall reached out to chat about their intimate wedding day they knew two things. First, it would be on halloween, their favorite holiday. Second, all aesthetic choices would be quirky like them. Priscilla went with a vintage inspired lace gown and true antique brown suede boots. Her boots went quite well with the brown suede suit that Marshall picked. They wanted their wedding looks to feel like them and reflect the fall ambiance of their reception they had two days prior. The courthouse was an easy choice for location because it's easy to work with and full of beauty. They reserved the front lawn and had about 30 of their closest family and friends to watch.
Some of my favorite parts of this venue are...
+ There are photo locations EVERYWHERE.
+ You can keep your time their big (like renting the entire center lawn) or small (by reserving a single location).
+ Since it's a courthouse, you can get legally married quite easily too! Pick up your license and do the thing same day. (Great for all from elopements to big weddings.)
Like I said above, this venue is great for all sizes and can truly be anything you want it. The Santa Barbara Courthouse does require a permit for any reserved locations. This is easy to procure, especially for weekday elopements/weddings. Located in Downtown, this place has amply street and parking garage parking for you and your guests earlier in the day. As the downtown area gets busier, especially on weekends, this can be an obstacle to troubleshoot prior. I recommend working with a planner, like Erika of Array Creative Design, who has worked at the courthouse before if you are planning a full scale wedding. The expertise of vendors that have already worked with unloading, loading, technical rules of downtown, etc. will be a great relief for you.
Some things to note:
- If you do a small elopement, people may have full venue rentals that block off the main lawn and many of the favorite locations. Make sure you get proper permitting and call ahead, especially on weekends!
- Tell your guests to plan buffer room for parking (and plan it into your timeline!). While there are plenty of spaces around, some require longer walks and you would hate to miss your reservation time because of late arrivals.
- This venue rental is ONLY the venue. You will need to source everything. In my opinion, it is worth the effort for the beauty of the space, but will be difficult without a planner.
Santa Barbara Courthouse weddings are minimum of a two hour reservation and a lot has to happen in that time. The ceremony, formal photos and couple portraits! My recommendation is hiring someone who has photographed there before OR who is willing to tour it prior to see all the spaces. There are thirteen spaces that the courthouse identifies as possible locations. They all have their own quirks. The wedding pictured rented the fiesta stage for 2 hours, 10 am to 12 pm. We took photos all over the grounds and down the street. It wouldn't have happened in our desired amount of time had I not known all the locations I could use and strategically decide what would be best for this couple.
When looking for where to rent for your Santa Barbara Courthouse elopement or wedding, think about your guest count and logistics. Are you having a full wedding ceremony and reception? Are you have a lot of guests and bringing in rentals? Are you simply eloping? Each question will impact what location you will want (some are only available for smaller parties) and some are better at different times of year. I recommend visiting the courthouse to decide what time of day will be best for the month you're marrying in.