Are you just starting out on your wedding planning adventure but you don’t know where to start? Are you trying to figure out what a good value is for the location of your ceremony and reception? How about for the food, bar, flowers, entertainment, photography? Then of course, there’s the rings, attire and the honeymoon.
All of this can be quite overwhelming for a newly engaged couple. Who do you enlist for help, your best friend that loves to plan the most amazing birthday parties? Your sister who is the DIY queen? Or do you take on the task yourself as a part-time job?
The real question is which one of you is a venue expert to guide you towards perfect venue to match your vision and budget. And which one of you has the time to research everything you need to know about each venue? How late can you go? How many hours can you have the venue to allow for set-up, event time and break down? How about noise restrictions; alcohol restrictions; vendor restrictions; catering restrictions; parking restrictions; permits; licenses; insurance and more?!
If you, or a friend or family member is helping plan the whole thing, who is going to step back behind the scenes during the ceremony, reception and dinner to make sure everything goes according to plan or to resolve any hiccups (and they will happen) without notice.
The average cost for a wedding in San Diego is just under $38,000. The ceremony and reception alone approximates 50% of the total cost; another 25% for flowers, entertainment and photography and the final 25% for rings, attire, stationery, etc. The honeymoon is a whole other story.
Okay now we have a stating point but still, how do you go about researching all the vendors, find the best for the best value and bring everybody on the same page?
Simple! The Abbey Catering & Event Design. The Abbey is five-star and world renowned for their savory catering, top-notch vendors and expert wedding planners. The Abbey professionally manages and is headquartered at the historic Cuvier Club located in the downtown village of prestigious La Jolla, across the street from St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church and three blocks away from the breathtaking cliff-side Cuvier Park also known as The Wedding Bowl. In addition to the Cuvier Club, they own and operate a newly renovated venue called The Downtown Abbey which comes furnished with rustic farm tables and cross back chairs and quaint wine barrel potted olive trees.
Nothing holds more promise for the future quite like a wedding. And when that wedding ceremony has a backdrop like the glittering waters of the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay separated by stately Coronado Island, that union of families looks even more hopeful!
This amazing and often overlooked building has multiple spaces suitable for a variety of special events, but weddings are the most special, especially on weekends. The Shiley Special Events Suite perched at the top of the San Diego Central Library boasts soaring floor to ceiling windows on 3 sides of the main event space, lush carpeting and state of the art dimmable lighting. The ample space allows for plenty of room for moderate sized guest lists, but the offset layout of the room permits ample space for larger parties of over 200 celebrants.
The Epstein Bayview Terrace is a wonderful option as a Wedding Ceremony site with it’s Southern views of San Diego Bay and built-in viewfinders. Just off the main Bayview terrace is a dramatic fenced outcropping over the exposed exterior structure of the building, offering one of the most unique bride and groom photo opportunities in the area!
Coming back through the main dining space leads to the picturesque Woods Family Sunset View Terrace. This larger outdoor space is simply perfect for cocktail hour, with a built-in roll-up service window that is wonderful for Bar Setups or Non-Alcoholic Infused Water Stations. The included unique square belly bars allow for guests to set beverages down, as photo opportunities abound! As the name suggests, this lengthy terrace offers fantastic sunset photos, and many guests thoroughly enjoy taking advantage! They may even be treated to the wholesome sights and sounds of a San Diego Padres home game, or serenaded by a concert at nearby Petco Park! For a truly dramatic moment, many Saturday evenings feature fireworks in the later hours – and the views from the Sunset Terrace and Main Room are spectacular!
Once the main reception gets under way for dinner, the advantages of the larger layout quickly becomes clear – no need for breaking down tables to make room for the dance floor, or packing tables in just a bit too close for comfort. Indeed – even accommodating multiple action food stations, cake table and coffee bar is no problem!
When the lights go down and the dance floor heats up, the cityscape of the San Diego bayfront and lights of the nearby famous Gaslamp Quarter illuminate your guests with a truly memorable reception experience. Treat yourself to a one-of-a-kind wedding experience! The proximity of local dancingl establishments makes continuing the party after-hours a breeze. For a truly unique after-party, inquire with The Abbey Catering about hosting a private after-hours party just minutes from the Library in a brand-new private rental-only club until 2:00am!
The adjacent conference room provides a secure and elegant space for a Bridal Suite for on-site hair, makeup and wardrobe preparations, if needed. Complete with attached restroom, privacy shades and cushy chairs, the space has everything you could need for your wedding preparations!
The variety of spaces and amenities for your guests make weddings with The Abbey Catering at the New Central Library truly unique in San Diego – from breathtaking views to elegant lines, this space is truly one of a kind!
Welcome to Beach Cliff Villas, for that true one of a kind San Diego Wedding experience. Nestled in the heart of Ocean Beach, Beach Cliff Villas delivers what San Diego is most famous for, a completely private beach venue with panoramic ocean views. Just minutes from the airport, Sea World, Balboa Park,& Down Town San Diego, Beach Cliff Villas is perfect for your next private event or destination wedding. For the perfect San Diego Wedding, look no further. The Villas boast 8 private bungalows that can accommodate up to 40 of your guests for overnight stays. Host your ceremony on the grass overlooking the Pacific while your guests dance the night away under the twinkle lights and framed by a San Diego sunset. Private receptions can be held for up to 150 guests for a fully seated or buffet style service. Cocktail receptions are also a great option where guests can enjoy a more casual experience mingling under the stars. Parking or valet options are readily available. Catered events, rest easy know that you are in excellent hands with San Diego’s #1 Wedding & Events caterer, the Abbey Catering & Event Design. We offer a free consultation and tour of the property to help you fully realize your vision from your personalized menu to every last detail. We offer the most comprehensive turn-key All-Inclusive Wedding package dedicated to the Villas. Run down the list of options and hand select your menu, beverage choices, DJ’s, photographers, florists, videographers, & more all with full service coordination. So, call us today and let’s talk – Beach Cliff Villas is a hidden San Diegan jem that’s not to be missed!
Forgotten Barrel is San Diego’s newest winery wedding venue. It is set in the gorgeous Escondido, California wine country surrounded by rolling hills with vines that wind their way through every inch of the fertile soil. This lush surrounding makes it the perfect place for couples to exchange vows and say “I do.” Brides and grooms can try a few of the best bottles of vino in Southern California while their friends and family surround them with love on the most important day of their life. Forgotten Barrel serves up a collection of superior wines along with a stunning interior setting that features hand-made furniture and the quintessential ambiance you’d expect from the best wineries. Feel free to visit them at their tasting room to experience their different varietals and to preview the one-of- a-kind atmosphere. This historical site has been reinvented to include a grassy, outdoor ceremony area overlooking the vineyard, a cozy outdoor area for cocktails by an open fire, and a breathtaking repurposed barn for dinner and dancing. The whole property is accented with hand-crafted antique wood, raw metal, and stone furniture, completely hand-crafted and unique to the property. Brides and grooms can sit back and relax as the friendly and knowledgeable Abbey Catering staff pulls together every element of their wedding day; wedding coordination, photography, florals, DJ, cake, videography and more! Abbey Catering is the highest rated wedding caterer in the nation and will make planning your wedding a breeze. This vineyard is the perfect addition to San Diego’s natural beauty making it a romantic, exciting, and breathtaking wedding venue. Sip on delicious wine as you gaze into your lover’s eyes, this is the perfect place to start forever…
Recently, one of my friends got married at a beautiful barn in Julian. From the ceremony to the food to the décor, the wedding was absolutely amazing and the venue fit all the items she was looking for: unique, rustic, and not in metro San Diego. As a matter of fact, her wedding was only the second one that had been held there. Like many other brides, finding “a hidden jewel” of a venue like she did is highly desirable, but can bring interesting challenges you should be prepared for that most traditional venues may not face. Here are some of things to expect when you’re securing a unique, but remote venue:
• At a remote venue like a barn, ample sources of power may be an issue, so it’s important to determine all of your power needs, including those of your vendors (i.e. caterer, DJ, etc.). If your venue does not have enough power, then you may need to invest in a generator.
• If your venue is like the one I went to in Julian, you may need to research and invest in portable restrooms. Be sure to rent enough to handle your guest count, because long lines at the restroom make for crabby people.
• Generally, remote or rustic venues are landscaped with grass, dirt, and loose gravel, so warn the ladies in heels and either provide or have them bring heel protectors. The ladies may even want to bring some flats to wear towards the end of the night, particularly for dancing.
• Most likely, your venue may not have an established kitchen facility, so be sure your caterer is prepared to bring in all the items and equipment they need to create a mobile kitchen on site.
• One venue I’ve worked with was not searchable on Google maps, so if that’s the case for your wedding, then provide easy driving directions for your guests. If you want to go the extra mile, then put up signs along the route directing your guests toward the venue.
• Don’t forget to give your guests a list of local hotels and transportation options, especially if they’re not familiar with the area.
After months and possibly years of planning for your special day (i.e. if the first words you ever spoke were “I do”), the last thing you want is some major malfunction that puts a dark cloud on the wedding day. Below are some common wedding disasters and tips to help ensure you avoid these blunders:
1). At one wedding I attended, the hired transportation failed to deliver the bride and groom to their ceremony on time, leaving the guests waiting impatiently. At another, the whole bridal party had a few too many cocktails and was unable to drive themselves home at the end of the night, leaving them scrambling for last minute and late night transportation arrangements.
Tip: Be sure to secure and confirm pre and post wedding transportation. On the day of the wedding, have your wedding coordinator or assigned person keep in touch with transportation periodically, so everyone gets to the ceremony on time and home safely.
2). Celebrations usually go hand-in-hand with copious amounts of alcohol intake, and I saw one wedding where the bride got embarrassingly drunk, and another where guests got so rowdy and out-of-control, they damaged property.
Tip: Due to all the stress and events of the day, many brides and grooms forget to eat, which leaves them drinking on an empty stomach. So be sure to eat, even if you have to step away from your guests for a little while to do so. Plus, no one likes a drunk bride. In regard to your guests, make sure you hire experienced bartenders to help manage and control the amount of alcohol they serve, and be willing to cut off guests that are close to being a danger to themselves and others.
3). Friends and family always want to make a congratulatory toast during the wedding, but things can go south quickly when those toasts become long-winded or offensive.
Tip: Limit the amount of toasts to only a select few people. If you know others want to contribute, let them do so during the rehearsal dinner rather than the reception.
4). Great music always helps get the crowd going, but bad song choices can put a damper in everyone’s mood. Playing songs like “Better Off Alone” by Alice Deejay or “Me So Horny” by 2 Live Crew may seem like a crowd pleaser at the time, but end up sending the wrong message.
Tip: Communicate clear expectations to your DJ or band on your song choices or preferred music genres, and a list of songs not to play during the wedding.
5). There are so many details that need to be addressed leading up to and on the wedding day, which tends to overwhelm and stress out many couples, leaving them incapable of fully enjoying themselves on the special day.
Tip: Don’t sweat the small stuff. When everything is said and done, your guests aren’t going to remember the color of your napkins or the font you chose for the menu cards. Sit back, relax, and remember why you’re here in the first place: to be married to and celebrate with the one you love.
The master wedding timeline is an important tool for every wedding, because like a blueprint, it plainly lays out the plan for the day’s events, including what’s expected and when from all pertinent parties. A well thought out and fine tuned version will ensure your wedding runs smoothly and stress-free. So when starting to put together your timeline, here are some things to consider:
• Many couples use their cocktail hour to capture their traditional wedding photos; consider a “first look” or taking as many obligatory photos as possible before the ceremony, so you can maximize the time during cocktail hour for very specific images.
• When it comes to catering, opt for tray-passed hors d’oeuvres versus stationed ones because it allows guests more time to mingle rather than waiting in line for food at a station. Also, consider having a preset salad with any style of dinner service, so guests can immediately begin enjoying their meal as soon as they enter the reception area.
• Keep toasts given during the reception to only a select few special guests and ask other guests to give their speech during a welcome dinner or pre-wedding party, so it doesn’t affect the overall timeline of the wedding day. Furthermore, schedule the toasts during or after dinner, just in case they run long, so dinner service won’t be affected.
• Ditch some of the traditional wedding activities, like the anniversary dance or garter removal, so you have more time spent with your guests and to enjoy the overall party.
• Be flexible on the actual time of cake cutting, since it usually signals when guests are allowed to start leaving the reception without fear of offending the bride and groom.
• Have a “grand exit” from your reception, so you end the night on a memorable note, and so your guests are less likely to linger around the venue after you leave.
Lately, there has been a big trend for my brides & grooms to choose booking live entertainment for their receptions instead of a typical DJ. So when researching the bands that are going rock your socks off! Here are some words of advice to consider in order to help you find the perfect fit:
• Since you’re looking for live entertainment, ask if you can check out one of their live performances. Then you can get a first-hand feel for their style and presentation. If you’re not able to attend one of their live gigs, then ask for sample videos and music. More often than not, they will have sample CDs or even music available for purchase on iTunes. • Make sure there is a plan for a master of ceremonies and music in between sets, because the entertainment will definitely need breaks. Also, confirm any requirements they may have for a green room and food & beverage. • Hiring live entertainment is a great way to incorporate culture into your event. A mariachi band and Japanese drum circle are two great examples. If you’re looking for something a little more eclectic, one of my couples even hired a live rock band karaoke to liven up the party!
• Most venues require any vendor that brings in equipment to carry a business license and liability insurance, so make sure your entertainment adheres to these rules.
The Darlington house is one of San Diego’s choice venues, and happens to be one of my favorites. The architecture and the landscaping complement each other in perfect harmony. This venue defiantly a must see when searching for your venue. It’s managed by the Social Service League of La Jolla, which is a non-profit corporation. Their mission is to provide housing and meal support to seniors who have lived and worked in the San Diego area. So your wedding will both be a special day for you but also help others!
1. Upon entering the Darlington House’s foyer, you’re welcomed by a large spiral staircase, which is wonderful for photos. To your right a large living room with two sets of French doors on either side of the fireplace.
2. The foyers French doors open to the Egyptian patio that is most commonly used for the ceremony site, which seats 110-120. You can use the living room for the receiving line, which I feel adds an elegant statement. There’s a piano in the living room as well, to add a special note to your evening.
3. At the far end of the patio is a fountain with a wrought iron fence, canopied by trees. This tranquil setting is the most popular spot to exchange vow’s with one another.
4. The fence opens to the Rose Garden, used for the reception area. The Rose Garden is surrounded by an array of trees, shrubs, flower, and breath taking assortment of roses. The main terrace can seat up to 200, 175 with a dance floor. For larger parties, I like using the ceremony area for a dance floor.
5. Next to the ceremony area is the Andalusian patio, often used for the cocktail area. On the opposite side of the patio is a library. Most events set the bar up in the library. The patio is a great place for the welcome drink as well. You always need a welcome drink! This can give you some time for wedding photos.
6. You will be wowed by the second floor. There is a suite for the groom and a master suite for the bride. You won’t find a better staging area for the bride at any other venue in town. The master suite is great for photos, or lounging, before the “I do’s”.
7. This venue does have a few rules. The closing time is 9:30, and only clear liquids in the home. I would mention it has an amazing kitchen, important because some venues have a small or no kitchen, this can severely limit your menu options.
The Darlington House is a beautiful venue for your beautiful day! The money you spend goes a long way to helping others, very few venues offer such a noble investment with your deposit. Let us know at The Abbey Catering if you want help booking or planning your special day at the Darlington House!
If you read my blog articles, you’ll notice I tend to offer tips and advice for planning many aspects of one’s wedding day, from the rehearsal dinner to post-reception activities. This time, I thought it would be a nice change to ask someone else for their words of wisdom that has first-hand knowledge of weddings as well, my best friend and repeat bridesmaid, Victoria. Here are a few gems she had to share:
1. Remember to try on your bridesmaid dress at least a week before the wedding day, just in case you need to make any last minute alterations. The last thing you want is an ill-fitting dress in all those wedding photos.
2. Bring a change of shoes to the wedding. Unless you’re Wonder Woman and can manage to stand in five-inch heels all day long, you’ll need a pair of flats to give those poor feet a rest.
3. If you’re getting hair and make-up done, bring a button down shirt you can easily change into and out of so you don’t mess up that fabulous face and hairdo.
4. Don’t forget to eat the day of the wedding. With all the rush and excitement of the day, many times everyone forgets to eat and nearly passes out from just standing for photos or during the ceremony. This seriously almost happened with several of the bridesmaids.
5. If the bride is going on their honeymoon directly after the wedding reception, help her pack for the trip a week before the wedding. The last thing the bride will want to do is add another to-do item from her stockpiled wedding list the day of or even right after the wedding.
6. Whether it’s the job of your wedding coordinator or a task assigned to someone in the bridal party, keep in constant communication with any hired day-of transportation. It’s one thing if guests arrive late to the ceremony, but a completely different story when the bride or bridal party doesn’t show up on time.
7. Help keep an eye on the groom and groomsmen. The guys tend to get into all sorts of shenanigans, like having a few too many shots of alcohol right before the ceremony, and no bride wants to see a bunch of sloppy groomsmen at the altar.