Parks and Rec

Silver Bells to Wedding Bells!


Don’t be surprised to see big diamond sparklers flashing on the ring fingers of some of your friends or relatives.

December is the most popular month to get engaged and couples are now starting off the New Year making big plans for the perfect wedding.

Some of the big decisions? When, where and for the bride, what dress to wear.   

Look to County Parks and Recreation for help with the when and the where. Over the last 60 years or so, thousands of love birds have started the rest of their wedded lives by saying “I do” at one of Park’s wedding venues. Most sites are open year-round except for Christmas Day.

Veronica Sisto of South Park was married at Heritage Park in Old Town last August. That’s her with the cowboy boots in the photo. She wanted a church wedding with a vintage theme, simple and country, and one that could be held at a central location with space for a reception nearby.     

Heritage Park features several restored Victorian homes and San Diego County’s first synagogue, Temple Beth Israel. The buildings were moved to the park from their original locations and now overlook Old Town. The historic temple hosts a variety of events including non-denominational weddings.

“We did the tour and it was the perfect solution,” said Sisto. She adds the site was also less expensive than other venues and allowed her to bring in her own caterer, in this case a relative. “We wanted an uncle to cook Guamanian food for our wedding and there was no problem in doing that,” said Sisto.

Some 120 guests attended the wedding and even more came to the reception, just steps away on the lawn. The expanse was large enough to set up a dance floor and tables and still give kids enough room to run and play. A big tree and rented white umbrellas provided shade, the gazebo was perfect for the sweetheart table and the tables featured center pieces of mason jars of lace and burlap. Some decorative watering cans and lanterns completed the country look.

“There wasn’t much decorating because the venue is so beautiful,” said Sisto. “The wedding was unique, classic, simple, comfortable, understated and I loved it!”

Heritage and Rancho Guajome Adobe Parks are the most popular wedding sites offered by County Parks but it also offers weddings at 14 other locations.  

“All of our parks offer something unique and it really just depends on what the bride is looking for in her wedding,” said Parks Office Manager Sylvia Bugiel. While her title is Office Manager, Bugiel has set up hundreds of weddings at County parks.  

She’ll tell you there is something for everyone ranging from weddings that are casual to elegant, located in wooded settings to the historic ranch house at Rancho Guajome Adobe. Interested in lush gardens, rustic knolls, or getting married by a pond or a creek? Need a gazebo, dance floor, pavilion or indoor wedding hall? Restrooms, kitchen facilities, parking?  

Consider the beautiful wedding trees. There are several. One mighty oak at Louis Stelzer County Park is 200 years old and provides a magnificent canopy perfect for a romantic wedding.

Mind you, not every site has a wedding tree, creek or pond but Parks does everything it can to find the perfect location for the wedding of each couple’s dreams.

The cost for a County park wedding is affordable and ranges between $150 to $900 depending on the park, the amenities and the hours used for the ceremonies.

Engaged couples can book up to a year in advance for their site or they can call and see what’s available tomorrow.

So that takes care of the when and the where. What to wear? So far, County Parks isn’t in the bridal gown business but if it were, you can be sure it would have something to fit everyone!

So if you know someone who is engaged or you are planning your own nuptials; check out the wedding locations at County Parks. And let love bloom… naturally!


Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact