Scenic Open Space Wedding Venues in Los Angeles

When I first got out of college I was very naive and idealistic in saving the environment here in Los Angeles. After wrapping up the last few summer courses, I was hired to work for the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. They jointly operate the following venues through their pretty shitastic site LA Mountains:

  • Franklin Canyon Park
  • King Gillette Ranch
  • Los Angeles River Center and Gardens
  • Temescal Gateway Park
  • Upper Las Virgenes Open Space (Ahmanson Ranch)
There are a lot of bonuses for having your wedding at any of these venues, such as:
  • Plentiful parking [no valet required]
  • Relatively long rental hour periods [8-12 hours depending on venue]
  • Beautiful natural scenery
  • Outside vendors [although there is a preferred vendor list]
  • Friendly towards people with disabilities [for the most part]
However, there are caveats, like:
  • Renting tables;
  • Renting chairs;
  • Renting linens;
  • Renting dance floor;
  • Renting lighting;
  • Renting portable kitchen in some cases;
  • Paying for Ranger Fee [non-negotiable];
  • Possible noise restriction to respect wildlife.
The costs for each park is listed below, and I’ve tried to include pictures of weddings that have taken place at each facility. Yes, these are the beautiful outdoorsy weddings that fill up the SMP blogs, but it ain’t fake and it certainly ain’t cheap. Unless you work there or have a buddy that works there. Then the price is ridiculously affordable.

Temescal Canyon Park, Pacific Palisades

It seems to me that Temescal Canyon has gotten more popular in recent years. Our coordinator, Emilia, recently had a wedding there earlier this year with another client of hers, which you can see here.

Temescal Canyon Wedding — © Katie Neal Photo

Temescal Canyon Wedding —  © Katie Neal Photo

A lot of people go hiking there, and Patrick and I used to blow through the Sunset Trail [that's what we called it] back when we were college students. Anyway, you don’t have to worry about the public crashing your wedding there because I think the lodge and ceremony space is relative far removed from the public. I’ve read on some boards about how terribly slow the event coordinator and planner at Temescal is about returning inquiries. Let me just say, from personal experience, it was always hard just getting in touch with anyone that worked there. I don’t know why, it just was.

The price tag for this park? Probably around $3,500 – $4,500 on a Saturday or SundayI’m not sure if you can use it as a tax write off, but the money essentially goes towards the management and maintenance of each of the parks and facilities that the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority operates.

Upper Las Virgenes Open Space, Calabasas/Agoura Hills

As for the Upper Las Virgenes Open Space [Ahmanson Ranch], well that place is simply beautiful. The event coordinator/point of contact is Joan Pankratz, and she is simply a doll to work with. You can rent Ahmanson Ranch for up to 12 hours. What’s great about that place is that if you rent it for a Saturday, you can come in earlier on Friday to set up the tables and chairs. Additionally, Joan is pretty good about responding to your inquiries in a relatively prompt fashion.

Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Wedding —  © The Youngrens

Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Wedding —  © The Youngrens

Joan used tell me about how people would run off to take pictures in the beautiful park and then she would shake her head. Why? Because during the warm months of spring and summer, brides and photographers often didn’t realize that there were rattle snakes and other wildlife there. So ladies, and perhaps gentlemen, while these venues are scenic please be mindful and cautious of the real life danger that does exist there. The cost of Upper Las Virgenes Open Space (Ahmanson Ranch) is actually one of the better deals of all the park facilities that can be used for an event space. When I was there it was about $3,500 (2006-2008), but considering its popularity I would assume it’s gone up by at least $1,000.

Franklin Canyon Park, Beverly Hills

Of all the venues I mentioned, the only one I didn’t visit while I was working for the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority was Franklin Canyon Park. But fret not, Ms. Awesome did a great write up on the venue she and her partner ended up choosing that fit their budget and what they were looking for, which can be read here on her old WeddingBee Blog Post. The cost of a Franklin Canyon Park wedding? Well, back in 2010 it was $4,000. It probably is still that much, if not a little more.

Franklin Canyon Park Wedding — © Cameron Leung Photography

Franklin Canyon Park Wedding —  © Cameron Leung Photography

Franklin Cameron Park Wedding — © Cameron Leung Photography

I absolutely love this wedding for several reasons. First, the bride and the groom had a very intimate ceremony where it looks like only the immediate family and very close friends were invited. Second, the bride is clearly getting married her way, wearing a non-traditional [basically not white] dress from JCrew. I know that dress is from JCrew because  I looked at that dress when I was trying to figure out what my ladies should wear. Third, they had an outdoor wedding in the mountains because they both love to hike and mountain bike. Sometimes it isn’t about the details at the wedding. You can see the rest of the gallery by clicking on any of the pictures above. This wedding really showcased their happiness and the emotions of everyone was beautifully captured that day. Definitely different than mine, but the smiles are all the same :)

King Gillette Ranch, Calabasas

And King Gillette Ranch [KGR]? I think it was the same cost as Ahmanson Ranch but you only get the venue for 8 hours. Considering how some venues rent their space out at a base of 4 hours, I guess it isn’t that bad, however, KGR is also home to the Biggest Loser, so I’m not sure how that would work out anymore. Long term user for that facility. But if you’re interested, I found this cute engagement shoot at King Gillette Ranch. That should help you get a feel of what the park space and venue would look like if you wanted to have a wedding there.

King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas — Courtesy of LA Mountains

King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas — Courtesy of LA Mountains

Los Angeles River Center & Gardens, Los Angeles

If you’re into urban, historical places then please consider renting this facility near Downtown Los Angeles off Figueroa Street. Yes, this area is sketch to some people, but it is so quintessentially Los Angeles. The Los Angeles River Center & Gardens used to be the Lawry’s Restaurant, and the architecture is simply beautiful. By the way, this venue is actually located in Los Angeles. Fancy that. One of my former coworkers was just in a wedding there; her sister got married at the LA River Center & Gardens because it spoke to them; it spoke to their connection to Los Angeles and being East Siders.

LA River Center & Gardens Wedding  –  © Erin Hearts Court

LA River Center & Gardens Wedding —  © Erin Hearts Court

The majority of the people living around that part of Los Angeles are Latino, and I simply loved this Traditional Mexican Wedding I found online at the venue. It was during the day, they had a mariachi band, and I loved it. The Los Angeles River Center & Gardens is hosts multiple agencies, like the MRCA, Friends of the LA River [FoLAR], and LA Works. It also is host to the annual Los Angeles River Bike Ride, where riders can stop and take a break to get water and use the restrooms. Anyway, if you love this place with its beautiful Spanish styled and Art Deco influence architecture please check it out. You get full use of the facility outside and inside. Price tag for this baby? ~$3,500 – $4,000.

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One thought on “Scenic Open Space Wedding Venues in Los Angeles

  1. Thanks for sharing this info! Just wondering, you mentioned that the ranger fee is non-negotiable. Is the rental fee itself negotiable?

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