These are the places we emailed that we seriously considered visiting after reading through their response (our criteria was, “does it look like they read our initial email where we said November afternoon, kosher buffet, Jewish wedding with dancing for 100 people? Yeah? Okay, let’s see if we can visit”):
San Jose City Hall
Mill Valley Community Center
Pavilion Center at Boulder Ridge
Mexican Heritage Plaza
Marin Art & Garden Center
Jefferson Street Mansion
Club Los Meganos
The Bridges Golf Club
Castlewood Country Club
Lafeyette Events Center
B.R. Cohn Winery
Shrine Event Center
Dunsmuir Hellman Estate
The Bellevue Club
Paradise Ridge Winery
These are the places we looked at:
San Francisco JCC -in my opinio, the best of the JCCs. Our Nov. date meant I didn’t want to deal with Plan B for weathers, I liked the airy atrium in front of two big tablets, and I thought their ballroom was grand. Plus, parking is easily available. Fiance wanted outdoor ceremony, however, so he didn’t want to use it except for as a last resort.
Palo Alto JCC: Beautiful campus that reminded me SO much of Jerusalem. It made fiance homesick (sabra by birth) and made me strongly consider Israel for our honeymoon again. The coordinator was super chill, which I appreciated given how stressfull this can be, and she’s done more than 600 weddings in her career. However, their bigger ballroom wasn’t available on our date, and the only room that was available was way too small for us, despite them telling it could work. They sent us a picture with 10 tables with between 9 to 10 chairs at each one, with a buffet and cake table, and the room was full. WHERE would we put the dance floor? I wish their other room would have been available, because they had a cute terrace for the ceremony.
Osher JCC: The parking was G-d awful. It shares a lot with a shul, a day school, AND the JCC. It’s also built on the side of a hill, so it uses a, in my opinion, weird step terrain layout throughout the entire building. Didn’t like it at all compared to the other two.
Congregation Beth Sholom (my synagogue): I LOVE our sanctuary but it would feel REALLY empty with 100 people in it. And our social hall is GORGEOUS, but would need lots of work for it to feel like a wedding; it’s a modern, blank slate. Also, no parking.
Mountain Terrace: If we were doing a spring or summer wedding, entirely outdoors, we would have been more likely to use them. They’re int he mountains with GORGEOUS views, but the inside seemed kind of dated. $1,000 buy out for food.
San Mateo Marriott: The place we selected for our wedding. Cute outdoor courtyard for ceremony. Perfect sized ballroom with one big feature (fireplace) that didn’t make it feel like a cookie cutter hotel wedding. Great coordinator. Like the ONLY wedding site besides the JCCs that I found int he entire Bay Area that specifically says on its website that it does Jewish weddings. Works with Too Catering all the time. Great bridal suite. Convenient for out of town guests.
Hilton Sonoma Winery: No. It was a no almost immediately. The pictures they show online are selective, but to a degree that felt dishonest. It is on the side of a hill, in a industrial park. The “gorgeous view” is of the top of industrial buildings, and the city of Santa Rosa. Sure, you can see the mountains in the distance, but we were very disappointed. And for being a Hilton, it sure didn’t feel like it. The property looked like a Holiday Inn. If I’m paying Holiday Inn prices, that’s one thing, but they weren’t. By using an outside caterer, they required a $3,000 alcohol minimum. But if we can’t ensure it’s kosher alcohol….there’s a problem!
Cornerstone Gardens: A cute, whimsical garden. If we had been having a spring or summer wedding we would have considered this. I liked that the garden was sectioned off into smaller areas; felt more private and intimate. The art is fun, seeing different gardeners’ work is amazing. But we’re November….
Montclair Women’s Cultural Arts Club: For the $4,000 dollars, I expected the place to be in a lot better shape. This is basically on a corner lot in the hills of Oakland, in a residential-ish area. The house is shaped like an L, with a patio in the back. There was a wedding just the night before, but there were dry, dead leaves everywhere, food wrappers, baby food jars, etc. Not to mention, there was no parking! We didn’t meet with the owners, but when we dropped in, a waitress who had worked at the wedding the night before told us that people were told to park in a nearby church’s lot. A) I find it rude to do this without receiving permission from the church and offering a donation of some kind but B) Sunday morning wedding and you want us to park (in their 12 spots…) right when their worship services are held?
Piedmont Community Hall: We really liked this; there was an Orthodox bat mitzvah being set up when we were looking at it. Many mazal tovs were exchanged all around. If we hadn’t needed the dance floor, I think we would have considered it. Right across from GORGEOUS homes, good parking, right on a park.
Hacienda de las Flores: Perfect for an all-outdoor wedding. For November, it wouldn’t work because the old mansion has many small, divided rooms. We don’t want to put 8 people in this room and 15 over here and 31 in here and 12 in here…
Brazilian Room: We immediately loved this place. We wanted it SO bad. And yet it was already booked on our date. Boo. Check it out and see if it fits your vision/style/taste at all.
Kenyon Place: Fiance didn’t like that you could see rollercoasters in the background from Six Flags. They’re not in your face, but during the summer or spring when the park is open, I’m sure you’d be able to hear it. A nice meditrranean feel to the place. Would probabyl work best for late afternoon; the sunset views would be amazing.
Gardens at Heather Farm: We weren’t fans at all. We visited in late January, granted. But it reminded me of the public park in Fremont that I went to all the time. I’m sure in the spring it’s a lot better, with everything in bloom. We weren’t fans for November though.