When planning that perfect wedding day, most brides probably don’t think, “and I’m going to have my wedding at my local community center!” But its a shame — community centers are an overlooked resource that we are likely helping to pay to upkeep with our local taxes. As a venue, they will be much cheaper than a ballroom in your typical hotel or resort. Of course, you pay more at hotels and resorts for the convenience; whereas, with a community center, you might have to bring in your own tables and chairs, sound system, etc. — it all depends.
In Southern California, we have some exceptionally beautiful community centers that you should definitely consider when it comes to planning your wedding day.
In my opinion, the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica is the crown jewel of community centers in Southern California. It sits right on the beach and includes both modern facilities and the historic Marion Davies Guest House. I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting, but I follow it on Facebook and am always floored by the beautiful pictures they post. While it is probably the most beautiful and ideally-located community center in Southern California, it’s also probably the most expensive to rent, so take that into consideration.
But being in Southern California, there is of course more than one municipally-owned facility overlooking the Pacific Ocean. One of these is the Redondo Beach Historic Library.
The Redondo Beach Historic Library is not right on the beach, but its close enough that getting some wedding photos on the sand is an easy accomplishment. It’s located within Redondo Beach’s Veterans Park, which means its not near a neighborhood that might mean a curfew or sound restrictions. Personally, I’m a sucker for historic buildings, especially those with special architectural features, and the Redondo Beach Historic Library is a gorgeous Spanish-style building. You can also follow the Redondo Beach Historic Library on Facebook.
Besides the Redondo Beach Historic Library, the South Bay has another municipally-owned gem — the Torrance Cultural Arts Center.
There are not a whole lot of images available of the Torrance Cultural Arts Center as a wedding venue, but it is very popular, judging by the number of weddings that have been held here. A casual Google search turned up photos of weddings taken here by Il Mare Photography, Miura Images, and Kevin Le Vu. The venue offers an architecturally modern banquet facility — I love that all-glass entry — and a traditional Japanese garden.
Inland, I actually have decorated a wedding at Diamond Bar Center, which is owned by the City of Diamond Bar.
This is not a great photo and really not a fair representation of this venue’s really great attributes, but it does give you an idea of what its banquet halls look like. It’s banquet hall has super high ceilings, which is always a good thing — and this is a community center! It’s location is on a hill and gives you sweeping views of the San Gabriel Valley at night. Plus, it appears that since I was last here, they have really beautified the grounds, making it a great place for a garden ceremony, too. Ray Soemarsono of Apertura Photo and Cotton Love Studios have recently shot weddings here; check their photos out. If you are a Diamond Bar resident, you get a discount on fees, but even the non-resident fees are pretty reasonable.
Lastly, I want to introduce you to the Agoura Hills Calabasas Community Center.
I was actually a member of the gym facilities for a while. My husband was a big fan of their indoor basketball courts. Anyway, it doesn’t have beautiful ocean or city views, but it is a classy, modern facility and extremely reasonable rental fees. That alone makes it a great place to have your wedding, party or other event.