Eccentric tastes and adventurous spirits characterize much of the architecture in Hollywood, so it comes to no surprise that Southern California has no shortage of unique, mind-blowing wedding venues. Tucked in the Hollywood Hills is one such place, a Japanese-style mansion built in 1914 that offers a peerless backdrop of the LA skyline for hundreds of lucky couples every year.
We were recently invited to see Yamashiro Hollywood in person and had the pleasure of experiencing a sampling of what this venue can offer.
Everyone wants their wedding to feel as magical for their guests as it does for them, and a large part of that is going to come from your venue. Does it put them in the mindset of a beautiful wedding the second they drive up? Yamashiro Hollywood really does. Everything from the hilltop view to the gorgeous Japanese-style architecture instantly transports you to another place and another time.
Image Source: Yamashiro Hollywood
Most weddings take advantage of this mansion’s largest and most unique event space: the Garden Courtyard. When you step through the front door, you can step to the right or left to enjoy the restaurant or the beautifully restored art and architecture of Yamashiro, but it’s hard not to be drawn to the gorgeous, open-air courtyard that lies straight ahead. A quaint—yet elegant—garden and koi pond sit in the center of this space, ringed by wooden walkways that serve as the seating area for weddings and receptions. It’s an event venue that’s one-of-a-kind in looks, but also in function! Imagine having to worry less about who to relegate to the back row.
There are two other spaces that you can use for a wedding either in conjunction with the Garden Courtyard or separately. The first is the Koi Room that sits at the north end of the courtyard, hidden normally behind simple sliding rice paper doors. This is one of the spaces in Yamashiro where its complex history seems all the more real.
The walls in this space are traditional Japanese-style painted screens. The artwork isn’t overly elaborate, but it accents the garden nicely when the room is opened up. However, we were told by the event coordinators all about how these walls were once papered over or hidden completely behind plywood when America was rife with anti-Japanese sentiment in WWII. Art like this is actually the reason Yamashiro exists today. When getting ready to demolish the mansion, Thomas O. Glover discovered the ornate wood-work and decor beneath layers of paint and wood and resolved to restore the building instead. Consider working this room into a warm, welcoming lounge space during your wedding and you’ll enjoy a real conversation piece with your guests.
The Skyview Room is the third event space in this area, aptly named for the windows that proudly display the LA skyline. During our visit, this room was set up for dancing and hors d’oeuvres-style food, partially because it was right off the bar. There was plenty of space for a several standing tables and a huge sushi display, but there was still enough room for a modest dance floor in the center. This room can also be used for a small ceremony and reception if you just can’t see yourself needing the entire courtyard. Yamashiro is flexible for both large and small ceremonies, so if you think it’s beyond your means, maybe it’s time to reconsider!
A location this amazing on this inside has to be just as picturesque on the outside, right? Not always, but fortunately, Yamashiro’s beautiful Japanese gardens do not disappoint. Part of our tour went outside and we were given the chance to put some of these locations to the test ourselves! We walked along the garden paths and posed in front of the LA skyline, in front of some of the immaculate landscaping, and stopped for a silly photo with the Buddha (just make sure you don’t climb on him). There is even a 600-year old pagoda from Japan! Imagine showing your wedding photos and talking about how the building in the background of your picture is actually older than the state of California.
Image Source: Yamashiro Hollywood
Parking around the venue is actually right outside, manned by valets if you so choose. This can be great for brides with elderly or disabled guests since it will take them almost nothing to get in and out of the wedding. This does mean, however, that this isn’t the kind of venue where your party has much room to spread out for photos. The pictures will still look great, but it’ll probably be best to keep them simple.
Yamashiro is actually a restaurant destination as much as it is a wedding venue, so it should come to no surprise that they supply their own catering for weddings. Our event only served one of their advertised sushi displays. The choice of rolls wasn’t extensive, but they had a few staples like spicy tuna and California rolls, as well as some kinds with a more unique flavor. If you’re a big fan of sushi and want more variety, this may be a turn off, but there’s so much other food to choose from (mostly Asian-inspired) that you don’t have to feel limited.
Image Source: Yamashiro Hollywood
While we unfortunately didn’t get to try more of their food, you can. A private food tasting is included as part of the cost of a booking at Yamashiro. There are plenty of hot hors d’oeuvre options as well as small desserts and buffet-style dinners to choose from, so make sure to study their menus online to make the most of your time.
The phrase “dry wedding” makes many guests run away in horror, so we did take it upon ourselves to test the recommendation of Yamashiro’s bartender. All alcohol packages cover the basics, beer and wine, so we went with a local white to complement our amazing sushi spread. Don’t worry; we kept it nothing but professional, and the bar seemed like a very good addition. It’s even conveniently located just off the Garden Courtyard, on the way to the Skyview room, so regardless of whether you’re having a large or small ceremony, it will always be easily accessible.
One thing to note, however, is that Yamashiro does not offer wedding cakes. Private arrangements will have to be made with your own baker, or one of their recommended vendors, because what’s a wedding without cake?
This venue alone is a highlight in and of itself, but there are a few bonuses we were able to explore. After being shown around the main spaces, Yamashiro’s event coordinators took us behind the scenes to the Bridal Suite. Included in the cost of the space rental and fees are two get-ready rooms. We only got to see the one meant for the bride and her party (sad), but we can imagine the other space is pretty similar. There were two main rooms, both with fairly open layouts to accommodate a bunch of bridesmaids trying to get ready all at once, as well as a large mirror with bench seating. There were even windows (with blinds obviously) that offer a small view of the courtyard below for brides to get a look at their guests while they’re getting ready.
Image Source: Yamashiro Hollywood / The Coco Gallery
Remember the coordinators we keep mentioning as our tour guides? They come with the venue! Experts will be at your disposal to keep your big day running smoothly. All you have to do is show up, blow away your guests, get married, eat, and go home.
We weren’t even walking through the Garden Courtyard in amazing wedding gowns, yet we still felt that sense of enchantment from our evening as guests of Yamashiro Hollywood. Give yourself and your wedding guests a treat with this truly unique wedding location! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enjoy someplace amazing.