Waterfall Lodge is a relaxed, rustic-chic wedding venue and retreat situated in Ben Lomond CA. Nestled high in the Santa Cruz mountains, Waterfall Lodge is set in 30 acres of lush redwood forest. 

Despite its secluded feel, it’s just 30 minutes from the Santa Cruz beaches, an hour from San Jose and about an hour and a half from San Francisco.

It’s definitely a hidden gem! The groom, Greg sourced this venue. Guests commented that they had no idea it was here!

Well, it’s time to put this place on the map and explore a little more of what it has to offer. 

In this article, as well as showing you images from the wedding I photographed there in 2021, I’m also going to let you in on helpful information about planning your wedding at Waterfall Lodge. 

Waterfall Lodge wedding photos from summertime wedding ceremony + reception
Waterfall Lodge wedding photos from summertime wedding ceremony + reception | Photos by Zoe Larkin Photography

About Waterfall Lodge

This venue is a little different from most in that it’s actually a laid-back, luxury retreat. It’s best to book it for the whole weekend though there are a limited number of one-day bookings available every year. 

It’s such a cozy, peaceful place, you’ll want to stay longer than a day. Typically, guests go for a rejuvenating hike in the beautiful countryside the following day and you have full use of the kitchen too.

Waterfall Lodge requires a minimum of 9 cabins to be booked for multi-day weddings. It sleeps 86 guests within 32 onsite cabins. 

Maximum guest count for weddings at Waterfall Lodge

If you have some other guests staying off-site, the venue hosts up to 150 wedding guests for the ceremony and reception. 

For less of a snug fit, 125 guests is the optimum maximum number. 

How to use the venue’s spaces 

Cabins, redwoods and the interior of the lodge itself at Waterfall Lodge
Cabins, redwoods and the interior of the lodge itself at Waterfall Lodge | Photos by Zoe Larkin Photography

It’s up to you to work with the on-site coordinator to find the best configuration for your ceremony and reception location. There are many distinct areas both indoors and outdoors that work for different size groups, weather conditions and desired level of formality. 

For this wedding, the couple’s ceremony was in the sunny and beautiful Redwood Cathedral, a manicured forest clearing. Sunshine slants in through the surrounding trees. An alternate ceremony space is by The Mother Tree at High Meadow Camp (an ancient redwood tree). 

Their reception took place largely outdoors on the gorgeous patio paved with travertine stone beside the lodge. Everyone headed indoors for the first dance and open dancing. 

This wedding was in mid-July so the days were long and the weather fair (though not warm per se after the sun sets). 

Features of Waterfall Lodge

photos of the inside and outside of the waterfall lodge venue for weddings
Details of the exterior and interior of the lodge building with rentals furniture | Photos by Zoe Larkin Photography

Waterfall Lodge is made from 19th Century reclaimed barn wood and lumber from local trees. There are 1820’s French carved wooden doors and beveled leaded glass windows that add to the rustic, historic feel. Romantic lanterns adorn the lodge also, casting a glow on the festivities. 

The building itself is set on a lower level down a gradually sloping footpath, making for some fun photos as guests walk from ceremony to reception. 

Some of the features you can access include:

  • Thousand-year-old redwood trees including a set shaped in a circle, including the iconic Mother Tree
  • Beautiful balconies for photo opps
  • Comfortable A-Frame cabins 
  • Doors, windows, and gates laced with delicate wrought-iron ornamentation
  • Paths and nature trails 
  • Sustainable, reclaimed wood buildings 

There is definitely no shortage of options when it comes to utilizing and decorating the venue to your taste. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone! 

A wedding planner is required in order to book this venue. Other than that, Waterfall Lodge allows you to bring all your own vendors. It does not offer in-house catering. 

Order of events for this wedding

Getting ready & ceremony

For Allison & Greg’s day, we began at 2pm with ample getting ready time of 1.5 hours (this is much longer than usual, but Allison/ the planner wanted the whole time covered not just the ‘finishing touches’ that’s enough for most. 

I was with Allison and my second photographer was with Greg on the lower level where the lodge is. 

There was no first look, so the ceremony started earlier than usual at 3.30pm. Afterward, we moved straight into family photos, which Allison and Greg wanted a lot of as it was a priority for them. 


We captured the reception space when it was fully set up. We also captured part of the cocktail hour before the couple arrived. Then our priority shifted immediately straight to the all-important (and best part of the day!) romantic photos.

I knew we wouldn’t have long, and always try to keep this as efficient as possible. It was tiring for the couple who hadn’t sat down for a minute, which is yet another reason we recommend keeping family photo groupings lists as short as possible – you want to keep your energy up!

During the cocktail hour and reception, the couple had the Tap Truck set up, a rad mobile beer truck that dispenses out of vintage American rigs. That was a talking point of this wedding!

Tap Truck at a wedding in Santa Cruz CA
The awesome Tap Truck which dispenses beers directly through taps drilled into the side of the vehicle | Photos by Zoe Larkin Photography

Everyone sat down to dinner at 6pm. The couple began their program with a welcome toast followed by a buffet dinner soon after. Some great toasts ensued, then the couple mingled and greeted their guests. 

Once the fire pit was lit and the dessert bar set up, the DJ invited guests to the dance floor. The first dance song was Ground Up by Dan + Shay. Our cue was to finish up after the end of the formal dances, but we ended up staying a bit longer to capture some open dancing. 

This was a very short day of coverage by traditional standards. That’s fine by us as we offer a low minimum starting at just 3 hours for weekday weddings (which this was!). Our services start at 8 hours for weekends during wedding season. 

To avoid feeling rushed, we always recommend that for more traditional weddings such as this (with well over 100 guests), 7 to 7.5 hours usually ends up being the bare minimum. 

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Vendor Credits

Photography: Zoe Larkin Photography

Venue: Waterfall Lodge

Planning: Giselle, Encompass Events (no website) 

Floral Design: Rosalea Design

Catering: Aptos St BBQ

Rentals: Alexis Party Rentals

HMUA: Bridal Bliss Company

Sweet: Cutesy Cupcakes (permanently closed) 

Drinks: Tap Truck

DJ: Santa Cruz DJ Company

Staffing: Lia Adams Events

Photos from Waterfall Lodge wedding

Waterfall Lodge wedding photos - getting ready wedding details from Waterfall Lodge wedding Ben Lomond CA guys getting ready outside the Lodge at Santa Cruz wedding venue ceremony area set up for a wedding at Waterfall Lodge groom standing at aisle awaiting bride's entrance at Waterfall Lodge wedding Ben Lomond CA couple getting married at the Redwood Cathedral, Waterfall Lodge bride and groom laughing during wedding ceremony at Waterfall Lodge wedding intimate moments of wedding ceremony in Ben Lomond CA bride and groom just after getting married at Waterfall Lodge wedding Waterfall Lodge wedding photos by zoe larkin photography cocktail hour next to the barn at Waterfall Lodge, santa Cruz wedding photos from Waterfall Lodge wedding by Zoe Larkin Photography wedding details and the lodge from Waterfall Lodge reception set up at Waterfall Lodge ready for a wedding bride, groom and guests toasting at Waterfall Lodge wedding intimate outdoor wedding venue in Santa Cruz mountains wedding photos from waterfall Lodge wedding in Santa Cruz dessert bar set up for wedding at Waterfall Lodge, Santa Cruz bride and groom dancing inside Waterfall Lodge parent dances photographed by Zoe Larkin Photography Waterfall Lodge, Santa Cruz wedding photos

About Zoe Larkin Photography 

Looking for a Bay Area wedding photographer? You can learn more about my services at the links below: 

Bay Area wedding photographer – Homepage | Bay Area Wedding photographer – Info, pricing, about & portfolio

Hoping I’ll be back at Waterfall Lodge in Santa Cruz soon, shooting your lovely woodsy wedding!

Wedding photos from Waterfall Lodge, a rustic retreat nestled high in the Santa Cruz mountains in Ben Lomond, CA. Waterfall Lodge hosts weddings for up to 150 guests and is both an indoor and outdoor venue. This stunning venue is perfectly positioned for access from San Francisco and San Jose and is a hidden gem if you’re looking for an intimate wedding venue in the Santa Cruz area where you can stay longer than a day and that will charm and delight your guests.
Wedding photos from Waterfall Lodge captured by Zoe Larkin Photography

Zoe Larkin

I’m Zoe, a wedding photographer based in San Francisco! My style is candid, capturing authentic moments for my couples all over the Bay Area and Northern California. Creating content is my passion! Follow along the blog and Insta!


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Waterfall Lodge wedding photos (Ben Lomond, Santa Cruz)

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