Wedding at the Santa Barbara Courthouse

The majestic Santa Barbara Courthouse in the center of historic downtown offers a wide array of options for a wedding ceremony. This location has long been the choice of many couples since the building was completed in 1929. Stroll through the tiled hallways, lush gardens and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to another era. Walk up a winding staircase to the clock tower and experience a breathtaking 360 view of the City. You’ll find countless architectural backdrops and green garden that are perfect for wedding photography.


There are several areas in the interior courtyard that can be used for a ceremony. The sunken garden area that faces the main archway wins first place for a backdrop with the grandest architecture. This is often used for weddings that have large bridal parties and guest attendance. This area can accommodate up to 250 guests.

Bride’s bouquet - white peonies, pink roses, eucalyptus

Bride’s bouquet - white peonies, pink roses, eucalyptus

Bridal recessional at the Main Arch

Bridal recessional at the Main Arch

Santa Barbara Courthouse - Main archway

Santa Barbara Courthouse - Main archway


Another popular site is the Fiesta Stage, named for its use as the main entertainment venue during Santa Barbara’s annual Fiesta celebration which takes place in early August. https://oldspanishdays-fiesta.org

This is a lively, festive time to visit Santa Barbara, but not the best time to plan your courthouse wedding ceremony! The Fiesta Stage is also a good choice for a large bridal party and generally has less foot traffic than the main archway area.

Bridal party on Fiesta Stage

Bridal party on Fiesta Stage

Fiesta Stage

Fiesta Stage


Raised slightly above the Sunken Garden area is the Palm Terrace. This site offers sweeping views of the gardens and the building. Couples who choose to use this area often install an arch or arbor. Weddings by the Sea can custom design any arch/arbor to suit your vision and individual style.

Wedding arch on Palm Terrace

Wedding arch on Palm Terrace

Fall wedding at the Palm Terrace facing Southwest corner

Fall wedding at the Palm Terrace facing Southwest corner


The Rotunda Lawn offers a charming, intimate area for smaller weddings and offers a greater degree of privacy.

Dance on Rotunda Lawn

Dance on Rotunda Lawn

Newlyweds

Newlyweds


Throughout the courthouse grounds and inside the building itself there are many lovely places to be discovered.  One of our favorite locations for wedding photography is the second floor mezzanine hallway which overlooks the gardens.  The bright, diffused light in this location is always good and flattering to everyone.  

Newlyweds walking down tiled mezzanine

Newlyweds walking down tiled mezzanine

Mezzanine Hallway

Mezzanine Hallway


There is an almost endless locations for photography.

Courthouse interior spiral staircase lends itself to photographs that are undeniably both romantic and moody.

Courthouse interior spiral staircase lends itself to photographs that are undeniably both romantic and moody.

The first floor the doorway provides a great photo op for a silhouette photo.

The first floor the doorway provides a great photo op for a silhouette photo.

For couples willing to make the climb up to the clocktower, the reward is sweeping panoramic views.

For couples willing to make the climb up to the clocktower, the reward is sweeping panoramic views.

On the Northeast side of the courthouse you’ll find another grand arch with a gigantic wooden door. Inscribed over the door in Latin are the words Dis Cite Jvstitiam Moniti. The English translation is “Learn Justice From This Warning”

On the Northeast side of the courthouse you’ll find another grand arch with a gigantic wooden door. Inscribed over the door in Latin are the words Dis Cite Jvstitiam Moniti. The English translation is “Learn Justice From This Warning”

The Sunken Gardens are available for wedding ceremonies 7 days a week. https://www.countyofsb.org/parks/courthousewedding.sbc

There are two time slots available; 11 - 2  and 3 - 6.  Once you’ve reserved your date and paid the fees, you can choose from any of the five sites in the Sunken Gardens.  Photos can be taken all around the courthouse grounds.  But keep in mind that the building is a working courthouse and does close in the evenings.  Our clients sometimes choose to schedule a First Look photography session to fully take advantage of all the gorgeous photo ops inside the building. Contact us for more information on your Santa Barbara Courthouse wedding!