If Las Vegas can have its own version of Paris, France, then Whittier can have its own version of Switzerland. And while it doesn’t include cows grazing on rolling green hills or apple-cheeked children in lederhosen yodeling by a pristine lake, it does boast an interesting establishment, steeped in Swiss heritage and culture.
Founded in 1987 by the Swiss of Southern California, a consortium of Swiss singing groups, Whittier’s Swiss Park Banquet Center serves as a meeting place for expatriates and the site of the annual Swiss Fair. It also hosts wedding receptions, quinceañeras and corporate events.
As you drive into the parking lot, you spot a wood-shingled gabled structure with a Swiss flag proudly billowing in the breeze. The scene does seem lifted straight out of a travel brochure, and suddenly you’re transported to a hamlet in the Alps. Carved wooden doors welcome you inside, where you find yourself in the Alpine Room, which is popular for small receptions and corporate functions. The first thing you notice are the unique decorations: historic national shields of Switzerland and cultural items such as crossbows and alphorns. A vaulted beamed ceiling brings to mind a cozy chalet. There’s also a fully automated miniature train station, complete with ascending and descending trams—sure to be a hit with kids.
The main reception hall is the Matterhorn Room, a grand space with an intricate parquet dance floor and extensive oak wainscoting lining the walls. Light reflected off the wood creates a warm glow, contributing to an elegant, yet intimate, ambiance. The focal point of the room is a sizeable stage that lends itself to a wide range of entertainment. You’ll also find a gleaming full-service bar and dual staircases leading to a versatile balcony. This second-story niche comes in handy for seating extra guests, and its visibility makes it ideal for the bride’s grand entrance (she’ll appreciate the adjacent dressing room, complete with a restroom and full-length mirror).
Outdoor ceremonies and receptions are held in the garden, a park-like setting behind the “chalet.” The whole area is bordered by lush plants and shade trees, and dappled sunlight plays on the soft grass—there’s even a waterwheel trickling into a fountain. A flagstone walkway provides a natural aisle to a quaint gazebo where the couple exchanges vows.
As full-service caterers, Swiss Park’s chefs are happy to customize your menu and can prepare almost any type of cuisine, including Asian, Mexican and Italian. And with an experienced European-trained coordination team available on site, your event is sure to be handled with precision and style.
What Type Of Bridal Couple Would Like This Place?
Over the years I've noticed that venues have nice, courteous and professional staff in their sales and catering. But there are a couple of people that stand out in my mind as people so overwhelmingly nice that you feel like you've made their day by walking in the door. Kim and Country Side Catering ( Formally of Westridge Golf Course ) and Tricia who works here. She came from a bridal store and she comes off genuine and very enthusiastic. She understands her client base very well and like Kim she has this place hopping. The owner Marcus kinda sits back and takes everything in. Though he's very much a hands on owner (and actually a really funny guy) Tricia does all the selling.
Like La Palapa Del Mar Swiss Park is a place that you need to actually get inside of to like. It's just over the freeway from East Los Angeles and it's not really in a scary neighborhood as much as it's lost off some side streets near the corner of the 60 & 605 freeways.
Swiss Park is neither trashy nor is it a five star hotel. It's roughly along the same lines as a fairly nice public golf course. I don't want to oversell the place and have you run in with expectations it can't live up to. But what's great about this place is that they will work with your budget. If you have a budget but want some place nice this is certainly worth checking out.
Swiss Park is located very close to the 60 and 605 freeways. Therefore it's a good venue if you are having a wedding reception if your ceremony takes place anywhere from North Orange County, Los Angeles, and the outskirts of the San Fernando Valley. If you have family all over this may be a great central location.
As the name implies this place has a park on the property, in the back. The bad news is that one side is a parking lot, the good news is the other 3 sides aren't a parking lot! Actually the park is lovely, quite well maintained. There is a large gazebo and it's large enough to pull people to the other side of the park to do photos as guests are being seated. I actually think the grounds are understated. Since it's away from the coast it can get quiet warm in the summertimes.
Possible Distractions/ Work Around
For everything bad I can find about this place I can state three good things about it. The parking lot on one side of the park is the largest disappointment I can think of. The place could use new carpet and furniture. If it was located in Orange County it would have this and charge twice as much. That's exactly how things work. This place has a well lived in look without looking run down. The bars are HUGE and the bridal room upstairs is one of the largest and nicest I've seen in a while. The photos all over the walls in the front and the hallways are really hit or miss. There are some really nice shots on the wall and some ones that need to be retired about three years ago.
If dad is writing the checks and money is no object head straight to Laguna Beach and never look back. However, if this is your money we're talking and you're trying to make your budget work without resorting to VFW Halls then this is a great spot. One thing you can do if you like to check this place out without identifying yourself as a bride is go to their Monday brunch. At the time of writing this it was $6.95. Let me state that again, it's $6.95 for a buffet. If you go to Vegas and try to eat a buffet for $6.95 you most likely won't be on the strip and it won't be as good as this one. Seriously. if I lived closer I would go every week to this buffet. I really like the food. If you can't make it yourself you can send in a friend. What you will need to do is locate the hallway behind the buffet. It's the one lined with wedding photos. keep walking down the hallway and make a left at the end. Sneak into the Matterhorn room. It's a good sized room and it has an upstairs. You can sneak upstairs and check out the bridal room. If the place doesn't rock your world at least you had a nice lunch for not a lot of money and they appreciate you coming by to check them out. Yet, if it looks like it can work ask to talk to Tricia or Marcus. It's one of the few places I know of that doesn't scream at you if you don't have an appointment. They actually don't mind if you don't have an appointment.
Overall I love this place, it seems to be a great place given our economy. It's inexpensive without looking cheap. If you are a fan of wood you'll really like this place. The staff is really nice. I think you'll love Tricia and the rest of the crew. I'm very up on Swiss Park, check it out!
Now that the website is up and running and the technical problems are mostly handled I am adding new venue reviews. I am trying to add reviews for places that are different than hotels and golf courses. The Pine Rose Cabins are located in Lake Arrowhead (Twin Peaks to be exact) and offers a "Rustic" wedding experience. I orignally went to this venue late in 2011 and felt that it was different enough to warrent a review. The bridal couple I had at this venue seemed to like it. The bride menioned that the wedding coordinator was more like a banquet captain than a wedding coordinator. She also said that to stay overnight before the wedding was something like $1500. To be fair, there are rooms close to Pine Rose Cabins that go for a lot less per night. The venue does offer a distinct beauty though it may be a bit too close to nature for many of my clients.
724 East Bonita Ave.
San Dimas, CA 91773
A modern, very pretty Catholic Church not too far off the freeway located in the quiet community of San Dimas. It's the perfect sized church for nearly all weddings because it isn't so large that it dwarfs any wedding that it holds. Large churches to tend to spread guests out and make it appear that just about any wedding was hardly attended by anybody, even if a couple of hundred guests show up.
The architecture and décor of this church are impressive. Though the rules are strict, they are manageable and fair. There is a great potential for outstanding images if the photographer is both diplomatic and creative.
What Type Of Bridal Couple Would Like This Place?
Having seen medieval Catholic churches firsthand I can see tell you that for the past thousand years or so the game plan has been to make their churches dark so that the stained glass really stands out. Though I haven't run across any catholic churches with tombs in the floor in the US like you would find in England, it seems that you find a lot of red brick, dark colored catholic churches with stained glass. It's interesting to see that a religion that prides itself on not changing its message can indeed change. I find the movement towards lighter, brighter Catholic churches to be very significant in the respect that it seems to be responding to what people want. My belief is that people are basically visual and the architecture and structure of the church symbolizes to some degree what the church is about in their mind.
For people who are Catholic, the church is important because it's the only way to have your marriage recognized by the church. With an abundance of drab churches, the bright and modern looking churches are in high demand. Places like St. Denis in Diamond Bar are always in demand, but in reality Holy name of Mary can give St. Denis a run for it's money.
The only reason I wouldn't go off and rave about this church is the alter. I am willing to bet that the architect who designed this church showed the design to the purchasing committee using a computer simulation of how the church was going to look. Walking towards the church from the parking lot the church's design is eye candy. It's modern and inviting. Walking closer towards the church you see the fountain in the courtyard. As you move inside there is a lobby, and then when you open the church doors you have this overall amazing view of the alter with yet another fountain. The probably showed very well on the computer screen. The problem is that as you get closer to the alter, the stained glass is above where people are standing. There is a half cylinder wall made of large cinderblocks painted white. So, you've got the bride in white, the father in white, and the wall in white, see the problem here? When we shoot tight on someone it's hard to tell if it's inside a church or rec hall at a dormitory. Though this could be taken care of quickly and inexpensively it probably won't be addressed for quite some time. As mentioned before the Catholic church doesn't need to compete with the Rose Garden at The Disneyland Hotel, or a garden wedding at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Laguna Beach. Holy Mary is better than most catholic churches in the area for photographic potential, but with a little work it could be outstanding.
The people are nice, it's a beautiful, easy going church, there isn't much to be aware of. The rules are fair, the staff is nice.
It's a beautiful modern church, much better looking than the average Catholic church. I am still holding out hope that a talented interior decorator puts the finishing touches on this church. Until then, it's still a great church to get married in. About the only other word that comes to mind when thinking about this church is sterile. It's so new and clean and modern looking it reminds me of a new and modern hospital. When you look at churches like St. Denis and even St. Paul the Apostle in Chino Hills you have some churches that are in the newer style of the catholic church, or
in the case of St. Denis have deviated away from the standard plan significantly enough to be considered unique. Both of these church have that lived in look going for them. Holy Mary is so new and so clean it gives the impression it was just opened yesterday. With so many Catholic churches in so old looking, not in a romantic medieval way, but in a 'this place should be red tagged and torn down' type of way, having a clean, modern church would probably be appealing to a lot of brides. So, by this virtue alone brides will be attracted to it. It's just that it's so new it really hasn't developed it's own personality yet.
Many brides dream of having a destination wedding. Think of how wonderful it would be to have a wedding on the cliffs of The Ritz Carlton in Maui. Well I can tell you first hand having been a wedding photographer for a wedding at the Ritz Carlton in Maui that it was indeed drop dead beautiful. And even more impressive than the beauty of the entire thing was the astronomical expenses. It wasn't the expenses of the hotel so much as it was unexpected things like shipping 28 boxes of supplies for the wedding via UPS. Then there is travel, hotel, meals and everything else.
Though you may not have the budget for an expensive and elaborate destination wedding, you may also not have the heart to go down to your local golf course to sign up for a wedding reception. A viable alternative is a local-destination wedding. Before the drug wars Mexico was becoming a popular place for such an event. There were nice hotels offering beach weddings for around a 70% savings of that of a similar venue in the United States. And though they still offer these weddings if go south of the border for your wedding it will greatly cut down on your guest list. People you'll want at your wedding simply won't show up. ll offer these weddings if go south of the border for your wedding it will greatly cut down on your guest list. People you'll want at your wedding simply won't show up.
If you take the idea of a local desination wedding and keep in on US soil and perhaps closer to home you'll probably want a change of scenery. The venue reviews have featured neat options like winery weddings such as Ponte and Keyways winery. More and more we get called to photograph weddings in the mountains such as Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear. The popularity of these close but significantly different wedding venues have grown over the years. There are upscale resorts that cater toward the bride who wants more of a hotel type wedding experience. But for those who want more of a mountain, woodsy, rustic cabin experience without slipping into the cheap motel look and feel we've found a little gem, Pine Rose Cabins.
Pine Rose offers not one but three different locations for hosting a wedding. The largest holds up 200 guests which was actually the wedding location my bridal couple selected, the other holds up to 90 and the last location holds 40 or fewer people. They have different packages with different options which can make your job easier with an all inclusive vendor list. This option works well for some brides but most of our brides want more of a say in really important things like who their photographer and DJ's are. At the very least you have options and you'll know that if you do decide to have your wedding here you won't be scrambling to find vendors who will service your wedding.
From time to time we get a bride who is having a golf course wedding and we'll ask her to step off the sidewalk onto the grass for a few pictures and she'll simply refuse. She doesn't want to get her dress dirty. If this in any possible way may be you then stick to having a metropolitian hotel wedding. Though the grounds of Pine Rose are well maintained if you have a decent photographer he/she (or me) will make you walk in the dirt for some really wonderful images. Embrace the beauty. The one word that the bride in the pictures really related to best with this wedding venue was the word "rustic." Riight now you may be wondering if that is politically correct jargon kinda like how real estate agents refer to cramped rooms as "cozy." The term "rustic" can be thought of in a good way. It's a place that reminds you that you are outside with nature. It's more kick back than anything. But if you don't want the word "rustic" to be used to describe your wedding then there are some really wonderful Marriot hotels waiting to talk to you. They are located everywhere. Pine Rose Cabin is unique enough to really stand out.
The place has trees and lakes and streams and everything else you would dream of it having. Yes, there are many wonderful spots to take pictures. But it's also a bit of a challenge as well. There is a bridge that is perfect for group shots that when I've seen other photographers shoot it the pictures don't get enough flash coverage. What a lot of photographers do to avoid such issues is to shoot people in the shade. You don't have that luxury here. The bridge screams out for group photos. So, to make up for this you may want to consider doing your group pictures closer to sunset when the lighting isn't as harsh. It's really easy to believe that as you look around that there are so many wonderful spots that "any" photographer would do it justice. Having shot weddings for over 15 years I rate the difficulty of this venue as "moderate." The hills around the grounds make for its own set of challenges and sometimes due to placement of the streams and ponds you can't exactly get to the right spots as easily as you would think. Therefore I find this place to be a bit tricky at parts to photograph. If you have a newbie wedding photographer hooking you up a "deal" you can insist that they do a site visit before your wedding. This probably will have little impact on the photos in the end because the challenges of this place may prove to be too much for them. But at the very least they'll know what they are up against and won't be able to pass along excuses to you later on.
Going up to Big Bear you have the potential to go up many windy mountain roads. When you're going here, leave extra, extra early and take the big chill pill. You will get behind slow vehicles from time to time, and the windy roads can make you and especially your passengers sick. There are some nice look out points on the way up, plan on stopping at one or two just to get some fresh air.
One the way down the mountain you can pick up speed very easily and sometimes it's hard to realize how fast you are going. If you want to be Speed Racer on the way down you aren't going to save that much time. Please, please please drive safely. Especially at night. It sometimes takes days to find people who have driven off of mountain roads. Just really take it nice and slow and you'll be fine. Drinking and driving is never a good idea, but this is one place where it's an even worse idea.
Your closest airport is Ontario which is about 90 minutes away. If you are having a lot of realtives and friends coming from out of town you may need to get a shuttle van.
There is no indoor facility to speak of. If you get rain you'll need to check to see what they can do to set up a tend or make alternate plans. The good news is that since it's up in the mountains it may get warm but rarely hot. Getting cold is more of a possibility especially in the fall.
Overall this place is great. If you are going to have a local destination wedding you will first need to figure out where you want it before selecting the venue. Chances are that you won't go up to Lake Arrowhead just to check out Rosewood Cabins. You'll go up there to check out at least a couple and perhaps over to Big Bear on the same day. There are a few different places to have weddings and receptions in these mountain communities. The wineries in Temecula got together and pooled their resources many years ago to market the Temecula wineries as a great place to have a wedding and/or reception. If the mountain communities have done this it hasn't been as effective. What you have are a couple large venues that do the majority of the weddings because they have larger budgets for marketing and advertising. I'm really excited to include Pine Rose Cabins to the Wedding Venue Reviews because its worthy of consideration, especially if you're going up the hill to check out one of the larger venues.
One of the cool things about having a local-destination wedding is you can eliminate the flakes from your wedding guest list very quickly. You know exactly what I am talking about, the people you don't want to invite but are obligated to invite. If they have to drive 20 minutes to go to your wedding they will somehow show up. But if they have to drive over an hour and a half to get to your wedding AND get a room they'll somehow just find it easier to send the gift. A 200 person wedding is a tad bit larger than most weddings we see. So, the way to look at this is this way. If you were going to need to have a 300 person wedding at a local golf course, you should be able to cut your guest list down to 200 people. The people who don't really want to invite will most likely send their regrets and you can invite your buddies instead. You can send out more invites because realistically less people will come. There is a strategy behind this. If you are planning to have a 120 person wedding the 90 guest location should work because some people will drop off your list.
I like Pine Rose Cabins. It's neat, different, and a bit of well kept secret. The staff seems friendly, the food was good and I had a pleasant experience. My bride who had her wedding here had no major complaints to speak of and she was a strong enough gal to speak her mind if she didn't have a good experience. If this is one of the first reviews you've read from us the bottom line is that after 15 years of wedding photography most venues treat us at least as well as the guest. Some don't but most do. How they treat us is irrelevant. What's important to me is how well a wedding venue does in living up to the expectations it creates for the bride and groom. I've had some lousy vendor meals in my time but I had better ones the next day. When it comes to weddings the venues only have one shot to get things right. Since the bride had a very good experience at the Rose Wood Cabins I feel comfortable suggesting it.