The first thing that Jeff and I tackled after we settled on a wedding date was to find a wedding venue! This was probably the most difficult part of planning the whole wedding! Finding the perfect place to get married was a challenge because I always dreamed of an outdoor southern California wedding ceremony and I didn’t want to have our reception at the typical country club or hotel ballroom. It was also really important to me to have a private venue where we wouldn’t have to share the grounds with the public or be one of multiple weddings on the same day. All these factors ruled out 90% of wedding venues! I really wanted something different and intimate!! I flew in from Boston to look at a long list of venues over a span of 2 days, I was driving like a madwoman up and down the 405 freeway, trying to make all my appointments! Of the twelve places I saw, none of them felt right to me. Everywhere I toured, I just was not happy! (side story: one place I went to advertised itself as a “club”, but when I arrived at it’s dingy parking garage, I found out it was actually a “sports club”! ) I think this was because deep down in my heart, I wanted to get married at this special place that I read about in wedding blogs and bridal magazines: Rancho Las Lomas.
Rancho Las Lomas is a beautiful private estate nestled at the base of the hills of Orange County, CA. The name is a little misleading because it sounds like it would be a rustic, Spanish ranch but its actually a restored elegant villa that holds weddings and large parties. The grounds are beautifully manicured with orange groves, hibiscus bushes, oak trees, multiple terraces and courtyards. I am not doing the venue justice by the way I am describing it, you just have to trust me that it is breathtakingly beautiful. The most unique part? It’s zoological garden!! They house all sorts of exotic wildlife!! When you drive in, the first thing you see is their gorgeous white tigers!
How many people can say that they have WHITE TIGERS at their wedding?! They also have bengal tigers! And llamas, zebras, parrots and macaws! It sounds a little nuts to have all this wildlife at a wedding venue, but I really do believe that it added to the uniqueness of the venue, it really sets it apart from all the other venues. It feels like you are in a little private forest in the middle of Orange County. Guests can tour and walk around their private zoo! This was great, especially for the kids!
As if all these exotic animals wasn’t enough, the grounds and facilities itself are breathtakingly beautiful with Spanish tiles, fountains, old fashioned lamp posts and Spanish architecture. The ceremony would be held at the Teatro, an outdoor theater with a marble ceremonial stage:
Cocktail hour is held in one of their many outdoor courtyards up on a terrace. At night, the Teatro outdoor courtyard transforms to a beautiful reception area:
A nice bonus of Rancho Las Lomas is that it has all these cottages that are available for the bridal party to use during the day. There is a bridal cottage and a groom’s room for the bridal party to get ready in and stash our stuff. And there is a beautiful cottage that all the guests have to walk through to the reception, great for taking cute pictures!
**all photos by the fabulous Jules Bianchi
And in the .3% chance it rains in August (we actually looked up this statistic over the past 15 years), there is a Grand Salon with french doors and stained glass windows and fireplace for an indoor reception.
I loved loved LOVED Rancho Las Lomas!! I coveted it since the first time I saw it in a bridal magazine. But with a $8k price tag just to rent the place for the day, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would get married there!! I couldn’t get it out of my thoughts though when I was looking at all the other venues around Southern California. Everything I looked at, I would compare to it Rancho Las Lomas. I had to check it out and the moment I walked on it’s grounds, I knew this was the place we had to get married at! So after sending pictures and videos of the grounds to Jeff who agreed with me that it was the ultimate venue, we bit the bullet, re-shuffled our budget around and signed the contract. This was the first step to making my wedding dreams come true!