While private estate wedding planning can seem super glamorous (hello, gorgeous wrap-around porches and endless acres of lush, green property or beachfront), it can also be incredibly tricky. With restrooms to bring in and weather woes to consider and noise restrictions to follow (not to mention confusing contract clauses or unprofessional estate owners), private estate weddings can turn even the most experienced planner’s world upside down. Today, then, we wanted to share our top six things to consider when planning one of these swanky soirées.
Right off the bat, consider what lighting already exists on property and what you’ll need to bring in. Once you’ve taken inventory, make a master plan for how you’ll bring in (and setup) additional light sources. There’s nothing worse than guests tripping over an unruly cord on their way to the restroom, or finding out those pinyon pines near the entrance are legally protected and can’t have lights wrapped around their trunk.
Speaking of the devil! You’ll most likely need to bring in restrooms when planning private estate weddings. The good news is there are tons of great companies out there that offer luxury rental restrooms—just be sure to know where the water source will come from ahead of time. You’ll also want to ensure there is enough power and light, and that the restrooms are easy for guests to find.
Alright, so this is the biggie. I was once on a wedding where the homeowner assured me he had done multiple weddings and that there was “plenty of power” on his property. Fast-forward to right in the middle of the first dance when all of the power suddenly switched off (and then every single guest proceeded to turn around and stare right at me). I thought I did my due-diligence, but I learned that night to never (ever) do a private estate wedding without a backup generator. (In case you’re wondering: yes, the power did get turned back on, because, as any wedding pro knows, that is what we do! We grab our superwoman cape and go to work.)
Parking can also be a huge factor to consider, as so many private estate wedding venues don’t offer on-site parking (or don’t have enough parking for the massive guest list). When this is the case, you’ll need to hire a transportation company to bring your guests to the venue (which means designating a pick-up spot and time...and clearly communicating both on the couple’s wedding website). Also, be sure you have enough lighting for vehicles at night and that they have enough space to turn around. There’s nothing worse than a shuttle wedged between a rock and a hard place—literally.
5. Unprofessional Owners
There are two different types of estate properties: One is an estate which is purely set up as a wedding venue and run by a seasoned company (these are the estates that do weddings every single weekend). Then, there’s the estate that’s run by the people who live on the property—the kind that’s not properly set-up to be a permanent, recurring wedding venue. They probably only do a handful a weddings a year (allowing them to make a little extra income without having to deal with all of the liability and insurance requirements and permits). These are the properties you need to be a bit weary of and ask lots of questions about, as they generally cause the most headaches. Remember, ask about everything—even the stuff that seems obvious. (I actually did a wedding once where the police showed up to shut down the event—YES!—because they received multiple complaints over the years from neighbors and had actually told the owners they were not allowed to book weddings at their house anymore. Luckily, they let us continue the party as long as we turned off the music...but I learned my lesson to always ask if owners have city approval to host weddings before I book any private estate venue).
6. Backup Rentals
Last—but never least—is the notion that you should always plan for backup rentals and additional rental costs. Anything can go wrong at a private estate—especially ones that are secluded and hard to get to. Have a rental plan B (and maybe even plan C) in mind, and always add in a little budget buffer of 10 percent over your rental costs in case a glass breaks...or a whole crate of glasses breaks for that matter.
Overall, private estate wedding planning is all about being proactive. Come prepared with a long list of questions when looking at the venue. Be sure to walk through the event, from start to finish, as if you were a guest—this will help you carefully consider every single that could go wrong...or, with your superhuman, pro-planner help, absolutely right.