We recently sat with A-List wedding officiant, pre-wedding counselor and baby blesser Barbra Mousouris of I DO Santa Barbara to ask her about her top five picks for wedding venues in Santa Barbara County. Here is her roundup.
"...that is kind of like saying five good things to eat...there are so many it is hard to choose just five. We are blessed in Santa Barbara and surrounding vicinity with a plethora of absolutely stunning wedding sites! This is one of the reasons I simply LOVE what I do...where I get to do it!
However, if I had to choose, the following never disappoint, for a variety of reasons, as outlined here:
- ALISAL RANCH – 10,000 acres, a natural working ranch, green grass, a beautiful lake, wildlife...need I say more? Well, yes...yes I do. I have recently moved into “the ranch” myself, and feel so blessed! I am right there to take great care of my couples. Like adult camp, Alisal has everything I would have on my checklist for the perfect place to wed. Guests can stay here (not inexpensive but a true vacation in every sense of the word). There are a myriad of activities for everyone during non-wedding hours, including archery, fishing, boating, horseback riding, wine tasting, walking, cycling, swimming in the beautiful big pool, billiards, and even an art room and s'mores if kiddies are accompanying.
- THE SANTA BARBARA COURTHOUSE – Fabulous options for photography in the sunken gardens, as well as a beautiful historic building. The Courthouse downtown location makes it ideal for walking to reception restaurants, art galleries, and wine tasting. There are several lovely options to wed, including many garden sites, the outdoor stage, the historic mural room filled with ancient art and a more “sacred” feel”, and the tower on the very top, with spectacular views of the ocean and Santa Barbara. Compared to the rates of many wineries, the Courthouse is a great value. Depending on the number of guests, there is sure to be a perfect spot to say “I do”.
- SUNSTONE VILLA – Many wine aficionados are familiar with Sunstone Winery, known for organic local wines and its Tuscan picnic patio and tasting room, as well as its charming stone “cellar”, which can double as a beautiful reception dinner site. But just next door is the spectacular Villa, which feels just like staying in an authentic villa in Tuscany. Your wedding party can rent rooms as part of the entire villa rental, complete with kitchen and many beautiful wedding ceremony sites. I have married many couples under several shady oak tree areas, surrounded by green grass and the spectacular stone villa. The privacy and charm are very special at the villa.
- FOUR SEASONS RESORT, THE BILTMORE – If you want elegance, luxury, and a spectacular palm tree lined location right on the ocean, the Biltmore can’t be beaten. You will be very well taken care of by the amazing Four Seasons staff. There is a sexy bar for cocktails by the fire or on the ocean view terrace, as well as top-notch gourmet cuisine and many large classic rooms inside to marry, or outside on several garden areas. Your guests can also stay here for a luxury vacation, and indulge in spa treatments and playing in the chic village of Montecito. The service and cuisine at the Biltmore is five star.
- OTHER FAVORITES – I couldn’t pick just one more (Barbra said abashedly)...so I wanted to give a shout out to several noteworthy and wonderful places for weddings. FIRESTONE WINERY, GAINEY WINERY, (pretty much any winery) in the Santa Ynez Valley are beautiful, romantic, mellow and perfect for wine lovers. I do weddings in pretty much all the wineries in the valley, and love them all!
- .........and of course, private ranches and estates that dot our beautiful area."