for wedding ceremonies and celebrations

The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel. Photo by Chris Griffiths

Creative Wedding Locations: Gardens, Museums, Boats, Private Clubs, And More
Alternative Spaces/Private Homes and Estates
Restaurants and Tea Houses
Hotels, Resorts, Event Locations, and Reception Halls
The Great Outdoors: Public Parks, Beaches, and Forests

Creative Locations: Gardens, Museums, Boats, Private Clubs, and More

The Home Office Want to have a "come-as-you-are" civil ceremony with just your legal witnesses but don't want to go to some government office? Consider MarriageToGo's Home Office on the Westside of Los Angeles. Our convenient and fun living room location can save you stress, time, and money, and you get cookies too! Witnesses are not required for those who qualify for the California confidential marriage license, and we are solar-powered/air-conditioned. Please click here for details, rates, and photos.
La Venta Inn, Palos Verdes This charming restored Spanish villa from the 1920's is quiet and lovely yet has a comfortable, homey patina; the spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean will make you feel like royalty about to set sail on an exciting adventure (which, in getting married, you are). World-class catering by New York Food Company tops off the bill; call 310.373.0123 for more information or send an email inquiry via the site.
Millwick/The Smog Shoppe The Smog Shoppe is the only 100% solar-powered LEED-certified wedding venue in town (even more cool: it's a repurposed smog check joint in The Hayden Tract, now remade in a thoroughly green manner). The same folks are behind Millwick, another of my favorite hip event venues, located in the Downtown Arts District. The Smog Shoppe can accommodate up to 200 seated/300 cocktail; Millwick up to 175 for garden courtyard weddings. They offer digital screening and LED lighting systems to enhance your event. Check out the photos and green info on the website then inquire by emailing inquiry@marvimon.com.
Walt Disney Concert Hall If you haven't visited L.A.'s Gehry-designed showpiece building for a concert, goggled at the Neo-Space-Age swirls of its stainless steel roof, or settled for a sip of tea in its placid city garden, you're due for a Downtown adventure. The Concert Hall offers several possible ceremony sites and the Founders Room is perfect for your reception; Patina Restaurant does the fabulous catering. Contact Patina Group at 213.972.7565 to book your event, and don't be scared--because WDCH is partially publicly-funded, the rates are better than you might think.
The Ebell of Los Angeles Aah, if there's a sweet spot in Los Angeles, this is it. The multi-story Italian Renaissance building hosts several large and stately event rooms, a charming courtyard, in-house catering, and more. Call 323.931.1277 to get started.
Meditation Mount, Ojai An active meditation center, this quiet, naturally sacred space is perfect for a small, contemplative wedding. Long views of the Ojai Valley and a thoughtfully landscaped meditation garden provide a mindful and peaceful experience. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. 805.646.5508 or admin@meditationmount.org.
Rancho Sol Del Pacifico, Malibu Ahh, Malibu--just the word invokes celebrity, wealth, and spectacular mansions with ocean views. Though Rancho Sol del Pacifico can't help you with Items One or Two, it can provide a breathtaking Spanish-style mansion with panoramic ocean vistas for your sunny ceremony. Balconies, tiled courtyards, koi ponds, a tower and amphitheatre; large and lush, a beautiful and elegant place for your California-style nuptials. 310.457.9295
The Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach Vivid colors and striking modern design are the hallmarks of MoLAA's event spaces; the desert-themed sculpture garden is a delightful and whimsical setting for your outdoor wedding, and the adjacent Balboa room will accommodate large indoor events. The art collection is always fresh, provocative, and worth taking in; there's plenty of parking too. Call 562.216.4112 or email rentals@molaa.org to inquire.
Whittier Art Gallery, Whittier I was charmed by this little local non-profit gallery (on South Painter Avenue, appropriately enough) and if you need an affordable yet well-kept and creative venue for your smaller Whittier wedding, you'll be charmed too. Much of the art on display is also for sale, so you can buy a unique memento of your wedding day. 562.698.8710
The Bowers Museum In the heart of Santa Ana on Main Street, the Bowers Museum has an exquisite permanent collection of Pre-Columbian, Asian, African, and Native American art with exhibitions each year that venture into contemporary and local art, art technology, and Southern California history. Along with lectures and kid programs, the Bowers hosts weddings and private events in its sculpture garden, courtyard, and a historic gallery. Call their Special Events rep at 714.567.3630 or email questions toevents@bowers.org.
The Long Beach Museum of Art I love the Long Beach Museum of Art, because it's human-sized, beautiful, welcoming, and well-run. The historic home/museum always has a fascinating collection (the gift shop is equally engaging) and the fountain patio and lawn have wide ocean views. Enjoying the sunset over the sea with cocktails and dinner al fresco is a superb way to celebrate. Call 562.439.2119 x234 or specialevents@lbma.org; you can go check out the museum in person (Fridays are free!) and have a little lunch at Claire's Cafe for a pleasant scouting outing.
Castle Green Pasadena's Castle Green is an amazing multi-purposed urban historical site; people actually live in the Moorish Colonial and Spanish style splendor of this unique building, and you can have your wedding there too. Castle Green was built in 1898 and is located next to Central Park in Old Pasadena at Raymond and Green Streets; the ballrooms, gardens, and sitting rooms still gleam with old-world style and elegance. Inquire about events and weddings at 626.793.0106 or email info@castlegreen.com.
The Queen Mary If you're fabulous and you know it, you and your partner may want to have your wedding on the Queen Mary, that historic, haunted ocean liner out in Long Beach Harbor. Have your wedding in their chapel or outside on the deck overlooking Long Beach; start the party right away in one of the gigantic Art Deco ballrooms or celebrate privately in your bridal suite/stateroom. The QM hosts lots of seasonal festivals and events through the year; time it right and you may be able to add caber tossing, Santa visits, or ghost tours to your wedding fun. 562.499.1620 or email weddings@queenmary.com.
Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club, Mission Viejo Even if you're not a golf fanatic, the lush green of Arroyo Trabuco's wedding garden and the upscale ranch-style atmosphere of its Trabuco Ballroom will make you want to whip out your tuxedo and golf togs to enjoy a luxurious and fun wedding weekend (by the way, tam-o-shanters are out this year, except for your Scottie dog ring-bearer). The ballroom is fully equipped with internet access, video projection, and wireless audio, so you can easily wow your guests with an AV presentation; the catering is also divine. Call 949.305.5100 for event info.
Bel Air Bay Club, Pacific Palisades The Bel-Air Bay Club has one of the most beautiful views of Santa Monica Bay you'll ever see; from the lawn of the Upper Club, you'll be delighted by jumping dolphins and dramatic sunsets over the water. The formal dining areas, fountain patio, and guest rooms are excellent locations for a wide variety of events; the service--as you'd expect at a private club--is tip-top. 310.230.4700 to inquire.
The Victorian Built in 1894, this elegant historic home was moved by preservationists to its current location on Ocean Park and Main Street in Santa Monica. It's a warm and romantic place for a small to medium-sized event; you'll love its dark cherry and oak furnishings, candles, and twinkle lights, the great in-house catering by Duck Duck Mousse, and the private parking lot (so you don't need to worry about petitioning the Santa Monica City Council for more space.) They have a cafe open for breakfast and lunch too, if you want to see (and taste) for yourself. Call 310.392.4956 or contact via the form on the website.
Blue Water Sailing, Marina del Rey Their fleet of beautiful yachts and courteous captains make your at-sea wedding dreams come true. Moonlight cruise wedding, anyone? Call 310.823.5545 for details.
Spirit Cruises, Long Beach If you're in the South Bay and the Queen Mary's a little too grand, charter a motor yacht or a more intimate sailboat for your Long Beach harbor cruise wedding. 310.548.8080 for info, package information on the website.
Gondola Getaway, Long Beach Si signore, kiss under the Bridge of Sighs...you'll have a singing gondolier, too! Enjoy a fun and romantic ceremony on the water for up to 64 people; dock located near Naples Island in Long Beach. You'll be surprised at how quiet and lovely your boat ride can be. Personal favorites: summer sunset weddings or holiday weddings floating around Naples Island, taking in the amazing Christmas light displays. For more info or booking call 562.433.9595 and tell them MarriageToGo sent you.
Gondola Amore, Redondo Beach Yes, Gondolas of Love! A more intimate option for a romantic elopement afloat; call 310.396.6977 for info on their wedding and sunset dinner packages.

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Alternative Spaces/Private Homes and Estates

PeerSpace--Unique, Undiscovered Locations for your Activity PeerSpace is a treasure trove for those seeking odd, quirky, interesting, and often more affordable ceremony locations for intimate weddings. Lofts, sound stages, theaters, speakeasys, "urban event spaces" and more. Think of it as AirBnB for wedding locations.
Airbnb: Homes, Apartments, and Rooms for Rent Airbnb has quickly become the go-to alternative for travelers who want to "disrupt" the corporate hotel experience. Though we don't recommend booking a private home for a large wedding (it's a great excuse for NIMBY neighbors to call the cops and ruin your day), Airbnb is a boon for small family/friend groups that want a private and possibly scenic space for not only the wedding, and all the fun before and after. You can search by zip code, city name, price range, and room type; play nicely, because you'll receive a rating just like the property owners! A good option for putting up guests locally, too.
Home Away--Vacation Rentals Marketplace VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) is now Home Away, a vacation home rental source where you can find a range of available homes including supersize luxury accommodations. Consider an ocean-view estate for your ceremony or honeymoon, have an intimate wedding in privacy and luxury at your own villa, or maybe even have your guests stay at the same location (makes it really easy to round them up at ceremony time). They have listings for almost anyplace in the world you want to go, so helpful for honeymoon planning too.

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Restaurants and Teahouses

The Sunset Restaurant With a wedding hall downstairs and ocean view dining upstairs, it's no wonder The Sunset is the most romantic place on Zuma Beach. Friendly service and great food; the culotte steak and the apple tartin are phenomenal. I had my own wedding night dinner here and have officiated several Sunset Restaurant weddings, so voice of experience here. 120-150 guests for ceremony/reception; you can now also book just your wedding with The Sunset. Call (310) 589-2027 for event reservations and info.
Il Cielo, Beverly Hills Il Cielo's graceful Italian villa setting is perfectly matched with its warm and elegant service. I love conducting ceremonies in their lovely bougainvillea-laced courtyard, and they can now provide a private "romance package for two" if you want to elope Tuscan-style. The food and service are phenomenal; you'll sigh, "Bellissima!" as you experience all the reasons Il Cielo is rated as one of the top places to marry in L.A. 310.276.9990 or email events@ilcielo.com.
The Inn of the Seventh Ray Nestled by a brook in Topanga Canyon, this beautiful natural foods restaurant will delight you and your guests with its fragrant herb garden, gently splashing fountain, and twinkling lights. Chef-driven menu and an excellent wine list will make your wedding rays shine. Inquire: 310.455.1311, or reserve a gazebo for your stealth elopement under the stars.
The Raymond Restaurant, Pasadena The Raymond is a restored caretaker's cottage built in 1900 for the opulent hotel up the hill; you'll think caretakers didn't have it so bad in those days when you see the beautiful woods, leaded glass, and interior design details. The Raymond is a cozy and romantic venue for your intimate event; the garden patios and great food will make your celebration a memorable one. Talk to Manager and Event Coordinator Teresa Brown at 626.441.3136 or by email hostmyevent@TheRaymond.com.
Yamashiro Restaurant, Hollywood You've seen this beautiful teak and cedar Japanese-style mansion gracing the hillside bear the Magic Castle; built in 1914, it retains a magical appeal even today and has one of the best city views in L.A. The central Zen garden courtyard is a peaceful setting for your ceremony and reception; even the koi fish look happy for you. Other rooms available offer intimate dining, sunset views, or dancing, as you see fit. We almost lost this L.A. treasure in 2016, so gather ye chrysanthemums while ye may. 323.466.5125 or email events@YamashiroHollywood.com.
Rococo Room at Cafe Santorini, Old Pasadena I was delightfully surprised by the upbeat staff and upgraded tech at the Rococo Room; the staffers were fun and very attentive to every detail, and they even knew how to properly set up and play an iPod (not a given, and they have the right gear to do it). In addition to lovely and lighthearted service, the food's really good! In the heart of Pasadena's Old Town, there's ample parking in the structure across the street and lots to do and see right around the corner. 626.564.4203 to inquire about the Rococo Room (events up to 170 people); Cafe Santorini reservations at 626.564.4200.They have all the prices, policies, and menus on the website, yay.
Koutoubia Restaurant--Innovative Moroccan Cuisine Ever want to lean back on soft pillows in a fabric-draped tent, eat exotic tagines all night, and bellydance the night away? It's all awaiting you in Westwood; owner Ohayon Michel puts the rockin' back in Moroccan with excellent cuisine, unbelievable hospitality, and terrific bellydancers. Don't want to go out on the town? Ask them to cater for you in their Moroccan tent. 310.475.0729; closed Mondays.
The Lobster Nestled just south of the Santa Monica Pier, The Lobster is consistently rated one of the best seafood restaurants in L.A. It's just a hop/skip/scurry from all of Santa Monica's oceanside hotels, and the view is spectacular. Call 310.458.9294 for reservations or event info, or check out the website for photos, directions, and menus.
Ca' Del Sole This inviting North Hollywood eatery has a beautiful garden patio perfect for a smaller wedding or reception; you and your guests will enjoy the fine food and excellent service, Mediterranean-style. Call Natalya Starenkova for event reservations: 818.753.8889 or email her at events@cadelsole.com.
Cafe Piccolo You'll love the warm and engaging ambience, the fine North Italian cuisine, and the impeccable service at Cafe Piccolo in Long Beach. They host private parties, showers, weddings, and can cater your event elsewhere too! Also: they host wine-tastings, people. I'm thinking wedding + wine-tasting = excellent wedding day. Call 562.438.1316 for reservations and info.
The McCharles House Most tea rooms in SoCal were wiped out in the recession, but thankfully The McCharles House in Tustin still endures (as it has for a century already). if you're looking for charm, a lovingly preserved Victorian home, a beautiful garden, and one of the best afternoon and high teas in the Southland. Their seasonal menu features heirloom recipes made with the freshest ingredients and lots of loving care. Call 714.731.4063 for reservations and wedding inquiries.

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Hotels, Resorts, Event Spaces, and Reception Halls

The Parker Palm Springs Everything old is new again, and the once-retiree-snore Palm Springs is bursting with new, hip event venues, a veritable mecca for Millennials (and LGBTs) who dig designer style and wit. The Parker Palm Springs is the ultimate romantic getaway: spacious, luxurious villa-style rooms, hidden cocktail bars and hammock lawns, snarky art touches that will make you laugh, and who could get married without taking a selfie with the suit of armor in the lobby? The service is sublime and you'll leave The Parker singing The Desert Song. 760.770.5000
Korakia Pensione, Palm Springs While we're grooving to the desert vibe, Korakia Pensione offers beautiful Mediterranean and Moroccan style villas dating from California's Golden Age to house you and your besties for your intimate affair (up to 130 guests). As part of their restful, healing vibe they offer yoga, complimentary breakfast, afternoon Moroccan tea, movies, massage, a pool, and bikes; the ritual lighting of the candle lanterns each evening turns the Korakia into a magical place to marry or honeymoon. 760.864.6411.
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel Now a shining example of the "hip luxury" that exemplifies Thompson Hotels, the Roosevelt--once a faded, neglected, almost-condemned beauty from Hollywood's Golden Age--has been restored beyond even its former glory. There's a little something for everyone here: photos from early Hollywood for the grandparents, uber-chic hidden cocktail lounges with black leather and stunning crystal lightworks for your gothy Gen-Y party friends, cabanas and bungalows by the pool, and seamless integration of modern style with the beautiful, irreplaceable original woodwork and ceilings for your design-oriented peeps. Steps from the Chinese and El Capitan theatres, Hollywood and Highland, and countless other Hollywood attractions, you'll have as much of a blast just hanging around as getting married (and the weddings here are also worthy of Hollywood royalty). Email through the website for an RFP.
The Viceroy, Santa Monica An imaginative and hip redesign of the old Santa Monica Holiday Inn, The Viceroy offers exceptional cuisine and cocktails in one of the Westside's most bustling urban retreats. The Bristol Room can accommodate up to seventy guests for a sit-down dinner, or 40 for dinner and dancing. The poolside cabanas are lovely for intimate candlelit weddings or a private rendezvous with your new spouse after the reception. Don't be surprised if you see a few stars and movers/shakers sipping cocktails in the lobby lounge. You can submit an request for proposal online via the website or call 310.260.7507 for booking information.
The Standard Hotel, Hollywood/DTLA The Standard Hotels here in L.A. have it all going on, and they offer quirky-cool decor, hidey fun spaces, tasty food, and top-notch service. The rooftops, penthouses, meeting rooms, and biergartens (even the ping-pong mezzanine, maybe?) all lend themselves to hip, intimate nuptials in the partiest parts of town. Call 213.892.8080 for the DTLA Standard or Hollywood at (213) 439.3006. downtownlaevents@standardhotel.com.
The Redbury, Hollywood The Redbury is in the heart of L.A. history at Hollywood and Vine, and this recently reimagined bohemian boutique hotel offers excellent elopement opportunites for film and music fans. Throw on some vinyl tunes (yep, they can provide the LPs and the record player) before you take in the Capitol Records building or The Walk of Fame. 323.962.1717 for more info.
The London West Hollywood The London is stylish and luxurious: large comfortable suites, excellent service, beautiful layouts for event or intimate weddings. It's so good it doesn't need to be quirky or tricky; the food, the design, and the expertise are like cracking an ice-cold bottle of fine champagne--everyone will enjoy it. Event inquiries call 310.358.7776 or email through the site for an RFP; book a private dining room for a wedding with up to 16 guests by calling 310.358.7785.
The Ace Hotel The Ace roared into the DTLA hotel scene with amazeballs ideas and design, revolutionizing the DTLA hotel scene by becoming an epicenter for cultural and music events as well as world-class hospitality. They have modern spaces for weddings both grand and small, and their restoration/technical update of the 1927 United Artists theatre--literally the foundation of their hotel--will transport you back to the glory days of L.A.'s movie palaces. 213.623.3233 or email events.dtla at acehotel dot com. Check out their Ace Hotel Palm Springs too. too.
Shutters On The Beach, Santa Monica For the ultimate in casual elegance on the sand, you can't beat the beach-y opulence of Shutters On The Beach or its sister property Hotel Casa Del Mar right across the street. Steps to the sand and your ceremony site, Shutters offers the luxury and personalized service you'd expect from one of L.A.'s leading hotel locations. Call them at 310.587.1705 to inquire about staging your ceremony beachside, by the pool, or in one of the many ballrooms.
Hotel Casa Del Mar, Santa Monica This romantic boutique hotel right on the Santa Monica Boardwalk, now partnered with Shutters On The Beach, is considered one of the world's leading small hotels, and they'll host your wedding celebration in regal Old World style. 310.587.1705.
Shade Manhattan Beach Oooooooo!--that's the only response possible when you walk into Shade, Christopher Lowell's cool, green vision of a boutique beach hotel. Exquisitely designed and executed, you'll immediately be filled with a sense of modern luxury when you walk through its crisply and cozily designed spaces. Shade has an intimate feel and can accommodate up to 160 for a sit-down wedding celebration on the rooftop Sky Deck; the event staff is friendly, fast, and really on the ball. They have a new Shade Hotel in Redondo Beach, too. Call Events at 310.546.4995 or email/request an RFP via the website. By the way, the Bridal Suite is FABOO.
The Langham Huntington Hotel, Pasadena The Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel and Spa was rebranded by Langham Hotels in January 2008; they've maintained and expanded the Huntington's excellent reputation worldwide and they have been wise enough to preserve the Huntington Hotel's classic glory while updating the room decor and technology. The bridal bungalows provide privacy for your wedding preparations and the comfort for a local honeymoon; the grounds, rooms, and dining are all elegant and impressive. The Huntington is near the world-famous Norton Simon Art Museum, Huntington Library Gardens, and Cal Tech, and many other sites of interest; the only drawback is you may never want to go home. 626.568.3900 or request a proposal via the website.
The Figueroa Hotel, DTLA The beautifully restored Figueroa Hotel in Downtown L.A. is a Moroccan oasis in the middle of Downtown Los Angeles. Just steps away from Staples Center, its rich colors and glorious lobby evoke the exotic and romantic: choose a warm ambience for your ceremony, or play it cool in the Verandah Bar by the palm-appointed swimming pool. Contact by email: info at hotelfigueroa dot com.
The Fairmont Miramar Hotel, Santa Monica This is one of my favorite luxury hotels on the Westside -- beautiful private bungalows and specialty suites for smaller ceremonies, ballrooms for your grand affair. Some of the warmest and most attentive service of any Santa Monica location. 310.576.7777.
Doryman's OceanFront Inn/21 OceanFront Restaurant, Newport Beach If you want a cozy and intimate setting but lots of nearby possibilities for romping and fun, Check out Doryman's Inn and 21 OceanFront. Located right next to the Newport Beach Pier (and Newport's welcoming beach) this inn/restaurant combo makes for a relaxing but entertaining destination wedding. The Inn is sweetly appointed, comfortable and luxurious but not too frouffy; many a time I've met couples there before an elopement ceremony by the water and they are always pleased with the location and friendly service. The adjacent restaurant is sized for intimate events; have your reception in their private wine cellar or the oceanview Sunset Room. For restaurant reservations please call 949.673.2100; hotel reservations 949.675.7300.
Oceana Beach Club Hotel, Santa Monica For the style-minded seeking silver service by the sea, Oceana Beach Club Hotel will more than fulfill your expectations. Quiet, private, overlooking the north end of Santa Monica's Palisades Park and the Pacific Ocean, you'll start to unwind from the moment from you enter the whimsical faux-Chagall lobby. The suites with their balconies and kitchenettes can accommodate a small wedding gathering or celebration; their little restaurant is a gustatory treat. All Santa Monica's amenities are nearby for your pre-wedding/honeymoon enjoyment. Call 877.927.2128 for reservations.
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel The expansive, sunny, palm-filled lobby and bar are impressive enough, but the best perk Loews offers is direct access to Santa Monica Beach right from their back door--no commute required! Access to the sand is not only convenient, but Loews offers excellent personal service and facilities. Because Loews is one of the larger luxury hotels on the water, they often offer great deals on room rates and romance packages; you might brush elbows with movie movers and shakers at the AFM (American Film Market) Conference held there each year. Call 310.458.6700 for more information, or check out the "Book Diret and Save" link on the Loews website.
Surf and Sand Resort, Laguna Beach This beautiful hotel on the sand in Laguna Beach will provides elegant and relaxing wedding experience (don't forget a spa day as part of your wedding self-care!) Check out their website for a visual tour, wedding packages, and more. Wedding inquiries: 855.545.5885 or surfweddings at jcresorts dot com.
The Montage, Laguna Beach There's luxury, there's super-luxury, and then there's The Montage. A graceful hillside resort with a sweeping view of the sea, The Montage was made to pamper and serve you like California royalty. Have a secret elopement in one of their gorgeous oceanview suites, or have a swooningly grand and massive affair on their oceanside lawns. 949.715.6220 or mlbcatering at montagehotels dot com; download an e-brochure with the specs here.
The Mountain Mermaid, Topanga Another fine California-Rustic venue with large trees, swimming pool, polished wood floors, and an intriguing history: the 1930s house was once a gambling den run by Mickey Cohen and later a gay nightclub operated by a former vice cop. Beautifully renovated by artist Bill Buerge, the Mermaid is also home to a host of butterflies (which occasionally flutter through ceremonies) and a sense of reverence for nature, craftsmanship, and the larger legacy of creatures both great and small. 310.455.3181 or bill at themermaid dot com.
The 1909, Topanga Canyon "Under the spreading live oak tree, the wedding couple stands..." The 1909 is a renovated hillside home (at 1909 Topanga Canyon Blvd., hence the name) that offers some of the best of the California Rustic wedding experience: old trees, warm woods and large windows, natural landscape and lawns for cocktails, photo shoots, or secluded conversation. It's a beautiful venue, but one caveat: it's incrediby vertical and can pose difficulties for vendors and those with disabilities. That aside, its scenery and helpful management make this a great choice for the hale and hearty party set. 424.272.1909 or Topanga1909@gmail.com.
Calamigos Ranch, Malibu Calamigos Ranch is a rambling 120-acre event ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains between Malibu and the Valley. They have several beautiful outdoor wedding areas (sheltered by oak trees or perhaps by a brook or bridge, as you prefer) with adjacent indoor reception cottaqes. Set-up and valet are included in their packages, the food is great, and Calamigos staff members are some of the nicest and most professional in town. They now offer overnight accommodation so you can rest well before your woodland wedding. 818.889.6280.
The Victorian, Santa Monica Built in 1894, this elegant historic home was moved by preservationists to its current location on Ocean Park and Main Street in Santa Monica. It's a warm and romantic place for a small to medium-sized event; you'll love its dark cherry and oak furnishings, candles, and twinkle lights, the great in-house catering (or provide your own) and the private parking lot (so you don't need to worry about petitioning the Santa Monica City Council for more). 310.392.4956 or see rates/request a quote via their "Wedding" page.
Swiss Park Banquet Center, Whittier Once a community building for Swiss ex-pats, this clean and well-maintained hall offers excellent value for those planning a larger family-style ceremony. Your choice of indoor rooms and the charming outdoor gazebo area make it a convenient location for both your ceremony and celebration; on-site catering means your guests won't have to wait for dinner. Swiss Park can accomodate groups over 350 and caters off-site too; we loved the hard-working owners and think you will, too. 562.699.1525 or email via their website for information.
The Grand: Long Beach Event Venue The Grand can handle it all and gives great value too. With room for up to 450 people in their Grand Ballroom or for a group as small as 25 guests in their Board Room, onsite catering, an outdoor wedding gazebo, and its own parking garage (yay), The Grand offers an affordable wedding experience for you and everyone you know. Call 562.426.0555 for availability.

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The Great Outdoors: Public Parks, Beaches, and Forests

Rustic weddings have trended hard and are here to stay, and rightly so--when well-planned, they can be both affordable and utterly charming. Southern California offers an abundance of outdoor venues that are publicly owned, offering natural beauty and historic interest at reasonable venue rates. Your fees help preserve important local sites and wildlife habitat, so you can get married and do a good deed for California at the same time. That's the great part.

However, public venues usually require more planning and permitting. Permits are often required for use of public areas and each administration (city, state, county, or federal) has its own rules about events. Some require permits with groups of ten or more, some only if over 100 or more will be in attendance. Permits are almost always needed if you're going to be setting up chairs or risers, have amplified music, or bring other equipment, no matter how many guests are attending. It's worth a phone call to the proper agency to find out what is required so your wedding day can go smoothly. It really sucks to have your wedding shut down by a State ranger, so your due diligence is worth it.

With most public spaces the amenities and service are bare-bones. Keep in mind that you'll have to rent any equipment that is needed (including lighting and catering necessaries) so you'll need to factor that into your budget.

Though often quite beautiful, Nature isn't always friendly. If you have guests that are disabled, out of shape, allergic, or sensitive to heat or cold, your event may not be pleasant or even accessible. Please bear these factors in mind and strategize to make your outdoor wedding as comfortable for your guests as you can.

To check out some of the many public parks and amenities in the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy--a zone that covers an area from the edge of the Mojave Desert to the Pacific Ocean--go to LAMountains.Com (you can even request date availability online).

If you think you need a permit for a beach event in L.A. County, you can find the application information at the L.A. County Department of Beaches and Harbors website. You usually only need a permit for a group of 50 or more, and there are specific rules about music, structures, catering, insurance, and the like. Permit apps must be submitted at least three weeks in advance, so don't delay. You can also try calling 310.305.9543 to inquire. FYI, City of Santa Monica has its own permit requirements for weddings on their beaches.

Temescal Gateway Park Nestled off Sunset Blvd. in Pacific Palisades, Temescal Canyon is a hidden treasure of hills and hiking trails among old oaks and sycamores--even a grassy meadow or two, perfect for your outdoor wedding. You can have a casual picnic wedding or a major celebration, honeymoon overnight in one of the recently refurbished cottages, and host your reception indoors in historic Stewart Hall. Call Joyce (the lovely and dedicated Temescal Gateway Event Coordinator) at 310.454.1395 x103.
King Gillette Ranch Near where Malibu Canyon Road and Mulholland intersect in the Valley, you'll find a dream ranch from California's Golden Age. The 1920's King Gillette mansion is now a historic site, and the surrounding grounds contain scenic parkland, a riparian corridor, and a fascinating LEED-certified wilderness educational center (and gift shop!) If you're a hiker or appreciate the unique natural history of L.A., it's worth a visit. Contact the site manager for King Gillette (and the other Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy sites) via this webpage.
The Los Angeles Arboretum The Arboretum in Arcadia is a vast and beautiful public trust, well worth a visit on a fine day. Within its various gardens are some lovely and very reasonably priced ceremony possibilities; we really love the formal Victorian rose garden, the Queen Anne cottage lawn, and the Celebration Gardens. Call the Special Events Coordinator to set up a private tour of the event areas: 626.821.3211.
The Los Angeles River Center and Gardens Efforts to restore the Los Angeles River and the quality of life for downtown denizens have converged at the River Center's educational exhibit and community gardens. The grounds are lovely and there are both indoor and outdoor ceremony spaces available. Take the virtual tour on the website, or grab your bike and check it out in person. The Center is also home to one of L.A.'s first community Bicycle Staging Areas and is a featured stop on the L.A. River Ride each year. Event information: 323.221.8900.
Monrovia Canyon Park Who have thought that the City of Monrovia would have such a beautiful forested park? Just a few minutes from the main drag is an urban forest with pines, waterfalls, and wildflowers. Not only is it close by, but the park also is well-appointed, with an event center and other facilities. The photos on the website don't really do it justice; go scope it out in person. For information on events and reservations, contact the Nature Center at 626-256-8155--they'll call you back.
The Adamson House Located on Malibu Lagoon, the Adamson House is a historic home built in 1930 and decorated with beautiful locally-made artisan tiles. It's a State historical site so you can't have your wedding inside the house, but the grounds include beautiful lawns and glades right on the ocean for that unique and relaxing California Coast feel. For wedding info call 310.457.8144 or go visit; the rangers at the gift shop can usually answer your questions about the facility.
The Annenberg Community Beach House The Annenberg Community Beach House is a treat: a sunny, delightful nexus of Hollywood history and Santa Monica's civic beach-park. Originally built by William Randolph Hearst for his movie-star mistress Marion Davies, the site was red-lined after the Northridge earthquake and redeveloped by the Annenberg Foundation and the City of Santa Monica as a public space to gather, learn, and play. Multiple modern event rooms adjoin the Marion Davies Cottage (preserved from the original site), all with open views of our spectacular sunsets and just steps from the sand. Enjoy with your wedding guests, then come back with the kids to enjoy the Olympic-sized public swimming pool or listen in on one of the many poetry readings and public educational events.
Charles S. Farnsworth Park, Altadena The 1934 Arts & Crafts style stone community center at Farnsworth Park may be a bit of a faded beauty, but it has a large and handsome stone fireplace, stage, and wood floors; the outdoor amphitheatre is great for performance of ceremonies or music. It's an L.A. County Park so it's pretty affordable, too; call 626.798.6335 for more information.
Pine Wind Japanese Garden at the Torrance Cultural Center This sweet and quiet little garden (max capacity 60 pp) is a tranquil and affordable setting for a smaller ceremony; the adjacent Garden Rooms can be used for dressing and/or reception. Inquire via the website or call 310.781.7150.

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