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Venue Feature: Santa Lucia Preserve

Santa Lucia Preserve AGS Photo Art Landscape
Carmel Valley Wedding exclusive venue santa lucia preserve

20,000 acres of beautifully natural land comprise the Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel Valley, California. Described as “one of the most unique, privately owned parcels of land in the United States if not the world”, Santa Lucia Preserve is an incomparable venue as a local Carmel wedding photographer. It hosts a Gatsby-esque hacienda from the 1920s, a 100-year-old barn for receptions, and an intimate Redwood circle ceremony site for weddings. (Sidenote: Hilary Swank agrees; she married here in 2018!). What adds to Santa Lucia Preserve’s charm is its exclusivity. Only those that are sponsored directly by Santa Lucia Preserve members can host their wedding on this property.

We sat with Aubrey Yeakel, the Catering and Hospitality Manager, in the beautiful Hacienda at Santa Lucia Preserve. A cathedral window that spanned the entire wall was our backdrop; through it were green meadows with cattle grazing and an organic garden. This place really ignites my inspiration as a Carmel wedding photographer!

Santa Lucia Preserve Barn Indoor reception
Santa Lucia Preserve Barn wedding barn doors

Tell us a little bit about the history of Santa Lucia Preserve.

Native Americans inhabited the land for 1500 years. The land was sold in the 1900s to create what is now Santa Lucia Preserve. In short, it is a member-owned community with custom homes, an equestrian center, private golf, and health club. There are 300 estates and over a hundred miles of trails that weave through the oak trees, redwood forests, and golden meadows. Perfect backdrops for wedding photography!

Santa Lucia Preserve hacienda view
Santa Lucia Preserve Garden meadow

It’s breathtaking here! What’s the process for a bride to get married here?

Well since it’s a private community, the process is fairly strict. A member must personally sponsor them. Members have to sign for them and must be formally invited to the event. We don’t allow anyone without connections to the community to host a wedding here.

Santa Lucia Preserve hacienda
Carmel Valley wedding venue
Carmel Valley Hacienda outdoors
Santa Lucia Preserve wedding venue

That makes it so much more special to host a wedding here. What are some options for brides if they have their wedding at this venue?

The main ceremony site is the Redwood Grove, which is a circle of towering redwood trees that feels incredibly intimate. It can seat up to 300 people. Another option is the lawn behind the Hacienda, which provides easy access to the Hacienda and a beautiful view of open fields. Reception sites can take place in the 100 year old barn, which can seat 225 people for a plated dinner and 175 in a buffet style.

Carmel Valley Hacienda view horses
Outdoor wedding reception

Lastly, do you have any favorite spots on the property?

Honestly, it’s a sanctuary, the Redwood Grove. The couple and guests are surrounded by a cathedral of trees. The brides that choose this site not only seem drawn to nature, but choose it for its sanctity. We also only host one wedding a weekend so each event is exclusive. It’s truly such a dream!

Carmel Hacienda

Thank you so much, Aubrey!

If you have an event at Santa Lucia Preserve, I’d love to photograph! Please reach out here.

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