2290 Country Club Dr
Altadena, California 91001-3202
Approaching the second half of my twenties, I’ve come to a conclusion that life is constantly changing. I look at my peers and I see so many exciting milestones happening. It’s the time of proposals, marriages, kids, home purchases, career progression, and so many other life changing events. Even moments that once felt familiar are constantly evolving. I believe, as humans, we strive to look for consistency and commonality. We look for safe spaces, where we can call our own and follow habits that make us feel comfortable. As photographers, chasing our own dreams, we’re no different. Since life is constantly changing for us, it feels very nice to be in a familiar place.
This last weekend, we found ourselves photographing the same venue for the third time. Since every couple getting married is unique, their preferences are usually different. Although we have to adjust to these changes, it was very comforting to be at a place we were familiar with. Knowing that it was our third time here, we wanted to explain why Altadena Town & Country Club is one of our favorite wedding venues in Southern California.
As wedding photographers, we wanted to showcase the best areas to shoot at this venue. We’ll take you through our day and break up these sections to match a wedding timeline. For those who are recently engaged, in the process of finding a venue, or a photographer about to shoot at this venue, I hope this helps you out! If you’re searching in the Los Angeles area, near Pasadena and San Gabriel, Altadena Town & Country Club is definitely a venue to consider.
At the beginning of the day, we always start with our detail shots. The process includes photographing: dresses, suits, shoes, rings, invitations, tea sets, veils, gifts, and other important wedding pieces. Most times, this does not include details of the ceremony or reception area. It’s early in the morning and the decorations usually aren’t finished yet. When we shoot our details, we’re always looking for interesting light and scenic views to place our items. Texture is everything. Luckily for us, Altadena Town & Country Club has plenty of beautiful locations with flattering light.
Altadena Town & Country Club has two floors. The bridal suite is located upstairs and right next to the main reception hall. If the bride is planning to change out of her white dress during reception, this room is conveniently located! The downside of this area is that the bar is between the reception and bridal suite. If you’re planning to move in and out of the bridal suite during cocktail hour, I recommend taking one of the many other entrances. I’ve seen it get pretty cramped in the cocktail room several times now. As for the bridal suite, the room is nicely lit and has enough space for even the biggest parties to take photos in. It’s a beautiful room with nice decor all around. Of course, it wouldn’t make for pretty photos once it’s messy. I recommend getting your makeup done early or before arriving and keeping the room nice and tidy for pictures. Although the room isn’t huge, we once shot a tea ceremony in here and had no problem!
As for the guys, their room is downstairs, located near the restrooms. It’s right next to the club’s sports bar. The bartenders here are always super nice. Sometimes they offer free drinks to help ease any nervousness; have that Pepcid ready my Asian friends. There’s also a pool table room located in the back of the bar for fun groomsmen shots (photos and drinks. pun intended) or to kill time while the bride and bridesmaids are still getting ready. In my opinion, the pool table room is poorly lit and has some pretty uninteresting backgrounds. Off camera flash and some artistic lighting is highly recommended. Usually the pool room is for members only. If you want to use it, you’re going to need to ask for permission. There’s also a short hallway close by to take photos there as well! The groom’s suite has a huge table and aesthetically looking chairs, perfect for relaxing and photographing some candids.
Now this section is completely optional. Some people prefer first looks during the ceremony and others want it captured beforehand. If you’re the former, please skip right ahead to the next section!
As for the first look locations, I can recommend my favorite two spots here at Altadena Town & Country Club. Choosing between the two usually depends on the lighting and time of the day. The first is right in front of the establishment. Shooting in the shade usually produces the best results and this area has flattering light due to the large roof. The great thing about this location is that the entire bridal party can watch from the valet parking zone. There’s plenty of space for all. As photographers, our only challenge is how narrow things can be if trying to get multiple angles, as well as not getting the other vendors in the frame. Also, the plants are somewhat difficult to shoot around. Communication is key and definitely helpful to pull this place off. Then again, so is everything else.
The second spot is located behind the altar where the ceremony is supposed to take place. This is a great location since it’s shady and has surrounding beautiful green leaves everywhere. However, with leaves and shrubbery everywhere, there may be spotty lighting and limited space to move around. It’s still a beautiful location if conditions are met. Another perk about this location is that it’s also an amazing place for bride and groom portraits. If you’re trying to be time efficient, first looks right into portraits at this spot is always great.
** Bonus spot: When lighting permits, you should definitely utilize the beautiful stairways near the last location I just mentioned. It’s between the Wedding Court and the South Lawn. Due to lighting conditions, we haven’t had the chance to shoot there yet. Although this area is beautiful, it’s difficult working with uneven, harsh light. The background tends to be brighter than the foreground. As a result, it creates a very blown out and distracting background; or, you get a silhouette. The whole purpose of first looks is to capture their reactions. So, silhouettes don’t really work. Can you use off camera flash? Good luck with the limited space. Should you wait the sun out? We have a timeline to follow! Although there are many challenges at this location, it’s still a great place for first looks, if it’s during the right time of the day (usually before noon might work). Here’s a Chinese dress shot at said location:
Location scouting for portraits is always tricky and Altadena Town & Country Club is no different. I am a strong believer that light is more important than beautiful locations. There are plenty of beautiful spots to shoot at, but it all depends on the time of day, weather; and most importantly, quality of light (starting to sound like a common theme right?). Luckily, with so many aesthetically pleasing spots; if you find nice light, you’re more than likely to be in a beautiful location. Let’s break this part up into two sections: INDOORS vs. OUTDOORS:
As someone who loves natural light, I would always prefer to shoot outdoors during sunset/ sunrise or on an overcast day. However, Altadena Town & Country Club can get pretty warm in the summer time and groomsmen, bridesmaids, suits, makeup, and the harsh sun are not a good combination. Luckily, there are a bunch of gigantic windows and a beautiful lobby inside with plenty of light to work with. Also, the ceilings are low enough if you decide to use flash. When I say gigantic windows, I mean it. These gigantic windows are a photographer’s best friend. Here’s the view of the lobby and the big windows in the main reception hall:
With big window lights, there are plenty of spots to capture creative photos. Shoot against the light and get beautiful silhouettes. Shoot with the light and receive flattering soft light for your subject. Side light your subjects for moodier, directional light and create intimate photos. There’s enough light for even the beautiful decorations in the background.
Even when it’s the worst time of day, in terms of light, this venue is great because there are still plenty of spots outside to work with. My favorite is a spot right next to the altar. I love the foreground/background blur that happens at this particular location. Since it’s usually in the shade, it’s my go to spot for closeup bride and groom portraits. Depending on the time of day, different leaves get lit up. It’s always an interesting location to shoot.
I seem to always reuse this spot and it hasn’t failed me yet!
There are plenty of locations to shoot outdoors at the Altadena Town & Country Club. Using creativity, good light, and an eye for natural frames, you should be fully equipped with what you need.
Altadena Town & Country Club has two ceremony locations: South Lawn and Wedding Court. South Lawn is definitely the bigger of the two. All three times we shot here, the bride and groom opted for South Lawn. This area is held on top of grass, so make sure to watch your step if you’re wearing heels and especially after a rainy day. As photographers, what concerns us most during a ceremony is quality of light. There are GIANT hedges that surrounds the ceremony area. If your wedding is in the afternoon, be prepared for some mixed lighting. Some light will be harsh and other light (in the shade, due to the hedges) will be soft. As a result, some guests will be sitting in the shade while other guests and the altar is lit by some harsh light. Of course, it really depends on the time of day (again). In my opinion, this is way better than having the bride and groom separated by light. The white arches/beams are cemented to the floor; so I’m not too sure, but I don’t think the ceremony could be held the other way around. Don’t quote me on that though. If there’s a will, there’s a way! If you plan accordingly, the shadow from the gigantic hedge wall will fall evenly throughout the ceremony; or even better, the whole ceremony will be shaded. Also, no matter how hard you try, sometimes you just can’t plan it. Don’t sweat it.
There’s not much to say about Altadena Town & Country Club’s reception area, except that this place is beautiful! The main reception hall is named The Victorian Room. The decorations are always on point. There’s a beautiful chandelier and nice bulb lights for that BOKEH! The vendors and staff are super friendly and accommodating. If you plan on having a very large group attending, I would recommend renting out both the reception hall on the left side of the lobby called, The Mendocino Room, as well as the main reception hall on the right, The Victorian Room. The bar next to the bridal suite is usually crowded during cocktail hour. This last wedding had an open bar on each side of the reception room. It definitely helped with the foot traffic. If you’re concerned about space, there’s plenty of room for dancing, speeches, games, cake cutting, and even karaoke. Table rounds get a bit crowded, but it’s definitely doable. Here’s something I learned from the last wedding, don’t try to move the centerpieces! The heavy flowers aren’t attached to the vase. If you want group pictures at each table, you’re going to have to shoot around them. I REPEAT, THE CENTERPIECES AREN’T ATTACHED TOGETHER. They are heavy and THEY WILL drop onto the table. It will fling the drinks and food everywhere. No one likes that awkward mess. Also, not saying that happened last wedding, but shout out to table 13 for being cool about it!
If you’re in search of an intimate venue that’s both beautiful and elegant in the Pasadena/Altadena/San Gabriel area, I would highly recommend Altadena Town & Country Club. Most brides on their wedding day describe this venue as fulfilling their fairy tale dreams. It’s an all-in-one venue to get ready, take portraits for first looks, have a wedding/tea ceremony, and dance the night away during reception. It’s not a magical venue that will have the best lighting conditions all the time (I don’t think that exists), but with a little bit of hard work, communication, and light scouting, it’s a beautiful place to have a wedding and create some memorable photos. With a very accommodating and friendly staff; as well as very beautiful decorations and large windows, what more can you ask for? I had a great time shooting here (three times now) and I look forward to shooting more weddings here :).
I hope this information was helpful. Thank you for reading. If you have any questions, please let us know! We’re always happy to help.
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