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10 Unusual Wedding Spots

Locations Range From the Exotic to the Pristine

March 31, 1988|MARILYN OLIVER | Oliver is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

Big weddings are back in style, but the traditional places--churches, hotels and restaurants--aren't the only spots for fashionable Southland brides and bridegrooms. Many couples elect to combine the traditional with the innovative to create a ceremony that is uniquely their own.

Sharon Mullings, bridal consultant with V.I.P. Fantasy Locations, says the number of second, third, interracial and interfaith marriages leads many to seek neutral turf for their nuptials. While many couples still prefer traditional settings, with a service performed by a priest, rabbi or minister, others opt to recite their vows aboard a ship or in a hot-air balloon.

Brides and bridegrooms with unlimited pocketbooks might choose to be married aboard a luxury yacht or in a fabulous mansion. A wedding in an exotic locale with a catered meal can easily run up a five-figure tab.

Brides on a budget, however, should not despair. Creativity, imagination and enthusiasm can go a long way toward orchestrating a memorable occasion. Museums, public facilities and chapels in such unexpected spots as a Forest Lawn memorial park can be rented inexpensively, while a sylvan wilderness setting in a national forest may be free.

These unusual locales, popular with brides and bridegrooms this season, are but a few of the many possible spots for an unforgettable wedding. Most are so in demand that reservations must be made several months in advance.

The Sundowner luxury yacht, Sundowner Yacht Charter, Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, Calif. 90292, (213) 306-9474, or wedding consultant Sharon Mullings at V.I.P. Fantasy Locations, (213) 475-6122. If you dream of luxury, a wedding aboard the Sundowner, an opulent 88-foot yacht, may be your cup of tea. The bridal couple and up to 125 guests enjoy a four-hour cruise to the entrance of the marina, where vows are exchanged as a covey of white pigeons is released to commemorate the event. Festivities continue at a reception in one of the yacht's salons. Packages start at $6,000 for the champagne wedding and go up to $10,000 for the "Cloud 9" wedding. Mullings will also help couples custom design their services and can arrange ceremonies in castle-like settings or Liberace's 1960s mansion. (Rentals start at about $3,500 for site use; everything else is extra.)

Hot-air balloon, L.A. Balloon Port, 4222 50th St. West, Quartz Hill, Calif. 93536, (805) 943-7676, or (800) 2-ASCEND, or consult the Yellow Pages under "Balloons--Manned."

When Dave Mair and his bride got married, the wedding party ascended in a colorful hot-air balloon festooned with flowers and garlands. Mair, who is owner-operator of L.A. Balloon Port, had one word to describe the affair: "Spectacular!" Mair says: "This is the safest form of flying there is." You can rent a small balloon that holds bride and bridegroom and an ordained minister (who can be the pilot); or you can squeeze a small wedding party of six plus minister and pilot into a larger balloon. The craft flies for an hour over the Antelope Valley. Plan to pay $500 for the small balloon, $1,300 for the larger one. (Mair can also provide flowers, limousines and a reception at additional cost.)

Los Angeles Police Academy, 1800 N. Academy Drive, Los Angeles, Calif. 90012, (213) 222-9136.

People from all walks of life have entered into wedded bliss in the secluded rock garden of the Police Academy in Elysian Park. Cascading waterfalls give a pastoral backdrop that conjures up an aura of serenity. Following the service, guests can toast the newlyweds at a reception in the L.A. Police Revolver and Athletic Club. A catered buffet costs in the neighborhood of $16.50 per person, with a 100-guest minimum.

Forest Lawn, 1712 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale, Calif. 91205, (213) 254-3131; Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills: (818) 984-1711; Forest Lawn-Covina Hills: (818) 966-3671 (ask for wedding hostess). When Jane Wyman and Ronald Reagan got married Jan. 26, 1940, they chose the Wee Kirk o' the Heather at Forest Lawn in Glendale for the ceremonies. About 25,000 couples have been married in this replica of the Scottish church where Annie Laurie, sweetheart of poet Robert Burns, worshiped. Church of Our Heritage in Covina Hills and Church of the Hills in Hollywood Hills, both American Colonial style, are also popular wedding spots. All are consecrated churches. Use of any of the three churches will cost you $165, which includes rehearsal time and a two-hour wedding.

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