Locations, Locations, Locations

As I write, Sydney + I are on the prowl for a unique wedding venue for one of our most unique couples. We've been researching and visiting venues for some time for this couple, and I've been thinking I should share part of our top-secret process with you all. I could write a short novel about the many different factors to consider when choosing your wedding venue, but I'll do my best to keep it brief here and talk only about the biggest deal makers and breakers on a venue hunt.

  • First, you have to decide what's more important to you - getting married on a specific date or getting married in your dream venue. In a perfect world, you'd be able to do both. In the real world, you'll most likely have to make some sacrifices. If you're flexible with your date, day of the week, or even season when you start venue hunting, you'll have nearly endless options. Plus, almost every venue fluctuates in price seasonally, so if you aren't married to (pardon my pun) a date, you can potentially save yourself some money! And here in Southern California, we're lucky that many of our outdoor venues are breathtaking year round - just look at Ponte Family Estate in Temecula through the seasons:

Images belong to Ponte Family Estate. Check them out to see more of their beautiful weddings!

Photo courtesy of Intuitive Images.

  • Second, I always try to keep in mind what our clients absolutely need and what they can live without when searching for venues. Most places now are aiming to be all-inclusive, which has its obvious perks. However, try not to get so carried away with "perks" that you end up paying for things at your venue that you either don't need or don't want. Don't be afraid to negotiate with your venue to lower the price if you won't be utilizing some of their services. In many cases, having a planner or coordinator that frequents certain venues can help you get the best deal. Sydney + I do a lot of work at the Redlands Country Club, and as trusted vendors there, we're able to make beautiful weddings happen. Ben + T√ľnde (pictured right) had a wonderful and unique Hungarian wedding at RCC last July, and Sydney + I had the opportunity to work some wedding magic there!
  • Finally, once you think you've found the one (venue, that is), make sure you double and triple check your contracts before you sign or put down any deposits. A lot of places will advertise great prices, but you may find that they've left out service charges, gratuity, sales tax, rental fees, bartending charges, etc. I've found that in addition to those hidden fees, a few other factors my clients often don't consider beforehand are extra time for first look photos, setup and cleanup hours, and availability of bride/groom suites. Make sure you know your venue's policies on every detail - large or small - before you sign a contract!

Hopefully this will help some of you out there searching for that perfect venue! If not, maybe it will convince you to contact us to do the legwork for you - I have more spreadsheets to compare venues than I'm proud to admit.

Happy planning!

- JACQUELYN LANIER, FOUNDER/CO-OWNER

Banner image was taken at a wedding we coordinated at Blackberry Creek Farm at Kelly Gulch. Photo courtesy of the amazingly talented Bright Bird Photography.