Photo By: Courtesy of V & J Photography
Even if you have a wedding planner, you still have to walk down that aisle by yourself.
You have to make all the final decisions, including when and where to get married, and allow enough lead time to book the date. Saturdays tend to fill up fast, but they’re also more expensive.
With more and more couples trying to keep costs and carbon footprints at a minimum, several Los Altos area venues offer appealing choices for that momentous occasion.
Following are some memory-making places.
Los Altos History Museum
The Los Altos History Museum, 51 S. San Antonio Road, sits behind the library, in a field of orchards. A popular venue, it can accommodate up to 200 guests. The museum can host the ceremony and/or the reception. According to events coordinator Mark Perry, peak months are July through September, and the building is only available from mid-April to mid-October. With 30 weddings a year, the museum books up quickly.
Veronica Duren of V & J Photography, shot a wedding there last summer and thought the venue pleasant.
“It’s nestled right in the middle of Los Altos. It’s a great way to host an event under the stars. Perfect for a summer wedding,” Duren wrote in an email.
It’s also a good combination of indoors and outdoors. The museum offers a garden environment with red-brick deck, trellises and picnic bench seats for 40 guests. Indoor museum gallery chairs can accommodate 100 guests. Also included in the rental fee are 6-foot-long tables and coat racks with hangers. Additional tables are available for rent.
The three-level, 8,200-square-foot museum building is contemporary in design, while the adjacent Craftsman-style J. Gilbert Smith History House sports a rustic facade. Originally built in 1905, the farmhouse lends an old-fashioned atmosphere. The modern wing houses administrative offices and changing and permanent exhibitions.
Ornamental cherry trees and native California potted plants surround the property. A redwood pergola provides a spot for officiates to marry the couple. Inside the building, soaring ceilings and polished, light wood showcase historical artifacts. Guests can walk up to the roof to view the working replica of a train with lights and sound.
An advantage of renting the museum is that you can move from the ceremony on the patio to dinner and dancing indoors. There’s a full kitchen. Clients must use the museum’s preferred caterers but can choose their own bakeries, DJs, florists and other vendors.
The museum rents for $4,000 for an eight-hour period on Saturdays. The fee drops to $3,100 for eight hours on Fridays or Sundays. A three-hour garden ceremony on Fridays or Saturdays runs $1,500. All rentals include an additional $500 application fee and a $1,000 refundable security deposit.
The rental fees support the activities of the museum through the Association of the Los Altos Historical Museum, a non-profit organization.
For more information, call Perry at 948-9427, ext. 12.
The 3.7-acre Shoup Park, 400 University Ave. in Los Altos, remains a cute space virtually unknown outside the area. If you’re not careful, you might drive by the entrance.
The Los Altos Recreation Department rents out Patriot Corner, a small square of picnic tables near the Garden House that sits above Adobe Creek, which inspires vim and vigor when there’s water rushing in it. For $199, you can rent the lawn area for the entire day.
Recreation supervisor Greg Milano said many hold their ceremonies on the grass at Patriot Corner, then walk across the parking lot to the Garden House for the parties.
The main dining room accommodates 50-150 guests. The venue offers a large kitchen with a double oven, a refrigerator and a freezer. There’s a piano and a stage, as well as access to a screen and a projector. Rental rates start at $161 per hour for residents, $225 for nonresidents.
Even after the $500 security deposit, the Garden House is more reasonably priced than most wedding venues.
Another hidden beauty is the adjacent Redwood Grove, 482 University Ave., a nature preserve and secret garden full of dreamy bushes and redwood trees.
For more information, visit www.losaltosrecreation.org.
Leslianne Lee, a physical therapist who is studying yoga therapy, wanted her wedding to match her values. So she and her fiance, Bruce Hartsough, an engineer, agreed to keep it local, sustainable and with a small carbon footprint.
The Los Altos residents were hiking at Hidden Villa, 26870 Moody Road in Los Altos Hills, a nonprofit preserve and organic farm, when they discovered its facilities.
After a tour of Dana Center, a smaller house, and the Duveneck House, which Hidden Villa founders Josephine and Frank Duveneck built circa 1930, they decided to hold their upcoming ceremony and reception at the Duveneck House.
“We really wanted to have the wedding somewhere with lovely outdoor beauty,” said Lee, who deliberately kept the event small. “Hidden Villa is the perfect match for us.”
They plan to invite 100 guests and use Hidden Villa’s preferred caterers, who prepare local and sustainable food – their menu will consist primarily of vegan food. Lee is borrowing her wedding dress.
“We want to focus on reducing waste,” she said.
Because Hidden Villa is not in the wedding business, Lee had to simplify.
“They didn’t have a wedding package, so there was no one to assist me with the flowers and pies,” she said. “I reached out to them, suggesting we use the farm’s fruits and employees to make the pies for dessert to cut down on travel time, and also to use the wildflowers on the tables” instead of trucking them in from outside vendors.
The Duveneck House, which includes a small kitchen and dining room, is available year-round for events and celebrations. During summer, only the lawn is available.
For private special events, the rental fee is $4,000, $3,000 for the lawn only if used with the smaller Dana Center.
For more information, visit www.hiddenvilla.org.