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.
Art is defined as “the expression and application of human creative skill and imagination.” In catering and event planning, the presence of this application is obvious in the details of the design, décor, food and talent. What most will never see, though, is the art of the performance taking place behind the scenes.
The moment a client signs with us it sets into motion a precisely organized ballet between our designers, captains, management and staff that is critical to the success of the event. If any one of our players is misinformed, or out of sync with the others, it could spell disaster. Because we know that nothing is more sacred than your special day, at The Abbey, we are constantly on the lookout for ways to fuse our art, with the latest technology, in order to ensure that we deliver the best events in Southern California, every single time.
To most, a great event is one in which each moment flows seamlessly into the next. From the ceremony, to cocktail hour and into dinner and dancing, the changes are so flawless that you don’t even notice them taking place. But without the right staff doing the jobs they are best at, it would be impossible to achieve. Scheduling our staff was difficult, costly, and time consuming.
Solution: This is why our company has initiated the use of an employee scheduling app to handle all of our staff scheduling.
“Schedulehead” helps us by keeping track of our staff and automating our employee schedules. This is good for our clients as well, since it allows us to spend less time behind the desk and more time working to create perfect events.
By staying at the forefront of technology, The Abbey is able to bring the art of flawless execution to any of your occasions. Whether you’re throwing a party at the office, having an intimate dinner at your home or happily getting married, we’re here to make sure it’s nothing less than perfect.
People are always searching for fun and interesting ways to help make their wedding more personal and unique. Besides using specific wedding themes, colors, or decor, consider incorporating culture and cultural activities into the day’s events to give you and your guests something extra!
If there is a long gap scheduled between the ceremony and reception, take advantage of this time and give your guests a short itinerary of activities to help keep them occupied. One idea is to organize a scavanger hunt that will give your guests the opportunity to explore some of your favorite sites, including personal tidbits along the way. If you’re in an area with museums and galleries, like Balboa Park, map out a walking tour for your guests or even pre-pay admission to some of your favorite venues.
Music is another great way to incorporate culture into your wedding. If you’re looking to pay homage to your cultural background, hire a relevant band to play during your wedding. One of my couple’s had an Irish bagpiper and drummer play during their cocktail hour, whereas other couples had a Mariachi band and Japanese drum circle perform during the reception. Along the same lines of a band performing during your wedding, consider hiring a cultural dance troupe as a lavish spectacle for the reception.
Social media outlets, like Facebook and Twitter, are a great way to catch up with and keep tabs on friends and associates, as well as kill time when you’re procrastinating at the office. They can also be a great wedding planning resource for ideas, advice, and referrals. Whether some of these are yesterday’s news or brand new to you, here is a small list of social media sites full of wedding info:
Facebook: Many wedding vendors have business pages potential clients can peruse for ideas, event photos, and even reviews. Look through the business’ news feed and pay particular attention to the “Recommendations” section.
Google: Although everyone knows how to use a search engine when researching possible vendors (and admittedly not necessarily a social media outlet), some of the search results on Google will also yield a “Google review” link embedded within the description which you can reference as an additional source of reviews.
Pinterest: Whether you’re searching for the perfect food recipe, style ideas, or random photos, Pinterest is a great way to connect with others who are also wedding planning and to see what they have “pinned” to their wedding boards as inspiration.
Spotify: Music is one of the keys to a great party, so use this social media and streaming music site mixed-into-one to find full versions of the songs you may choose for your first dance or intend to dance to during the reception.
Twitter and Instagram: Maybe it’s just me, but seeing a constant barrage of hashtags on your friend’s status updates or photos can be borderline annoying. But doing a specific search for hashtags like #wedding, #weddinginfo, #weddingtips, and even #wedspiration can yield a useful and bountiful amount of tips, photos, and links to great wedding websites.
Yelp: Arguably the biggest and best source for business reviews and tips, Yelp should be one of the first places you visit for local wedding info. Also do a search for wedding info in “Fresh Lists”.
Finding a venue for your San Diego wedding or private event is probably the single most important factor when it comes to wedding or event planning, since each San Diego venue dictates much of how your event will unfold. This can be an arduous task, since many people are trying to find the perfect balance between what a venue offers as well as cost. To help you in your search, here are some more tips to consider when shopping for the perfect venue:
1. Have a clear understanding on what’s included in the venue fee. Ask about rental hours, time limitations, equipment rentals, and any extra costs. Extra costs can be items like required security for events and even liability insurance purchased by all parties for the protection of the venue.
2. Decide if it’s important to have your venue in a metropolitan area, close to local attractions and hotels, or if you’re into something more rustic and secluded. The former can create an ease and great convenience for your guests, but the latter may instill a more intimate and exclusive environment for them as well.
3. Does the venue have a preferred list of caterers or other wedding professionals you must contract with for your event? Keep this in mind when formulating your budget for several reasons: a) some caterers have food and beverage minimums, no matter the size of your guest count, and b) some venues have exclusive beverage caterers and rental vendors, so you’re stuck with paying their costs no matter what.
4. When you’re deciding on your guest count and matching it up with the venue’s capacity, keep in mind the amount of space your vendors may also use in the area for items like food and beverage tables, and entertainment (like the DJ). For example, your venue may have a capacity of 200 guests but your guest count is lower at 175. However, if you go with a buffet-style dinner, the food tables may take up space that is needed for guest seating. This is why it can be beneficial to bring your wedding coordinator or even your caterer with your when exploring venues so you have a second eye and professional opinion.
5. Although it goes without saying, double check what type of contingency plans are set in case of inclement weather, particularly if your ceremony and reception will be in a fully outdoor venue.