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Aug 3, 2009 10:44 AM

Help me find a wedding reception restaurant! (Pasadena & surrounding areas)

He finally popped the question this weekend! and I said "YES!" ...the official wedding planning is on!

We have been thinking through planning for several months before making it official, and have always been completely stumped on a reception venue.

There are many great spaces in the area, but the ones that have appealed to us require all sorts of rentals, permits, setup, cleanup and catering limitations. Because of this - I don't want to go that route.

What I'd like to do is rent out a restaurant for the evening (where food, tables/setup is already there). My ideal celebration would a cocktail party - amazing apps, flowing drinks, music, dance floor. But, with the right restaurant, would be fine with a seated dinner, too (if they required it). Additionally, I'd like it to be an indoor setting (planning for May/June and don't want to deal with weather issues (heat/rain)).

Do any great restaurants come to mind? Perhaps something unconventional for a wedding where you've attended a private party or the like? Where the food was outstanding??

Budget is not unlimited, the more economical, the better. If money was no object, I'd rent out Cicada... but that's not going to happen. I threw out the idea for a Chinese banquet, but that idea was nixed.

We did a preliminary list and the space would need to accommodate at least 120 people but hopefully up to 200.

The ceremony will be in Pasadena, so I'd like the reception to be no more than a 15 minute drive.

Now do you see why we're stumped?

I'm going to inquire at:
Madeline's (although, I've never eaten there)
Parkway Grill (anyone know if they do private parties)?

Please help me add to my list!! I care more about the food and making it a fun, 'party', celebratory feel than anything else.


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  1. Hi -
    I had the same idea as well and spoke to BoHo. If this interests you. I can send you my quote for 75. They were willing to close the restaurant on a Sunday morning until 4:30P!
    I was also able to choose my own menu items and looked at both Sunday brunch and the dinner menus. What about Firefly Bistro in S.Pas???

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kitchen Queen

      Thanks, KQ! Yes, I would be curious to see what BoHo provided. I recently went there and really liked the food. It's a little further out than I wanted folks to travel, but it certainly doesn't hurt to look! Hope your planning is going well!

    2. Congrats!

      Here are some options:

      The Athenaeum at Caltech. If you need an alum connection to get in, drop me a line and I might be able to help you out.

      Also consider, Magnolia on Lake, which has a pretty cool indoor/outdoor feel and would be great for apps and/or a light dinner.

      Again, congrats and keep us updated on your wedding plans!

      13 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        We had our rehearsal dinner at the Atheneaum, and it was very classy. You should take ipsedixit up on the offer, and at least look into it. (good idea ipse.)

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Thank you, ipsedixit. I dined at the Athenaeum once and really loved the food. I don't remember the space as much, but I recall it being spacious. Thank you also for the offer to see if you can get me in - I may just take you up on that in the near future!

          1. re: The Oracle

            Cal-Tech Ath also gets my vote and A second in if you need it Oracle.

            1. re: SeaCook


              Was reading your and Ipse's recommendations of the Ath as a wedding venue. Would love to talk to you about it. Am a Pasadena-raised gal living in NYC now, and planning a wedding from across the country! Pls let me know if you can offer any help getting in. Thx!!

          2. re: ipsedixit

            I attended a reception at the Athenaeum at Cal Tech ~~ one word, FABULOUS

            1. re: laliz

              We walked around the grounds of Cal Tech and the rooms of the Athenaeum this weekend... unfortunately and much to my surprise - neither of us were particularly drawn to the space. Granted, it wasn't really 'setup' for a wedding - there were tables/chairs on the patio and lawn and the Ath was set up as it would be for lunch. I'm still keeping this option in my 'back pocket', because I know the food will not disappoint. The hunt continues!

              1. re: The Oracle

                Does Cal Tech actually cater the food?

                1. re: Phurstluv

                  Yes they do. Or an outside catere can be brought in.

                  1. re: SeaCook

                    Really, is it like, college dorm food or decent? Just curious, I used to live two blocks from them and had no idea they catered and hosted weddings & such.

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      The Ath (as we members call it) is Cal-Tech's faculty club. The restaurant is 3 star and only operates Monday -Friday. This is because on the weeknds it's book for weddings Bar Mitizvahs etc. They have tasting dinners for differnt countries or regions od countries, also tasting of wines and spirits like single malt.

                      There is also a hotel with 28 room 4 suites one that is called the Einstien Suite because it is where Albert Einstein and his wife would stay when he was in town.

                      This is all for members and there guests. I am member because I work at the Huntington Library and the Library has a sister institutional relationship with Cal-Tech.
                      I love sharing the place with people I like (that means you lot ;-) ) which is why I offered to help The Oracle. :-)

                      P.S. Let's get back to the topic at hand. :-)

                      1. re: SeaCook

                        Just wonderin', thanks for the time.

            2. re: ipsedixit

              Would appreciate any help you can offer connecting me to the Ath. I was raised in Pasadena but left for college and have been living in NY for way too long to have any CalTech connections anymore! Pls drop me a line if you can, and Thx in advance!

              1. re: DART


                Could you please help DART out? I do not have a public e-mail address

            3. congratulations Oracle! having read your posts for years and understanding your food sensibility a bit, you might want to think about renting CASTLE GREEN, then a caterer and i would highly recommend SHARLENE GRIFFITH as an event coordinator. her connections are amazing and the pricing of her vendors is unlike any i've seen.


              good yelp reviews too.

              2 Replies
              1. re: revets2

                That is really helpful, revets - thank you for the rec and for Sharlene's info.

                As a Pasadena native, I've adored Castle Green. I've been to a wedding there (years ago) and it seemed a little cramped (but I also don't recall how big of a wedding it was). I will check it out, for sure.

                1. re: The Oracle

                  good luck, oracle. she is doing an event for us right now and she is truly a godsend. what i also love about her is that she knows good food.

              2. I haven't lived in Pasadena in about 7 years, so forgive me if any of these are outdated!

                Have you talked to Twin Palms? Used to be a great bar & decent food, could probably handle your numbers.

                We also really liked Maison Akira, and I saw it was still there as of 3 months ago. I'm assuming the RC Huntington (Langham, or whatever it's called now) is either booked or out of budget?

                Good luck and congrats!

                2 Replies
                  1. For the first time in it's ilustrious history, The Huntington Gardens are allowing weddings on the grounds. This is BRAND NEW. There are only a few wedding coordinators who have the exclusive to do events there, call Honeysweet Productions, Erick Weiss.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Senzinina

                      yes, they have! and the site cost will set you back $100,000 not including rentals, caterer, event coordination, etc.

                      1. re: revets2

                        My wife and I had our wedding reception at the Twin Palms with a crowd of 325 people, and it was marvelous. They charged us no room rental fee and no service charge,and we got a four course meal for around $35-45 a person (but it was lunch, and wife knows much better about exact price). We only had to pay for an in-house sound engineer and rental of a TV screen to have a slide show run continuously. So many guests commented about how shocked they were by the excellent quality of food. Each guest got a hangar steak with teriyaki sauce and a lemon-dill salmon slice with potatoes au gratin and grilled asparagus. Also, we had JJ Bakery make 325 strawberry east-west style mochi, and Twin Palms plated it for free. With a baby green salad to start, and an appetizer plate of mini pollo asado empanadas, stuffed mushrooms, and thai beef nachos, and a huge serving of high quality ice cream and a piece of wedding cake afterward, about 50-100 guests asked for to-go boxes from the staff... and this was a wedding!! Only problem was the parking situation. 3 people in wedding party ended up getting tickets.
                        Oh...Madeleine's is a great place and the best restaurant I've discovered this summer. The place could hold 150, but they would have to be divided amongst five different rooms, and I don't think that you would want that for a wedding reception.
                        Maison Akira is the same as Madeleine's. Great food, but the space would be more suited for a rehearsal dinner than a wedding reception.

                        1. re: revets2

                          Yes, that price is so. They are looking for super exclusive weddings. If you have the bucks; it's exquisite.