Modern Wedding Venues in California

Modern weddings can be sleek, stylish, and incredibly unique. For ideas on modern wedding venues, read this comprehensive guide from Zola!

By The Zola Team

Scenic rooftop venue
Photo by Diana Rothery Photography

You want your wedding day to feel different from any other wedding. And nothing has more style, more moxy, or more excitement than a modern wedding.

The aesthetic is all about clean lines, innovative design, and mix of manmade and natural materials. Basically, modern weddings are a contemporary artform all on their own.

So if you’re looking to find architectural marvels and contemporary style for your special day, read on for some of the most modern wedding venues California has to offer.

Modern Wedding Venues in California Photo Credit // Red Eye Collection

Hip Industrial Spaces

Industrial spaces offer plenty of room to be creative with your wedding design. The combination of exposed brick, concrete, and metal is a blank canvas for your decor. From Sacramento to San Diego, you’ll find a medley of different industrial spaces to inspire a modern wedding with a cool industrial edge.

Do you love the idea of an industrial space for your wedding? Then check out these modern venue ideas:

  • Refurbished Warehouses: Stylized windows, tall ceilings, and dramatic steel beams make warehouses a great choice for a reception. The space gives you plenty of room for dancing and activities, plus the acoustics are perfect for live music.
  • Converted Manufacturing or Business Venues: These venues offer a unique spin on a warehouse. The owners refurbish the building for modern amenities, but usually maintain the personality of the structure’s past life. For example, a converted mechanic’s shop may repurpose tires and car parts as eclectic planters for succulents.

Urban Rooftop

Have the best of sky and city with an urban rooftop wedding. You’ll take in a bird’s eye view of the world while you’re saying your vows. And if you live near a major city, you’ll have no shortage of great rooftop venues to choose from.

If you need a few more reasons to love a modern rooftop wedding, read on:

  • Skyline: Is there a better decoration than starlight and a city’s glow? Let the nearby high rises and night sky serve as a dramatic backdrop to your reception.
  • Best of Indoor and Outdoor Space: Rooftop weddings have the open-air feeling of an outdoor venue, but with the amenities and comfort of an indoor space. Plus, no bugs!

  • Flexible Dress Code: Urban rooftops are like little black dresses: You can dress them up, or you can dress them down. You can pretty much set the dress rules however you want. When you’re sixty stories up, ball gowns and tuxedos look just as good as sundresses and short-sleeved button-ups.

Loft Spaces in Arts Districts

Tap into your inner artist and hold your reception in a lofted artist’s studio. Artist lofts combine modern aesthetics with a touch of homey comfort. Whether you’re in the Mission District or Venice Beach, you’ll find a spectacular California-style loft for your wedding.

Here are just a few advantages of a loft venue:

  • Light and Airy: Lofts are known for their tall windows and high ceilings. Use that space for modern light pieces, avant-garde decor, or just a giant poster of you and your spouse-to-be in Andy Warhol’s style. Or, go minimalist—the space in and of itself is art.
  • Location, Location, Location: Loft venues are usually nestled in the heart of a vibrant urban area. Your guests will have plenty to explore before and after the ceremony.
  • When in an Arts District, Find Some Artists: If you choose to have a loft wedding, do a little research about what’s happening in the nearby arts and culture district. You may find up-and-coming culinary geniuses, extraordinary installation artists, talented musicians, and superb light designers. Use the local artists’ community as a resource for your wedding.

Modern Art Museum

Lean into your love of all things modern at a contemporary art museum. Modern art museums are all about the new and the daring, so your style will fit right in with the exhibits.

Here are some reasons that an art museum might be the perfect setting for your 21st-century wedding reception:

  • Built-In Decor: What could be better decoration for a modern wedding than modern art? Work with your event manager to coordinate exhibits with other wedding details, making your reception a sort of living installation within the museum.

  • Modern Art in the Great Outdoors: Many California art museums have beautiful grounds filled with sculptures. Your guests will enjoy the pieces in a serene museum and in the fresh air.

  • Experienced Venue: Because many museums hold their annual fundraisers within their exhibit space, their event managers are deeply familiar with the intricacies of event organization.

Contemporary Beachside Venues

Coastal wedding venues in California are timeless and provide a perfect backdrop. But that doesn’t mean they have to be old-fashioned. Take advantage of all that the Pacific has to offer, but with a modern twist.

You might find your seaside wedding venue in one of these options:

  • Modern Hotels by the Sea: Newer waterfront hotels are pushing the envelope when it comes to design. They feature contemporary decor elements, cutting-edge guest amenities, and panoramic views of the ocean.
  • Wedding on the Water: If you want to get married in California, chances are you love the water. Turn your reception into a cruise with a yacht wedding. Modern yachts offer simple yet elegant decor, dance spaces, extensive kitchens, and enough horsepower to get you to Mexico and back before you cut the cake.

Distillery or Brewery

California distilleries and breweries strike the perfect balance of industrial ambiance and culinary sensibility. The brewing fixtures are on full display like art installations, while the scents of distillation create an atmosphere of fun and gastronomical adventure.

Are there advantages to a modern wedding at a brewery or distillery? Absolutely, and they’re listed right here:

  • Big Spaces: Distilleries and breweries are large spaces—with all that equipment, they have to be. But that means plenty of room for you and your entire guest list. Plus, that space isn’t limited to indoors. Most distilleries and breweries are located in industrial areas, meaning a large outdoor parking area right on the premises. Take full advantage of a brewery or distillery’s space with drinking inside and dancing outside.

  • Modern Wedding Food: Most breweries have an open policy when it comes to caterers. And with all that outdoor space, you can have some serious fun with your choice of food vendors. Hire a wood-fire pizza service, a kebab restaurant that brings their own giant grill and coals, or even host a classic Southern barbecue. The possibilities are only limited by your appetite.

Turn Anywhere into the Perfect Modern Reception Space

Sometimes, your perfect venue isn’t an urban rooftop or a museum. It’s a space you create for yourself. If that’s the case, take a look at these tips to transform any place into a fantastic space for a modern wedding.

Find a Simple Venue

A simple space with limited flourishes gives you the freedom to introduce your own design elements. Focus on finding a location with white walls, concrete floors, and of course, vaulted ceilings. Your venue will be a blank page for an incredible contemporary wedding reception.

Stay in the Digital Age

You want your big day to feel modern from start to finish. Find opportunities to incorporate technology into your big day. Below are just a few examples:

  • A Bird’s Eye Photography View: Look for a photographer who uses drone cameras to get sweepings views of your wedding. You’ll be amazed at the composition of the photos.
  • Wedding Website: Skip licking stamps for the save the dates. Instead, make a website. Companies like Zola let you design a free wedding website in your own unique style. Plus, your evites, registry, and RSVP list will all be in one accessible place.
  • Digital Jukebox: Some deejays offer social media hashtags, apps, or websites for wedding guests to send in their favorite songs. Guests can even add a dedication to the couple or someone they love.

Incorporate Contemporary Design Elements

Modern design is all about sleek lines with architectural elements. The aesthetic offers tons of flexibility, depending on what aspects are most exciting to you.

Here are a few simple ways to bring modern style to your wedding:

  • Go Minimalist: A minimalist approach highlights a few aesthetic elements in your wedding. Instead of multiple colors and intricate designs, a few colors and motifs you choose will stand out beautifully. Here are a few examples of minimalism in decor:

    • Flowers: Choose only a few blooms and surround them with simple greenery, such as ferns, myrtle, or eucalyptus. Simple, stunning, and modern.
    • Cake: Limit yourself to one detail on the cake, like a single black line around the base. The cake will turn heads for its minimalist aesthetic, plus it may even be a bit more affordable.
    • Flatware: Say no to the forks and knives with paisley designs. Simple silver flatware will be the functional accent pieces of your minimalist table.
  • Geometric Designs: Geometric designs are perfect for modern weddings. Incorporate them into everything from your ceremony altar to your centerpieces.

    • Centerpieces: Use geometric terrariums instead of floral centerpieces on your tables. The combination of glass, metal, and moss combines modern industry with natural beauty.
    • Lighting: Light is vital to a reception. And light filtered through geometric bulbs enhances the modern vibe of a contemporary reception. Experiment with adding a geometric chandelier to your venue—it will turn your reception into a stunning picture of modern wedding style.
    • Plates and Glassware: Rent plates and glassware in unique geometric shapes. Your guests’ dinner setting will be stunning before the food even arrives.
Modern Wedding Venues in California Photo Credit // Modern Wedding at Headlands Center for the Arts

A Wedding for Today That You’ll Remember Forever

The modern wedding aesthetic isn’t just about contemporary design elements—it’s about breaking free from tradition to celebrate your love exactly how you want to celebrate it. So long as you embrace that spirit, your modern wedding will be an unforgettable tribute to a love that shatters the mold.