I’m delighted to share with you photos from this Outdoor Art Club wedding! The Outdoor Art Club is an absolute haven of tranquility, tucked away in the middle of downtown Mill Valley.
It’s easily accessible from San Francisco and is an affordable wedding venue with a historical, Old World charm, rustic features and exquisite planting.
If you don’t already know a little about the history of this venue, let me enlighten you real quick because it’s a fascinating backstory to set the scene for Caroline & Ryan’s amazing wedding day.
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History of the Outdoor Art Club
In 1902, a group of women were outraged by the removal of redwoods near a train depot. They decided to club together and form an organization dedicated to environmental conservation and beautification.
In 1904, the club moved into its newly-built clubhouse – this beautiful space designed by architect Bernard Maybeck. He’s the architect behind countless other Bay Area monuments such as the Palace of Fine Arts, the Faculty Club, Swedenborgian Church, the Hearst Gymnasium to name but a few.
The ladies of the club would build for the local community, they provided earthquake relief, sponsored the local library – and the organization is still going strong today. Its stated mission is:
“To preserve the natural scenery of Mill Valley and the surrounding country, to beautify the grounds around public buildings, to work against the wanton destruction of birds and game, to encourage the development of outdoor art and to engage in other civic, literary, and charitable work.”
To fund its work, the Outdoor Art Club caters to couples seeking a tranquil space for their wedding day. It’s become an incredibly popular venue actually and with good reason! In this article I’m going to share a little about what the OAC has to offer for your wedding.
About the Outdoor Art Club for weddings
The Outdoor Art Club is located in the heart of downtown Mill Valley, CA. Despite its central location, it feels tucked away and secluded. You enter through an arched gate into a patio area surrounded by thoughtful, mature planting everywhere you look. Guests are greeted by the redwood logs, rustic pergola, and a welcoming porch.
An oak tree provides a leafy canopy to the large, perfectly manicured wedding garden in the back. Here you’ll find annuals, perennials and hardy shrubs lining two sides of the wedding garden, adding to the sense of peace. You’ll find redwoods as your backdrop as you say your vows.
The clubhouse by Maybeck is a classic Arts and Crafts structure. The historic lodge features a rustic, brown-shingled exterior, hardwood floors, dark wood, hanging chandeliers, and multiple sets of French doors that bring the outside in – plus so much light. The beamed vaulted ceiling also adds to the sense of grandeur.
Connected to the back end of the clubhouse is the Sun Porch which can be used for your bar, buffer, cake table, or just as an overflow area for mingling.
Between the charming location and the stunning grounds, the Outdoor Art Club is a venue that turns every wedding into a memorable one.
What’s included when you book the Outdoor Art Club?
Venue rental fees can include:
- Exclusive use of the selected ceremony and reception space
- Tables, chairs, and onsite furnishings
- Getting-ready suites and a Catering Kitchen
- Setup and teardown services
- And more!
Please check with the venue directly for more information, as all specifics are subject to change without notice.
How much does it cost to rent the Outdoor Art Club for a wedding?
At the time of publishing this article, the 2024 rates start at $7,000 for Saturdays and $6,000 for Fridays and Sundays. Prices are subject to change without notice. Please contact the Outdoor Art Club directly for up-to-date prices and for a custom quote for your unique event.
What we love about the Outdoor Art Club
The Outdoor Art Club oozes effortless Old World appeal and rustic charm. Tied to its history is also the very tangible way that your booking benefits this nonprofit organization and its environmental mission. If you’re looking to give back to the community on your big day or are interested in the notion of an ethical wedding, this is it.
Proximity to nature
You’re close to the redwoods at this venue without being in the back of beyond. The Outdoor Art Club is sheltered beneath majestic Redwood trees with Mt. Tam in the distance. The planting is heavenly, with year-round interest in the gardens.
Its intimate feel
It’s hard to put into words until you see it for yourself and experience a wedding here. But there is something uniquely cozy and welcoming about these spaces.
The intimate feeling you get here is palpable. The warm wood paneling makes gatherings feel even warmer and full of love. It’s so welcoming, all your guests will feel right at home!
Other things I love about the Outdoor Art Club
- There are ample indoor and outdoor options and different configurations of how to use each space.
- There’s only one wedding per day here, so no competing with another wedding group and squished timelines, strict load in/out times.
- There’s a stunning, spacious getting-ready room on site (typically used for brides) and another simpler but still very serviceable indoor space too for the other partner.
- It’s gated and private. No randoms walking in to your wedding!
- In all reports and reviews I’ve heard about, the staff has been called very easy to work with as well as flexible, responsive and personable.
- It’s very reasonably priced for what you get and for its proximity to San Francisco!
Things to be aware of when considering the Outdoor Art Club for your wedding
- The Outdoor Art Club is only available for rentals on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It’s not available during the week (Monday – Thursday).
- A guided tour is required before renting the facility. These are only available at specific times detailed on the club’s website.
- This venue can get booked up super far in advance, particularly for Saturday weddings during wedding season (April – November).
- Some reviewers have reported that hotel options for out-of-town guests have been a little thin so they’ve booked hotels in San Francisco and then shuttled everyone over.
- Couples must select from a list of approved caterers with no exceptions. We’ve heard no complaints about the vendors on that list, and in fact, many reviewers have mentioned that this has saved them time and money as they’ve felt in such good hands!
- There are a fair amount of rules to abide by, but this is largely to ensure the historical preservation of the venue. Keep in mind it’s a nonprofit and we’re so lucky this place allows rentals, and at such an affordable price point.
- It has to be said… PARKING! Bit of a nightmare as there’s only metered street parking around here. Being a busy downtown area, it can be incredibly hard to find a spot. There is no parking at all onsite but there are some vendor load-in/out areas for catering etc.
About our wedding couple
I couldn’t have been happier when Caroline reached out to me with news of her upcoming wedding to Ryan. Caroline found me through her friend Larissa, whose wedding I’d photographed previously. It’s always lovely to see my previous couples again at their friends’ weddings!
These two lived across the street from each other in Laurel Heights, San Francisco when they met.
They combined households about 6 weeks before the first lockdown and found themselves closer than ever before.
Ryan surprised Caroline with an exquisite Tiffany ring during a trip to Mendocino. And the rest is history!
Ryan is a packaging designer who turned his hand to wedding invitation design (and did an amazing job). Caroline is an environmental attorney and water conservation advocate.
Caroline’s vision for the wedding was that the beautiful Outdoor Art Club would welcome all of their guests. They envisioned a wedding in which ‘their closest family and friends would feel a part of it… filled with love, warmth and hopefully lots of laughs!’.
The unifying aspect continued with her description of their non-denominational Christian ceremony, held in the garden and surrounded by so many trees. They had a small wedding party and an alternative take on ‘flower girls’.
Family came from far and not-so-far as Ryan is a Bay Area native while Caroline’s nearest and dearest came all the way from North Carolina (and brought so much sweet southern charm with them – her parents, aunts and uncles are the most darling people I’ve ever met! They certainly doubled as a cheerleading squad for me, the humble photographer!)
Events at this wedding
Caroline worked with Just Jayne, an experienced local Mill Valley wedding planning team that brings a wealth of knowledge about working within this venue. Together they crafted a day that really brought Caroline’s vision to life, and then some!
We started the day with the tail end of getting ready, first with Caroline and the girls, then with the boys.
I staged the couple’s first look, then went straight into family photos after a few romantics for safety. You never know when time crunches might happen later in the day or when the couple might not be in the mood for romantic photos once the guests arrive plus with all the emotion of the day!) which proved to be a wise move.
The ceremony was such a moving one! The couple then had some downtime immediately afterward while I captured the cocktail hour and the completed reception setup.
There were toasts and speeches followed by dinner and cake-cutting. Caroline and Ryan weren’t big on the idea of dancing, but I did manage to grab a few shots of the newlyweds taking to the dancefloor!
This left more time for mingling and guests getting to know each other and enjoying the space.
A few more special touches I enjoyed about this wedding:
- Stunning cake and florals
- The beautiful Japanese maple tree – yes, it is not an editing trick, it really was that striking shade of red in November!
- The incredibly stylish and simple draped fabric as their ceremony arbor
- Long tables for their reception, fashioned in a U-shape. (There’s probably a more technical term for this). So cool!
- Amazing warm weather for a November day in Marin!
- Invitation suite designed by the groom himself
- An audio guestbook fashioned to look like an old-fashioned telephone from Fêtefone
Venue: Outdoor Art Club
Photography: Zoe Larkin Photography
Planning: Just Jayne Events
Floral Design: Flower Power Marin
Suit: Ted Baker
Rings: Tiffany & Co
Catering: Delicious Catering (permanently closed)
Sweets: Two Chicks in the Mix
Rentals: Bright Event Rentals
DJ: Ceremony DJs
Lighting: Marin Event Lighting
Favors: Golden Gate Fortune Cookies
Audio guest book: Fêtefone
Photos from Outdoor Art Club wedding
About Zoe Larkin Photography
Looking for a Marin wedding photographer? You can learn more about my services at the links below:
Hoping I’ll be back at the Outdoor Art Club soon, shooting your lovely wedding!