Since wedding season is upon us and LGBT couples have the right to legally marry in California, it's important that we highlight LGBT friendly venues so that couples can make an informed choice.
I asked Gena Bettencourt, Sales and Marketing Director, a few questions about their facility.
Wonder Valley Ranch is one of our sponsors at Gay Central Valley. You can visit their website HERE and check out their wedding packages HERE
Tell us about the history of Wonder Valley Ranch
of Wonder Valley
A respite for Native Americans, Outlaws, and City-Dwellers
The Yokut Tribe made Wonder Valley its home in the 1800s. At Indian Rock, located a short walk from the ranch, the depressions remain from the days when the indigenous women ground grain and washed clothes as they watched their children playing in the cool waters of Mill Creek.
On display in the Dalton Lodge, you’ll find many Native American blankets, rock specimens, earthenware, horse tack, posters, vintage ads, and of course, a gallery of images dating from as early as 1849.
In 1891, Wonder Valley became a refuge for the Dalton Brothers Gang, an infamous group of outlaws that specialized in bank and train robberies. Their hideout was on a mountainside at the east end of the valley where they kept a watchful eye out for any in pursuit.
By the early 1900s, rancher George Pierson began the guest ranch tradition in California by allowing friends to stay at his ranch to help with the cattle “for the fun of it.” This evolved into the Pierson Guest Ranch, established in 1911 and in operation until the mid-1940s when the Webb family purchased the property. They established Wonder Valley Dude Ranch, which during the 1950s became a refuge for city dwellers and Hollywood types.
The Wonder Valley Equestrian Center provides horses for trail riding, educational horsemanship classes, private lessons, and seasonal specialty camps with trained staff capable of guiding riders of all skill levels.
In 1973, the Oken family purchased the property. The ranch became known as Wonder Valley Ranch Resort and Conference Center. The family continues to operate the ranch today, as they have for more than four decades.
Are you welcoming and open to LGBT couples and can they feel safe choosing your facility?
Yes. Our facility fosters a sense of inclusiveness by creating an environment where LGBT’s feel comfortable. For example, we host R Family Vacations, which is committed to the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered parents and their families through mutual support, community collaboration, and understanding.
We reinforce our commitment by educating staff about Wonder Valley’s promise to all clients, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, disability, and other differences.
What services do you offer?
Besides providing unforgettable retreats and conferences for companies and organizations of all types, we offer an unforgettable wedding experience. It can be a challenge finding the perfect wedding venue for any wedding; specifically looking for gay-friendly venues. If you're looking for a wedding venue that is willing, well-equipped, and able to cater to events that celebrate same-sex unions, Wonder Valley is the right place.
The Sierra foothills add scenery from all directions; our beautiful Gazebo overlooks the lake. The Lakeview Garden has both waterfall and fountain features and our reception hall, Legacy Lodge, has a fountain courtyard patio next to the lake, which guests enjoy while having hors d'oeuvres. One wall of the lodge is all windows with glass doors that open to the gorgeous views.
Ceremonies for indoor winter weddings are at the lovely stone fireplace in our Lakeshore Lodge, followed by a reception in the Legacy Lodge.
Wonder Valley has overnight lodging available and offers a variety of rehearsal dinner packages which make it convenient for everyone.
Our wedding package includes:
· A Wedding Facility Coordinator
· Wedding Rehearsal (Rehearsal Dinner not included but can be added at an additional cost)
· Ceremony and Reception Locations
· An absolutely gorgeous facility for the most amazing photographs!
· Dressing Rooms
· Six Hours of Event Time
· Tables and Chairs
· Linens (tablecloths and napkins)
· China, Flatware and Stemware
· Hors D'oeuvres Reception
· Full Catered Meal with Serving Personnel
· Dance Floor
· Cake Cutting and Serving
· Sparkling Cider Toast (Champagne can be added for an additional cost)
· Set-up and Clean-up of both ceremony and reception
· An Overnight Cottage for the newlyweds.
Why should an LGBT couple choose your venue for their wedding?
From who will marry you to what you both will wear, our list of vendors can help resolve issues such as these and offer you suggestions. Reception planning, non-traditional processions, wording of announcements, wording of invites - you will find guidance and useful advice about all of this. Wonder Valley is here to make your wedding dreams come true.