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The save the dates have been sent out and the theme has been chosen. But where will the wedding take place? It’s a choice that is often the most grueling decision of wedding planning. It’s hard for couples to find a unique venue that not only serves as the perfect backdrop for photographs, but also one that guests will never forget. Long Beach has several distinct wedding venues to choose from.

Couples who have a natural love for the ocean and aren’t afraid to get a little close to aquatic life can consider the Aquarium of the Pacific.

The aquarium has several ceremony sites. One option offers a three-story aquarium as the backdrop for the ceremony — the Blue Cavern Exhibit would be a good choice. The Rainbow Rooftop Terrace provides a scenic outdoor setting that offers views of the ocean and Shoreline Village.

Ceremonies on Friday and Sunday are $750 and $1,000 on Saturdays. Ceremony and reception packages also are available.

For more information on packages, call (562) 951-1663 or visit www.aquariumofpacific.org/specialevents/social_events/weddings/.

A truly unique Long Beach wedding venue is aboard the vintage ocean liner The Queen Mary. The Sun Deck Gazebo on the Main Deck that overlooks the ocean is ideal for larger weddings close to 120 guests. Other options include the Verandah Deck that sits just outside the Verandah Grill or the Queen Mary Chapel on the Promenade Deck. For couples who want more of a ship setting to their wedding and photographs, there is the Sports Deck. It offers a 360-degree view of the ocean, harbor and downtown. Large black and red smokestacks make photos distinctive.

Ceremonies with a reception include a site fee of $2,000. A ceremony alone is $2,500. Prices vary depending on the day of the week.

For ceremony and reception packages, lunch menus start at $59 per person and dinners start at $74. For more information on Queen Mary weddings, go to www.queenmary.com/weddings/weddings.php or call (562) 499-1620.

For couples who prefer a view of not only the ocean but also Catalina Island, then the Long Beach Museum of Art would be a good choice. The venue can sit up to 300 people outside, or up to 100 for a smaller wedding inside the historic craftsman-style building.

A ceremony site fee is $1,000. The reception site varies depending on the time of the year. Currently, the fee is $3,000 until March for a wedding that lands Friday through Sunday. Prices for platted meals, bar service and buffet lunches and dinners vary depending on selected food choices but average around $65 per person.

For more information on daytime wedding prices and menu options, visit lbma.org/special-events/ or call (562) 439-2119 ext. 234.

One of the newer wedding options in town is Hotel Maya. It is a beachside hotel that provides numerous ceremony site options such as the Jardin de Palmeras, which features a gazebo, a tropical waterfall and an ocean view. The Esplanade Outdoor Lounge has a fire pit and an umbrella that is more than 14 feet tall. The Luna Solstice Terrace is both an indoor and outdoor terrace that provides views of the city skyline. There’s also the La Playa, which contains 285 tons of real sand.

The Walk–In Wedding Package for $650 is just one of the many wedding packages the hotel offers. It includes on-site officiants to perform the ceremony, marriage license services, dinner or lunch for two at the Fuego restaurant and use of outdoor space for up to 10 people.

For larger weddings, ceremony and reception packages start at $85 to $108 per person (Friday to Sunday) and $55 to $87 during the week. Lunch packages are available starting at $62 depending on the day. Packages are customizable and they offer complimentary rooms, customizable cakes and a wedding coordinator. For the reception, couples can choose indoor ballroom options such as the Miramar and the Salon de Reyes.

For more information, visit www.hotelmayalongbeach.com/weddings/ or call (562) 481-3922.

For an outdoor garden setting, the Earl Burns Japanese Gardens at California State University, Long Beach, is an exclusive venue that features a lush green landscape complete with tall trees, a pond and an arched bridge.

Ceremonies and receptions are available March through October. Prices vary depending on the day. Friday evening weddings and receptions are $3,500, $4,500 for Saturday and $3,900 for Sunday evenings. Packages include a bridal cabana, one-hour rehearsal on Wednesday or Thursday, white chairs, a four-hour time slot and more.

For more information, visit www.csulb.edu/~jgarden/ or call (562) 985-8889.

Hornblower’s Cruises and Yachts offer numerous hassle-free wedding packages that include a disc jockey, ceremony, a buffet or seated meal and a customized wedding cake. The captain also will serve as the officiant.

Packages start at $90 per person on non-peak days. For an extra $10 per guest, a floral package will be provided. The length of the cruise depends on the package, but most offer four-hour cruises. Brunch and luncheon packages start at $76 per person and are available Sunday to Friday for cruises that leave at 1 p.m. or earlier.

Visit www.hornblower.com/port/category/lb+weddings or call (949) 650-2412.

These are only a few of the many Long Beach options for wedding venues. All have one thing in common — the Southern California weather. Explore, and enjoy.

Original article by Sarah Taylor via the Grunion Gazette.

Cover photo by Daniel Balboa at www.s-bphoto.com.

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