I have photographed a lot of couples who decided to have the Orcutt Ranch wedding and believe that this place is one of the most idyllic and naturally beautiful wedding venues in Los Angeles. This noteworthy property is located in the West Hills in the middle of San Fernando Valley. Besides the historical adobe, visitors admire a myriad of groves, rose gardens, and green expanses, with countless varieties of plants including the one of oldest oak trees in California.
Check out this video review of the Orcutt Ranch to get a feel of the style and size of the venue. All the details and numbers are still in this article.
The historic adobe of Orcutt ranch played the role of a dream house in the film La La Land. It also appeared in one of the “Beverly Hills, 90210” episodes.
Initially, the Rancho Sombra del Roble (Ranch of the Shaded Oak” from Spanish) was a 210-acre cattle ranch and citrus orchard at the foot of the West Hills. It was the vacation and retirement estate of William Warren Orcutt, a pioneer petroleum geologist and the discoverer of one of the first prehistoric skeletons at the La Brea Tar Pits. Together with his wife Mary Logan Orcutt, he bought the property in 1917 and hired the architect L.G. Knipe to design a home on the landscape. After the death of William Warren Orcutt, his wife gave the land to the city of Los Angeles.
Now, this peaceful and beautifully harmonious place is city property and open to the public. Here, it’s perfect to peruse nature, sit and reflect. It’s also a special area for garden weddings, picnics, and other open-air events.
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Orcutt Ranch can accommodate events of up to 175 people. It’s open daily from sunrise to sunset, rental facilities are available from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM, so, the actual time of curfew is 10:00 PM. There are usually 2-3 weddings every weekend. But it’s a city park so it will stay open to the public till dusk, even when a wedding is going on.
They do not sell inclusive packages and you have to bring in vendors for everything: lights, chairs/tables, food, decor, etc. It’s a great option for someone who dreams to customize his wedding and get his hand on every detail. Still, you will have to choose from their list of alcohol vendors.
The venue has some restrictions such as:
- no rice, birdseed, confetti, etc.,
- music must end by the time of the curfew,
- acoustic music is allowed only outside,
- amplified music is indoors only.
As far as I know, nowadays it’s no indoor option included. Although, one of the Orcutt ranch weddings where I was shooting had a reception indoors. I recommend to consult the management office of Orcutt to know the details.
As for security, they require 2-5 monitors for all events, and here could be some additional fees.
You can bring your pet to celebrate with you, the venue is pet-friendly.
There is a large parking lot in the area and a convenient road to the buildings so that you can calmly walk in heels.
Locations for shooting at Orcutt Ranch
The Orcutt Ranch in West Hills has a lot of picturesque spots for photo shooting. Here, I just list the main areas that are perfect romantic backdrops for a wedding photo session. Further, I will describe some of them in detail.
- There is a Spanish-style adobe residence with its veranda, patio, the main and side courtyards.
- There are gardens of roses and other plants around the main building: wandering paths, walkways and small bridges, garden areas adorned with gazebos, a pergola with marble sculptures and a little grotto, and
- a 24-acres of the wooded area including heritage oaks trees and a variety of interesting specimen trees, exotic shrubs, and flowering plants.
Bride and Groom Getting Ready Shots
For your Orcutt ranch wedding, the venue offers two separate dressing rooms in the main building. Each of them are designed in soft pastel colors which serve as a classy elegant background for getting ready and group photos. A lot of friends and relatives can easily take part in preparations, there is enough place for all.
On the fireplace shelf, you can place your wedding accessories and floral decorations. In both rooms, there’s enough place and plenty of light from big windows to display all the wedding accessories for some quick shots as well. Your wedding dress and the dresses of bridesmaids you can hang right under the ceiling to prevent wrinkles on clothes. Besides, from this perspective, dresses look impressive in the photos.
Orcutt Ranch Wedding First Look Photos
Honestly, the area of the ranch has so many spots for shooting that I have doubts that I can describe properly all of them. Gardens, paths, and groves of the property are a treasure for explorers wishing to take spectacular photos on their Orcutt Ranch wedding day.
Together with newlyweds, we’ve discovered great First Look spots.
- It’s the main house itself, which is whimsically decorated, from the arrowheads embedded in the brickwork of the main house to a veranda decorated with handmade Mexican tile. There are colorful glazed panels depicting scenes of American Indian, Mexican, and Spanish cultures. The Spanish tile roof adds an extra flair to this original mansion. By the way, the adobe’s unique arched door appears in the “La La Land” story.
If you don’t like Native American peace symbols represented by a swastika over the doorways, just cover it with decorative papers or stickers as some couples made during their event.
- A great photo spot is a the patio with a fountain with crystal clear blue water. This picturesque area made an appearance in one of the scenes of La La Land, as well. Here the building provides dappled shade almost throughout the whole day, that’s great for a high-quality shooting.
- The main courtyard in front of the building with a white gazebo and countless rosebuds is also excellent for photography. The gazebo and its surroundings create an atmosphere of intimacy and peaceful calmness which I tried to convey with the pictures I took there. Behind the small pavilion, you will find a statue of a nun and an archway leading to a rose garden maze that can be an amazing backdrop for romantic and idyllic First Look pictures.
- Another courtyard on the left hand of the main building is less frequently used for group photos, although it has an interesting large inlaid tile sundial and is also full of flowers and lush greenery.
- Near the main building, you will find an old barn. Its front wall in soft warm terracotta color traditionally serves as a background for couple & big group photos at every Orcutt Ranch wedding.
Orcutt Ranch Wedding Family Photos
All these spots are near the main building, the ceremony & reception areas, so, you easily can reach them on heels. But if the couple has a desire (and surely time) to explore the entire area, I usually suggest walking deeper in the garden and groves.
- Behind the maze, you will see a half-circular white marble sitting area — a garden pergola with statues in Italian-style. These three graceful muses will with pleasure join the couple or the group of guests in the family photos :). One of the couples in the photos down used pergola’s benches to display some wedding mementos.
- The whole area of 24-acres gardens (with birch, wisteria, dogwood, purple lily magnolia, oak, sycamore, and eucalyptus) gives a perfect opportunity to make memorable First Look and family pictures. You can choose one of the heritage oak trees to take a picture in its shade. The largest one is more than 33′ in circumference and is estimated to be more than 700 years old. Under its giant crown, there is enough space to place friends and relatives for some shots. Great photos can be also taken on wandering garden paths and small bridges between exotic trees and shrubs such as a small bamboo forest, for example. Couples and visitors like to take photos between long bamboo stalks.
- One more beautiful spot hidden between green bushes is a small stone alcove with Madonna, created in 1945 by an unknown master. As I understood, in the past there was a stream here, but it dried up. However, the place itself is very scenic.
- Surely, I have to mention citrus orchards. They are totally open to the public only one weekend a year in July. At this time, you can pick up by hand ripe Valencia Oranges and white grapefruits. In an orange grove, you will see one more detail from the past of the adobe — an old wind machine. There is also a wooden rustic fruit station with a washbasin and a bench.
As you see, Orcutt Ranch is visually a very appealing place for a wedding.
Further, I would like to give some advice how to organize the best ceremony & reception here on your wedding day.
Orcutt Ranch Wedding Ceremony Photos
There are several places at the venue where the ceremony and the reception can take place. Although the venue is huge, it’s possible to make both of them within a few yards away from each other.
- The ceremony usually takes place in the area of the second courtyard, next to the sundial where plenty of foliage and shade protect everyone from direct sun.
- The reception can be held right near the main building next to the white gazebo. It fits approximately 10 round tables and you can put your sweetheart table in the pavilion.
- The place in front of the pergola with statues is also perfect for the ceremony. You can put here long rectangular tables for the party as well.
Keep in mind that nowadays the venue doesn’t allow an indoor ceremony or reception although I have seen one exception as I’ve already mentioned above. In that case, the reception took place in the main room of the building. This room also was used as a dance floor.
Orcutt Ranch Wedding Reception Photos
Down, I just give some small remarks for everything to run smoothly at your reception:
- Don’t forget, you celebrate outdoors in the park. If you plan on serving a meal outside, insects can disturb guests. Keep close at hand mosquito sprays or anything of the kind.
- Some couples prefer to use a canopy during the event to protect guests from direct sun on hot summer days.
- The cake cutting may take place in one of the indoor rooms, for example, in a big one with a Palladian window. A couple cuts the cake inside, guests can watch the process from outside.
- You are not allowed to use speakers outside. The venue makes an exception for the ceremony, but again — for loud party music it can be a problem. Some couples put outdoor speakers in the cake room. Some have live music (without drums and amplification). Make sure to get approval from the venue before the event.
Advantages of the Orcutt Ranch wedding venue
- Affordability: many couples describe it as a venue with a very low price in comparison to other similar outdoor venues in L.A.
- There are plenty of parking places for guests and they are near ceremony and reception areas.
- Beautiful separate dressing rooms for the bride and groom are spacy and perfect for a photo shoot.
- There are lots of different backdrops for incredible photos. Even the guest’s pictures taken by phone came out gorgeous.
- Freedom to choose your vendors: you can hire your dream caterer or wedding planner. The only required vendor is the bar.
The Orcutt Ranch venue is the perfect place for a couple who dreams to have their best day with plenty of greenery and a rustic vibe. The area can accommodate more than100 people and offers a variety of spectacular spots for a wedding photo session.
The venue is naturally beautiful and unique, it requires a minimum of additional decorations. The Orcutt Ranch wedding will not cost you much. Still, it would be better to have a good wedding planner on your side because the venue is a great green canvas for creative ideas.