Chapels, lodges, the great outdoors |

Chapels, lodges, the great outdoors

Submitted photoWayside Chapel in Rough and Ready.
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Some people want to be married in nontraditional places like out-of-the-way chapels or places that are out doors yet have indoor facilities too. Places off the beaten track abound in Nevada County and beyond. Here are just a few of those unusual venues.

Sierra Friends Center

This is the site of the former John Woolman School out Jones Bar way. It is run by Quakers, and although they accept weddings of any creed, they have some rules to abide by, such as no loud bands, quiet after 10 p.m. and limited alcohol consumption.

But the grounds are magnificent, 7 acres of central campus and hiking trails to boot. A big meadow surrounded by tall trees is a beautiful spot to be married in. The reception can be outdoors or in the dining hall, which fits 80. “Caterers,” says Executive Director Amy Cooke, “love the kitchen.” The center even has full lodging, 80 beds in all, but you need to supply the bed linens. This is a facility that offers its grounds and buildings only, with renters supplying everything else. Camping is also possible.

While the place can accommodate up to two hundred guests, Cooke says the center is “a unique, idyllic setting for those small, intimate weddings. There’s something magical about the setting-romantic yet rustic.”

Costs range from around $800 to upwards of $3,000 for the entire facility for overnight. (530) 273-3183


Not many folks know about this 122-acre jewel on the North San Juan Ridge only 15 minutes from town, but it is a most unusual conference center of domed and rammed earth buildings that can accommodate up to 300, inside or out. Lori Bailey, events planner, says the place is so unique that movie location scouts from Hollywood are interested. “It looks like a scene out of Lord of the Rings with its Hobbit domes,” she says.

There’s a 2,200 square foot main hall with fireplace and three rooms

off it complete with showers that can function as the bride’s room and the groom’s room. That plus cabins means folks can stay overnight.

The meadow, where folks like to get married, is serene. A sweat lodge by the creek is available as part of the package deal. Modern facilities in a natural setting, what could be better. $325 will buy you a 6-hour rental of the grounds weekdays; it goes up from there.

(530) 292-1000, x 231 on the web: local Chambers of Commerce have postcards of Encompas

Wayside Chapel of Rough and Ready

If it is a traditional ceremony without the expense of a large wedding you want, Reverend SAM (Sharon Miller, 37) will be happy to marry you in her picturesque chapel. It is filled with such things as antiques (a 200-year-old altar and 143-year-old bell, to name a few), lovely silk flowers, and “an ancient Carillon Bell system that I play before and after the ceremony.” Over 5,000 ceremonies have taken place here in its 45-year history, with people coming from as far away as Australia and South Africa.

The cozy recently renovated chapel that can fit 30 is “charming and very personal,” says Miller. “People feel an emotional attachment to it. It is truly a special place.”

Cost starts at $250 for 1 1/2 hours, plus $150 for the minister.

P.O.Box 212

Rough and Ready, CA 95975

(530) 273-6678

on the web at

Rainbow Lodge Bed and Breakfast

About 35 miles from Nevada City on 80 going toward Reno is a picturesque 80-year-old wood and stone lodge in a pretty wooded setting with a gazebo in the garden in which only five weddings a year take place: June 21 and 28; September 6 and 27; and October 4. Therefore, planning ahead for this venue is essential.

Known far and wide for their food, the lodge offers a choice of four levels of buffet for between 85 to150 guests, some of whom may choose to stay overnight. This is a public establishment, however, so not only will you be sharing your wedding day with whomever, you’ll also have a number of “rules” to hold to as well.

The surroundings are gorgeous, offering the best of the Sierras, including the nearby Yuba River and hiking opportunities if you want to stick around after the wedding. $850 is the site fee. Bring your own minister.

Anelle Erasmus

P.O.Box 1100, Soda Springs, CA 95728

(530) 426-3661

on the web at

Tahoe National Forest

If it’s rustic you want, here’s the skinny. Public Affairs Officer Ann Westling says her office can give a couple information on how to make reservations at the various campgrounds, as well as the rules that apply; they don’t, however, get involved with the wedding itself.

She does know of some intriguing possibilities, though, such as Donner Pass with its spectacular views, park like Prosser Ranch Group Campground (reserveable) with its lake and mountain views, and Donner Camp Picnic Ground (Highway 89 North; not reservable) with its big trees and early summer wildflowers.

She’s even heard of couples and their friends/families hiking to the overlook near Grouse Ridge Campground for the ceremony. A great view with passing hikers as witnesses. (530) 478-6205

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