The Victorian Santa Monica wedding is a special celebration in a coastal town yet with a vintage ambiance. Located in the center of Santa Monica, it’s a historical property with amazing in-house catering and lots of options to offer on your big day.
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Location & History of the Victorian Santa Monica
The Victorian is a historical property located on the Heritage Square on Santa Monica’s Main Street. Actually, there are two vintage houses on the square, each representing the Victorian era in its own kind. On one side of the square stands the California Heritage Museum with its collection devoted to the local history of the 19th-century. On the other side, there is the Village mansion that is famous for its restaurant and a bar. Also, it’s popular with couples looking for a romantic vintage wedding venue with excellent cuisine.
Though the Victorian house is right in the center of Santa Monica, there is no problem finding a parking spot. There are lots of parking places nearby plus services of valet parking. From the mansion, it’s about 10 minutes walking to the coastline.
The House was originally built near the Hotel Miramar in 1892 as a family residence. In 1973 the owners moved it to its current location and made a complete renovation. They enlarged its main rooms, added a vintage bar in the basement & outdoor grounds. So, nowadays the Victorian has 15,000 square feet of event space and is ready to host almost all types of celebrations. As far as I know, the same family which also owns Calamigos Ranch with several wedding venues operates now the Victorian property.
Amenities of the Victorian in Santa Monica
The Victorian property works as a full-service venue. They will provide you with indoor & outdoor event spaces plus all-inclusive packages.
- 6 hours rental time,
- tables, chairs, china, glassware, etc.,
- catering services (sit-down dinner or buffet with bar options),
- full-service waitstaff and bartender, setup & break down,
- wedding cake & cake cutting service,
- valet parking & security.
To be exact, the Victorian venue offers full In-House catering as well as Site Rental Only packages allowing you to bring your catering. As for me, I seriously recommend using their own catering: I have never had wedding food that good.
The capacity of the Victorian house is about 160 seated persons. It may be more if you will use numerous outdoor areas on the property. The Victorian Santa Monica wedding cost starts from $5000 to $33000 including catering fees. Music is allowed only indoors, but it may be very loud: I don’t remember any limitations at the wedding that I photographed. As for the curfew, on Fri and Sat, it works until 1 a.m., so it’s a late-night venue.
Events Spaces of the Victorian venue
The property offers both indoor & outdoor spaces for The Victorian Santa Monica weddings:
- the two-story mansion itself with the banquet room downstairs and the vintage upstairs area,
- outdoor patio located in front of the Victorian,
- and an expansive Heritage Square between The Victorian to one side and the California Heritage Museum on the other.
The management offers to rent out the whole house including the patio/front lawn or only one section/room, depending on your guest count. The entire property can host 1000 guests and even more.
In addition, the dance & bar area in the basement and the upstairs area with an old vintage have different entrances. Some years ago these spaces worked as separate bars & lounge zones. Actually, there were four different bars: the Basement Tavern, the West Room Lounge, Leo’s Lobby, and the Birdcage, I am not sure how they work nowadays. I just would suggest getting a tour by a coordinator/ manager and asking if you will be allowed to use all the spaces the venue operates.
Bridal & Groom’s Preparation Sites of the Victorian Santa Monica
The bride gets ready upstairs, in a nice space called the Birdcage. This upstairs area has four rooms, offering an intimate yet lively setting that comes with its own bar. On the left side is a vintage library with sofas, a nice space for guests to relax.
In the main room, big French windows let in plenty of light and air. They lead out to the terrace with the Santa Monica view. There are many sofas and armchairs for the wedding party as well as other vintage-styled furniture pieces to place all bridal accessories. As I’ve already mentioned, the Birdcage has its own entrance, so the bride will enjoy her privacy.
Our groom got prepared at the Basement, the bar of the Victorian downstairs. The groomsmen were offered drinks at the bar and we snapped many nice shots while toasting. There are no windows, that’s why we turned the lights on maximum during the photoshoot. Keep in mind that this space needs additional light for quality pictures. Below, I will talk about it in more detail.
First Look & Couple Portraits at the Victorian
We made the First Look on the terrace upstairs. The bride used this space for the preparation as well: she hung her dress & wedding party dresses there. After the bridal preparation was finished, we invited the groom onto this green veranda to snap the First Look pictures. All the shots turned out very airy and expressive.
Another great spot to make a First Look is a brick path leading to the mansion’s front door. The House itself is an ideal backdrop for any pictures. It has many remarkable details (like a white fence or big green trees making the spot well-shaded) which make pictures unusual.
I would also suggest another good spot for a photoshoot (but again be sure that this space is included in your package). It’s the main patio in front of the Victorian: a lounge & cafe with outdoor seating open to the public until 8 p.m. It’s also very green and well-shaded, beautifully lit up in the evening with chandeliers. Some couples make their First Look there.
Wedding Party & Family Photos at the Victorian Santa Monica
We made it quite simple while taking wedding party shots: we just exchanged spaces. For groomsmen, we used as a backdrop the front lawn/ patio and the dark green walls of the California Heritage Museum which sits directly in front of The Victorian. Good light and enough space on Heritage Square allowed us to snap nice fun shots.
For bridal party pictures, we went down into The Basement where the groomsmen got prepared before. This place, as I’ve already mentioned, works as a lounge & bar in the evening and is well-known in Santa Monica for a great whiskey selection. The interior has both glamour and vintage vibes. The retro fleur is in particular created through great vintage chandeliers throughout the space and big mirrors.
And here we have a big challenge for a photographer. Without professional photo studio light in this room, you won’t get your perfect pictures. A photographer has not only to bring in and install good studio lighting equipment, but also be smart & experienced at taking shots in such conditions: so that pictures he gets at the end won’t be dark or dull, but clear & expressive.
In my opinion, The Victorian is one of the most difficult venues which I had photographed according to light conditions. Still, we’ve had similar situations for example at the Fig House, an L.A. venue, and we know how to deal with them. So, below you see the photo results of our professional experience.
After the ceremony, we took some pictures at the altar spot and returned to the square again for big group shots with the bridesmaids & groomsmen together.
Ceremony sites of the Victorian Santa Monica
The ceremony you see in the photos below was held on the front lawn next to the California Heritage Museum. This site can hold 250+ guests. The altar spot was located right next to a green hedge wall under a giant oak tree. The bride walked down the aisle from the Victorian mansion to the altar. The guests could see the beautiful museum building on the right side and the Victorian house on the left.
Depending on your guest count, you can make your ceremony upstairs in The Birdcage, which is often rented for private events and ceremonies. It’s usually used for more intimate weddings yet can hold about 200 guests. The altar spot in this case is located right next to the big windows.
Surely, the great indoor ceremony site is the main banquet room downstairs. In our case, it worked perfectly as a reception area.
There is one more opportunity for couples with a thoughtfully created wedding timeline: you can organize your ceremony on the beach and book the Victorian for the cocktails, dinner & reception.
Why the timeline? Because just getting to the beach by car will take about 30 minutes (or more?). For example, it may be difficult to find a parking lot next to the beach: it’s the lively center of the city. But I wouldn’t say a beach ceremony is impossible. Your wedding timeline just has to be near to perfect not to hurry from one spot to another. Keep time for all if you decide on a beach ceremony/ beach photo session. Surely, a pre-wedding tour through all the event spots is highly recommended.
Reception sites of the Victorian
When you enter the house, you get onto the main floor that is also known as The West Room. This floor has a bar/lounge (the Chandelier bar), it works every night for visitors.
The next room will be the banquet room. It can hold 200+ guests for any type of event. Usually, couples organize their receptions here. With big French doors leading out to the side-covered patio, dressed-up tables, and white walls, it looks simple & elegant. The interior reminds me of the late 19th century, with its artwork and vintage furnishings. So, the room is great for a classic sit-down dinner or buffet.
The adjacent side-covered patio is another interesting area to relax and take some shots. Some couples place here the sweetheart table or additional guest tables. The trees growing here go through the wood floor. When they are backlit by the twinkle lights in the evening, it looks impressive. The brick path leading to the front door is also lined with candles and lights so you will have nice shots while making your grand entrance or send-off.
I advise bringing in additional light sources here, the same as at the Basement area. Though the window paneling provides nice lighting during the daytime, in the evening it cannot be enough for photography. For old buildings with low ceilings, it’s a common story.
All advantages of the Victorian Santa Monica Wedding
Santa Monica in itself is a great place, famous for ocean views and sandy beaches. But not everybody would expect to find here a historic Victorian home and garden. The Victorian property is a perfect place for a classic elegant celebration or a vintage-themed wedding.
This historical house is located on one of the busiest streets in Santa Monica, still, it’s not difficult to find a parking lot or use a valet parking service.
The Victorian venue is very flexible: you can rent the front lawn, the main floor, the patio, the upstairs area, the entire house, or the entire property.
Your guests will surely like the amazing food of the in-house catering and enjoy a vintage atmosphere, set in an old Victorian house.
You don’t need to decorate the event sites very much because it’s so beautiful just the way it is. The outdoor lighting is set up thoughtfully, there are lots of vintage chandeliers. All this works for stunning photos. However, I highly recommend bringing in additional lighting indoors to make pictures really unforgettable.
There are other venues with a unique atmosphere for intimate or big weddings:
Houdini Estate in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, on the Laurel Canyon Blvd,
BRICK venue located right in the downtown of in San Diego, with its no curfew & noise ordinance,
Estate on Second is located in the downtown of Santa Ana, Orange County, California with all-inclusive services.