Your Complete Guide For Planning a Roberts Regional Recreation Area Wedding

Intro

For folks looking to get married at Roberts Regional Recreation Area in Oakland, here is the most comprehensive guide to help you plan your wedding. The information below should give you most of what you need to figure out onsite storage, load in and load out, lighting, audio, dance floor, ceremony, food and beverage, vendors, cost, and all the rest. Scroll to the end for vendors and links to other weddings I have shot at Roberts Regional. The last couple I worked with at Roberts Regional, Kim and Geoff, helped me GREATLY in putting this together. It is their wedding images that you see here. I will be highlighting images from their wedding in this post. Much of the specific information I am sharing here was collected by them. A big thank you to Kim and Geoff.

When I met Kim and Geoff to talk about their wedding, they said they had found me through Laura and John’s Roberts Reginal wedding. They said it had been very helpful in their planning so far, and they continued to use that post to help them in their planning. I also connected Kim with Laura, who was generous enough to share her google docs with Kim. In talking about their wedding, I suggested that Kim and Geoff chat with my neighbor, Amy, who was looking into getting into event planning. Another neighbor, Alyson, owns Flowers and Forage. Kim and Geoff hired both Amy and Alyson. They were extremely helpful. Having enough support for set up and breakdown at Roberts Regional is key. Making sure all your vendors are from West Oakland is optional.

Why you Should Consider Roberts Regional for your Wedding Venue

Wedding planning is complicated at best. Some venues are easier than others. Roberts Regional is one of the more complicated wedding venues. That said, it has a lot going for it. The park is close to Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco. It has easy parking, great views, and huge oak and redwood trees. And, as far as Bay Area venues go, it is very affordable. Kim and Geoff spent $15,000 on their wedding, not including rehearsal dinner, rings, and attire.

Why Roberts Regional is a Complicated Wedding Venue

The logistics of schlepping in everything for your wedding, setting up, breaking down and clearing everything out all in one day is tricky. Setting up in the morning is one thing, but when you and your guests have been drinking and partying for hours, breaking everything down and packing up is probably not going to be high on your list of things you want to do. Pro-tip: hire help! Five to six people for a couple of hours to break down, haul out, and clean up everything will be well worth whatever you pay them. And bring a wagon so that you don’t have to carry everything by hand.

How to Reserve a Space at the Park for your Wedding

Kim and Geoff used the Madrone and Bay Vista picnic areas for their wedding. The other weddings I have done at Roberts have also utilized these two sites. You need to reserve two sites to do a wedding at the Roberts. The rental fee for the two sites is $566 plus a $325 deposit. Kim and Geoff had their ceremony at the Madrone site and reception at the Bay Vista site. Check availability for Madrone/Bay Vista on the EBRPD site Facility Availability Calendar. To make your reservation you will need to meet with a park ranger and do a walkthrough. Once you have done your site visit, you can call the EBRPD to reserve your date and get the rental contract. Here is a link to their reservation page. Their number is 888-327-2757.

Here is Kim and Geoff’s site map. It should be helpful to visualize the layout of the space – Bay Vista Reception – Sample Layout Map.

Some Park Rules and Considerations

Roberts Regional Recreation Area has a pool, a playground, a baseball field, and several picnic areas. It is a community space, and you will be sharing the park with other people. There is enough separation between things, that it probably won’t feel like other people are too close, but it is something to consider. The fact that it is a regional park run by a government agency, means there are more rules and guidelines than other spots. Some things to note:

  • No electricity is available onsite
  • No generators are allowed
  • Nothing can be hung from the trees
  • Beer & wine are allowed, but NO hard liquor
  • Vendors who need to drive off the pavement into the picnic area (e.g., to drop off chairs in the Redwoods), need to have a vehicle access permit ($75) and be escorted by a park ranger. You will be responsible for securing this permit. Note that this process takes longer than it should. 
  • The park entry gates close in September at 7 pm. Cars can exit but can not enter after the park closes. Plan accordingly. Make sure that all vehicles that need to load stuff out are in before the gate closes.
  • Park curfew is at 10 pm. Vehicles left overnight (before or after the event) should be called into the EBRPD dispatch line (510-881-1833) to avoid getting towed away.
  • There is usually a parking fee of $5 for the lot. You can prepay for your guests or just have them pay as they enter.
  • Here are more details about EBRPD Picnic Reservations

Getting Ready

Since there is not a getting ready space at Redwood Regional, Kim got ready at a rental house about 10 minutes away. Geoff got ready at a separate location. We decided that I would just stick with Kim and meet Geoff at the park. When I shot Jessica and Ethan’s wedding at Roberts Regional a while back, Jessica got ready at their house and Ethan got ready at a friend’s place. There is not a great spot for getting ready at Roberts to get ready, so plan accordingly.

First Look and Family Pics

There are a handful of decent places to do family pictures. Because the lighting inside the redwood grove is a little tricky, after doing a first look in the redwoods, we decided to do family pics by the baseball field. Keep in mind that redwood needles like to hang on to wedding dresses.

Ceremony

You don’t need seating or speakers or rugs or aisle runner for your ceremony… but they are nice. Kim and Geoff didn’t have runners or carpets for the ceremony aisle, but the previous 2 weddings I shot at Roberts Regional had them. Kim and Geoff did rent chairs and speakers. The speakers were used for both the ceremony and reception. Their audio equipment was from Guitar Center (Audio Package A). They borrowed one of my camping rugs for the ceremony. They got their chairs from All Seasons Event Rentals for $2.25/chair.

A Quiet Moment After the Ceremony

After the ceremony, Kim and Geoff had some quiet time alone, we took a few portraits, and then headed to the Bay Vista site for dinner, speeches, dancing, and the rest of it.

Food and Beverages

Los Cilantros (they are on my vendor list) brought some bomb Mexican food to Kim and Geoff’s reception. Because they just came in and dropped the food off, my neighbor, Amy, ran around making sure that the food stations stayed stocked and all the other things were in place. Having some folks in place to serve food, clear dishes, and take care of all the little things would be a good idea.

Most of the beer was from the local brewery, Drake’s Brewing Company. Kim and Geoff served keg beer from a Jockey Box (from NorCal Draft Co) along with some canned and bottled beer. They also served agua frescas and other beverages. I am always a fan of glass cups (just say NO to plastic bottles and cups!). You can either rent or purchase glasses. Mason or other jars make fine glasses and are cheap. Check out the General Bottle Supply for a huge selection of bottles that can double as beer glasses.

Dinner and Speeches

Dinner and speeches were super sweet. Kim and Geoff rented table cloths from the same company they got the chairs from. They used compostable plates and silverware. I personally don’t mind the compostable plates but I prefer real utensils. Something about the mouth feel of a metal fork. Glassware was rented. In addition to the solar-powered LED string lights that they hung around the reception area (using 84″ shepherd hooks from Home Depot), they also had fairy lights on the tables, path lights leading to the bathroom, and lighting in the bathroom. They purchased a battery pack (500Wh Jackery Explorer) which powered the audio equipment. It provided more than enough power for the 5+ hours of use it got. If you are interested in using this battery pack, they would be happy to rent it to you. Drop me a line for details.

Couple Portraits

After speeches, we took a quick walk through the redwoods for some couple portraits. It is always nice to take a breath and a moment of quiet to do these pictures. The light in the redwoods toward the end of the day is so nice.

Dancing and Dessert

After we got back from our walk in the woods, Kim and Geoff had their first dance, cut their cake (with handmade cake topper), and opened the dance floor. After the sunset, the temperature dropped a bit, and folks were glad for the blankets that Amy brought. Bug spray was available, but the mosquitos were minimal. I had mentioned how nice the rug dance floor was at Laura and John’s wedding, and Kim and Geoff acquired some great rugs for their dance floor (from CL and Nextdoor). Have a broom on hand to sweep the rugs and picnic tables.

Some Final Thoughts

Get a Box Truck

One item that was a huge asset for this wedding, was the Uhaul that Kim and Geoff rented. It was well worth the $220 they paid for the 3-day rental. They brought it in the day before the wedding loaded with wedding stuff and left it at the end of the night packed again. Amy’s folding wagon was super helpful in getting everything to and from the rental truck.

Book Your Wedding on a Friday

By booking their wedding on a Friday, Kim and Geoff avoided the weekend crowds and avoided having to pay for parking (starting in September, parking is free on the weekdays).

Make Your Own Rings and Other Stuff

Besides for the cake topper, and a ton of other DIY projects, Kim and Geoff made their own wedding rings. They took the Jewelry & Metals I class at The Crucible and learned all they needed to make their wedding bands ($430 per person including materials).

Vendors

Most of these folks are mentioned above, but if you missed it, here are the vendors who helped to make Kim and Geoff’s wedding a success.

Day of Coordination – Amy Whitehurst-Morrison
Flowers – Flower and Forage
Catering – Los Cilantros
Speaker Rental – Guitar Center
Rental Company for Chairs, Linens, Glassware, etc – All Seasons Event Rentals
Beer – Drake’s Dealership
Jockey Box – Nor Cal Draft Co
Cake and Cupcakes – Cupcakin’
Dress – Glamour Closet SF
Photography – By Me… Gabriel Harber Photography

A Few Last Things

I hope you have found this Roberts Regional Wedding Guide helpful. While I have focussed on Roberts Regional Recreation Area, much of the information outlined above could be used for planning a wedding in other outdoor venues with minimal onsite infrastructure. If there is additional information that you wish I addressed or specific questions you have, please comment below. Also, if you missed the links to Jessica and Ethan’s or Laura and John’s wedding at Roberts, make sure to check those out for additional ideas.

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