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.
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.
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.
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