There are many reasons why the Julia Morgan Ballroom wedding venue is a premiere San Francisco wedding venue: sweeping cityscape views, Old World details like hand-carved wood and seductive neoclassical accents, and a lobby to die for. Housed in the Merchants’ Exchange Building at 465 California Street, the location is heard to beat: right in the heart of the bustling Financial District, at the base of the California Street cable car line (making it the perfect spot for quintessential SF wedding portraits with a cable car background). From the moment you enter, the building radiates elegance, from the vaulted lobby accented with marble, gold leaf and bronze, to the gleaming silver elevators etched with intricate designs, which convey you up to the 15th floor, where the landmark Julia Morgan Ballroom is located. Some couples love the lobby so much that they opt to do their ceremony there!
But first, we need to talk about the elevators. Normally, I wouldn’t bother, but these are the most luxurious elevators I’ve seen in San Francisco. Couples love having their portraits taken in front of the elevators; it adds a fun element to any wedding gallery, especially if there’s a shot with one elevator door open behind one partner! Spend a few minutes here before you’re swept up to the 15th floor like royalty.
Before entering the ballroom, guests move through a classic foyer, featuring gilded ceilings and fireplaces of carved stone at each end. Many couples make use of these spaces to create more intimate seating areas for small groups to mingle. The Julia Morgan Ballroom wedding venue is also one of the few San Francisco wedding venues that still allows the use of real candles, which always adds extra romantic flavor to any event. The warm glow of candle light makes for gorgeous wedding photographs every time.
Next is the opulent bar and lounge, one of my favorite spaces. There’s something about the sexy curve of the bar and all of that gorgeous carved wood that speaks to me. It’s the perfect space to serve champagne or a vintage cocktail from bygone days.
The getting-ready room is just down the hall, and is a stylish yet cozy spot to grab a few minutes together just the two of you. It’s also another fun wedding photo location. There are several more ideal (somewhat secret) wedding photo locations at the Julia Morgan Ballroom wedding venue, scattered throughout the building: wrought iron gates in the back alley, the curved archway overlooking the lobby, and the fun staircases in the back of the building. And, as previously mentioned, you might want to set aside a few minutes to pose with the cable cars. The drivers love to indulge couples, and will often stop to give you an extended photo op.
The ballroom itself is 4,370 square feet, with a wall of soaring floor-to-ceiling arched windows that afford a view of the twinkling cityscape, while mirrors on the opposite wall reflect the light. The space is rich with detail: the ceiling an intricate honeycomb of mahogany octagonal pieces, offset by rich, paneled walls with classic columns worked directly into the wood. At the far end, a 20-foot stone fireplace provides an iconic backdrop and a final touch of grandeur.
You probably don’t want your wedding to look like any other Julia Morgan ballroom wedding. No problem! The Julia Morgan Ballroom wedding venue comes as a blank slate (albeit a spectacular, drool-worthy blank slate) so you have ultimate freedom to redesign the space according to your vision for your wedding plans. Some couples choose to fill it with long tables for dining, other prefer more intimately-sized seating arrangements. With such a beautiful space it’s hard to go wrong.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share one last, fun detail. Let’s say you love the idea of a vintage SF wedding venue, the Julia Morgan Ballroom in particular, but you have your heart set on an outdoor ceremony. There is one–a short walk away–at Transamerica Redwood Park. Towering redwoods growing at the base of the Transamerica Pyramid give the park a lovely, fresh feeling. A fountain bubbles. There is built-in seating. This is an ideal spot for an outdoor San Francisco wedding, and if you agree, you can book this spot and the Julia Morgan Ballroom all at once since the Merchant’s Exchange handles bookings at both venues.
If you are looking for an historical SF wedding venue, I highly recommend putting the Julia Morgan Ballroom wedding venue at the top of your list. Not only is it one of the premier wedding venues in San Francisco, it’s a testament to Julia Morgan’s vision and creativity, a gem of Old World craftsmanship. Any wedding reception here is automatically opulent. But take my word for it, don’t forget the candles!
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