Wedding Venue Review: Descanso Gardens

Average Base Cost: $31,000

Average base cost for a Descanso Gardens wedding is calculated by figuring a 110-person guest list on a Saturday night using catering costs for food/beverage of $150/pp using the Boddy House ceremony and reception venues. Transportation to venue, entertainment, photographer and decor not included. Average price includes administrative fees and state sales tax. Price is rounded up to the nearest thousand.

1418 Descanso Drive
La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
(818) 949-4291
View their Website

How it breaks down:

Facility Rental Fee: 

Ceremony Only

Available from 5-7 p.m.

  • Amphitheater, Magnolia Lawn, Japanese Garden (in the East Garden): $4,200
  • Rose Garden, Oak Grove, Main Lawn: $4,800
  • Boddy House Lawn: $5,200
descanso gardens
Oak Grove

Reception Only

Available from 5-10 p.m.

  • Rose Pavilion: $6,200
  • Boddy House Terrace: $6,200
descanso gardens wedding
The Rose Garden Gazebo. Photo by Lets Frolic Together Photography

Wedding + Reception site combinations

Available from 5-10 p.m.

  • West Garden: $8,000 (170-person capacity)
  • Boddy House: $8,200 (100-person capacity)
descanso gardens
The Rose Garden

What’s Included: 

  • Detailed meetings with Special Events Office
  • 1-hour rehearsal at ceremony site
  • Bridal Room for dressing
  • Admission at 3 p.m. for photography
  • Liability insurance for you and your guests
  • Dance floor
  • Tables and chairs (upgraded rentals are also available through approved vendors)

Extras: 

  • Refundable damage deposit ($500-$1,000)
  • Required site monitoring: $350-$850
descanso garden wedding cost
Photo of The Rose Pavillion by Lily Stein Photography

Food/Beverage: The Kitchen at Descanso (operated by The Patina Group) is the exclusive caterer for Descanso Gardens. Their packages run between $130-$175/pp including beer+ wine and well liquor (at the $150/pp), as well as a cocktail hour (actually 45 minutes), and passed trays of appetizers for some packages. To upgrade to a premium full bar add $8/pp. This is an all-inclusive price which the following:

  • Standard linens (not floor length) and napkins
  • Standard tables
  • Alcohol (beer+ wine or full bar depending on package)
  • Flatware
  • Glassware
  • China
  • Cake cutting
  • Event labor (such as bartenders, servers, etc.)

Note: A 22% administrative fee and 9.5% tax applies to all food, beverage, and event labor costs.

Additional service options include:

  • Naked cake: $7/pp
  • Dessert Stations: $12-$16/pp
  • Speciality cocktails: $8 for one or 2 for $12/pp
  • Floor-length linens: $25/per table + delivery
  • Glasses of champagne for a toast: $6/pp (when added to lowest tier Bloom package)

Click here to view sample Kitchen at Descano catering packages

descanso gardens
The Boddy House

More Stats:

Space Type: Inside/Outside depending on venue choice.

This video is a few years old, but the tour gives you a great sense of the Boddy House layout, and the Rose Pavilion here. The most popular spots to exchange vows at include:

  • The Main Lawn
  • Oak Forest (also referred to as Oak Grove)
  • Japanese Garden
  • Boddy House
  • Rose Garden (the Gazebo for the ceremony and Pavilion for the reception)

Size: The Boddy House can accommodate up to 100 guests for a ceremony and reception, and the West Garden up to 170. Ceremony-only events can accommodate up to 300 in certain locations on the property, such as the Main Lawn.

Bridal Suite: Yes

Parking: Yes

Food Service Type: Your choice of buffet or served.

How Will Grandma Get There? The closet hotel options for out of town guests would be in Burbank or Pasadena.

Party On! The Gardens stay open to the public until 5 p.m. Ceremonies typically run between 5–7 p.m. and receptions from 5–10 p.m.

The Report:

Descanso Gardens is a botanical garden in Southern California situated on 150 acres. It was owned by Los Angeles Daily News owner E. Manchester Boddy (where he ran a commercial camellia garden) until the property was ceded to Los Angeles County in 1953. The 22-room Boddy House is the original and was designed for the publisher by architect James Dolena in the Hollywood Regency style in 1937. In 2007, the Boddy House was rehabilitated for the 43rd annual Pasadena Showcase House of Design.

Fun fact: The interior of the Boddy House was used in the movie Four Christmases with Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon as her mother’s home. It’s such a beautiful unique space!

Woman Getting Married Says:

Believe it or not, good garden venues in and around Los Angeles are not that easy to come by. And, when you dig in and look for garden venues that offer both inside and outside options (AND have a somewhat reasonable price) it’s even more of a stretch. Which is why Descanso Gardens should definitely be on your list to check out if a garden vibe is what you’re going for. It could be the perfect setting for you!

While some elements of the garden aren’t necessarily my favorite, it does offer nature, space, gorgeous flowers, oak trees, and a bit of a blank slate to create a beautiful day. I’m not a huge fan of pavilions in general (they remind me of summer camp for some reason), but I think you can definitely make this one look elegant for a more casual wedding. However, my venue of choice here would be the Boddy House if you’re looking to create a more lavish event or intimate celebration.

In terms of services offered by the venue, brides say they have great food, however they didn’t like their short list of preferred vendors. They also require you to use a day of wedding coordinator or planner, so be sure to ask about any vendor restrictions during your first meeting. Also, get an estimate that includes the administrative charge (22%) and any service charge if applicable.

Click here to learn more about my wedding venue review process


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Listen to the Woman Getting Married Podcast

Amenities/What’s Included 9
Convenient for Grandma 9
Layout 9
Location 8
Overall Charm 7
Venue Value 8

WGM Rating

8.3
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  1. says: Jacqueline

    Hi Lindsay,

    Do you know if Decanso Gardens lets you have a ceremony at the Oak Grove and then the reception at the Rose Pavillion? If so, would it be the same cost?

    Thanks for your help!!