Photography by: Rosemarie Lion
The Dunsmuir Hellman Estate is by far one of our favorite locations for hosting a wedding. Located on over fifty acres of lush, green land in the beautiful Oakland hills, this remarkable mansion built in 1899 reminds us of Scarlett O'Hara's beloved Tara. The ideal wedding at the Dunsmuir house will host between 180 and 225 guests. The facility has a modern pavilion that was built for the specific use of hosting events, yet it still possesses the same romance of the estate's old-growth gardens and original structures.
Determining a site for your ceremony may be quite a difficult decision, since there are so many different outdoor locations to choose from and each has its own beauty and grace. The Pond can easily accommodate anywhere between 150 to 300 guests and features a gazebo, an abundance of water plants, and several ducks that add a bit of character. The Pond is the most commonly used ceremony location primarily because of its close proximity to the Pavilion, which is the favored location for indoor receptions. For a more unique setting, you may choose to have your ceremony on the great lawn with the majestic old mansion as your background. For smaller ceremonies, the lawn directly in front of the mansion is the perfect spot, or else you can position your exchange of vows to be accompanied by the quaint charm of the Carriage House.
Once you have officially tied the knot, your guests can adjourn to one of many lawn locations for hors d'oeuvres and cocktails. If your crowd consists of less than 120 guests, host your cocktail hour on the terrace adjacent to the Pavilion. The Pavilion is a superb setting for receptions, as the room can effortlessly accommodate 180 to 225 people while still containing a dance floor, single bar location, and variety of other food or activity stations. The high beamed ceilings and cathedral windows give the space a wonderful warmth and glow with abundant natural light.
Insider Notes & The Bottom Line
The mansion itself is preserved as a historical museum of sorts, and as such is not intended to be a part of your party. Though it makes for an incredible backdrop for photography, scheduled tours are the only way you or your guests will be allowed inside, and there are absolutely no food or beverages allowed inside the mansion.
Dunsmuir has a strong list of preferred caterers who range in style, formality, and skill level. Make sure you choose a catering company that will provide you with the experience you're looking for. Caterers not on the preferred list can be accommodated at an additional charge where circumstances mandate certain cooking for cultural or religious reasons. The kitchen at Dunsmuir has the space and equipment necessary to host most events, but elaborate service or menus may require the use of additional rented kitchen equipment. The Dunsmuir Hellman Estate does have a liberal alcohol policy and allows full bar service. They only request that bar service be accompanied by appropriate insurance and license. Consider the property's many locations for hosting events when planning, as there is always the possibility that your wedding date may be shared by another celebration on the property.
Eight hours at the Dunsmuir Hellman Estate will cost anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000. Pricing is based on the size of your event, so make sure you have a good idea of what your head count will be in order to avoid unexpected additional charges.