My Wedding Venue Hunt

So I’m engaged. *cue balloons, streamers, and questions about when we’re having babies.*

Engagement is amazing. Between moving in with my fiancé and finally utilizing my Pinterest board, I’m ready to start planning. Therefore, for the past month I’ve been deep in Google and the wedding app The Knot searching for affordable wedding venues in Los Angeles, which is no easy task.

Here are the venues we’ve seen so far:

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Malibu West Beach Club.
This is the first venue we visited and I instantly fell in love with it after searching Google for hours for “affordable wedding venues in Southern California.” This place is definitely “affordable” on paper, it was the fine print that got me. So, we won’t be booking here. However, for the sake of this article, I’ll list the pros and cons.

Pros: Absolutely gorgeous! This venue is on the ocean and has it’s own private beach. Therefore, after the ceremony takes place wedding parties are allowed to go onto the beach and take breathtaking pictures. This venue also features both a ceremony and reception space, which was a plus for us. I also loved the draping on the ceiling and walls; meaning I wouldn’t have to do much for decoration.

There was also a large bridal suite equipped with flat screen TVs, comfy couches and plenty of mirror space. You can pretty much spend the whole wedding morning getting ready in this room that also has ocean views.

Cons: The venue only includes the event space. We were quoted about $6,000 for 125 guests, which isn’t too bad. However, the reason I won’t be booking this venue is because my fiancé and I would be responsible for all additional vendors including food, glassware and flatware, a DJ, linens, chairs, flowers, additional decorations, alcohol, lighting, a cake, and parking (which was the deal breaker.)

In theory, there are plenty of event venues that only rent out the space alone. I personally, didn’t want to be responsible for the coordination. I also didn’t want my guests to have to drive all the way up the Malibu coast and then drive home in the dark down PCH, especially if they had been drinking. Overall, wedding planning is stressful enough and the idea of having to text/email/meet with several different vendors made me change my strategy when venue hunting.

Recreation Park 18 Golf Course

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Initially, I wanted to get married in Long Beach, hence why this venue was added to my list. It also has a romantic vibe with a courtyard lit by string lights. I’m a huge sucker for string lights. This venue also offers an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception space in addition to including chairs, food, a one hour hosted bar, centerpieces, linens and a cake in the price. Yes, the cake is included! This venue partners with local bakeries to offer a cake in their wedding packages. Meaning, if we went with this venue we’d only have to worry about flowers, a DJ, a photographer, and additional decorations.

Pros: The outdoor ceremony space is really pretty. I liked how green it was which gives you a garden wedding vibe. I also loved the courtyard area for the cocktail hour. The space included high tables for guests to stand around and the string lights hanging overhead were super cute! Of course, I also loved how much the venue included.

Cons: I wasn’t a fan of the reception space. It could easily be transformed into a rustic/romantic wedding, however, I felt like the carpet (which can make or break a room) and overall feel of the venue was outdated.

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Lakewood Country Club: This venue is owned by the same company as the Recreation Park Golf Course. The pricing was the exact same, the only variation was the fact that this venue also included ceremony flowers; a huge plus! My sole reason for visiting this venue space was because of the lake it features in the ceremony area. Otherwise, it has the same romantic vibe as Recreation Park but with a few updates. On our tour, the coordinator also told us they’re in the process of renovating as well.

Pros: Of all the venues we visited, this one is probably the best on paper. It’s a very pretty space, it has a lot of inclusions (keeping the cost very affordable) and there’s a lake (you can’t really beat a lake.) This space was definitely the best deal.

Cons: I didn’t necessarily get the “wow” factor from this venue. I really like it and on the big day I’m sure I would be more than happy with this place, I just felt that it lacked a little bit of character. It needs a some pizzaz, which can easily be done. Oh, there’s also no groom’s room… so I guess that’s also a mark down.

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Casa de Lago: The reason I wanted to look at this venue was because it reminded me of the Lakewood Country Club and I wanted to compare. It’s also very well priced and they offer a Mexican option for food. I love Mexican food, so I was intrigued.

Pros: The reception space is beautiful. There are wood beams along the ceiling and hardwood floors throughout the space. This venue also sits on a lake. Other than that, this space seemed better suited for a really nice birthday party.

Cons: The bridal “room” was more of a bridal “closet.” The outdoor ceremony space was also disappointing. Although there was a lake, my eyes immediately diverted to the several people in the area who had either setup camp or started their afternoon nap. I definitely don’t want to have to wake somebody up on my wedding day to leave my ceremony area, so I figure I’ll do everyone a favor a book a different venue.


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Chuck Jones Center for Creativity: They say when you’ve found the one you just know. This was true after my first date with my fiancé, it was true when I found my ring, and I’m hoping its true for this wedding venue. I absolutely love the fact that this venue is a Center for Creativity. The fact that they teach free drawing classes on Saturdays also resonated well with me. My fiancé even loved this place because he’s a huge Chuck Jones (the animator of Looney Tunes) fan. So, we’re both on the same page about this one.

Although it has an industrial feel to it, I loved the string lights that are draped from the ceiling! Surprise, surprise. This venue also allowed me to narrow down an overall theme for our wedding and declutter my Pinterest board.

Pros: It includes a champagne toast, buffet or plated dinner, one keg of beer (random, but I’m not mad at it,) chivari chairs, linens, flatware, glassware and pretty much all the other fixins except flowers, lighting and a cake. Overall, I loved the vibe of this venue.

Cons: There’s no bridal suite, at all. It’s also further than I had planned, in Costa Mesa. There’s no grooms suite either, but we all have to pick our battles.

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