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Destination I Do

Weddings In Historic Riverside

Words by John Roark
Photos courtesy of The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

Taking in my spectacular view from the Alhambra Suite at The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa (where Ronald and Nancy Reagan honeymooned), I texted pictures to friends saying, “Guess where I am?” The replies included Barcelona, Prague – even Buenos Aires. No one was able to pinpoint my destination: Southern California. 

Occupying an entire city block, The Mission Inn is the heart and soul of historic Riverside. The elegant Mediterranean-style enclave includes turrets, domes, spiraling staircases, hanging gardens, sculptures, dragons, a bell tower and even underground catacombs. Every turn reveals a treasure; every view begs to be captured. Seriously – wedding and engagement photos don’t get more glamorous than this.

The Mission Inn has been the fairytale site of weddings for more than a century, including ceremonies for Bette Davis and Richard and Pat Nixon. For events for as many as 300 guests, the Grand Parisian Ballroom is the hotel’s largest venue, resembling a medieval castle with Westminster Abbey replica pews. The exquisite St. Francis of Assisi Chapel can accommodate as many as 150 guests. It features an opulent 18th century multistory, 18-karat gold leaf altar and kaleidoscopic Tiffany-stained glass windows. For more intimate ceremonies of up to 15, the St. Cecilia Chapel’s gold leaf altar dates back to 1740, one of the oldest artifacts at The Inn.

Following your vows, make a spectacular entrance down the Spanish Art Gallery’s marble grand staircase and party in truly lavish style. The Mission Inn has an abundance of reception locales and their team is ready to make your day as quaint or as extravagant as you can imagine.

The Mission Inn offers a variety of attractions for honeymooners too: golf, hiking, exploring Riverside’s charming shops and restaurants, plus attractions just a stone’s throw away, including downtown Los Angeles and Disneyland. It's the storied retreat for some of history’s most prominent royalty, presidents, writers, artists and celebrities dating all the way back to the early 1900s. The AAA Four Diamond Mission Inn is an iconic landmark unlike anything else in the United States.

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Spring/Summer 2016 issue. You can order a copy here.
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