A Magical Affair: Your Guide to Getting Married at the Santa Barbara Courthouse

Embark on a journey of love at the enchanting Santa Barbara Courthouse! In this guide, we'll walk you through the various location options, permitting fees, and the steps to book your dream ceremony at this iconic venue. All of the information within was collected from the County of Santa Barbara website. Direct links to the information is linked below.

Location Options at the Santa Barbara Courthouse

The Santa Barbara Courthouse offers a variety of picturesque locations for your wedding ceremony or intimate elopement. Choose from the historic Mural Room or the stunning outdoor grounds. Each venue provides a unique backdrop, allowing you to tailor your ceremony to your vision of the perfect day.

1. Mural Room: Ideal for an intimate affair, the Mural Room boasts stunning hand-painted walls and a timeless atmosphere.

If you are considering the Mural Room for your ceremony, it is available in the following two hour timeframes. Please note these times include set-up to exit.

  • 10 am to Noon (Saturday and Sunday only)
  • Noon to 2 pm (7 days a week)
  • 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm (7 days a week)

To ensure the Mural Room is left in great condition for other couples, the following rules are enforced:

  • The door to the Mural room must be open at all times and access beyond the roped-off area is strictly prohibited
  • Tacks, tape, real flower petals, open flame, standing on or propping anything on the furniture, walls, drapes, or doors is absolutely prohibited
  • Candles are not allowed in the building, or anywhere on the property - LED candles are fine
  • Sequins, glitter, confetti, rice, or birdseed are not allowed in or around the building
  • Wedding rehearsals are not included with a wedding reservation
  • No food or drinks allowed
  • Benches are not to be moved
  • Drapes are not to be touched

2. Sunken Garden:Embrace the beauty of nature in the Sunken Garden, surrounded by lush greenery and vibrant flowers – a perfect outdoor setting for your vows.

When considering the gardens for your event, note that the following is included:

  • The Garden is made up of 5 spaces; the Sunken Garden, Palm Terrace, Fiesta Stage, Bird of Paradise, and Rotunda Lawn. These spaces are all reserved as one, and the maximum capacity is 250.
  • Guaranteed Reserved Space - The in place reservation system allows confidence in your date. When you click the "make a reservation" button at the bottom of the page, you can navigate date options and select the one that works best for you.
  • Coordination with County Parks Staff - Instead of setting up wedding ceremonies under the radar, planners and families could rely on the expertise of the County Parks staff to reserve locations and answer questions.
  • Limiting Conflicts with Smaller Weddings - With small, unregulated wedding ceremonies relocated to the outer perimeter of the grounds, potential conflicts, especially on popular dates, will be minimized. This means that by reserving the gardens, you will not have to worry about other weddings taking place at the same location. The staff members assisting with your reservation can answer specific questions.

The following rules do apply to all wedding ceremonies taking place in the garden:

  • No amplified sound, but soft acoustic music would be permitted (think live performers)
  • All chairs and equipment are to be hand-carried to the wedding site
  • No rice, confetti, flower petals, birdseed, or open flames are permitted
  • Wedding rehearsals are not included with a wedding reservation
  • Taping off or coning any area of Courthouse Grounds is not permitted
  • Food or beverages are not allowed for ceremonies
  • Water bottles are permitted in exterior venues only (not in Mural Room) and must be disposed of properly
  • Stay out of planting beds

Santa Barbara Wedding Permitting Fees

To ensure your wedding day goes off without a hitch, it's essential to understand the permitting fees associated with your chosen venue. At the time of this blog, the permitting fee for the Mural Room is $700.00. This includes a $200.00 non-refundable reservation fee and a $500.00 facility use fee. The price for the Sunken Gardens is $1200.00. This includes a $200.00 non-refundable application fee and a $1000.00 facility usage fee.

How to book a wedding at the Santa Barbara Courthouse

Research and Choose Your Venue: Explore the different venues offered by the Santa Barbara Courthouse and select the one that resonates with your vision. Consider what colors you want present, what season you want to get married, and the decor you picture surrounding you on your day.

Create a Reservation: Use the direct links above to follow the most current steps to make a reservation. Each location page is updated regularly with any changes and important information.

Submit Application and Pay Fees: Once you've confirmed availability, submit the necessary application forms and pay the required permitting fees. This step secures your chosen location for the specified date and time.

Attend a Marriage License Appointment: Remember, obtaining a marriage license is a separate process. Schedule an appointment with the County Clerk's office to acquire your marriage license.

Coordinate with Vendors: With your venue secured, start coordinating with other vendors such as photographers, florists, and officiants to ensure a seamless ceremony.

Enjoy Your Special Day: Finally, on your wedding day, arrive at the Santa Barbara Courthouse ready to exchange vows in the midst of beauty and history.