Rancho Las Lomas is a huge Spanish-styled wedding & event venue in Orange County with great opportunities for making your big day unforgettable.
From this article, you’ll learn how to organize a perfect wedding at the Rancho Las Lomas and why you can hardly find something like this place in entire Southern California.
Table of Contents
Location & History
Rancho Las Lomas is a 32-acre property located in Orange County of Southern California in the foothills of Mission Viejo. This big park includes historical buildings, gardens, a small zoo, plus wedding & event spaces.
The rancho has a very practical location. It’s just 8 miles east of Interstate 5 and approximately 25 minutes from the John Wayne Airport. It has a parking area hidden by trees for over 100 cars and ample parking for big rigs at the main entrance.
In the 19th century, these expansive grounds belonged to Spanish nobility. After California became an American state in 1821, the ranch changed many owners. Since 1977, the property has been home to the Lawrence family: Rick Lawrence and his wife Jeannie. Nowadays, one of their sons, Brett Lawrence, operates the estate.
Check out the video below for more visual references. All the facts and numbers are still here in this article.
The Lawrence family were passionate collectors and after their marriage in 1980, they began collecting things from their travels, shipping them back to the ranch. Their sons later picked up the tradition. So while visiting, you will find lots of antique amazing things throughout the area, both indoors and outdoors. There are 22 hand-painted tile murals commissioned in Portugal in 1980, a phone booth from London, blue light poles from Pasadena, and many other memorable details. The Lawrence’s renovated and enhanced the Rancho’s original buildings to use them as event spaces. They organized even a small nonprofit zoo, starting from peacocks, parrots, and ostriches and coming lastly to some Bengal tigers and wildcats nowadays.
Rancho Las Lomas means in Spanish “Ranch of the rolling hills”, carrying on R.L.L. initials of its owner Richard Lee Lawrence. He and his wife were the first couple married here, thus opening the property to other couples and wedding events.
Facilities of Rancho Las Lomas
The venue’s capacity is more than 375 guests, depending on the chosen celebration areas. It will be available for your wedding from 11 A.M. until midnight, and Rancho Las Lomas wedding costs will be approximately about $7,500-$9, 500 per event. It will not include additional charges.
- 5 indoor/outdoor areas for your wedding event;
- required valet parking depending on the number of the guest — extra fees may appear;
- bridal & groom bungalows for getting ready;
- setup & cleanup;
- golf carts for guests;
- banquet & cocktail tables, 200 Chiavari chairs;
- bistro lighting;
- audio equipment;
- access to all the grounds including an open-air zoo (currently closed due to COVID restrictions).
Cutlery, china, etc. you have to bring through your caterer. Please clear up this point with the 24 Carrots Catering & Events, with whom the venue is working (at least it was so in 2020).
The Rancho staff is organized and well-trained, however, many couples recommend hiring a wedding planner who has worked at the venue before and knows how the layout and setup goes.
The venue has also some restrictions: so, no rice, confetti, or sparkling allowed. Besides, music outdoors is allowed only until 10 P.M., after this time — indoors only.
Wedding event areas of Rancho Las Lomas
The ranch offers 5 beautifully organized & perfectly maintained locations for your wedding celebrations. Keep in mind that each of them has its rental fee.
There are 3 main areas:
- El Teatro is an outdoor area with a stage that also can be tented. Its capacity is 375 plus and it’s used for both the ceremony and reception.
- La Terraza is also a large open space surrounded by trees with the same capacity, and also a tent option. This area is perfect for a ceremony with a big guest amount.
- Grand Salon is an indoor area, a big vintage-style hall for large reception parties with a capacity of 224 guests.
There are also some additional areas for small events:
- Casa Bella and the Barn. These are the two original structures on the property when the Lawrence family acquired it in the ‘70s. All the other structures were built later in the ‘80s. The outdoor area of Casa Bella is great for intimate weddings and receptions, or engagement parties & rehearsals. The Barn with a bar is used for small celebrations & private events.
- Rick’s Cafe is used for intimate parties as well. It’s a four-level Casablanca-style villa with a bar and a fireplace. It was named after the movie Casablanca, which was the founder’s favorite movie. In the past, the villa was used as a guest house for Lawrence’s friends and family and has remained its charm.
Let us make a small photo tour through these beautiful locations with the newlyweds whom I have photographed at the ranch 🙂
Bridal & Groom’s Suites at Rancho Las Lomas
At the wedding where I was shooting, the bride made her preparation in one of the beautiful cottages on the ranch territory. It is really an amazing cottage, both from inside and outside. From my experience, having a convenient and nicely designed bridal area is a big advantage of a venue, not every venue has a room like this. About another venue with a great bridal house you can also read here.
The Rancho Las Lomas bridal cottage has ample space for everything which a girl needs, moreover for all her bridesmaids and friends. The cottage has spacious sitting and dressing areas, a natural stone fireplace, and a private patio. The interior is an old Spanish style with vintage wood furniture and plenty of light.
The cottage is very secluded surrounded by private rock patios and big trees. From the window, you can see how the guests arrive at the venue, but nobody will see you.
For the groom’s preparation, we’ve chosen one of the enclosed verandas with a very colorful design a bit far from the bride. Its interior with Spanish-style details looks exotic and bright in the pictures.
As far as I know, some couples just rent these cottages over the night for a bridal shower or small parties and wake up in this beautiful place to prepare for their best day.
First Look shots at the Rancho Las Lomas
Just one step outside the bridal cottage and you will not have any questions about where to find a spot for your First Look photography. It’s literally everywhere: the venue is very extensive and multi-leveled, it offers lots of backdrops for pictures.
Your First Look or couple portraits you can easily perform near the bridal area. Terracotta walkways and cobblestone roads around the bungalow ringed by greenery are very secluded. We made some nice shots under the shade of giant oaks and sycamore trees as well; depending on the season, you may see many bushes in blossom and this also will add colorful accents to the pictures.
Another flattering background was for us the interiors of Rick’s cafe with its historical details. This bright and colorful enclosed veranda with French doors leading to the terrace served as a nice stage for newlyweds’ portraits.
Also, we made some shots in front of the wooden main gates of the Ranch (which is actually great for any pictures with small or big groups), and after we discovered an enchanting swing nearby where captured maybe the most romantic moments of the whole photo session. So, as you see, the Rancho is a picture-perfect venue with unrivaled locations and settings.
Wedding party & Family Shots at Rancho Los Lomas
Keep in mind that it may be difficult for some guests to walk around because it’s a large space with some hills and stairs. But actually, there will be no need to go far to search for interesting spots.
For example, you can make some shots in front of the fountain on the patio. The beautiful bridal bungalow will serve as a remarkable backdrop. Its walls display one of the landmarks of the ranch: tile murals from the collection of old owners.
Besides, going down the hills you will find a lot of space to place big groups surrounded by trees. It can be a great background for your group photos as well. Here we made many big group shots.
If your guests are ready to move on a bit, you can come to giant Spanish-style wooden gates which I already mentioned above. It’s another landmark of the Rancho Las Lomas and surely, an impressive photography spot.
And lastly, your guests are allowed to visit zoological gardens of the Ranch with Bengal tigers, zebras, alpacas, free-roaming peacocks, and large cats. Usually, guests like to visit the zoo during the cocktail hour, walk around or peek into the birdcages with rare tropical birds: so, some nice shots can be done during this stroll.
Ceremony sites at Rancho Los Lomas
At the Rancho Las Lomas wedding where I worked, the couple had chosen the El Teatro outdoor area for their ceremony and indoor Grand Salon for the reception, so you will see exactly these areas in the photos.
El Teatro is an open-air theater-like area with a marble stage. This stage is a white stucco pavilion adorned with blue tile murals. For a ceremony, florists usually decorate the upper part of the pavilion with flower arches. A big patio in front of the pavilion can accommodate more than 300 guests. The venue provides the ceremony with Chiavari chairs.
After the ceremony, guests can have their cocktail hour by the pond while the Rancho crew will transform the El Teatro area into the reception. (they flip the space in about 1-1.5 hours). The sweetheart table is usually placed in front of the stage decorated with greenery. It’s also a perfect place to feature your dessert table. For the reception at El Teatro, the Rancho also provides beautiful bistro lighting.
Another ceremony spot is La Terraza. It’s a very large (with the maximum capacity of 750 persons) outdoor area which can easily hold a concert, big event, or any dining under the stars. This cobblestone terrace is ringed by giant California Oak and native cactus and is the venue’s newest space. The bride starts her entrance by descending a rustic staircase where the guests will expect her. This grand wooden staircase you can also use as a romantic scene for your photography.
Some couples use all 3 spaces: for example, La Terraza for the ceremony, the Grand Salon patio for cocktail hour, and El Teatro for the reception. Each location is beautiful in its own way.
Reception site for your Rancho Las Lomas wedding
The Grand Salon is an 8,000-square-foot building for your big indoor reception party. It can host about 200 guests.
Before it was the home of the Lawrence family, but in 1993 it was transformed into an event space. Since that time it has kept many vintage interior details: a big stone fireplace whose stones were collected from the Aliso creek nearby, stained glass windows, and numerous French doors. The space is great for photography: white stucco walls and ceiling reflect the light well, space does not look dark or low. The room with a terracotta floor also has a place for dancing. The big outdoor patio with a blue-tiled pool and fountain adds to the useful area as well. All this gives a sense of space and light.
As far as I know, the usual choice of the couple is to celebrate until 10 P.M. outdoors. If you have your lightings like chandeliers hanging on the trees and candles, your outdoor reception will look super romantic, plus you’ll have the great weather on a warm summer night as a bonus. (in case of cold weather, the venue will provide you with heaters, just inform them in advance). After 10 P.M., the couple and guests move to the Grand Salon to dance and enjoy indoors (remember noise restrictions). If the newlyweds have booked the bungalows over the night, after the guests have left, they can enjoy the calmness and beauty of the venue and relax after the party. As you see, venue rental options are very versatile — a great advantage of the Rancho Las Lomas.
Why can you choose Rancho Las Lomas for your wedding celebrations?
If you are in search of a spacious rustic-styled wedding venue at a relatively affordable price in Orange County, La Lomas will be one of the best options. Especially if you will book it during the winter months. Compared to other similar venues in the area, which may be pricer and smaller, Rancho La Lomas is worth it.
The property has lots of options and locations for every weather situation. It has both indoor and outdoor options and the possibility to choose between them.
The cottages for the bride and groom are really chic and away from each other: an important bonus in comparison to other venues.
It’s a very photogenic venue, you probably will not have enough time to take pictures at ALL of the beautiful venue’s spots. There are lots of greenery, flowers, old interesting details, Spanish-inspired architecture, and even a zoo.
The area feels very secluded in the foothills without any urban noise. You will have your privacy: except for a few morning tours, you have the entire area to yourself with only your wedding on site.
If you are amazed by a Spanish-style architecture and great outdoor spaces, it will be interesting for you to compare Rancho Las Lomas to other famous ranches & wedding venues of Southern California: for example, Quail Ranch in Simi Valley, grandiose Calamigos Ranch of Santa Monica, or Orcutt Ranch in San Fernando Valley. Also, there are other beautiful venues in Orange County and nearby, such as Serra Plaza.