Top 5 Most Beautiful Wedding Venues in Malibu, CA
Malibu's Best Wedding Venues || Malibu Local Wedding Photographer Reviewed
Malibu is *the* California wedding destination for the perfect combination of beachside bliss, laid-back vibes, mountainous beauty and adventure, and just a touch of luxury. We’ve got the most gorgeous beaches, bluffs overlooking the ocean, wineries galore, the prettiest sunsets you’ve ever seen, the stunning Santa Monica Mountains to set the scene. For couples dreaming of a dreamy wedding weekend, Malibu has a got it all.
After a decade living and working in Malibu, I put together a list of the 5 most beautiful wedding venues to exchange vows and celebrate with your favorite people. The criteria for this list is based on how photographically stunning they are in my experience, and which places will guarantee awe-inspiring wedding photos. I’ll also include some helpful planning tips, like pros and cons, where to take photos at the venue, how to set up your ceremony for the best light, and other logistical info.
- The Oak Room at Calamigos Ranch – Best Venue for Photogenic and Uniqueness
- Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyards – Best Venue for Iconic Luxury
- Deer Creek Ridge – Best Hidden Gem Venue in Malibu
- Adamson House – Best Venue for Great Value in Malibu
- Saddlerock Ranch – Best Venue for Something for Everyone
1. Calamigos Ranch (The Oak Room)
Calamigos Ranch is everything to write home about. They’re a classic Malibu venue, and the Oak Room specifically is my favorite section of the venue to photograph. It features chandeliers and lights hanging from trees, a waterfall backdrop for the ceremony, an enormous arbor ready to be adorned with flowers (still beautiful left alone), and the most gorgeous reception space.
I *never* gush about reception spaces, but the Oak Room has all the benefits of being indoor (warm, controlled lighting, private space for wedding party, no need to worry about wind or weather messing with the setup) while capturing so much of the beauty of being outside. The high drapery gives a super unique tented vibe, the walls are glass with some wood design to let all the light in, and there’s literally a tree in the middle. It is what photography dreams are made of–– always flattering light, always just beautiful.
Another benefit to the Oak Room is that it is mostly shaded or backlit, which is ideal for photography. The walkway at the entrance of the venue is perfect for a first look, and both the ceremony deck and woodchip area out front are ideal for group photos. You also don’t really need much in the way of decor to make the place beautiful–– the beauty speaks for itself.
Calamigos Ranch is pretty sprawling, but the venue tends to be fairly firm on keeping to your area if there are multiple weddings going on (and there usually are). The venue areas are each gorgeous and have unique features–– like the chandelier trees, a Ferris wheel, or light-arch walkway–– but they can feel a little small. If the wedding schedule permits, I recommend running out to Mulholland to grab some photos away from the hustle and bustle. There are some wildly stunning and little-known scenic spots all around the venue. Your photographer (I volunteer as tribute) can help you scout that out! The couple’s portraits below are from a secret little spot I found nearby.
The venue has accommodations on-site. They’re lovely and well-lit, but pretty pricy. It’s worth the splurge for a room the night before, because it’ll save you a nice chunk of time traveling from another hotel to the venue (which can save you $ on photographer or videographer). Otherwise, Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks are the closest options with convenient accommodations.
Main downsides: It photographs stunningly, but costs a pretty penny. Additionally, you don’t have free reign of the place. There’s a lot going on at Calamigos–– multiple weddings at multiple venues happening simultaneously, hotel accommodations, a popular winery and restaurant. If you want seclusion and privacy, Calamigos might not be the best fit. The staff does a phenomenal job, but just know that you might not be the sole focus of the venue’s attention. You need to advocate for yourself here. Of course being a “wedding factory” has the benefit of knowing that they have a solid system down, and can do it with their eyes closed. And lastly, like I mentioned, the spaces for doing couple’s portraits can be somewhat limited.
View a Calamigos Ranch Wedding on the blog.
2. Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyards
Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyards (MRO for short) is Malibu’s iconic wedding venue and it’s most world-renowned venue. It stuns. Between the Tuscan estate, the vineyards, and the sunset, MRO is something out of a luxurious Italian dream. One of the greatest draws of Malibu Rocky Oaks is the helipad ceremony location. It overlooks the gorgeous Santa Monica Mountains, and is somehow always perfectly lit, splashed with oranges, pinks, and purples. Another one of the other biggest draws to couples getting married is the boulder pile that is pure magic to photograph wedding portraits at sunset. I’ve seen a lot of gorgeous sunsets in my life, especially living in Malibu, but the ones at Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate are the best.
Don’t be mistaken by all the lovely photos you’ll find on Google–– this venue is TOUGH to photograph. Getting ready, ceremony, outdoor ceremony, and indoor ceremony are all in different types of lighting, and most can be pretty challenging. Make sure your photographer (again, I volunteer as tribute) is comfortable with intense backlight, harsh direct sun, as well as darker indoor spaces without a low ceiling to bounce light off.
Unlike Calamigos, you get all of Malibu Rocky Oaks to yourself, and there is lots of space to work with for couple’s portraits–– on the helipad, climbing the boulder, walking the winery. It’s an intimate setting and a great place to get creative. You can also spend the night at the estate to streamline the getting ready process.
If you’re thinking about getting married at Malibu Rocky Oaks, I 10/10 recommend hiring Berlanti from The Elegant Ninja for wedding planning. She is super cool and down-to-earth, and gets everything done so that you never know if/when there is a problem. She is kind of the queen of MRO, as you’ll be able to tell on her website.
Main downsides: Again, these views and this space doesn’t come cheap. It is one of the most luxurious venues in Malibu, and that is reflected in the pricing. Depending on the size of your wedding and the way you set up the tables, the dinner reception area can feel a little small. Tables may feel far away from each other, or out of view of the sweetheart table. If that’s a concern, your planner and I will have some good ideas for you!
View a Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate wedding on the blog.
3. Deer Creek Ridge
Deer Creek Ridge is Malibu’s best-kept wedding secret. Whenever people see photos I’ve taken here, they comment on how beautiful it is, and ask what country it is in. This Malibu estate wedding venue has somewhat of a Moroccan style to it and unique architecture that photographs gorgeously.
This is an estate perched atop Deer Creek Road on the north side of Malibu. It has all the allure and mountainous elegance of the Mulholland venues, without the wedding-factory hustle-and-bustle. It’s an incredible spot for intimate to moderate size weddings. It comes with a lot of freedom to do the wedding exactly how you want, rather than being tied to specific vendors or a certain set-up. You get the entire estate to yourselves and there’s tons of open space both at the venue, and in the surrounding area. In fact, there’s a little-known park just a short way up the canyon road that you can easily get away to for couple’s portraits.
My favorite spot for portraits at Deer Creek Ridge is another area on the canyon road, marked by a nondescript pull-out that’s rarely frequented, even during tourist season. Plus, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can head right to the bottom of the canyon for some beach portraits during cocktail hour. It’s an area of Malibu that is way less busy than central Malibu, and there’s always ample parking.
Deer Creek Ridge can be rented for the weekend if you want to extend the celebration with your people. I definitely recommend this if possible. There’s a pool and the most gorgeous sprawling picture window in the living room, complete with a telescope to watch the sunset and stargaze.
View a Deer Creek Ridge wedding on the blog.
4. Adamson House
Adamson House may just be the best value you’ll find on a wedding venue in Malibu, with a facility rental fee of about $7000. It’s a historic landmark and managed by the California State Parks, so it’s shockingly reasonably-priced for being steps away from the beach and Malibu Pier. It’s got the most gorgeous architecture, with a variety of different exteriors and outdoor spaces to set up the wedding and take photos in dozens of different ways.
My recommendation for set-up and flow of the wedding day is to have the ceremony on the big lawn facing the sycamore tree because it’s open and shaded and/or backlit. Follow that up with cocktail hour on the gorgeous stone patio at the entrance of the Adamson, and then move to the back of the property for a string-light-lit dinner reception and gorgeous views of Malibu Pier by sunset. This set-up allows for the prettiest, photography-friendly lighting at the right times of day.
Another lovely aspect of having the Adamson House is a wedding venue is how private it feels, especially compared to the more bustling locations like Malibu Farms on Malibu Pier, Calamigos Ranch, etc. The State Park rangers close the property to the public during your wedding hours, so you won’t have any wedding crashers, although you’ll be steps away from the beach and Malibu’s top surf spots if.
The bridal suite has limited hours of access, so I recommend getting ready at an AirBnB. There’s also no parking at the Adamson house except for a small handful of designated vendors, so your guests will have to park in paid beach parking or on the street. The Pacific Coast Highway can get pretty tight on parking so close to the Pier, especially on weekends and during the summer, so I recommend parking on Cross Creek Road, close to the Serra Retreat entrance and the Malibu Lumberyard. From there, your guests can walk the short distance or you can have a shuttle to take your guests back and forth. Shuttle and parking services can get pretty pricy; one couple paid almost $4000 for services.
The interior of the house can only be entered by the couple for photos, and only during cocktail hour with an additional “House Tour Fee.” The exterior of the property is stunning (especially the stairs and greenhouse), so this isn’t super necessary.
5. Saddlerock Ranch - Hilltop Estate
Saddlerock Ranch is a Malibu wedding venue classic. It’s also home to Malibu Wine Safaris, which is a favorite Malibu experience, especially for guests traveling in. It’s similar to Calamigos in terms of having multiple venues onsite, hosting multiple weddings at once, and being a fully functioning ranch that is open to public business at all times. That being said, my favorite venue section of Saddlerock is the lesser known Malibu Hilltop Estate. It’s located across the street on Mulholland, slightly removed from the main ranch, and features a gorgeous home with what I think are the best views of the Santa Monica Mountains that Saddlerock has to offer.
The estate is, well, an estate. Gorgeous interiors for getting ready photos, a great balcony spot to get aerial-type photos of the ceremony and reception, and a beautiful lawn out front for having the celebration. There are trees strung with lights, and you have access and a driver to the rest of Saddlerock Ranch for wedding photos during golden hour. It’s kind of the best of both worlds, in terms of the amenities of a wedding factory and the benefits of a smaller, more secluded venue.
Saddlerock is on Mulholland, very close to Calamigos and Malibu Rocky Oaks, Malibu’s “Wedding Row” so to speak. Since there’s tons of space and access to take photos at the venue, there’s no need to leave the property for portraits. A favorite spot, especially for sunset, is the yellow frame structure with the most beautiful view of Malibu and the Santa Monica mountains. It’s a unique feature that you won’t find anywhere else.
One downside to keep in mind is that the ceremony + reception location requires a flip, since it uses the same space and chairs. This translates to reception tables in the background of ceremony photos, and a little bit of a rush during cocktail hour.
View an Adamson House wedding on the blog.