THAT DREAM VENUE MIGHT NOT BE SO DREAMY

Say you want to plan a wedding or a big party at your home or are lucky enough to have been gifted the use of a family friends picturesque ranch. Maybe you landed a private estate or found a piece of "glamping" land in the mountains that's the answer to all your venue prayers. It’s very common to jump into the planning process thinking that it’s going to be simpler or less expensive than renting a venue because you get to do it "your way".

Unfortunately, this is rarely true, and often by the time we bring in all infrastructure needed for a safe and successful event, the costs far outweigh those of a comparable events at an established venue.

I remember one mother of the bride many many years ago had reluctantly agreed to host her daughters 400 person wedding on their estate in Northern California.  Unfortunately for them, it also decided to rain for a week straight.  After a 3-tent and subfloor buildout that took almost a week, and a never ending list of headaches (that cost them north of $200k), the mother took to walking around and muttering “What was so wrong with the Ritz?”

Now not everybody dreams of having a wedding in a hotel ballroom, and we can’t fault anyone for that! The pay-off of hosting your wedding or event at a private property can be spectacular, and the only way to go for those looking to create a fresh, unique and personal experience for their guests.

We specialize in these types of blank-canvas, enveloping pushing, al-fresco events, BUT are always very upfront with clients about the inherent challenges.  We’ve walked onto MANY projects realizing that our clients had been totally unrealistic about what was possible in their chosen space.

We may be masochists, but these types of venues aren't the right fit for every party.  So here are the first four things that you should consider when deciding on that special piece of property for your wedding, event or celebration.

PARKING

If you have neighbors of any sort, you need to make sure that parking is being closely managed on the day-of.  (Hint: Signs aren't enough)  If you have flexible space at your venue (such as a farm or ranch), then leveling an area and creating a gravel parking lot and shuttle bus turn-around is an ideal option. 

If your property is in a residential area, finding a nearby parking lot to rent or borrow for the day can help keep the streets clear and your neighbors happy.  Commonly we are able to find a school or church that is willing to lend their lot (perhaps for a donation) from which we run shuttles back and forth to get guests to/from the property.  If budgets allow we contract Valet parking attendants, who are experts in helping you determine a plan for getting your guests and their cars to/from your venue.

BATHROOMS

A residential sewer system and commercial sewer systems are NOT the same. Rustic locations often run septic which can be easily overwhelmed.  150 people using 1-2 toilets in a typical home is a recipe for disaster.  The last thing you want people remembering your event for is how the toilet didn’t work (and oh god, the smell!).   More often then not a portable restroom trailer will be needed for a private property event.  When looking into your options, consider if you will have water and electricity accessible for this unit, or if it will need to be fully self-contained solar powered unit.

LIGHTING

While lighting is an integral part of ANY event that we design, with private property weddings you need to take it one step further then decor.   Go to your venue at 10pm and see how easy it is to get around with no lights.  And then drink a bottle of wine, because you need to remember that you are going to most likely have buzzed up guests and exhausted vendors trying to pack up and find their way home at the end of the evening.

LEVEL GROUND. . . . . (spoiler alert, you're gonna need some)

This is the biggest element that clients overlook before deciding on their venue.  You will need to have level ground SOMEWHERE at your event to make it comfortable for people to stand or be seated for a meal.  Floors/Decks can be built, the ground can be leveled and covered with grass, but these are all additional costs with long lead times that need to be considered in the larger planning picture.

 

All events pose logistical challenges, but these are just a few of the issues that we find clients face when planning an event in a space which isn't typically used for this purpose or is off the beaten path.

But as always, with great risk comes great reward!  Just make sure you ONLY select vendors who have experience working in these types of venues and come prepared with the correct equipment to face the unique challenges of your site.  

Keep an eye out for more on this topic from us on exciting stuff like Transportation Scheduling, Power, Water, Garbage, Critters, Rain/Wind Plans, Flooding and Site Remediation!! OR sign up below to have these tips delivered straight to your inbox.

xo - Jennie

 

 

BAR DESIGN

Bars and Parties go hand-in-hand.  Whether you are serving grape juice and soda water (excuse me while I sneak out the bathroom window) or pulling out all the stops for a rager, getting bevies into the hands of your guests at social functions is top order.

The bar is likely the one place that every single person in your party will visit, so it’s the ideal place to take to your event to the next level.  

For the Home Bar

Get creative with what you serve.  Go beyond the specialty cocktail, which frankly at this point is no longer a creative idea in its own right.  Instead, try advancing a subtle theme with your liquor and what you serve will then provide cohesiveness to your event and create conversation.

The culinary creatives at Jessica Lasky Catering came up with the creative idea of using all local product to stock your bar.  In the Bay Area we are blessed (#blessed even) with some fantastic distilleries and breweries.   Consider a Vodka from St. George in Alameda, a Gin from Distillery 209 in SF’s Mission Bay, or a Whiskey from Stillwater Spirits in Petaluma.   Pair your booze with some kegs from Magnolia Brewery (I like the Kalifornia Kolsh and the Proving Ground IPA) or some Fort Point Cans as your beer options. And when it comes to wine and your trillion local options, we always head over to K&L Wines and let them select the perfect party selections for our budget.

For the Office Bar

We’ve all seen the plastic folding table backed up against the wall in a tech startup.  To this I say No More!  Increase your employee’s bar user experience by A) throwing a tablecloth on that table you animal and B) Creating a back bar to place liquor, extra glassware and decor.  The Back Bar can be as simple as these ever present Ikea Shelves or a more Elaborate Ikea Hack like THIS ONE.  Or simply rent a set-up from a company like this from Blueprint Studios.

For the Big-Day Bar

If cocktails are an important to you, considering giving it as much attention as you would any other table. Talk to your planner or designer about putting a bar in the center of the room as a focal point, or changing it’s shape.  Some fun inspiration can be found here : 

For the Literally Anywhere Bar

If this isn’t cool then I don’t know what it is.  http://barcarsf.com/  Call a guy about a bar.  Order Bar shows up and give you all the drinks. BAR LOOKS COOL.  You look cool for finding such a rad bar. Everybody is talking about how cool you are. Party success!!

Happy Planning,

Jennie

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FOOD TRUCKS | THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY

There are a couple things I know for sure.  Food trucks are: 

#1 Delicious

#2 A trend that’s going to stick around for awhile

Beyond all the sweet and savory treats these food trucks bring to our doorstep/park/street corner, there are some pros and cons to weight before decided to hire a Food Truck at your next event.  

THE GOOD

  • They are by definition, a mobile kitchen.  So if you are working with a venue with limited preparation space, there is no need to step into expensive satellite kitchen tent/stove rental set-up that you would need for a multi-course plated meal
  • It’s a one-stop shop, so theoretically you could arrange to have your entire party fed with one phone call. They bring their food in whatever you need to eat it with, feed the people, pack up and drive away

  • They are relatively low cost. Their business model has low overhead and is designed to get fresh, quality (hot) food in a lot of bellies quickly efficiently within any given time period

  • They are fun and quirky, adding a light-hearted casual vibe to any event

  • A food truck can be a highly functional element of surprise, especially for dessert (Creme Brule truck?) or as a late night snack.  You lucky Southern Californians could even hire an In-N-Out truck to roll up to your party and watch your guests just lose their ever-lovin' minds

THE BAD

  • Trashy, is not a word you want to be associated with your event.  But trash is watchu gonna get after a meal served on disposable (hopefully compostable!) plates.  If you don’t have somebody hired to manage this, that means it's on you to clean up.  Once the food leaves that sliding window it is no longer the trucks responsibility for what happens to it.  For all those brides out there thinking about using food trucks that may mean a stressed out mom or some peeved Groomsmen stuffing bags of trash in a dumpster (or worse yet, CARS!) at the end of the evening

 

  • Unanticipated costs. Unless your venue provides seating, you are going to have to source or rent tables, chairs, linens. . . and pay for delivery.  Slowly but surely that inexpensive food truck is not going to feel like such a bargain, and you are going to spend a lot of extra time on the added details

 

  • MESSY. Think burrito juice on your wedding gown and greasy hands.  And LOUD. The generators that run on food trucks often make quite a bit of noise, so any toasts or speeches should be coordinated with the generator being turned off, most likely after food service has concluded

THE UGLY

  • Make sure you are OK with having someone else’s brand all over your event.  A taco truck with their 1-800# plastered all over it might not set the desired tone and distract from your overall message and desired aesthetic

 

  • Trash again, because litter isn’t cute

 

  • Beware a disjointed event.  While the food truck option may be cheap and easy, it's not going to work with a formal or very structured event.  Gathering people's undivided attention for multiple speeches and/or toasts during dinner service may be hard to achieve

MY ADVICE

One way to get around some of the Bads + Uglies is by working with Off The Grid Catering who can provide service staff, bar staff, and also manage multiple food truck vendors on your behalf.  Well worth the extra costs to really make your event look, and better yet, FEEL seamless.  

Nonetheless, costs can add up quickly for a Food Truck with the added staff and rentals. Unless you desire the casual, hipster vibe a food truck event evokes, consider reaching out to some of the smaller catering companies or private chefs in your area to help you pull together a customized event. Don't forget to check local restaurants who offer casual off-site catering!

Here in the bay area I recommend  Wanderlust CateringNopalitoBiRite and Le Mediterranee

Happy Planning!!

STARTING FRESH IN 2017

Well it's on Instagram . . so I guess it's officially official; I've rebranded and changed my business name to True North Event Co.  Why you might ask? Well this post will tell you a little bit about my refresh and what it means to me.

When I launched Jennie J. Events in 2013 I chose the name because I simply couldn't think of anything I liked better. It's common in my industry for Event Planners to name their businesses after themselves, so I made a quick decision and went to work on building the business from the ground up. 

I plugged along for a couple years working solely on weddings, but then my business began to evolve.  I began working with more and more corporate clients, planning retreats and company events, and I loved how this new business expanded on the creative weddings I had been focusing on for the past 10+ years.  On top of that, I was attracting people who wanted to shift the traditional wedding paradigm and genuinely do it their own way. As my more diversified portfolio expanded, it became obvious to me that my current business name and identity were no longer in alignment.

Again, I struggled to find a name.

After a solid month of brainstorming and searching the all knowing Google.com for guidance, I received three pieces of advice that finally flipped my switch :

  • What do you want to SAY about what you do for your clients?
  • Pick something that resonates with YOU and don’t worry about how it will be interpreted
  • People are going to ask you why you named your business what you did, so might as well make sure there is an interesting and meaningful story behind it

So let's pretend you actually ASKED me these questions :)

An Event Planner is many jobs rolled up into one, but the role that I’ve always felt TRULY adds value to my clients is that of an Expert Consultant.   

Events are inherently stressful, complicated, and expensive things.  You only get one chance to get it right, and most people quickly realize they are overwhelmed and in over their heads.  While many clients just don’t have the time in the day to do the planning work, it’s the guidance and direction I provide that brings my clients the most relief and overall value.

Cutting through all the noise, defining the vision, and bringing clarity and simplicity to the planning process all goes into helping my clients realize THEIR OWN VISION.  This friends, has always been what I have been in the business of doing, although I had struggled to define it up until now.

Ultimately my most cherished relationship I have with my clients is that of a guide on their own path.  They come to me with a lot of excitement, and a whole host of problems, and using my years of experience, I show them their own way.  Once that directional imagery was in my head, the name True North was the only thing that sounded right.

True North (unlike Magnetic North) will guide you from South to North and back again by following a map’s geographical lines.   True North is an orienting point - a fixed point in a spinning world.   In metaphysical terminology, your True North is considered your internal compass, derived from your most deeply held values and principals that help you stay on track. 

My own True North is to act as an instrument for my clients to utilize in planning their most important moments and experiences.

Being of service in this way brings value to my life and what I do.  And it is my Truey-est Northy-est hope that with this re-launch, that I will continue to be a guide to my clients in even bigger and better ways than I have before!!

Wishing you all happy and productive 2017, and an expedient and joyful journey to your own True North in this new year.

Cheers!

 

PS - Subscribe to the *new* True North Event Co. Blog for tips on Event Planning, Hosting Parties, Entrepreneurship, and Local Resources!

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