SmogShoppe is a private 6,500 square foot indoor/outdoor area located in the center of Culver City, just in some minutes to Santa Monica, LAX, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Downtown Los Angeles.
It’s a quintessential Californian entertaining space and a unique wedding venue. It combines original interior and exterior areas that make it one of the most remarkable spots in Culver City and Los Angeles. The lush greenery — desert plants and vertical gardens — meets here industrial chic decor together with vintage furnishings.
The venue can accommodate up to 250 persons for cocktail parties, 150 for a seated dinner, and 150 in the outdoor garden area. SmogShoppe is perfect for formal dinners, cocktail hours, wedding ceremonies, any kind of meetings, and conferences.
If you’re not a banquet hall or ballroom kind of person and you want a venue with a unique charm, off the beaten path and still with a friendly atmosphere, Smog Shoppe wedding will be a good choice.
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History & Design of Smogshoppe wedding venue
As far as I know, it was a smog check center in the 1980s at the Smog Shoppe and you can see some interior details of its story in the grand hall. Celebrations are hosted here since 2008. This place is one of the most eco-friendly urban spaces in Los Angeles, sometimes called also one of the ‘greenest’ venues in the country.
I described in one of my articles that the amazing food and a original design make the other wedding venue Fig House unique. Smog Shoppe is a very unusual wedding venue as well. Below there are a few words about its designers & original system of construction and gardening. If you want to skip it, you can go directly to the venue description here. More details to their concept of “going green” you will also find on their official page.
The designers of the venue Miguel Nelson and his wife Sherry Walsh followed the environmentally responsible strategy at all stages. They not only used an old car repair shop as a canvas for their ideas but also made the recycling a part of their retro aesthetic. For the construction of the building, they used about 90% of green-certified building materials. Solar panels cover all the energy needs of the venue, even they make more energy than they use. The idea was to help minimize energy usage by taking full advantage of the sunny, breezy Los Angeles climate.
The venue has stormwater and groundwater system that filters rainwater from the roof and awnings into a 12,000-gallon tank for watering plants and janitorial use. All toilets and sinks are the lowest flow available, urinals are water-free, hand dryers the most efficient ones they found.
Designers worked with recycled metal and wood to make the furniture. The vintage decorations that give the venue its original vibe the designers found by scouring flea markets, vintage sites, and estate sales.
Miguel Nelson experimented with the idea of creating the greenest building in the city. The original atmosphere of the venue exists thanks to vertical succulent walls in so-called Woolly Pockets (designed by Nelson and his brother Rodney). Together they constructed these huge wall-hangings with pockets and stuffed them with succulents, tropicals, and other plants that cascade and drape. Once partygoers started asking if they could buy the planting system for their own homes and gardens, Woolly Pockets were born.
SmogShoppe tries to encourage and support green events and shows a distinct preference to introduce clients to green planners, designers, and other eco-friendly resources.
The result of this thoughtful work you will see immediately entering the venue. The unique combination of an industrial space with a gorgeous succulent wall will transfer you the idea which the designers wanted to express: a modern, refreshing vibe, earthy and airy at the same time. I think it’s a very Los Angeles place 🙂
Amenities of SmogShoppe Culver City
As you’ve already understood, the venue offers both indoor/outdoor spaces with vintage furnishings. Couples can select the caterer of their choice. However, as I heard SmogShoppe offers a list of the vendors with whom they’ve already had the cooperation — usually there are local LA caterers. A catering kitchen build-out is also available upon request. Maybe for a big number of guests, you will have to source additional tables, chairs, crockery, and cutlery.
The venue also provides A/V equipment. The big cinema screen with the sound system and with DMX control, stage quality LED lighting is placed in the grand hall.
Indoor music is allowed, the venue has a 7.1 THX surround sound system ideal for film screenings, wrap parties, DJs and VJs.
And — such a rarity! — the curfew will be until approximately 01:00–02:00 a.m. The guests usually get the venue for the full 12 hours.
Remember that it’s a very popular venue, at the weekend they are usually booked, over a year in advance.
Event Sites Of SmogShope Los Angeles
There are two big spaces at the Smog Shoppe:
- indoor Grand Hall,
- a courtyard with a small fountain and vertical gardens.
The Grand Hall has soaring 15ft ceilings and a big screen used for movies or photo presentations. Dimmable LED of the hall allows setting the scene simply and beautifully.
I’ve already told a lot about the Courtyard Garden and I can tell more:). It looks like a small oasis in the middle of urban jungles. Garden walls are filled with over 2,000 sq ft of greenery, it really feels like a romantic scene of a movie.
As you see, the venue is quite compact. However, both indoor and outdoor areas you can transform into one big space if needed. The staff usually makes this transformation in the evening after the ceremony when the heat of the day goes away.
Below I would like to highlight which spots of the venue in my opinion are perfect for photography.
Bride and Groom Get Ready Shots
The venue has a private dressing area called Crow’s Nest. You can use this room for your preparations. It’s a small, yet cozy room with wooden panels, a white wall adorned with greenery and vintage furnishings. It has a sweeping bird’s eye view from the window. However, in the photos below, the bride organized her wedding preparations in a room of one Culver City hotel. That’s a good option if you have a lot of bridesmaids to help and the space of Crow’s Nest is not enough to get dressed.
The get ready shots of the groom I made in a private restroom of the venue. It’s a quite small area with industrial decor elements, with a big mirror and enough light for shots.
First Look at the Smogshoppe venue
The stairs leading to the ground floor area is a perfect frame for a First Look.
Another idea to make First Look shots is just to go outside and take photos on the backdrop of the outdoor green wall or in the street.
The garden entry gives also a good opportunity for impressive shots. The green background looks stunning, see for yourself.
And surely, the entire indoor garden area is also at your service.
Family & Wedding Party Pictures at Smogshoppe
Every spot of Smog Shoppe is perfect for family ortraits. We took nice pictures:
- on the backdrop of shelves filled with funny vintage bric-a-brac and books in the indoor space,
- by the green wall that contrasts with airy light shades of bridesmaids’ dresses,
- outside under the name of Smog Shoppe,
- by the corner fountain,
- inside under the tent at the ceremony spot.
Below there are just some examples for inspiration. Keep in mind that during the daytime it may be too harsh light outside. This so-called “midday sun” is not a friend of quality photo session at all. Further, I’ll explain why.
Ceremony site of Smogshoppe
The ceremony usually takes place in SmogShoppe’s spacious courtyard area. The staff brings in chairs and benches and places the wedding altar/arch infront of the vertical garden wall.
The decor is eclectic and whimsical. The venue doesn’t require much extra decor arrangements. But I know that newlyweds sometimes bring in their decorations (especially for weddings in national style) to give the area an original touch. For example, they can use instead of a traditional western arch a canopy complete with drapery and flowers. Or decorate the tent with some colorful details in national style. This plasticity is one of the advantages of the venue.
Reception site of Smogshoppe
For the reception, the staff dresses up the tables in the grand hall. There is enough space for the First Dance and other entertaining performances.
At the wedding in the pictures, the newlyweds made a photo slideshow on the big screen during the reception. It was a good idea because it stimulated plenty of conversations by sparking memories.
As I explained above, the wall between indoor and outdoor areas can be moved away and guests will enjoy a bigger space in the cool evening air. You can also ask the venue management to bring in misting fans into the courtyard to combat the summer heat.
The area is lit up by hanging globe lights. This looks very impressive at night. If you need an extra spectacular view, you may rent additional string lights. From my experience, they enhance an outdoor area and make the entire space more magical. This place is very transformable concerning lighting and decorations.
Onу more perk of this venue is an outdoor catering kitchen area. Less venues offer this option. The guests can have a direct look at the cooking preparations as it was at the wedding in the pictures. Wу enjoyed an outdoor buffet with Brazilian cuisine and the great taste of a BBQ grill. When chefs prepare food in front of your eyes, you feel this method of cooking is an art :). It was really a kind of performance at this wedding.
Couple Pictures & Sunset Shots at Smogshoppe
Sometimes bad lighting can disturb a lot at the wedding. Light is constantly changing during the day and you have to keep in mind the proper time for your photography to avoid excessive contrast or hard shadows.
For example, the building of Smog Shoppe itself does not create many shadows in the afternoon. One of the tricks I used at the wedding in the photos when the sun was directly above our heads was taking pictures so close as possible to the green wall.
The second very important point is using additional light sources (such as photo lighting umbrellas, etc.) in the darkened outdoor and indoor areas. This helps to make photos bright and lively, not dark and moody.
Advantages of the SmogShoppe wedding venue
Let us summarize all the advatages of a Smogshoppe wedding in a list.
- The venue is situated in a marvelously convenient location just some minutes to Santa Monica, LAX, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Downtown Los Angeles.
- It offers great cozy event sites that feel like a home rather than a banquet party.
- For plant lovers it’s a green oasis of calmness in the urban chaos of LA.
- You’ll have the op to turn the venue into an event space in your own style with easily transformable indoor and outdoor areas;
- Outdoor kitchen makes the cooking a fun process for guests.
- There is high-quality AV equipment and lighting for slide show lovers.
- You can freely choose your vendors though the venue has a list with vendor recommendations.
- Your 12-hour rental lets you stay past midnight.
- In addition, I’ve read a lot of positive reviews about the overall responsive and friendly staff. Smog Shoppe’s managers organize the whole planning process easily and seamlessly.
There are lots of reasons to choose Smogshoppу as your wedding venue.
If you are not a big fan of a traditional “ballroom” look and want a more intimate wedding, SmogsShoppe will fit your needs perfectly.
For example, you like to be in the open space rather than indoors and you are a huge plant lover, so SmogShoppe will be your dream venue.
Maybe you don’t plan a lot of decorations and still want to make an area your own, then this place will work for you as well 🙂
The Smog Shoppe is the perfect combo of greenery, vintage, and industrial aesthetics. This venue has its character and charm so that very little decor is needed. It’s a breath of fresh air in the chaotic city jungle. You will not ask for a more magical location to share your love with the partner.
Have a look at other Californian venues, located in downtown:
Houdini Estate in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, on the Laurel Canyon Blvd,
Fig House in the historic area of Highland Park,
BRICK located right in the downtown of San Diego,
Estate on Second located in the downtown of Santa Ana, Orange County.
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