Intimate Weddings

Mendocino California Wedding Photographer | My Favorite Wedding Venues

Hey friends! I am often asked for my favorite wedding venues on the Mendocino Coast. Honestly, that’s a loaded question because I love them all, but like anyone, I definitely have my favorites. I decided to give you a little glimpse into a few of my favorites. So here they are in no particular order:

best wedding venues on the mendocino coast

The Inn at Newport Ranch

Driving up to this property, you will instantly feel like you have stepped onto a movie set. You may be greeted by a cow in the driveway, but most definitely by your hosts who will likely offer you a water or glass of wine. With breathtaking ocean views, gorgeous architecture, stunning interior design, and love in every corner, this is the perfect location for an intimate wedding. As if that wasn’t enough, let’s not forget the redwood lined ridge-top and coastal views. We can explore the redwoods together for your bridal session and then you can be married overlooking the breathtaking pacific ocean. This is also a perfect place for a Mendocino Honeymoon or even a quick lovers getaway. We’ve had our own staycation there and can not say better things about it!

photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

The Inn at Newport Ranch+wedding+-photographer

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Although it has been an incredibly long time since I have photographed a wedding there, I spend a lot of time with my family and friends at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. I had the honor of photographing a proposal there over the summer (oops a little behind on blogging, coming soon!) and wowza, look at those colors! This place is a treasure trove of color, texture, and most importantly will save you a boat load in decorating costs. Home to the Dahlia Garden and best known for their Rhododendrons, the garden is beautifully fragrant and will entertain all the senses. Oh and did I mention the ocean views? Yes, this is your all inclusive choice on the coast. Mendocino Coast Botanical has it all!

mendocino coast botanical gardens+wedding+photographer
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens+wedding+-photographer
mendocino coast botanical gardens+wedding+-photographer

Switzer Farm

Located 20 miles north of Fort Bragg, California, this venue boasts breathtaking ocean views, a beautifully manicured garden, and a centuries old victorian farmhouse. The farmhouse home can accommodates 20 plus guests, and for those not staying with you, there are several Bead and Breakfast’s to choose from just up the road in Westport. This is the perfect place for the couple who wants to bring their family along for their big day!

Switzer Farm+Wedding+-photographer
switzer farm + wedding +-photographer

Ellie’s Farmhouse

A country home is nestled among 40 acres with meadows & majestic redwoods, Ellie’s Farmhouse is a perfect place for your intimate wedding or gathering. The most unique and possibly my favorite feature of this property is the old fashioned Fire Engine from Mendocino Fire District that sits on the lawn. It’s a perfect prop for photos. The house can accommodate up to 7 overnight guests, and there is a bonus Glamping Tent that could serve as your place to snuggle up after your wedding day! There is a beautiful kitchen that is perfect for your caterer or family to prepare a meal. Every nook and cranny is full of perfect details for your wedding day!

Mendoicno+California+ Wedding+-Photographer
Mendoicno+California+ Wedding+ Photographer
Mendocino+California+ Wedding+ Photographer

A Few additional Venues on the coast for your consideration:

(click the words below to be taken to the venue website!)

Albion River Inn

Caspar Community Center

Elk Cove Inn

Holly’s Ocean Meadow

Jug Handle Creek Farm

Macculum House (I am excited to be working with Elope Mendocino on a wedding here this summer)

Mendocino Headlands State Park

Philo Apple Farm (discounts apply for anyone booking a wedding with me here)

Red Barn Ranch

Spring Ranch

Stanford Inn

Yokayo Ranch (I am excited to be working with his venue this summer, keep a lookout for a blog post sometime in June)


Some of my favorite Wedding Planners:

Elope Mendocino (Elopements are my jam, and I love working with Vanna, let’s make magic together!)

Mendocino Weddings & Events

Mendocino Wedding Witch


No matter where you decided to exchange nuptials on The Mendocino Coast, you are sure to have beautiful views and unforgettable memories!

Brides, what do you look for when you are considering from a venue? Tell us in the comments below! and for all my Wedding Professional Friends out there, What are your favorite venues here on the coast? Drop a comment and give us your best tips!

Chelsi is a destination wedding  and portrait photographer based in Fort Bragg, California. She loves to travel and will go anywhere to capture your life's sweet moments. She lives for seeing the world, capturing authentic love, and making people feel fabulous. Her style is authentic, real, and emotional. She believes in laughing too much, singing too loud, and most importantly living life to the fullest and prefers capturing every single authentic beautiful moment that evoke emotion over perfectly posed photos.

5 Tips For a Successful Photo Session

So you've decided to hire your favorite photographer to capture our RAD love story. Now what?!? You're probably nervous. You're likely dreading the moment that your photographer lifts their camera and sticks their lens in your face. I GET IT!  It's kinda scary right!?! The moment that camera comes out we all of sudden we feel awkward and shy, and what the heck am I supposed do with these arms?!? Can I get an amen?!?

Not to fear, I want help you prepare so that you are more comfortable and ready to have fun during your next close up. All it takes is a little advance planning and knowledge. I have come up with 5 things to do to get comfortable for your next session. 

Let's say yes to self confidence and bye bye to shyness and anxiety. You ready?!? Let's go! 

mendocino california wedding photographer

1. Forget about your photographer

Yes, this means you have my permission to pretend your photographer isn't there! Truth is, the less you focus on the fact there is a camera in your face and the more you think about how much you love each other, the better the photographs!  Pinkie swear, it's true. So go ahead, stare into his/her eyes, forget there is anyone else around, and focus on how much you love each other. Feel free to snuggle, hug, kiss, heck make out if that's your thing. Look what we just did! We seriously turned your photo session into a make out sesh! Now your photos will be more natural and less posed! Woot woot! 

Fort Bragg California Photographer

2. Get Your Hair & Makeup Done

I'm not saying that you can't go “au naturel” if that's your thang. What I AM saying is that no matter your style, a little of attention to your hair and makeup will go a long way in photos! Makeup is naturally smoothing to the skin and helps even out tones. Hair can be done so many different ways and depending on what style you are going for in photographs in can add an intentional vibe.  Here's a bonus tip: consider getting your hair and makeup done professionally and then going out for a day on the town all dolled up! Spa day plus a date with your lover, win/win right?!?

Mendocino California Couples Photographer

3. Plan your outfits in ADVANCE!

We've all done it. Threw together outfits 10 minutes before we needed to leave on a date or to an event. And of course, nothing looks right so it looks like a bomb went off in our closet by the time we finally choose our attire! yup. Been there! Trust me, you do not want to be doing that on the day of your photo session. It will add unneeded stress to your day. So here's my tip, PLAN IN ADVANCE. Heck, send a few outfit options to your photographer and let them help you decide if your coordinated enough! 

The clothing choices that you make for your session are EXTREMELY important. They are the center of what guides the look and feel of your session. You want to choose an outfit that is both form flattering and comfy. No one wants to be feeling like they need to adjust a too tight dress or scratching because they chose an itchy fabric. Solids are always a safe bet, but don't be afraid to go for a pattern. Just make sure that whatever color/pattern you choose that they compliment each other. IF you opt for a pattern, choose something simple, like jeans and a solid t-shirt or oxford for your partner.  Solid, neutral colors are always a good rule of thumb, but don't be afraid to play with color or patterns! For colors, make sure they are complimenting whatever your partner is wearing.  And PLEASE, don't be matchy matchy. It's awkward and really leaves something to be desired in photographs. 

CLICK HERE for my F R E E “What To Wear Guide”.


4. Accessorize and add props

Have a fun hat that you love to wear? WEAR IT! Love statement jewelry? ROCK IT during the session. Pack a picnic. Bring flowers. Have a favorite board or card game that you like to play together? Let's do it! Anything that adds to the style and mood that you are looking for is fair game. We LOVE props! 

Mendocino California Couples photographer

5. Choose a photographer you trust

This is the most important tip that I can offer. In order for us to achieve the natural and comfortable photographs, you MUST trust the person giving you direction.  The difference between a good and GREAT photograph has little to do with you as a person and EVERYTHING to do with lighting and posing. Find a photographer who's work resonates with you. Make sure that you LOVE their style so that you can ultimately trust their direction.  Find someone who is going to capture your LOVE exactly the way you want to remember it. LOVE is RAD and it deserves to be documented awesomely. 

That's it friends. I hope that these tips and tricks help ease your fears and rock your next photo session!

Chelsi is a destination wedding  and couples photographer based in Fort Bragg, California. She loves to travel and will go anywhere to capture life's sweetest moments. She lives for seeing the world, capturing authentic love, and making people feel fabulous. Her style is emotive, authentic, and fun. She believes in laughing too much, singing too loud, and most importantly living life to the fullest and prefers capturing every single authentic moments that evoke emotion over perfectly posed photos.

Are you ready for an adventure with the love of your life?

T & C Elope at Agate Cove Inn in Mendocino, California

Being one of Elope Mendocino's Photographers is one of the most rewarding experiences and I am truly thankful for the opportunity to work with Vanna. I recently worked on an Elopement with her at Agate Cove Inn in Mendocino. The couple was awesome. The groom serenaded his bride with "Thank You" by Led Zeplin. 

I haven't seen anything quite like this at any wedding or elopement that I have been a part of. It was so romantic and really gave us all a glimpse into their relationship. So "Thank YOU", Vanna for including me as one of your photographers and asking me to be part of this amazing ceremony.