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    Choosing Your Bay Area Wedding Venue

    By Alexis Garhammer, CWP–

    Choosing a venue is one of the biggest decisions couples need to make when planning their wedding. The reception site sets the tone for the entire wedding celebration and often guides other big decisions about the big day. Traditional or contemporary. Formal or casual. Indoor or outdoor. The choices can seem endless. And while we are lucky to have a plethora of venue options in Northern California, from coastal and urban to wine country and everything in between, many couples may feel overwhelmed by this decision, often the first one to be made during the wedding planning process.

    If you and your partner don’t already have a defined wedding style or theme, it can be helpful to tour several venue types and see what speaks to you. Perhaps try a winery, a traditional hotel ballroom and an industrial raw space. You’ll quickly discover which end of the venue spectrum works for your style, as well as determining your practical requirements like capacity, food and beverage options (and restrictions), budget, etc. Your next round of tours will then be a more refined list of venues so that you can select the one which is best for you.

    While there’s no one right choice, many couples are returning to the traditional option of hotel weddings for their one-stop-shop convenience and simplicity. With catering, rentals, cakes, overnight accommodations and more all offered under one roof, usually with one experienced planner to coordinate all of the details for you, it’s no wonder busy couples find the convenience of a hotel wedding appealing. What makes this an even easier choice? San Francisco and the greater Bay Area offer no shortage of both historic grand hotels and new contemporary hotels.

    Claremont Club & Spa, the iconic Berkeley Hills resort that Frank Lloyd Wright described as “one of the few hotels in the world with warmth and character,” offers couples both old world charm and modern design. Claremont recently unveiled its newly updated event space, including the iconic Claremont Ballroom and the appropriately named Skyline Room (thanks to stunning Bay views), both popular destinations for wedding celebrations.

    The new spaces feature updated carpets, wall coverings, furniture and décor, as well as new names that pay homage to the East Bay. Over 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space were updated during the four-month redesign. Since rebranding as a Fairmont hotel in late 2015, the landmark resort, which opened in 1915, has also undergone renovations to its main lobby and public spaces, all 276 guest rooms and the new Limewood Bar & Restaurant, creating an overall aesthetic that is both classic and contemporary.

    Whether you know it well or only know of it, now is the perfect time to rediscover the “new” Claremont Club & Spa, a quintessential Bay Area wedding destination for over 100 years.
    To learn more about hosting your wedding at Claremont Club & Spa and to book your tour, go online (, phone 510-549-8591 or send an e-mail ( Claremont can accommodate meetings, weddings and social events for up to 300 guests.

    As a Certified Wedding Professional and Claremont Club & Spa’s resident wedding expert, Alexis Garhammer is passionate about incorporating design and personality into the planning process to create unique weddings, fundraisers and social events at the iconic East Bay resort. She began her career in Chicago planning a range of events and holds a Bachelor of Science in Event Management from the University of Central Florida.

    1-PHOTO Fred and Jaime (1)Frederick Sullivan and Jaime Botello, who oversee the Weddings & Occasions page for the San Francisco Bay Times, are the talented wizards behind Sullivan-Botello Events ( and SnB Party Rentals (650 -877 – 0840 , Both are Certified Wedding Planners with extensive experience in creating memorable, personalized events for special occasions. Their rental service is incredible, offering everything from beautiful gold Chiavari chairs to LED dance floors, and all at competitive prices. They are the creators of the Gay Vanity Wedding Show and are longstanding members of the Golden Gate Business Association, which is the nation’s first LGBT Chamber of Commerce.