By Heather Cole – Bekker’s Catering | Expert Advice
In weddings, like everything else in life, every situation and every person is different. Some people grow up dreaming of wedding bells, planning every detail far before they even have a partner in mind. Some people have absolutely no idea, and don’t give weddings a thought until they are engaged. One crucial detail in planning a wedding is where it is going to take place. San Diego is a stunning city. People travel from all over the world to get married here, and we have a plentitude of settings to choose from when planning a wedding. San Diego happens to encompass mountains, deserts and of course, the beach. We also have a great deal of lovely wedding venues and hotels that are available for receptions. Which of these you choose will depend primarily on three factors: the “look” you are going for, the type of reception you hope to host, and your budget.
First, let’s talk about the “look.” When I sit down with a couple, one of my first questions is “what do you envision?” Most of my job is taking what you see in your head, and making it become reality. Now, some couples genuinely have no idea, but for the most part, there is a picture rattling around up there. Where does that picture take place? Is it a ritzy ballroom? A rustic ranch? The beach? Knowing what type of setting you are looking for will help you narrow down the options until you find the one that’s right for you. Both the north and the east areas of San Diego are full of amazing ranch-style venues. Temecula, Fallbrook, Valley Center, Escondido, Jamul, Julian, El Cajon, Lakeside and Alpine are great areas to look at if you are looking for anything involving a barn, horses, or if the words “burlap and lace” appeal to you. Women’s Clubs are often available as wedding venues, and can be found in varying areas of the county.
Don’t forget about beaches and parks! As far as hotels go, we have many beautiful hotels that are available for wedding receptions. Most hotels do not allow outside catering or rental companies, so you just have to make sure you know what catering and rental options you have, and that you like them, before you book. Finding the perfect setting for your perfect day can be a challenge, but we are fortunate to find ourselves in a city so well-suited for beautiful weddings!
What kind of reception would you like to host? A multitude of cultural and preferential factors play into this. Perhaps you hope to have a small dessert reception after your ceremony. Maybe you are going to host a tea ceremony for your family privately before a dinner reception. Is a traditional buffet reception with a beautiful cake more your thing? Depending on what type of reception you are going to be having, choosing an appropriate venue can help make your special day spectacular! Where are you going to have your ceremony? Many venues feature ceremony areas in addition to reception areas. Do you want your guests to travel from a ceremony site to a reception venue? How will they get there? Is there adequate parking? If you choose an outdoor venue who will be handling your rentals? Will you need a separate set of chairs for ceremony and reception? If you choose an all-in-one ceremony and reception site is there a separate area for cocktail hour? Keep in mind the sequence of events that you are planning for your guests, and find a venue that helps make it easy. Confused guests are the last thing you need to deal with! Consult with your venue as to what they “usually” do. Chances are, they have plans for every idea you may have. After all, they’re the experts!
Last but not least, let’s address budget. Keep in mind that lots of venues, such as conference centers, are essentially a blank canvas for your vision. Check out local recreational centers and community rooms in housing communities. Especially now, in the “Age of Pinterest” everyone is capable of taking on some DIY projects and personalization. Many of these “blank canvas” venues are very affordable, and if you don’t mind putting in a little extra elbow grease, you can find a wonderful happy medium between dream and reality. County parks are a great asset; Many times they feature community centers for indoor needs, and sometimes require only a permit to host an outdoor wedding. Beaches generally require permits for groups over 50, so consulting with the parks department will be the best first-step for a non-hotel beach wedding. Many venues lower their rental fees for Sunday weddings, and even lower on weekdays. Check with your (or a local) church, sometimes there is wiggle room on the fee. Also, don’t forget about backyards! Maybe you have a family friend or coworker with a beautiful home and stunning yard, maybe you just saw one while driving down the street! It can never hurt to ask! If you have a little more money to work with, hotels and places specifically designed as wedding venues are absolutely lovely. Sit down and talk it out! Find what works for you. There is no right or wrong way!
On your journey toward the altar there are going to be many decisions to be made. Hopefully, finding the perfect venue is an easy one for you and your partner-to-be!