Oak Creek Golf Course Wedding Venue Review


Wedding Photography Image from Lifetime Images



Oak Creek is a public golf course located close to the 405 and 5 splits in Irvine not too far from the Irvine Spectrum.  If you've been around Southern California for a while you can recall when the land was farm fields.   The one thing to keep in mind about this place is that it was built in 1996, so compared to the multitude of golf courses built from the late 1950's to 1970s this place is fresh, clean and lovely.   Straight up there is so much to like about this facility.   Though it's not huge is is lovely.  it's modern spanish architecture makes a strong impression and it's central location makes it ideal for a  reception.  It's not too far off the freeway.    The greens around the golf course closest to the clubhouse are wonderful.  As you get further away it's not as nice which really isn't a bad thing because I've been to venues where the best shots are so far away that they aren't realistic to use.  I did a tour of all the grounds and found some spots that we didn't use that I would love to use in the future but for the most part the back of the facility can be skipped without feeling like you're missing out.    The ballroom is close to the front of the facility and though it's not large, it's big enough for a 150 person wedding.  I do like the couryard outside.  I found the staff for the most part to be friendly.   The ceremony site though not huge is large enough for a lovely ceremony.  It was quite nice and the images of the ceremony turned out great.     For a wedding venue, this place is great, for a reception venue, this place is also great.

What type of bridal couple would like this placeWedding Photography Image from Lifetime Images?

The most obvious competition to this venue is the famous Tustin Ranch Golf Course which is fairly close by.   I found Oak Creek to be a bit more upscale than Tustin Ranch when it comes to ambiance.   Oak Creek reminds me of a Disney property because it's so well maintained at the front.  The Heritage room is nicely appointed, it can hold up to to 200 people.  it's 2600 square feet thus I feel that 200 would be a bit tight.  150 to 160 is probably the max it can comfortably hold.  Ten years ago this would have been a turn off, because weddings were frequently as large if not larger than what this place can hold.  Now I am starting to see the 150 guest and under weddings as more of a norm rather than the exception.   For these weddings you don't want a room so large that it dwarfs your reception, nor do you want room dividers.   This room could get by with as few as 100 people with a bit larger dance floor without it feeling empty. 
Clearly the big selling point of this venue first and foremost is it's location.  Land is fairly expensive in Irvine and thus nice golf courses are rare.   If you can visualize where the 5 and 405 split (The El Toro Y) is then you more or less can find this place in under 5 minutes.   This venue is clean and modern looking and not run down in the ballroom like I've seen so many other places.  If you're tired of visiting tired old golf courses this place is a welcome change. 
The outside grounds are "nice" for a ceremony.  They have two sites for a wedding, my bride selected the smaller of the two.  It had something to do with the placement of the sun in the late afternoon during her ceremony  The larger ceremony site looks pretty nice however, I wouldn't mind seeing a ceremony at this location.
One thing that was kinda nice was that the grounds  are open in parts to the bride and groom to cruise around and take pictures on.  Im used to country clubs  where they never let you get anywhere close to golf course.  So, this was a very big plus in my book.  There were enough nice, different looking locations to make for some excellent photo opportunities.

Possible Distractions/ Work Around

 Wedding Photography Image from Lifetime Images
The bridal changing room is very small, its larger than a broom closet and smaller than it should be.   Other than that there are the usual concern, hard to find close  parking on busy days and heat issue on very hot summer days.
As I mentioned before the nicest part of the golf course is up front. The bridge  in the back is the only thing worthy getting in  a cart and driving to the other part of the golf course for.  There is train track down below, but it has three layers of fencing around it, you're not getting anywhere near it.  

Overall Evaluation

I did find some things to really like about Oak Creek Golf Club.  The staff seemed to burn calories making sure that everything was superb.  In this regard it's clear that they go over and above the typical golf course.   It's clear that there is a sense of pride by the employees.  The staff was attractive and well groomed.   It also seemed that they worked hard to make everything run smoothly. We weren't waiting on the staff at any point for any reason. The event flowed smoothly.
Though I've been to this venue recently I am putting it into the "In The Zone" section.  I need to see this place in action once again if I am to consider it for "Certified Fresh."   Oak Creek made a favorable impression on me, but I was expecting a bit more.  I think I am biased by the fact that it's in a very nice part of town and the place is so very clean. The staff seems very nice and really does want to put it's best foot forward.    I think what happens from time to time is that something goes wrong on the backend  and it throws things off with the staff.  For example, one person calls in sick, or something that was ordered didn't show up.  This causes stress and that in turn throws the staff off.   I don't really get a chance to go in back and see what is going on with the staff, but I can sense when something if off.  
My first impression was on what I believe to be an off day.  Trust me, I've had off days as well.   On the one hand I can't hold it against them, but on the other I haven't really seen this place on a good day.  I do have enough positive regard for Oak Creek to give them the benefit of the doubt.   Hopefully I'll get a chance to see them on a better day and move them into the Certified Fresh category.  
Wedding Photography Image from Lifetime Images



Swiss Park

Wedding Venue Review


1905 Workman Mill Road

Whittier, CA 90601-1415


Toll Free: 800-242-2433

Phone: 562-699-1525


swiss park www.lifetimeimages.com 15 1000x669




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.

 swiss park www.lifetimeimages.com 2 600x401

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.

swiss park www.lifetimeimages.com 6 600x398

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.


 swiss park www.lifetimeimages.com 20 400x268


Photographic Potential


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. 


Overall Evaluation

 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.  swiss park www.lifetimeimages.com 7 600x401

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!











Text Box

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. pine rose cabins twin peaks ca-www.lifteimeimages.com 18 399x600 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. 

Read more: Venue Review-Pine Rose Cabins

Holy Name of Mary 

Wedding Venue Review

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.Holy Name of Mary San Dimas CA

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.

Photographic Potential

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.

Holy Name of Mary San Dimas CA 1Possible Distractions/ Work Around

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.

Overall Evaluation

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.

Holy Name of Mary San Dimas CA 4Holy Name of Mary San Dimas CA 2

















Text Box

Pine Rose Cabins 

Wedding Venue Review


(909) 337-2341 
25994 HWY 189, 
Twin Peaks, CA



pine rose cabins twin peaks ca-www.lifteimeimages.com 9 600x399


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.
pine rose cabins twin peaks ca-www.lifteimeimages.com 14 399x600

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.  

 What type of bridal couple will like this place?

pine rose cabins twin peaks ca-www.lifteimeimages.com 15 400x600From 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. 


Photographic Potential  

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. 

 pine rose cabins twin peaks ca-www.lifteimeimages.com 12 600x399

Possible Distractions/ Work Around


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.


Distance from the Airport

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.  

 pine rose cabins twin peaks ca-www.lifteimeimages.com 16 399x600

  No indoor facility

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  Evaluation

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.

 pine rose cabins twin peaks ca-www.lifteimeimages.com 1 399x600pine rose cabins twin peaks ca-www.lifteimeimages.com 2 399x600




Text Box




Go to top
JSN Boot template designed by JoomlaShine.com