Monday, August 31, 2009

Beware: Venues that provide nothing but space

I love working at different kinds of venues as much as I love working with different kinds of brides. But be sure to do your research & homework before you fall in LOVE with the venues that provide nothing but space. These venues will promise privacy, intimacy and even offer you an empty space to be creative & flexible with the floor plan. I don’t want to talk you out of having your wedding at a private estate, because I L-O-V-E THEM, but I do want to give you a heads up on some things you should consider before you book at such venues. The sky is the limit, you can get creative in what you want to do with the d├ęcor, and there is flexibility in choosing your caterer as well. If you want to have a hosted bar at your reception, you may be able to save some money by bringing your own alcohol. YES, this may all sound amazing- but please be aware that there are TONS of restrictions to what you can and cannot do.

Here are some extra expenses that you may have to add into your budget if you are planning a wedding at a private estate:

Rentals: Yes, it seems obvious that you would have to work in rentals into your budget, but did you know that rentals alone can cost up to (sometimes more than) $100 per person! Don’t forget to include EVERTHING that each of your guests will need. This may include: chairs, tables, linens, forks, knives, dessert places, bread and butter plates, coffee pots and cups, martini glasses, rubber mats, serving trays, etc. The list goes on and on and can get to be very expensive.

More Rentals: If the private estate you are planning your reception at does not allow your caterer to cook at their kitchen (95% of the time they will not), you are probably going to have to rent additional items like convection ovens, heating racks, fryers, prep tables, trash cans, and astro turf to protect the floors of the venue and for the safety of the staff working.

Parking: Most homes do not have space to park 100 cars, and unfortunately there is no way around that. You should plan on spending a couple hundred dollars to rent a nearby parking lot to accommodate all of your guest’s cars.

Valet or Shuttles: If the parking lot is not easily accessible to the ceremony/reception area your guests will need additional transportation. You may want to hire a valet service to take the guest’s cars to the parking lot for them. Or, hiring a shuttle service is another option that is worth looking into. These services usually start at $750 to $2500, cost depends on how many people are on your guest list.

Lighting and Generators: A lot of private estates, especially homes, are not designed to host parties with a guest list of over 200 people (unless they are specifically designed too). They should have track lighting to light pathways, and maybe enough power to run a small sound system, but most likely they will not have enough light or power to run the event throughout entire evening. I recommend visiting your venue during the time you want to have your event so you will have an idea of the type of lighting and power you need. The last thing you want is to have your guest eating in the dark. Once you decide the amount of lighting you want, you need to make sure that there is enough power to keep your lights going throughout event. Also, check with your band, DJ, and caterer to determine how much additional power is needed.

Insurance: Yes, Insurance. Private estates will usually not allow you to use any vendors without insurance and a valid license. Did I mention that you MUST purchase liability wedding insurance of your own as well?

Lastly, hire a wedding planner. Planning a wedding at a private estate/venue also comes with an endless list of things that need to be done. Including double and triple checking your rental orders, power needs, making sure the valet/shuttle service is running smoothly, faxing the signed rules and regulations from each of your vendor, etc. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the logistical matters, its stress that you don’t want to deal with the day of your wedding.

I definitely think that having a wedding at a private estate/venue is worth the extra work! But, make sure you do your research and homework before you sign and book a date.


SK said...

Yes I agree! I had my wedding at my in-laws' place and the cost of rentals was unbelievability high. But I don't regret having my wedding at a meaningful place.

Esther said...

Sarah, your wedding was beautiful! At least there weren't any restrictions.. these places have very strict rules and it's very annoying!