If you’re looking for a beautiful outdoor wedding and reception space in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles River Center & Gardens is a must-see! This hidden gem located in Cypress Park near Downtown Los Angeles provides the perfect backdrop for both intimate soirees and garden ceremonies as well as a great space for a lavish outdoor reception! Here’s what you need to know about hosting your wedding at Los Angeles River Center & Gardens.
History of Los Angeles River Center & Gardens
Starting ins 1953 this space was once the corporate headquarters and main spice factory of Lawry’s Foods. The site hosted up to 50,000 visitors annually and included three restaurants for its guests to enjoy until it closed in 1992.
In March of 2000, the site reopened as a public park under the management of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority and is home to a visitor center that highlights the rich history of the Los Angeles River and information about the area’s native plants and animals. Los Angeles River Center & Gardens hosts weddings and events as a way to fund the care and upkeep of this important Los Angeles landmark.
Its lush green gardens and Mission Revival style architecture, so classic of California’s history, make for a scenic event space for both corporate meetings and weddings.
Event Spaces at Los Angeles River Center & Gardens
Despite its close proximity to Downtown, LA River Center & Gardens has a private, paradisaic feel because of the enclosed gardens. It feels like you’re stepping into another world entirely! The ivy-lined entrance and iron gates make a grand first impression as guests arrive at LARCG. Once inside, there are three main spaces available for hosting your event.
The first, and most iconic area, is the main courtyard which can host between 300 to 600 guests depending on your layout! This spacious multi-level patio holds a gorgeous tiered fountain as the centerpiece and is surrounded by beautiful trees and that beautiful historic California-style architecture.
Off to one side, there’s a large built-in bar area where you and your guests can mingle and get drinks throughout the party.
One of the things I love about the main courtyard is the raised rotunda area. It makes a great stage for the first dance, parent dances, and other popular wedding traditions to take place.
Another feature that I really love about this venue is that there is a perfect tucked-away perch where your DJ can set up their equipment but still have a great view of the party. This is great for photos and video because you don’t have equipment sprawled out in your event space!
From the main courtyard, there are two arched hallways that lead to this venue’s other event spaces. Let’s talk about the San Fernando Courtyard first.
You can get a great view of the San Fernando Courtyard from the upstairs bridal suite that overlooks the area. The space features a well-manicured lawn that is a popular spot for intimate ceremony setups, as well as a large concrete patio under the shade of a majestic tree. There is also a built-in bar counter, which makes it a great area to host your cocktail hour while the reception is being set up in the main courtyard. I love the versatility of the San Fernando Courtyard because you can really customize the space to your event needs! The San Fernando Courtyard at LARCG can fit about 250-300 guests depending upon how you set up the space.
Inside the California building, you’ll find a modest indoor space under a skylight that’s great for smaller events and ceremonies. This indoor atrium can fit between 150 and 200 people.
There’s also a small kitchen located conveniently at one end of this area, which makes a great space for your caterer to put the finishing touches on plates before serving. The kitchen includes counter space, a fridge and freezer, and a sink.
Other Key Features of this Venue
When you host your wedding at Los Angeles River Center & Gardens you’ll get a 12-hour block of time (specifically from 1 pm to 2 am) that allows plenty of time for setup and breakdown in addition to your event! As part of your booking, MRCA allow allows you to have a 1-hour reservation for your pre-wedding rehearsal within two months of your wedding date.
Also included in your wedding reservation:
Free parking for up to 150 cars
Fireplace (located in the Main Courtyard)
Two bar areas (located in the Main Courtyard and San Fernando Courtyard)
Preferred Vendor list
Photo Opportunities at LA River Center & Gardens
Everywhere you turn at LA River Center there are great opportunities to create timeless wedding photos!
The front gates are a super popular spot because of their lush ivy-lined walls and the grand iron gates. I love taking a few fun shots of the bridal party here before they head into cocktail hour.
The way the light filters through here also makes it an ideal spot for a few romantic photos of the couple. I’ve found it lends itself well to both grand and dramatic shots, as well as photos that are soft and romantic!
Inside the courtyards, the combination of gorgeous architecture and vibrant foliage leaves endless opportunities for creating a variety of great wedding images.
Costs & Other Considerations
Costs to rent out LARCG for your wedding or event can range from $8000 to $15000 depending on both time of year and guest count. You can get more information and details by contacting their special events department.
Land conservation and ecological restoration are of utmost concern for MRCA, so they do have some rules and guidelines that must be followed as a protection for the center. These include, but are not limited to, not affixing decor to buildings or trees and not scattering rice, bubbles, or confetti on the property, though fresh flower petals are allowed in some specified areas. You are required to clean up after your event, and any additional cleaning or trash pickup by the venue will incur additional costs. Smoking is allowed only in specified areas (there are fees incurred if this rule is broken), and pets are allowed with some restrictions following approval from management. -Honestly, all of these seem like pretty common sense rules, nothing crazy!
Last, you are required to choose a caterer from their approved list. Thankfully that list is extensive and inclusive of a variety of cultures and dietary needs.
In addition, they have a great list of preferred vendors to choose from so you can find trusted professionals who are familiar with the space! Keep an eye out for their open house events, these are a great time to check out the space, mingle with preferred vendors, and try out some of the amazing catering options!
Think Los Angeles River Center & Garden is the wedding venue for you? Photography by Belinda Philleo is on the preferred photographers list and we’d love to help you get great photos of your day! Contact us to request more information about our availability and services.