i hadn't given much thought to college campuses but when teana mentioned them as an affordable alternative, i remembered a couple of weddings i'd attended. one of my friends got married at a reception hall in UCLA and another got married in the CSULB japanese gardens.
the UCLA wedding was huge. 300+ people. they had to split the guests into 2 separate rooms. there was a dance floor...but the wedding was dry (no alcohol). everyone was served a chicken dish (no choice) but i remember it being really tasty. i think it's a great venue...but without the $$ to splurge on decorations, the place could easily blend with the familiarity of any other wedding. as someone who would consider commissioning an in-n-out-truck to be 'different', i think you know what i'm thinking.
the gardens at CSULB is a stunning venue for a small wedding. the wedding i attended had approximately 120 guests. the reception was buffet-style which i loved because i got to heap my plate with food! one negative was that the sound system faltered a bit and there were airplanes above us during the ceremony so we didn't get to hear much of the sermon. it didn't help that the wedding party was on a bridge over the pond the entire time. don't get me wrong, it looked absolutely beautiful...but without being able to hear anything, they looked and felt kind of far away. some points to consider...it became dark during dinner and soon we weren't able to see much of each other, even around the same table. and...the tables were far apart and set up around the pond, so mingling wasn't really an option. i'd suggest you have extra lighting for evening receptions or hold your reception during the day. i also think this venue is mostly ideal for weddings where a majority of the guests know each other; that way, there would be a lot more interaction between all the attendees and not just at each table.
for myself, the first campus in socal i thought of was pepperdine in malibu. malibu = beach, fun, vacation, in my eyes. plus, it'd be a mini-destination location since no one i know actually lives so far up pch.
however, as it turns out, that's a strike against me. because you can't even reserve the reception hall and renting the chapel will set you back $1200 if you're not affiliated with the university.