A Bride’s Guide to Planning a Wedding in Concord

Consider Concord, California, as the place to share your nuptials with friends and family. This exciting, culturally diverse city just 30 miles from San Francisco—and offers many affordable options for all sizes of receptions.

Congratulations, you and your beloved are tying the knot! Now the process of planning what will be one of the most memorable events of your life begins. Where you choose to celebrate the big day is one of the most important decisions you and your partner will make. It also sets the tone for your celebration. With Concord, California, as the backdrop, your nuptials are sure to impress friends and family who will be gathering to share your special day. Consider all the great reasons to kick off your life together in this exciting, culturally diverse city just 30 miles from San Francisco.

What Makes Concord Great for Weddings

With exceptional weather and stunning natural beauty, Concord is the perfect spot for any festivity. It’s centrally located in the San Francisco Bay Area within an hour of three international airports—San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. The local airport features JetSuiteX service from Las Vegas and Burbank. For those driving, Concord is right off the 680 freeway.

For more information on airport services, click HERE.

If guests want to leave the car behind, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has two convenient Concord stations, and the Martinez Amtrak Station is less than 10 miles away with service from San Jose, Sacramento, and up and down the coast. Guests who extend their stay in Concord will appreciate the abundance of recreational pursuits, proximity to three premier wine regions, and hundreds of restaurants representing the cuisine of two-dozen countries.

One thing newly engaged couples will find out quickly is that getting married in the San Francisco area can be pricey. According to the wedding publication, The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the San Francisco Bay region was $39,329 in 2018. While high-end tastes and a long guest list can run bills even higher, Concord prices are generally 50 percent lower than those of some other Bay Area regions, like San Francisco and Napa. Not only will you pay less for vendors and services here, but your guests will also appreciate the more reasonably priced hotel rooms.

Your First Decision: The Wedding Venue

According to California wedding planner, Rebecca Johnson, securing your venue should be your first priority. By taking care of the site—generally 12 to 18 months in advance— you’ll have your all-important date, which helps you lock down the other vendors.

With your date now inked on the calendar, look to book those vendors who can only provide their services for one wedding at a time, such as photographer, videographer, DJ/band, and florist. Lighting, AV, transportation, cake, and other services can come later. Many venues will provide you with a list of preferred vendors so you can hit the ground running, and hotels generally offer comprehensive packages for the ultimate in no-stress planning.

Budget Tip: If you’re looking for places to trim costs, start with those areas of the wedding where guests spend the least amount of time—the ceremony and the cocktail hour. Splurge instead on dinner and dancing, which people are more likely to remember.

The Big Dilemma: Indoor or Outdoor?

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As you prepare to research venues and embark on venue visits, one of the initial decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want your celebration to be inside or outside. The idea of exchanging vows in a natural, fresh-air setting makes alfresco weddings a perennial favorite. And with an average of 263 days of sunshine annually, Concord is ideal for outdoor “I dos” throughout much of the year.

While hotels don’t typically come to mind when considering outdoor wedding venues, you’ll fall in love with the Hilton Hotel’s outdoor fire-pit courtyard, suitable for up to 200 guests. From dinner to décor, their top-notch team of planners will attend to every detail to put on a stylish and unforgettable affair.

If you’re looking for a truly one-of-a-kind outdoor spot that will send hearts soaring, consider exchanging vows atop the 3,849-foot summit of Mount Diablo. This iconic site is available to 16 couples, with up to 30 guests each, on certain dates throughout the year, typically in May. Officiated by the County Clerk-Recorder and in partnership with the California State Department of Parks and Recreation, weddings will be held on the summit's observation deck, with a dramatic backdrop of rolling hills, and if the weather is clear, expansive views of San Francisco, the Sierras, and beyond.

Indoor ceremonies have their advantages as well. You’ll be covered in the event of unexpected weather with climate under control. Because sound restrictions may limit how late you can play music outside, an indoor reception also gives you the flexibility to celebrate into the wee hours.

For an indoor wedding with outdoor ambiance, the elegant California Ballroom of Concord’s Crowne Plaza features a romantic atrium surrounded by lighted trees, a water fountain, and koi ponds. Make your first dance a glamorous affair under the impressive chandelier of the California Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 500 guests.

Center Concord is another impressive option for those who plan a big wedding party. The ballroom that’s operated by the city of Concord can seat up to 400 guests, but it can be made smaller for more intimate affairs as well. Simple sophistication makes the Clarion Hotel another excellent indoor choice. Its newly renovated Grand Ballroom offers flexible space for up to 250 friends and family, and its onsite wedding coordinator can tailor the perfect fête for a variety of styles, tastes, and budgets.

Indoor/Outdoor: The Best of Both Worlds

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If outdoor ambiance is important, but you want a Plan B in the event of uncooperative weather, Johnson suggests couples consider a hybrid option, with the ceremony and/or cocktail hour outside, followed by dinner and dancing inside.

The Concord Historical Society Event Center can accommodate up to 400 people in its hall or smaller groups in the intimate fireplace room but has a lovely gazebo and gardens for a fresh-air ceremony beforehand.

Located in a park, the Willow Pass Community Center features a patio with a picturesque setting for smaller ceremonies, as well as an indoor banquet hall for up to 200 guests. The hall’s large windows let natural light stream through during the day, and views of the surrounding landscape will make it feel like you’re outside. Flexible hours and a per-hour pricing package will also help you cut down on expenses, leaving more to spend on your honeymoon or add to your nest egg.

Most of all, you want your wedding to be an event that’s fun and meaningful for all who attend. In Concord, you’ll find plenty of choices to find the venue that’s right for your personality. Enjoy the process and make your wedding the event that you want it to be.

Written by Karen Bakar for Matcha in partnership with Visit Concord.