Ladera Oaks

Portola Valley , CA


3249 Alpine Road
Portola Valley, CA US 94028 (map)




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*Caveat: at the time of this review, Ladera Oaks is undergoing renovations, so the grounds may end up looking different than what we enjoyed at our June 2008 wedding. However, as long as the staff and ground rules don’t change substantially, future couples should have just as nice an experience as we did, because the people (and their easy-going and can-do attitudes) were what helped make our event a success.*

Our initial visits and phone consults were with Jim Gorman (manager) and various members of his club staff. Upon our first visit, we felt the location, settings and conditions of use all fit very well with our style – basically, no fuss, with a well-choreographed timeline and set-up taken care of by Jim who knows his venue inside and out. This was important, given Ladera Oaks functions primarily as a country club for residents of Portola Valley, so facilities are shared with people playing tennis, kids taking swimming lessons, etc. But the garden is quite clearly separated from the pool area, and for weddings the ballroom, bar/lounge and kitchen are off-limits to all except Ladera Oaks staff, the wedding vendors and guests.

The garden is very well maintained, lush and colorful, with a fountain that Jim switches off during the ceremony. There is covered brick patio, and lots of floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors that allow guests to enjoy the garden view from the ballroom and bar area. We did our ceremony on the upper lawn, further away from the garden perimeter and the traffic noise on the other side of the fence. We had a total of 80 guests including about 10 kids, and everyone found a way to enjoy the late afternoon garden setting. The ballroom felt like it was just the right size with our 9 round tables, DJ setup in one corner and dance floor area up front. All in all, it’s a really intimate and beautiful atmosphere, perfectly suited for a summer wedding.

There is no dedicated bridal changing room, and we just ended up doing the dress changes and touch-ups in the small bathroom (3 stalls and a two-sink counter), sharing the space with guests and even a few club members. Brides who must have the private and classy dressing room experience replete with velvet curtains, loveseat and vanity set will not that find that here… unless this is included in Ladera Oaks’ current renovation plans.

As for storing wedding party accessories and my two additional dresses while they were not in use, we opted to make use of the ample closet space built into the back wall of the ballroom, which we could discreetly access while guests were up front on the dance floor.

Finally, ground rules: this venue is about as relaxed as they come. The only issue on which they kept very close tabs was the sound level. This is due to the club’s location – Portola Valley is a rather exclusive town, probably with a powerful and vocal neighborhood association, and these people LIKE their quiet and rural setting. So before sunset, only non-amplified, non-vocal music (think string quartets) are allowed outdoors. After sunset, all music moves into the ballroom, and any time someone tries to open the patio doors, a switch is tripped to immediately cut the power supplying the DJ’s audio setup.

Other than that, we thought the base rental cost was low ($2K for 8 hrs, with $50 here and there for overnight storage of reception items, use of a piano, etc.), there were no corkage or cake cutting fees, you can bring whatever alcohol you’d like and also choose your own vendors (caterers, musicians, etc.), although Jim does offer recommendations. Lucky for us, the excellent caterer we chose (Frank Schumann of Schumann’s Four Seasons Catering) turned out to be a long-time partner with Ladera Oaks. Watching Jim and Frank converse and decide on the wedding day logistics in their own lingo was impressive, and put us totally at ease that here we have two highly competent vendors who actually work well together and like each other! I cannot over-emphasize how important this factor is to the success of your big day.
Services Used: Wedding Venue
Home depot girl
They are located in a nice area, but the garden is right next to Alpine road so you may get some traffic noises. I loved the location and reception area but the manager was little hard to deal with. He was not very friendly and charge you per minute basis. When I went there to preview with my husband he was very impatient. My husband was running 10 minutes later and the manager didn't want to wait for my husband to show up.
It was a perfect place for our wedding since we had only 100 guests. If you have any more than that, it's going to be very tight.
Services Used: Wedding Venue


3249 Alpine Road, Portola Valley, CA 94028 See On Map
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