One of the first things we did after we came back from New Zealand (which I STILL haven’t posted about, how terrible am I?) was start looking at venues. Okay, one of the first things we did was pick a date, but 1) we technically did this on the plane ride home, 2) we later changed the date, and 3) date-picking doesn’t make for a good post. So, we had originally picked an October 2011 date back in September 2010, giving us a little more than a year to plan a wedding. I knew nothing of wedding planning, really, but I knew we had to get on the ball figuring out where we wanted to get married because if we wanted a popular spot it could get booked up really quickly.
Do you know how many places you can get married in San Diego? There are, like, thousands of spots and that’s not even counting churches (and other religious institutions). We knew we wouldn’t be getting married in a church and we knew we wanted a location where we could have the ceremony and reception. We pretty quickly ruled out a beach wedding and locations along the coast. I know – San Diego is an ideal beach wedding city. But, we’re just not beach people, so it wouldn’t have felt very “us”. After I’d looked into hotels, downtown, Balboa Park, the Wild Animal Park, and wineries in Temecula, we decided to focus our search to North County Inland – mainly, close to our home in Poway.
Our initial list consisted of Rancho Bernardo Inn and Maderas Golf Club. It wasn’t until later than I even found out about Mount Woodson Castle, and what I did find (on Bridal Insider) was not promising (cancelled contracts, lost deposits, last-minute wedding venue scrambles, etc). But, Travis heard we could get married in a “castle” and was all over it – at the very least we had to schedule a site visit to go look.
To sum up: Rancho Bernardo Inn was actually our top contender and we got close to putting down a deposit, until we really looked at their quote. It was just so much money! Beautiful space, but expensive, especially when we were looking at just 75 people (and that was mainly to meet their room minimum!) Maderas Golf Club had a slightly lower room minimum, but it was still a lot of money. Plus, due to some scheduling snafu (on their end) our preferred wedding date had already been booked. We went back to Mount Woodson, asked them some critical questions, braved a bridal fair to get our “coupon”, moved our wedding up 6 months, and then booked the site.
Mount Woodson was not my first choice, but it turned out to be perfect. I’ll tell you about the catering later; Personal Touch Dining does all the catering for Mount Woodson events, since Tracy is also the property manager.
The photo at the top of the post is one of the main reasons I ended up loving the site. Once we made the decision to hold the ceremony inside, I was looking forward to photos with the light framed by the windows and doors.
Our ceremony was inside (much cooler, too) and the bar was set up on this little patio right outside. Dinner tables were set up on the lawn in front of the castle and we had patio heaters all over the place to keep people warm, but I don’t think we even needed them that night. There’s a refurbished kids room with tables and books and toys, which I also don’t think we used (we only had 3 kids at our wedding). We had the photobooth set up in one room and the mini donuts were stationed outside where the dinner buffet had been. The dj was set up on this little balcony over the dance floor (which was where the ceremony was held).
Just around the corner from the castle was all this greenery – it made for beautiful pictures.
We held an early rehearsal, in case some event got booked for the Friday evening before our wedding, but it worked out well so that we had an early rehearsal dinner, which led into dessert back at our house and then an early bedtime.
We never had any problems dealing with Mount Woodson, Tracy, or anything else having to do with the venue.
The wood and stone were just rustic enough to give us the casual feel we were looking for, but the space lit up beautifully with all the candles our coordinator spread around. We extended our reception an extra 2 hours and I still think I could have stayed there all night.
With the new management and all the renovations being done to the castle, I think Mount Woodson is an amazing wedding location. It’s definitely off the beaten path from San Diego proper, but it’s not as far as Temecula. The closest hotel is off Scripps Poway Parkway, by SR-67, but there are also hotel/motels in Poway. I think I would also recommend having a shuttle or bus system set up for evening weddings, since the 67 can get a little tricky to drive in the dark and you want people to be safe!