Designed by famed architect Julia Morgan, who also designed Hearst Castle for William Randolph Hearst, the Berkeley City Club. a vintage wedding venue in Berkeley, CA, is one of Berkeley’s best-kept secrets. In fact, Berkeley City Club is also known as the “Little Castle” since Miss Morgan was also building the Hearst Castle and many of the building’s features remind visitors of the Hearst Castle. There’s much to love about this gorgeous building, from the stately front entrance to the ornate doors, windows and other elements of Gothic Moorish architecture.
Berkeley City Club was born in 1927, when a small group of women felt the need for a central hub for women’s activities and decided Berkeley was the best location. These women hired Julia Morgan to design and supervise the construction of the Club. After the club opened in November 1930 (known then as the Berkeley Women’s City Club), it quickly became a center for social, cultural, recreational, and family activities in the East Bay. Today it is a private social club, event venue and fine dining restaurant. It has been accepted into the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of the Historic Hotels of America.
The venue easily accommodates both intimate weddings, and larger-scale events. Smaller groups often have the ceremony in the drawing room, which holds 100 guests, while the larger outdoor covered terrace ceremony area holds 170 guests. The terrace has rolling canvas blinds that enclose the space and they also have overhead heaters, so they are able to keep guests cozy during winter weddings. If you are interested in touring the club, you can make an appointment. They also have an annual showcase, the Big Reception at Little Castle every spring.
As a photographer, I quickly fell in love with Berkeley City Club. There are so many wonderful locations for gorgeous, elegant wedding photos-it’s a wedding photographer’s dream! Some of the most popular places to take wedding photographs are: the inner courtyard, the ceremony terrace, and, of course, the pool. Julia Morgan was known for her swimming pools, especially after the pool she built at Hearst Castle. The members/only drawing room is the go to spot for cocktail hour. It’s easy to see why with its cold world regal charm, velvet plush couches and arm chairs, and walls lined with shelves full of vintage books. Everywhere you look you’ll find luxurious antique furnishings and decor.
Sarah Williams, a wedding coordinator at Berkeley City Club, says the most beautiful weddings play with the theme of the architecture. A few past favorites have been: fantasy weddings, Harry Potter inspired weddings, and 1920s great Gatsby weddings.Her favorite secret spot is the North Courtyard, located in the rear of the main floor. “Most people never come here,” she says.
Anyone who is a detail–oriented person will appreciate Berkeley City Club. There are gorgeous details everywhere you look, including the antique elevator with its ornate indicator hand. Who doesn’t love an antique elevator? I also love the sign on the women’s restroom- it read: Powder Room.
Even if you’re not getting married, the Berkeley City Club is still worth a visit. Spend the night in the hotel, dine at Julia’s, the in-house restaurant, or swing by for one of their fabulous events. For couples looking for the premier vintage wedding venue in the San Francisco Bay Area, Berkeley City Club is the best vintage wedding venue in Berkeley, hands down.
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER? CLICK HERE TO SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION!