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Darlington House is a great venue for anybody who dreams to feel an ocean breeze in his hair at the wedding and still have an elegant classic celebration.
Darlington House La Jolla combines both these possibilities: it offers very secluded grounds & vintage interiors beside great photo and beach walking opportunities in the beautiful coastal area.
Location & History of Darlington House San Diego
Darlington House has an excellent location, central to La Jolla — a seaside area within the city of San Diego (the distance is 11 miles). The Pacific Ocean is just a short walk away, great for visitors who dreamed of beachside photos and a stroll along the coastline.
The property is a historical San Diego landmark. It offers nicely vintage-styled interiors and outdoor event spaces with patios and gardens.
Darlington mansion was first built in 1925 as a summer home, for Sybil Darlington, the daughter of Gen. Thomas Hamlin Hubbard, one of the principal backers of the 1909 expedition that discovered the North Pole. She grew up in New York but became an eager fan of La Jolla. In the early 1920s, she bought two properties here and wanted to build them into one house.
Besides, Sybil Darlington liked Moorish architecture, a style of the Mediterranean, Arabian and pre-Roman buildings. Her house reflected her taste: it is filled with exotic imported tiles and decors. Several talented architects helped Sybil Darlington to build a house of her dreams using Spanish, Italian, Grecian, Moroccan, and Persian style motifs and artifacts. Visitors can see some of these details in the house interiors nowadays.
When Darlington passed away in 1967, the nonprofit organization Social Service League of La Jolla bought the property. Nowadays, they use profits from weddings and events to subsidize the senior apartments next door, called the League House. 100% of profits held at the Darlington House go to support these apartments.
The San Diego Historic Site Board named the Darlington House a historic site in 1995. The mansion hosts weddings and any kinds of pre-wedding gatherings, with one event per day only. So, couples enjoy secluded grounds and the full privacy of the place. They also contribute to the Social Service League of La Jolla and by this way help the community’s senior citizens.
La Jolla is a very beautiful and busy neighborhood. There is a limited number of parking lots near the mansion. The venue’s management does not require guests to purchase valet services but strongly recommends it for guest’s convenience.
When the company that owns the venue is a non-profit, wedding costs are sometimes considered a donation and hence are tax-deductible. It depends also on the amount of donation you gave to a tax-deductible wedding venue. To learn more about donation options of Darlington House just contact the site manager.
Darlington House offers you great indoor & outdoor locations. The maximum capacity of the venue is 200 seated places.
The rental fee is divided into levels: you can choose a suitable price depending on your wedding timeline & access to locations needed. The wedding cost depends also on the day of the week you’ll choose.
- Silver Level rental fee is up to $4500 and includes a 4-hour event plus use of the entire 1st floor, library, and kitchen as well as its gardens & patios.
- Gold Level rental fee is up to $5000 and includes a 5-hour event. Plus you will have access to the wedding suites located on the 2nd floor.
- Platinum Level rental fee is up to up to $5500. It includes a 6-hour event with access to the 2nd floor as well. Plus the 7th hour may be added to the event for $500.
All this pricing does not include rentals and catering services of the vendors. The venue will offer only locations and well as 4 hours+ for set-up time for vendors before the event starts and an hour of breakdown time afterward.
All the other necessary items you need to bring in as rentals:
- a licensed and insured event coordinator is required,
- a caterer from the venue’s list of approved Caterers: outside caterers are not allowed,
- bartending services (no hard alcohol allowed),
- all tables, chairs, linens,
- tents if needed,
- floral decors,
- AV equipment.
As for restrictions, the curfew is at 10:00 P.M. exact and the music is allowed only until 9:30 P.M. since it’s in a residential area. They allow acoustic musicians and DJs, but no live amplified music. You can not use real rose petals or bubbles as decors.
Smoking is available both inside the courtyard and in the parking lot. The wheelchair is accessible as well.
Darlington House wedding venue offers separated event spaces for every stage of your wedding celebrations, both indoors & outdoors.
- The Egyptian Fountain Patio can accommodate up to 120 guests. It is usually used for a small intimate ceremony;
- Andalusian Patio with the adjoining library is often used for a cocktail hour and bar set up;
- Rose Garden is a place for dinner and dancing with 150 attendees. This patio can also be used for larger ceremonies and receptions of 200 guests. You can also make a tent here if needed.
So, you will have different courtyards to break up the wedding areas such as buffet set up, bar, and dinner set up. You and your guests will also have access to the first floor of the house, the kitchen, and the restrooms.
Geting Ready Shots at the Darlington mansion
The Darlington House will provide you with bridal & groom suites on the 2nd floor. But keep in mind that you are allowed to use them only in case you’ve booked for 5 hours or more (Gold or Platinum rental fees).
Having access to the 2nd floor, you have right to Early Wedding Party Arrival) so you will start your preparation 2 hours prior to your ceremony. (as a rule, it begins at 4 or 5 P.М.). According to reviews, some couples choose to rent the upstairs suites starting from 9 A.M.
A bridal area is several connected rooms, beautifully designed and filled with light from big windows. The suite has a quite big bathroom. There are also full-length mirrors, lots of sitting areas, and space to accommodate all of your bridal party.
One more bonus for couples who will book getting ready rooms upstairs: a balcony overlooking the patio. Brides use this balcony to throw their bouquet. And your photographer will have the possibility to make some great bird-eye shots.
The groom’s rooms look almost identical with an exception of a more modest darker design and a bit less space. They are connected to the bridal site and if you need to be totally private just close the door connecting both areas.
Still, there is one more possibility for a groom to prepare: boys like to choose a library downstairs for their man cave. It’s a very cozy room with vintage charm and lots of free space.
There is no air conditioning in the house (yet decent sea breezes if you open the windows) so it can get warm upstairs. Also, due to the old electricity system of the house, the site manager may recommend you to arrive with hair & makeup done and use the room just for dressing/photos/relaxing.
Besides, as far as I remember, no alcohol upstairs is allowed as well as no red wine in the entire house. Clear up all these small but significant details with your manager in advance.
First Look & Couple Photos
Since your ceremony will start at 4 or 5 P.M. and has to finish at 10 P.M. you should keep in mind your wedding timeline. Your First Look can be right in front of the side garden, or one of the picturesque garden corners nearby. This is exactly what we did. The greenery & the house itself will cover you with the shade from the afternoon sun and the photos will display no harsh contrasts or partial shadows.
We made the First Look near the house also because the newlyweds wished a lot to make beachside shots, so we wasted no time before the ceremony and went to the beach right after it. On the beach, you can also make wedding party & group photos as we made (see below).
Besides, you will have the possibility to make couple portraits during the cocktail hour. The ceremony patio itself with its hidden corners, murals, and tiled fountains is a nice backdrop. In addition, you will have the house interiors at your disposal, so you can make some shots in the library or on the stairways.
If you have time, just go out of the venue’s grounds to the street. You will find some unusual photo spots: like this remarkable garage door of a next-door house we found during our walking.
Group shots & Family portraits
The beachside is within walking distance from the Darlington mansion. It’s a great added backdrop for anybody dreaming to have unforgettable beach wedding shots, both in big groups and as couple portraits.
The next moment that you’ll have for group shots will be your cocktail hour after the ceremony. We had it on the Andalusian patio right next to the house. All its unusual architectural details like hand-carved wooden columns, patio’s signature arches, and colorfully tiled floor and benches provide an exotic Mediterranean vibe.
Some couples organize the cocktails in the library that adjoins the Andalusian and Egyptian Patios so that guests can move in and out easily. Some make a bar set up here. The library wing is probably the most remarkable and unusual part of the entire house: with its ornate balcony railing, carved wooden doors, Spanish urns hidden in niches, and a big Moroccan fireplace with inscription in Arabic. So, it will be a nice backdrop for your photography as well; especially perfect for shots with elder family members who wish to enjoy their drinks more than explore the area.
You can organize your ceremony on the Egyptian patio (up to 120 guests). Or in the Rose Garden (up to 200) as it was at the wedding where I was photographing.
The event starts from the main foyer where the guest book table is usually located. From there guests move into the garden. As you see in the photos, the couple set it with Chiavari chairs. The garden’s stucco pergola with a mural and a stone bench served them as an altar spot. The couple used minimum decorations: they just adorned the wall with some floral arrangements. The spot is perfectly seen from any corner of the patio. The rose bushes all around were a natural decor and add to the romantic beauty of the site.
When the ceremony was finished, the guests were invited to the Andalusian patio and library for cocktails while the caterer prepared the Rose Garden for a formal sit-down dinner.
But before coming to the reception, let us once more focus on your wedding timeline at the Darlington house:
- You can choose when your ceremony will start: at 4 or 5 P.M. depending on how many hours you’ll book.
- If you booked for a 5 (or more) hour event, you are allowed to come 2 hours before the ceremony to prepare.
- Your vendors will come 4 hours prior to your ceremony.
To be even more precise: your ceremony will start at about 5, your cocktail hour thereafter, dinner at 6:30, dancing starts about 8 and by 9:30 the party has to finish.
During your reception, you can use all the outdoor areas: the Rose garden for your formal sit-down dinner, as well as any of its alcoves to display your cake and desserts. You can also use the Egyptian patio with the tiled fountain for dancing, and the Andalousian patio with the attached library for a bar set up or a photo booth. The guests will have access to the first floor of the house and the kitchen as well.
Don’t forget that the Darlington house is a venue only vendor (they provide you only with event locations, nothing more than this). If you need to create a beautiful atmosphere in the evening, it’s better to bring in strands of market lights and set them up across the dinner and dancing areas. Also, you can put candles on the tables. If needed, the Rose Garden may be set up with a tent for 150 attendees.
The music has to end at 9:30 and people have to be out by 10. Vendors who worked with the venue before are all aware of the rules. They will tell you about the breakdown and will pick up things in advance. If you feel it’s a bit early don’t forget that you are in San Diego. Anyone who needs to keep the party will find here plenty of places for an after-party.
All advantages of your Darlington House wedding
Darlington House La Jolla is an excellent wedding venue to enjoy the ocean breeze together with a historical feel and serene setting.
This venue is large enough to accommodate a big crowd of up to 200 persons but still manages to feel intimate. It has amazing vintage suites for pre-wedding photos, separated event areas for every wedding part, and tons of great photo opportunities throughout the venue and outside. The beach is super close by so you can walk there and snap many great pictures. The guests will also get plenty of space to move around.
If you feel nervous about the end time of 10 P.M. (with bar & music off by 9: 30) add extra hours to start earlier or just move to any nearby place for further celebrations. There are many hotels in the area and La Jolla is a busy and beautiful neighborhood.
In addition, your wedding expenses will go to a non-profit organization that provides senior housing. You will feel great about having an amazing event here and knowing that you are helping those in need at the same time.
Here you read about other venues where you will not have a typical hotel ballroom wedding, but the complete opposite: