Los Angeles Wedding Venues (part 2 of 3)

August 27, 2010

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Yesterday I spoke about Hotels or All-inclusive venues. Today I’ll talk about unique or “off site” wedding venues. These are my fa fa fa fa favorites!! to work because of the potential that they posses.

Unique or “off-site”  venues

These are sites such as historical sites (Greystone or Union Station), Museums (Los Angeles Natural History Museum or Pasadena Museum of California Art), Parks (LA River Center and Gardens or Temescal Gateway Park), Private Estates (Rancho del Cielo or Rancho del Diablo Dormido) or hip hot spots (Smog Shoppe or Marvimon)  that regularly rent out their facilities and therefore know what they’re getting into.  I don’t consider weddings at your own home in this group because chances are, you’ve never had an event this logistically challenging or large at your home. That type of wedding will be talked about in the next blog post on Non-traditional venues.

These venues don’t offer catering, rentals, or staffing. Many times they also don’t have lighting, power, water, restrooms, parking, and security. They cannot afford to keep all of that stuff employed or maintained like hotels or country clubs can.

We call these venues “off-site” because depending on their amenities, we are bringing everything in and creating a site. Most private estates won’t even let you use the inside of the house–the rental is for the grounds only.  Why? BECAUSE THEY CAN. Because people will pay $10,000+ for an estate in Malibu just to have the views and the privacy.

Pricing for Unique or Off-Site Venues

In the Los Angeles area, I’ve seen some of the parks priced as low as $2,000 for the site rental, and the estates in Malibu in the $10,000-15,000 range.  Most off-site venues average in the $5,000-10,000. The lower priced ones get snapped up quickly, and many times are booked 18 months out for prime dates. So if you’re glued to one meaningful date, you probably won’t be having it at Villa del Sol d’oro or somewhere similar. Remember how I said yesterday that your reception budget needs to not take more than 50-60% of your entire budget? The site rental, fees associated with it, catering, alcohol, rentals and staff have to be included in that calculation for an off-site venue.

The base rental price is not factoring in other fees that come with it though: liability insurance, a site manager, security deposit, cleaning fees. Those all have to be added to the rental fee to get an overall number. Just so you know, the site manager/site coordinator is not your wedding coordinator–they are the ones who answer your questions about the venue, unlock it for you, and stay there to make sure that your guests don’t destroy it. Most off-site venues require you to have a professional wedding coordinator (someone who is not related or a guest) to manage the day. These venues have gone through the learning curve of what it takes to successfully host weddings and they know the wear and tear that it does to their property.

PROS of Unique or Off-site Venues

  • Aesthetics and ambiance. Do you want an English manor? A Tuscan villa? An urban loft? LA’s got ’em all for you!
  • Privacy and exclusivity. If you have security (and you should) you’ll have no looky loos or wedding crashers messing with your day.
  • If you choose a gorgeous location, you don’t have to do a whole lot to dress it up.
  • The freedom to bring in your own catering–Kosher food, ethnic food, In ‘n Out truck, buffets or chef tended stations….you name it. ****

CONS of Unique or Off-Site Venues

  • Logistics, logistics, logistics. While you can do a wedding at an off-site venue without a professional wedding coordinator, you might lose your mind in the process. These weddings are twice as difficult as traditional or all-inclusive venues.
  • If you hire a team of non-wedding professionals or vendors who are not familiar with the property, you could be in for some trouble.
  • The way that these venues are priced makes it almost impossible for a lay person to know ahead of time what the budget is going to come in at because you usually don’t have the time to price out catering and rentals before you book it.
  • RENTALS. Someday soon I’ll devote an entire blog to this ugly beast. 
  • The natural elements. Yes, this is sunny Southern California, but we do have rain sometimes. You can’t just pick up the phone the morning of your wedding and order a tent if it’s raining. Everyone else in LA’s back up plan will already be in effect by then. Heat, wind, cold, mud, and sun cannot be regulated and therefore backups for backups have to be thought of.

Stay tuned for part 3 of 3 on non-traditional venues!

****I neglected to mention in yesterday’s post that if you require a certain kind of food (Kosher, Indian, Persian, etc) but your guest list is so large that it requires a huge ballroom, you CAN “buy out” the kitchen in order to bring in your own caterer. This means that you pay the hotel for the profit that they would be making if you were using their caterer, but then you bring in your own type of food. It’s expensive, but mandatory for some people.

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