Thursday, August 26, 2010

Los Angeles Wedding Venues (part 1 of 3)

I feel like I sound like a broken record when I say this, but I just have to say again: getting married in Los Angeles is expensive. Three reasons for that? Location, location, location.

I have some clients that are getting married at a summer camp 4 hours north of LA and what they are spending on the rental of the camp for 3 days and 4 meals (including their reception meal) is what an blank venue such as Saddlerock or Vibiana costs for a 12 hour rental. 

Read that above paragraph again. Let it soak in.

While we are blessed with any type of venue you could ever want here in LA (mountains! ocean! city! villas! cathedral! boutique hotels!) wedding venues here really boil down to three types:

1. Hotels or all-inclusive venues
2. Unique "off site"  venues

3. Non-traditional venues

This will be a 3 part blog talking about each type of venue and their pros/cons.

Hotels or all-inclusive venues

Hotels and all-inclusive venues (like Calamigos or The Ebell) are the easiest to plan and execute logistically because everything is there on-site: ceremony site, ballroom, parking, tables, chairs, food, drinks, staff, and so on. They do up to a few hundred weddings per year there and they really have it down pat. You can't really bend the rules or do things differently at venues like these, because they're set up to be efficient. Many times you will be told NO! if you want to do something that isn't efficient.

Pricing of Hotels or all-inclusive venues 

Most of these venues have a Food and Beverage Minimum that they have to meet in order to give their facility to you. Obviously, Saturdays are the best day, and therefore this day is priced the highest. Some venues deep inland, in the valley, or not to affluent areas have F&B minimums that start as low as $7,000 or $8,000 for the event.  Four and five star resorts, especially those on the beach or places like Beverly Hills, sometimes start at $50,000 and go up from there.  Know that these numbers above are NOT your wedding cost. They are the cost of the reception facility, food, and drinks. In order to have money for other things such as your photographer, DJ, coordinator, invitations, and cake, you need to spend no more than 60% of your entire budget on this.  I prefer no more than 50% though.

PROS of Hotels or all-inclusive venues
  • Efficiency of planning
  • Package pricing (this can let you know in the beginning if you really can afford it)
  • Comfort for your guests - handicap accessibility, parking, air conditioning or heat, etc
  • Easy logistics
  • Many times even non-hotel venues such as country clubs have rooms that guests can also book and stay at. There's something to be said for stumbling to your room upstairs at drunk-thirty...

CONS of Hotels/all-inclusive venues
  • Bland or generic feel
  • Bland or generic food 
  • Package pricing is set to get you in the door. ANY change/upgrade you to is going to cost you ("oh, you want linens to the floor? That will cost XXX")
  • You might run into as many as 4 brides that day. And their guests.
  • Ever seen "Wedding Crashers"? Enough said.
  • Many times the Service Charge (read more about that HERE) and Tax is not included on preliminary quotes. So that venue you thought you could afford and booked just cost you 30% more.
  • Strict times that event set up can begin (for a DIY bride, this will kill you) and when the event has to end


Mr Frostings said...

WoW, Amber. What a great breakdown!
Even though a majority of our Weddings are held at this type of venue, it's not our favorite. As you noted, a lot of personal touches are sacrificed. The bottom line is, as wonderful as their wedding may turn out, I sense a feeling of having to fit into the venue's "box".
I am not saying that a very expressive, personal wedding experience cannot be had, but I am saying that this type of venue is not for everybody.
Thanks for posting this, and I can't wait to read the rest of this series.

Amber Events said...

Thanks for your comment, Earl!
I'm drafting the other two sections at the moment. Stay tuned!