How Much Does a Monterey Bay Aquarium Wedding Cost?

Written by: Staff

The Monterey Bay Aquarium was opened in 1984, and for 30 years, it has provided the public “a window to the wonders of the ocean” while on a mission to inspire conservation of the ocean.  All profits from the Monterey Bay Aquarium go toward reaching this goal.

Conveniently located at the edge of Pier 30, the venue offers panaromic views of the San Francisco Bay and the city skyline, along with more than 20,000 aquatic animals.

DSC26492, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Califor by jimg944, on Flickr
DSC26492, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Califor” (CC BY 2.0) by  jimg944

How much does a Monterey Bay Aquarium wedding cost?

According to, the rental fee for the ceremony site at the Monterey Bay Aquarium can range from $850 to $5,000, depending on the banquet room reserved, time of year and the day of the week.  The catering costs start at $75 per person. says that the rental rate ranges from $4,900 to $6,900 for up to 80 guests, and the food and beverage minimums are $85 per guest.

Monterey Bay Aquarium wedding overview

The ceremony locations can accommodate 250 guests indoors and 300 guests outdoors, whereas the reception area can accommodate 300 seated, both indoors and outdoors.  Parties are able to reserve certain galleries or even the entire aquarium.  Setup time must take place after the aquarium is closed to the public.

Most ceremonies are either held on the lower terrace or the upper plaza.  After the ceremony, the reception is held in the Monterey Bay Room or the Dolphin Room.

The rental fee allows couples to use the venue for up to five hours.  Cocktail tables, chairs, linens and other simple decorations will be provided as well.

The catering includes tables, chairs, linens, napkins, glassware, chinaware, tables for the food stations.

The menu includes a champagne toast, entrees, desserts, beverages and alcohol (not premium), tea and coffee.

Facility options

Open Sea Gallery.  Your reception could take place in the largest exhibit in the aquarium.  You will be able to see everything from tuna to sharks to jellyfish all while sitting or mingling.

Kelp Forest Exhibit.  The view from this gallery is the grand kelp forest, in which you will see sardines, sharks, eels, and fish swimming through the kelp.

Marine Mammal Gallery.  Enjoy life-size models of whales and dolphins swimming overhead.

Great Tide Pool.  Instead of the aquarium, this area offers you the view of the actual ocean and bay while getting you some fresh air.

Cindy’s Waterfront Restaurant and Café.  For a less formal feel, this restaurant and café area can provide you and your guests a tremendous waterfront view.

What are the extra costs?

The tax and service charge, which is 19% of the total, is not included in the quoted amount as well as cake, alcohol, a florist, photography and other services.  The place recommends that the host contacts their preferred vendors.

If the event goes over the allotted time, a fee of $500 per hour will apply.

The valet parking is an extra cost to consider.  You either need to mention this to your guests or pay for it yourself.

The cake is not mentioned in the package and may be ordered from outside, approved vendors.

Tips to know

The company does not allow confetti such as birdseed, rice or glitter.  If there is anything that you need to clarify, just get in touch with the sales manager.  Most venues today suggest blowing bubbles since this is not harmful, cheap, and makes for beautiful pictures.

How can I save money?

Always check your budget and compare it with the company’s wedding package.  If it fits your budget and you do not have to spare a lot more on other things not part of it, then it would be a great deal.  Just remember if you have a lower budget, then it would be ideal to limit your attendees or find another place.

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