DETAILED GUIDE to your Saddlerock Ranch Wedding!
Saddlerock Ranch is probably the best choice if you dream of gorgeous open-air views at your ceremony and reception.
The Ranch offers unrivaled sceneries of the Santa Monica Mountains and grandiose space for your celebrations. You will find here all the details about your Saddlerock Ranch wedding.
Table of Contents
Location & History of Saddle Rock Ranch
The ranch is located deep in the Malibu Hills off Mulholland Drive in the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s 1,000-acre green natural grounds with 100 acres of vineyards with Saddlerock wine tastings, various event areas, and wedding venues, a working carousel, horse boarding, and even exotic animals.
Saddlerock is approximately a 1-hour drive from L.A. and about 13 minutes from the hotels in the Agoura Hills or Westlake area. Major hotel chains nearby are also in Calabasas and Thousand Oaks.
The ranch is extremely expansive and picturesque, with very uneven landscaping. No surprise, it has 4-5 different entrances. To reach the management office for example, you have to turn off the highway at the entrance 32111. Other entrances lead to wedding venues, to a safari tour spot, etc. While booking, you will get from the management a map with full details on how to get to your wedding place the most convenient way from the highway.
Because of these large outdoor spaces, valet parking is required (extra charge). Also, the venue will provide shuttle service to some areas where parking is limited.
The history of the property dates back about 300 years when the entire area was a part of the original Spanish Land Grant. It was used for raising sheep and cattle and until the 1930’s the area was known as El Malibu. From the 1970s, the owners Ron and Lisa Semler live here with their 9 children, so it’s a private residence, too.
However, they are open to corporate gatherings, birthdays, picnics, and other special occasion events. But Saddlerock Ranch weddings are probably the most grandiose part of this list. The ranch hosted magnificent celebrity weddings of movie stars like Kelsey Grammar, Lisa Kudrow, and Don Henley.
Besides, there have been many movies made here since the 1930s (you will see the ranch in Breaking In, Wine Country, Mi Familia, Hard To Kill, and lots of others). Also, Saddlerock Ranch has been featured on numerous TV shows such as The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, The Kardashians, etc.
So, as you see this venue is a picture-perfect location to host an unforgettable wedding surrounded by 3 amazing mountain peaks (Saddlerock, Turtle Rock, and Castle Rock).
Amenities of Saddlerock Ranch
This place is actually a blank canvas that allows you to make it your own and create the look you like. You will have the full 24 hours for your event at the ranch, so you can start when you need. The rental fee varies from $6000 to $13000 depending on the venue you’ve chosen. It does not include catering fees, insurance, and additional charges.
For your Saddlerock Ranch wedding, you will be provided with such facilities as:
- 4 outdoor spaces for your ceremony & reception (plus there was before one built-in canopy to get married under, but I am not sure if it still works now);
- bridal suite/changing rooms;
- ample valet parking (for a fee);
- shuttle service;
- a nice addition is a possibility of an engagement photo session free of charge before your wedding day.
The rest you have to bring in yourself. However, the ranch will provide a list of preferred vendors and offer a discount if you use their services, but you will not be obliged to hire them. Also, because it is a highland venue, in the colder months it’s recommended tenting and having portable heaters.
Saddle Ranch has no noise restrictions. The curfew is until 11 P.M. or 12 midnight depending on the venue area. This is very rare to find among other wedding places.
As for other limitations, due to its huge grounds, the ranch does require security services. The management does not allow dogs on the territory. Providing fire protection to the ranch is the number one priority of the owners, so smoking is not permitted on the entire property.
It can happen that other weddings will be going on at the Ranch. However, the venue areas are far from each other and have their own entrances, so actually you will not see them, and vice versa.
Saddlerock Ranch Wedding Costs
Saddlerock Ranch offers 4 different places on-site for weddings at any given time, each of them with its capacity and rental fee.
- Main Lawn or Garden Setting with the capacity of 500 guests: the biggest wedding area of all. The curfew is at 12 a.m. The rental fee will be $12,000 for up to 400 guests.
- Oak Grove can accommodate up to 450 guests and the price will be $8,000 for up to 400 guests. The curfew is at 12 a.m. as well.
- The Vineyard Setting or Chateau Le Dome is well for intimate weddings of up to 150 guests. The rental fee is $6,000.
- Hilltop can seat up to 150 guests. Its rental fee is $ 6,000.
And lastly, the venue used to offer the Camp Cabernet area before, with the capacity of 300 guests. Nowadays, I am not sure that this area is still available. The music curfew is 11 p.m. in both the Vineyard/Dome and Camp Cabernet.
Every site has plenty of space and separate preparation areas, as well as ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception spots. In the evening, trees in each of them are lit with bistro lights. Also, every area has its own gate entrance. So, you will have your privacy in any of them.
Further, I will shortly describe the advantages of every venue at the Saddlerock Ranch but most photos down refer to the Vineyard Setting of the ranch where I made lots of pictures.
Bridal & Groom Getting Ready Shots at the Saddlerock Ranch Wedding
Each venue has a bridal changing room with an air-condition and all facilities. In our case, it was a small yet cozy cottage for the bride. It can accommodate quite a number of bridesmaids and friends, as you can see in the photos down. Still, the room’s design is rather discreet, and to make getting ready shots more colorful and vivid we brought outside a sofa and made some great shots surrounded by mountain peaks.
The groom at this wedding had a much more luxurious suite. We made the groom’s party shots on the patio and at the small open-air swimming pool with a spectacular view.
First Look at the Saddlerock Ranch
Near your ceremony spot, you will find lots of perfect spots for your First Look, just have a look around. At the wedding where I was photographing, the couple didn’t make a First Look, but we took great couple portraits after the ceremony. Surely, all the ideas described down you can use for your First Look.
- We found an old wood door near the ceremony spot and used it as a backdrop for romantic shots.
- The couple was excited to take shots among vineyards and green landscaping in the sunset light.
- During the stroll through the area, we made many great shots on the pathways and hills.
- You will see on the territory, on the northside, a giant yellow frame, specially made for photo sessions. It was quite far from our ceremony spot, however, the couple was enthusiastic to make some shots there as well.
- And lastly, a stroll through the area gives a great possibility to visit exotic animals of the ranch.
However, I highlight two important points according to the photography at the ranch.
- The area is very uneven and hilly, be ready for it while planning your walking. Flat shoes are rather a necessity.
- If you decide to make some shots far from your ceremony or reception areas, use a golf cart. Otherwise, there is a risk of breaking your timeline while making your photography.
Wedding party & Family Shots at Saddlerock Ranch
Hilly grounds, as I already mentioned, are not very comfortable for long-distance walking, especially for the elderly. So, the best solution for group photos is to find spots in a short distance to your ceremony or reception areas. Fortunately, the views of the Vineyard setting are picture-perfect: there are hills and vineyards encircled by the Santa Monica Mountains.
You can take some shots right at the ceremony or reception spots, as we did. There was enough space to accommodate even very big groups. Besides, you still have the possibility to take group pictures at the bridal preparation area.
Keep in mind that it’s better to avoid the direct sun of noon so that you will not have harsh contrasts on the faces in pictures. Find the shade near the buildings or wait for more favorable hours, for example, after 6 P.M.
Ceremony sites for your Saddlerock Ranch Wedding
As I already mentioned, there are 4 ceremony spots at the ranch, each with its peculiarities.
The biggest one is the Main Lawn or Garden setting. It’s a really huge lawn, as you can guess, on the north side of the Ranch. You will have your ceremony under a rustic oak arch surrounded by olive trees. The place is relatively even, green, and very spacious so that even 400-500 seated guests will see the details of the ceremony perfectly.
Oak Grove is one of the newest additions to the property. Here you will exchange your vows by a small private lake and waterfalls ringed by oak trees. In the evening, trees will be lit with bistro lights (the venue provides partial lighting).
Hilltop ceremony area is at the top of the hillside with a mountain and Pacific Ocean grandiose view. Still, it’s not as spacious as Garden Setting and nice for intimate ceremonies of up to 150 persons.
And lastly, we are coming to the site which I have photographed — the Vineyard Setting. Here, your ceremony will take place in the middle vineyards where your guests will enjoy a panoramic view of the mountains and valleys. You will have an oak tree arch, which you can adorn with draperies or florals. The bride will walk down the aisle surrounded by flowering rose shrubs and greenery. At the ceremony spot, the couple will face the enchanting mountain scenery. After the ceremony, guests will move to the Chateau Le Dome, the house located in the middle of the vineyards for cocktails.
Reception sites for your Saddlerock Ranch Wedding
At the Vineyard setting, the reception takes place on the terrasse in front of the Chateau Le Dome. Chateau is an octagonal stone house covered with ivy. The lawn next to him can host up to 150 guests.
During the diner, you will enjoy a panoramic view of the vineyards, Conejo, and San Fernando valleys. In the evening, the area is enclosed by hanging twinkle lights in the trees. These bistro lights create the perfect ambiance for a reception. There is also a dance floor near the dining area.
I recommend jackets as it can get quite cold on the top hill and only a sweater will not be enough. Besides, in the cold months the area may be tented, a good idea will be also to use heaters.
Why your Saddlerock Ranch wedding will be unforgettable
The ranch with its beautiful views and space is a blank canvas where you can embody your own vision and ideas.
- You will get an amazing location which can accommodate really large groups of guests, up to 500.
- You can bring in your own caterers and hard alcohol.
- Your venue time is the full 24 hours and the curfew will be only at 11-12 P.M. There is no noise restriction so the party has to be really loud!
And lastly, you can have a complimentary engagement photo session (which is included in the rental fee) and see all the spectacular sceneries of the Ranch before you will actually celebrate.
You can also have a look at other venues in Southern California without strict limitations, for example, Hummingbird Nest Ranch, where events can run until 2 a.m., and such late-night venues as Rancho La Lomas and Smogshoppe