Top 5 California Garden Wedding Venues

There's something so romantic about a wedding celebration secluded in the unforgettable setting of a natural landscape and garden surrounded by your closest family and friends. If a secret garden-feel is what you envision for your big day, we've rounded up our top picks for private California wedding venues that offer a ceremony and reception site surrounded by gorgeous gardens and floral bed-filled grounds. 

Beaulieu Garden (Rutherford, CA)"Imagine the exchange of vows in the sunken garden or dinner delightfully served under a sycamore arbor dappled with lights. As night falls, your guests can dance beneath the stars next to a sparkling pool bordered by manicured lawns and grape vines stretching up into the rolling hills beyond." 

Eden Gardens (Moorpark, CA): "Situated in the hills between Thousand Oaks and Moorpark, the Eden Gardens has over four acres of gardens and a glassy pond at its center.With carefully maintained palms, colorful birds of paradise, and countless rose bushes, you are genuinely removed from everything else in a little Eden to call your own."

Bear Flag Farm (Winters, CA): "Just a short drive away from Napa, Bear Flag Farm is a blissfully romantic venue that captures the artisan spirit of California. This private estate boasts acres of vineyards, orchards and lavender fields carefully positioned to optimize privacy from the outside world and an intimate environment from which to celebrate. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, this peaceful estate promotes a feeling of relaxation and tranquility."

Greystone Mansion (Los Angeles, CA): "Grand or modest, Hollywood glamour or California casual, at Beverly Hills’ Greystone Mansion & Gardens: The Doheny Estate, your wedding ceremony and reception will be unforgettable. Imagine being surrounded by the beauty of a garden setting as you tie the knot among your family and friends. The mansion courtyard, framed by the walls of the mansion with a lit fountain in the center, suggests an air of European timelessness."

Descanso Gardens (La Cañada Flintridge, CA): "Located in the quaint town of La Cañada Flintridge in California, this venue provides several landscapes to backdrop a gorgeous wedding. Occupying over 150 acres, this botanical garden also includes a Rose Garden, Oak Forest, Japanese Garden, and several lawn areas both expansive and intimate. Whether among the serene bed of the oak forest or the gazebo surrounded by five acres of rosebushes, the natural splendor of Descanso Gardens never seems to end."

For more wedding tips and industry insights, visit the Downbeat LA blog here. 

Soultones + Vibiana

Downtown Los Angeles' Vibiana is always a favorite venue of ours to perform. The jaw-dropping ballroom never fails to set the perfect scene at the weddings and events hosted there. Soultones recently performed at a gorgeous wedding on the property and guests loved the energy that the 10-piece ensemble brought to the party!

The room lends itself perfectly to the band's singers and horn players who love to go out into the crowd during each set!

For more information on how to book Soultones for your next special event or wedding, click here.

Wedding Planners, Vendors and Couples: Navigating the Process Together

A recent article featured on the Martha Stewart Weddings blog addressed the question of how hands-off couples should be with their wedding planners. Author Alyssa Brown outlined the following key things to remember: 

  1. Your wedding package should be customized. 
  2. Your wedding planner should keep you organized and on track. 
  3. There are always going to be things your wedding planner cannot do for you. 
  4. You should feel comfortable with the amount of and quality of work your wedding planner's doing. 

Not only are these important to remember for planners, but they can apply to wedding vendors as well. Whether it's the planner who communicates with the team of service vendors, or you are in direct communication as the bride and groom, it's important to establish mutual trust and respect, be very clear about what your vision is, and be vocal about how involved you'd like to be from the beginning. 

If you're aligned with a team you trust, there's no need to constantly check in with your planner or your contacts. Brown states: 

"Wedding planners hate being micro-managed just as much as the next service provider, but don't be afraid to say something if you're not getting your needs met. The relationship you have with your wedding planner works best if you're able to communicate and honestly so that all tasks on both your lists are taken care of in a timely and professional manner. Trusting your planner's guidance, organizational tools, creative ability, and general advice are crucial to the enjoyment of working together and planning a beautiful, fun, and relaxing wedding."

As long as you remember it's a team effort, and there are responsibilities that everyone owns - including the bride and groom - then the process is much easier to navigate together. 

For more wedding-related tips and advice, head to Downbeat LA's Wedding Tips Blog here. 

AMFM + Limoneira Ranch

Ventura County's Santa Paula is home to the lovely Limoneira Ranch, a rustic and charming wedding and special events venue. AMFM had the pleasure of performing at a wedding here on a gorgeous day with both the ceremony and reception set outside surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the Heritage Valley. 

The band kept guests on their feet all night, whether it was surrounding the bride and groom during their first dance and the parent dances or during the upbeat dance sets that went until the very end of the celebration. 

The lead singers kept everyone excited by singing and dancing along to the couple's favorite songs, jumping out into the crowd to encourage guests to sing along, and even breaking out a surprise horn section during the set. 

For more information on AMFM, visit the band's artist page here.

To book AMFM for your next special event or wedding, click here.  

Summer Wedding Weekend Inspiration!

For family and friends traveling from out of town to celebrate your wedding day, planning local activities and social gatherings around the date is a great way to welcome everyone and spend quality time together. Weddings have become so much more than just the big day as more and more couples are planning entire weekend itineraries around any budget for guests to enjoy. 

With summer in full swing, we've got plenty of inspiration to share with you for a sunny wedding weekend itinerary, including rooftop cocktails at sunset, beach games, boat excursions and more! And while it's never mandatory or expected, giving your loved ones the opportunity to continue the celebrations above and beyond the wedding day is something you'll both cherish forever: 

Fore more wedding tips and inspiration, read more from our blog here

Vendor Spotlight - Wish Wonder Dream Weddings & Events

Downbeat LA recently celebrated the wedding of Caroline and Mike at Triunfo Creek Vineyards in Agoura Hills, California. The beautiful outdoor venue was set beautifully and the big day went off without a hitch thanks to the amazing team at Wish Wonder Dream, a rockstar wedding and event planning team based out of Southern California. 

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The day-of communication and coordination we experienced firsthand was wonderful and highly professional, and we can only imagine how well the team worked with the couple throughout the entire planning process leading up to the big day. With packages spanning from small and simple to full-scale and premiere, Wish Wonder Dream seem to offer a wide range of services for couples looking to make their wedding special. 

For more information on this Southern California-based wedding and event planning team, Wish Wonder Dream, visit their website at www.wishwonderdream.com.

To visit Downbeat LA's blog, click here.  

Gold Standard + Terranea Resort

Gold Standard recently performed at a gorgeous oceanfront wedding at the luxurious Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes. The picturesque ballroom was set with romantic florals, pops of red and lit candelabras with friends and family filling the space, eager to celebrate the newlyweds, Brent and Jessica Fierro. 

The 10-piece band was on stage the entire night, keeping the all white dance floor packed. Per the bride and groom's request, the band performed the special parent and sibling dances live and there wasn't a dry eye in sight. From dance-offs and party props to heartfelt toasts and speeches, here are some of the highlights from this amazing wedding we were lucky to be a part of: 

Find out more about Gold Standard by visiting their artist page.

For live entertainment booking inquiries regarding your wedding or special event, click here.  

How To Host Wedding ANY DAY of the Week!

Saturday weddings are commonly desired by couples for many reasons, but what if your dream venue doesn't have any dates available or the price tag isn't as flexible as the Friday or Sunday option? There could be a number of reasons why you choose to host a wedding on an off-day, but here are some things to consider before you do to ensure it's the best it can be:  

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1. Guests traveling from out-of-town may need to take time off from work on one or both ends of the trip, if that's even an option. While you shouldn't expect them to do so, be sure to show you're consideration by hosting a welcome reception or planning to spend together before or after the actual wedding day. 

2. For weekday weddings, make sure to ask your vendors for any deals or discounts they may offer, especially if most of the weekends are already booked. You and your planner should feel comfortable having these discussions with the people you'll be working with for the wedding.

3. Plan for evening activities and celebrations for Monday-Friday weddings. Anything after 6:00pm is safe if guests are expected to travel on the same day. For activities before or after the actual wedding day, consider a cocktail hour instead of brunch, or an intimate dinner instead of a luncheon. However, if the day after your wedding is a Saturday then anything goes!

4. If the day following your wedding is a work day, don't feel like you have to cut celebrations short on behalf of guests who can't take the time off. You can still plan an after party or keep the reception going late, just give them the option to stay of leave if they'd like. 

Remember that whatever day you decide to host your wedding will be perfect because it will be what's best for you! 

For more Downbeat LA wedding tips, click here

Vendor Spotlight - Spark Creative Events

Working in the entertainment and events industry, we know - and appreciate - that it takes an extraordinary team of talented individuals to design and implement an entire event's ambiance and feel. Downbeat LA had the pleasure of witnessing a creative vision be brought to life at a beautiful Ojai wedding with Gold Standard and Santa Barbara-based event designers, Spark Creative Events.

Specializing in weddings and corporate events, Spark offers a massive array of services for clients, including lighting, decor, rentals, audio, video and more! Visiting their online gallery alone gives you an idea of the incredible work they do, see for yourself:

The team is highly professional and an absolute pleasure to work with, and we're already looking forward to the next time we visit Santa Barbara to work with them on a wedding or special event.

For more information about this amazing vendor, visit them at their website: www.sparkcreativeevents.com

For more wedding tips and industry insights, visit Downbeat LA's blog here.

Wedding Day Transition Tips: Ceremony to Reception

Congratulations! You've found your dream wedding ceremony and reception venue! If they're two totally different properties, you and your guests shouldn't experience much trouble transitioning from one part of the day to the next. However, if they're on the same property, planning a seamless transition is key. 

Downbeat LA has performed numerous ceremonies and receptions located within the same venue, and have compiled a list of helpful tips to ensure the transition goes smoothly: 

1. Immediately following the ceremony, have servers greet guests with champagne and/or passed hors d'oeuvres to keep everyone in the same area while bridal party and family photos are taken at the ceremony site. 

2. Consider the use of custom signage or detailed ceremony programs with information as to what the rest of the night will entail, letting guests know where to be and when. 

3. Ask your officiant or wedding band MC/DJ to make clear announcements following the ceremony leading into the cocktail hour and reception, including where guests should go, when meals will be served, when everyone should take their seats, etc. so guests aren't left wondering. 

4. Whether you want to switch right into party mode or set the mood for a romantic dinner, make sure your wedding entertainment can play or perform the music accordingly as a cue for what's to come. 

5. Plan on a change in decor! Unveil a photo booth area, bring out the cake or special personalized items once the ceremony has passed and the celebration is underway.

For more wedding tips and advice, visit our Wedding Tips Blog!

Vendor Spotlight - ENCOR STUDIO

Last month, Soultones performed at The Ritz Carlton-Laguna Niguel for the beautiful wedding of Lan and Jack. The unique Taiwanese/Vietnamese Tea Ceremony and wedding reception was stunningly captured by Southern California-based cinematography and photography team, ENCOR STUDIO

The team was an absolute pleasure to work with and the results of the highlight video they captured and edited are incredible, see for yourself by watching below: 

Their story and mission are made clear through their work, and by speaking with the team and even visiting the company website you get a glimpse into how passionate they are about what they do:

"Throughout the years, we’ve been successful at helping clients create a lifetime of magical moments by capturing the beauty & emotions of their special day. We craft wedding stories with a creative artistic eye built with our bare hands & modern day equipment. We don’t just point the camera and shoot, we shoot like ninjas." - ENCOR STUDIO

We look forward to the next time we can work together with this amazing visual story-telling team professionally.

For more information on ENCOR STUDIO, visit their website at encorestudio.com.

To explore more highlights from their portfolio, visit their Vimeo page here.

For more vendors we love, wedding tips and industry insights, visit our blog here

Top 3 Malibu Mountain + Vineyard Venues

Malibu is mostly known for its gorgeous beaches along the Pacific Coast Highway, but we happen to love the area for its sprawling landscape and private vineyards nestled in the Santa Monica mountain range. Considering it is an extremely popular destination for weddings, we compiled our Top 3 Mountain and Vineyard Venues located in sunny Malibu, all with breathtaking views!

1. Saddlerock Ranch

This picture-perfect wedding venue offers couples a choice of five different locations for a ceremony and reception and is surrounded by natural beauty and charm. Whether you prefer a celebration under treetops, or atop a mountain with panoramic views, the possibilities are endless at Saddlerock Ranch!

2. Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyards

This private estate is not your typical wedding venue in the sense that it doesn't provide a turnkey operation, but it's perfect for anyone looking to customize their entire wedding to their liking! Most known for it's heli-pad ceremony site, this romantic Tuscan-style mansion boasts 360 degree views of mountaintops, hillsides and the pacific ocean.

3. Calamigos Ranch

Calamigos Ranch never disappoints, as couples can choose from four different venues on the property to ensure their wedding perfectly suits their needs, from party size, indoor/outdoor preferences, and more! Both romantic and rustic, there are luxury accommodations onsite to make it the ultimate wedding destination for you and guests. 

For more wedding tips and venue recommendations, visit our Wedding Tips blog here

Top 3 Luxury San Diego Wedding Venues

Downbeat LA bands and artists frequently travel to San Diego to perform at various venues across the city. With picture-perfect locations in the heart of Downtown as well as gorgeous oceanfront properties, we narrowed down our Top 3 Luxury San Diego Wedding Venues sure to make any special occasion absolutely perfect:

1. L'Auberge Del Mar (Del Mar, CA)

2. Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, CA)

3. The US Grant (San Diego, CA)

For more Downbeat LA wedding tips, head to our Wedding Tips blog!

Gold Standard + Casa del Mar

Gold Standard recently traveled to Santa Monica to perform at the stunning oceanfront property, Hotel Casa del Mar. The bride and groom, Danielle and Andrew, threw a gorgeous wedding and pulled out all the stops when it came to entertainment.

With a full three-piece horn section and high energy band members, the stage was full the entire night, and so was the dance floor. 

For more information on how to book Gold Standard for you next wedding or special event, click here

Top 5 Wedding Venues with an Ocean View

Southern California is home to countless wedding and event venues, all offering something different for everyone. Downbeat LA bands have had the pleasure of traveling to and performing at some of the area's finest properties along the coast, and the oceanfront venues and their accompanying views never cease to amaze us. 

Check out our Top 5 Wedding Venues with an Ocean View listed below: 

1. Bacara Resort - Santa Barbara, CA

2. The Resort at Pelican Hill - Newport Coast, CA

3. Hotel Casa del Mar - Santa Monica, CA

4. Adamson House - Malibu, CA

5. San Ysidro Ranch - Santa Barbara, CA

For more Downbeat LA wedding tips, visit our Wedding Tips blog series here

Soultones + Noor

Our bands travel far and wide to perform for some amazing clients, but it's always wonderful getting the opportunity to perform close to home and support our favorite local venues in Southern California. Soultones recently brought the house down at a gorgeous wedding at the always lovely Noor in Pasadena.

For more information on how to book Soultones for your next event, visit the booking page here.

Music Musts for Wedding Cocktail Hours and Dinners

Music is a very important aspect of any wedding or special event, and a great live band can be the difference between an average wedding and one that you'll never forget! While planning dance music for the reception is key, it's important not to overlook how music will also set the tone during cocktail hour and dinner. 

Downbeat LA cocktail hour/acoustic pictures work here! With different ensembles (i.e. horns, keys, guitar w/ cajon etc. )

Downbeat LA cocktail hour/acoustic pictures work here! With different ensembles (i.e. horns, keys, guitar w/ cajon etc. )

We've put together a list of music options to consider as you and your guests transition into reception mode and enjoy cocktail hour/dinner:

1. Piano Player: Does your venue have a grand piano? Consider hiring someone to tickle the ivories as guests enjoy cocktails and appetizers.

2. Classical Guitarist: A continuous light, beautiful guitar melody can provide the perfect background to any cocktail hour or seated dinner. 

3. Acoustic Trio: A vocalist, acoustic guitar and some light percussion can create a fun atmosphere and have guests tapping their feet and humming along to their favorite songs. 

4. String Quartet: While strings often provide perfect ceremony music, it's a great option to add an elegant and romantic feel leading into the reception.

TIP: If you're going to have a live band for the reception, it doesn't hurt to ask if their players are available for these parts of the day or evening!

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For more Downbeat LA wedding tips, visit our Wedding Tips blog series here

Vendor Spotlight - The Ruby Street

Today's vendor spotlight is dedicated to The Ruby Street, a restored historic church-turned-wedding venue in Los Angeles. We've written about this gem of a venue previously in a run down of our favorite intimate wedding venues in LA, and our band AMFM has had the pleasure of recently performing at this historic location. 

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Working with Zach and the rest of the venue's team of dedicated staff is always a pleasure, and the property makes for such a unique, customizable wedding experience for any couples looking for something different. Gorgeous restored stained glass, beautiful interior and exterior design elements and a colorful palette are all a part of the package. 

For more information on The Ruby Street, visit them at www.therubystreet.com

Before You Book: Top Questions to Ask Live Wedding Entertainment

Whether it's a high energy DJ or a 10-piece live band, highly sought after wedding entertainers get booked far in advance. In searching for the best option, it's important to have open dialogues with potential entertainment vendors before signing a contract! Downbeat LA has created a list of 15 important questions you should ask any entertainment prospects before you book: 

AMFM of Downbeat LA 

AMFM of Downbeat LA 

1. What do you include in your package? 

2. What sets you apart from other bands? 

3. Can you fulfill the role of an MC? 

4. What genres of music can you cover? (Ask to see a song list!)

5. Do you take "must-play" and “do-not-play” song requests?

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6. Do you perform ceremonies and cocktail hours as well as receptions? 

7. Can you assist in choosing music for processional, recessional, parent dances, etc.? 

8. Can you provide an example of number of sets/set lengths you can perform, including breaks?

9. How much space do you need?

10. How much time do you allocate for setup, soundcheck and breakdown? 

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11. If overtime is requested the day-of, what do you typically charge?

12. In addition to your sound equipment, can you provide other elements such as lighting? If so, what is the cost?

13. What electrical supply will you need the day of?

14. Do you have any former clients I can contact for references?

15. Will you be expecting meals and/or drinks the day of? If so, for how many people?

For more tips, visit our Wedding Tips blog series here