10 Dreamy OC Wedding Venues That’ll Make You Say “I Do”

Pro Tips From Local Photographer Valerie Metz


iving in Orange County, we know how beautiful where we live is. We can see the ocean, fields and hills all in one day if we wanted to. Plus, we have some truly special landmarks and galleries, too. With all this in mind, finding the perfect spot for an OC wedding isn’t too hard to do. All of the OC wedding venues have everything to make the big day a spectacular one. It’s the choosing that’s difficult!

If you’re having a tough time deciding, throw in one question: How will the pictures look? Wedding photography has become a necessity to nuptials, and rightfully so! Choosing the right photographer and venue will create easy-to-capture memories to preserve your special day. To help you with your planning, we didn’t just create a list of venues for you. We also have local wedding photographer Valerie Metz sharing her perspective from behind the lens.

The Fullerton Arboretum

1. The Fullerton Arboretum

Q: What’s the first thing you look for in a venue?

Valerie Metz: The first thing I look at is how my lighting is going to be during the wedding! I prefer venues with open windows and natural light, or even outdoor venues.

The Fullerton Arboretum offers 26 lush acres and over 4,000 of unique plant life. It has a beautiful array of ponds and gardens that may make you want to keep your decorating to a minimum. With all the different scenery, your photographer will have lots of land (and creative freedom) to explore.

2. The Estate on Second

Q: What’s something a couple should know before picking out their venue?

VM: The couple should always always always ask what lighting will be like for photographers. That makes or breaks the photos!

The Estate on Second is a truly special venue. It’s a historic part of Santa Ana, showcases a gorgeous Georgian Colonial style, and is completely exclusive to your event. It’s the perfect blend of history and modernity. And with the huge windows to let in all that light, your photographer will be just as in love with this venue as you are.

3. Franciscan Gardens

Q: What’s your most “yikes!” moment on a shoot?

VM: The most “yikes” moments I can get are micromanaging wedding planners/coordinators. I take pride in artistically documenting the day so when planners feel the need to control every detailed photo, this can be frustrating!

The Franciscan Gardens in San Juan Capistrano are as enchanting as they are inviting. The venue is owned and operated by 24 carrots, which means you can expect top-notch service and a scrumptious menu. This also means your photographer won’t be held under a microscope!

4. The Richard Nixon Library

Q: What sort of venue tends to be the most challenging to shoot?

VM: The most challenging are the ones with close spaces! As a photographer, I have to get up close and all around during the ceremony so if there’s no access where I can discreetly move around, it’s difficult for me to capture the photos I need.

There’s no issue with tight spaces here! The Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda has a maximum capacity for 1,500 people. It also has a few changes in scenery; you can read your vows in front of the historic Nixon birthplace then dance the night away in the museum’s ballroom.

Ted Craig Park

5. Ted Craig Regional Park

Q: What are some tips for rustic, outdoor wedding?

VM: Avoid harsh light as much as you can! Rustic weddings are very trendy and beautiful but can also be difficult to photograph if they’re out in open, harsh lighting! The leaves and trees can create spotty shadows on faces, which ruins photos.

Ted Craig Regional Park in Fullerton provides an open, lush space for anyone dreaming of saying, “I Do” in the great outdoors.

6. The Red Horse Barn

For those who want a rustic style but with more privacy, look into The Red Horse Barn in Huntington Beach. It’s close enough to the beach to feel an ocean breeze, and it’s near HB’s Central Park if anyone feels like exploring. All in all, this venue is elegant, spacious and unique.

7. Gray Matter Museum of Art

This simple and modern venue lets your day be the center of attention! Since it’s a museum, good lighting is practically a given. Plus with all the pops of your wedding colors, your photographer will have no problem taking gorgeous and intriguing photos.


8. The 1912

Q: We love the simple, urban look! How do you make your shots more romantic and interesting?

VM: Utilize natural light as much as you can! Brick and hardwood floors are hard to work with if there’s no natural light. I like to shoot against large windows when possible.

The 1912 is downtown Santa Ana’s most upscale urban venue. Its effortlessly sophisticated atmosphere and large windows make capturing alluring shots a breeze.

9. Seven4One

Q: What is your favorite backdrop or scenery to shoot?

VM: My favorite backdrop is anything outdoors! Any sort of beautiful landscape in the back during the ceremony is breathtaking along with all the small details that go into it.

This venue is the epitome of the Californian style. It’s casually upscale, offers privacy and exclusivity and has a perfect view of the Pacific. Seven4One is a boutique hotel with 2 suites and 9 guestrooms, so it’s perfect for hosting a few out-of-towners. And with its stunning décor and beachfront accessibility, your photographer will have lots of different backdrops and settings to play with.

10. The Beach!

Q: The beach is such a classically-Californian venue! Do you have any suggestions for beach shoots?

VM: Decorate the altar as much as you can! The beach is obviously a gorgeous backdrop but it can look too golden or warm in photos if there isn’t any color (such as flowers or decor) to spice it up.

No matter which beach you choose, our soft sands and salty breezes are the ideal coastal setting for your big day. Since the beach is a blank canvas, you really get the chance to explore your decorative creativity. To start planning, look into beach permits you may need.

Valerie Denise Metz is a talented local photographer with a free spirit and a positive energy. She specializes in capturing simple moments that are full of joy, love and connection. To see more of her work, view her website.


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