When it comes to choosing a location for your wedding, the decision can be overwhelming as the options are virtually limitless! We called on our wedding experts, who have a combined 80+ years in the industry, to get their perspective on choosing a location and help you figure out the best option for your wedding day.

Dreaming of a natural backdrop? Consider taking your nuptials outdoors!
A soft breeze graces your cheek and the spring sun warms your shoulders as you and your partner sail through the picturesque San Francisco Bay. Behind you, endless splashes of color reflect off of the crystal clear waters and the sea birds soar overhead. You share your first dance together as the sun gently sets in the distance, bringing an end to your perfect wedding day.

Whether you’re standing under the canopy of the redwood forest or sailing through your local harbor, the sights, smells and sounds will provide you and your guests an unparalleled and breathtaking experience most indoor venues cannot offer.

That being said, there are some very important things to consider when planning an outdoor wedding.

What to consider & how to be prepared:

Surprise rain and heat waves are possibilities so it’s best to communicate effectively with the venue managers to ensure there are backup plans if weather intervenes.

Being outside means little critters might want to join in your celebration. If you’re in a location that has a lot of critters, invest in citronella candles and work with your vendor manager to ensure natural preventative measures are taken, if need be.

Ensure your guests are aware of the location and the dress requirements of that location. For instance, getting married on a farm? Close toed shoes may be in order.

Consider time of day and the location of the sun so you, your partner and your wedding guests can easily see.

Getting married by the ocean? The waves and wind are beautiful but loud, so you may want to invest in a microphone.

One of the most important things when getting married outdoors is to make sure you do a full walk through of the location yourself so you can get a sense of how your day will play out based on time of day and time of year. Identify where the major events on the property will occur, from first look to ceremony to reception. These little details will help you determine things like your color palette, flower selection, dress choice, etc.

Inevitably, however, know that there are going to be things you cannot predict in an outdoor wedding, so it’s crucial to have backup plans with your venue manager so all potential scenarios are covered.

Looking for a venue with more structure? Consider an indoor venue!
You and your partner stand hand in hand as glittering sunlight streams through the stained glass windows. Though the wind blows outside, you and your loved ones are cozy underneath the dazzling chandeliers and warm candlelight. You share your first kiss as a married couple and the cheers of your family fill the vaulted ceilings with sounds of joy and love.

Indoor weddings can be equally as gorgeous as outdoor weddings, without the unpredictability mother nature can sometimes offer. If you’re a couple that wants to be unique with your venue choice, but stay indoors, check out your local libraries, museums, science centers, historic locations and aquariums! Almost any indoor location can be turned into a wedding venue.

What to consider & how to be prepared:

Ensure the temperature and lighting match the look and feel you had envisioned for your wedding. Depending on time of year, you want to make sure the venue has proper heating or ventilation.

Note the size of your guest list and plan accordingly how they will comfortably fit in your space. You want to make sure it is not too small making everyone feel cramped, nor too big, making it feel empty.

It’s important to know the accessibility of the location, if there are stairs is there also an elevator for the less mobile guests?

Parking can be a nightmare in busier locations like city centers, so plan accordingly and either reserve parking spots or organize a shuttle bus for your guests.

Much like getting married outdoors, the most important thing for you to do prior to your indoor wedding is a walk through of the venue. Experiencing the location first hand will help you envision your day and help you plan the look and feel of your event – especially if you’re getting married at a non-standard location like an aquarium! You may not want your wedding party in blue against the blue backdrop of the sea exhibits.

How about the best of both worlds?
You don’t have to chose one or the other. Many venues have desirable options to combine indoor and outdoor weddings. It’s actually become very common to have two locations for ceremony and reception, one indoors and one outdoors!

So what’s best for you?
Indoor or outdoor, under a roof or under the sky, your day will be wonderfully unforgettable because it is the celebration of your and your partner beginning the next chapter in your lives together.

A Hornblower wedding is truly a departure from the ordinary. We would love to chat with you about your unique wedding, browse our wedding packages at any of our ports: San Francisco, Berkeley, San Diego, New York, Marina del Rey, Long Beach or Newport Beach. Alternatively, fill out the form below and a Hornblower wedding coordinator will help you get started.


Wedding 1 – Photography: Majesta Patterson, Venue, Catering, & Captain Officiant: Hornblower, Planning & Design: Something Blue, Floral Design: Gorgeous Green, Videography: Patterson Films, Dress Boutique: Kinsley James Couture Bridal, Dress Designer: Galia Lahav, Ring Shop: Shop Esqueleto, Ring Designer: Lauren Wolf Jewelry, Hair & Makeup: Melissa Hoffman Beauty, Dining Rentals: Classic Party, Vintage Rentals: Gussy up Decor, Menswear: The Black Tux, Ring box: The Mrs Box, Linens: Party Crush Studio, Cake: Glass Slipper Gourmet, Invitation, Signage & Calligraphy: Bee Curious Designs

Wedding 2 – Photographer: Stephanie Joy Photography, Florist: LaVonne’s Florist, Cake: Rossmoor Pastries, Dress: Alfred & Angelo, Suit: Hugo Boss, Boat: Endless Dreams, Location: Hornblower Newport Beach

Wedding 3 – Photographer: Philip DeFalco, Location: The Abbey on Fifth

Wedding 4 – Photographers: Evonne & Darren Photography, Ceremony Location: San Francisco City Hall, Brooch Floral Bouquet: Etsy, Caterer: Hornblower Cruises San Francisco, Cake: Hornblower Cruises San Francisco, Musician & DJ: Hornblower Cruises San Francisco, Wedding Coordinator: Hilary Popeck with Hornblower Cruises, Boat: California Hornblower

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