Location, Location, Location: The Pros and Cons of Planning a Hotel Wedding Versus Other Locations
Wedding season seems to be every season. And with the experience being the thing, more and more people are opting for super creative environments, menus, decor and more. Blame Pinterest, the rise of do-it-yourself videos on YouTube, The Food Network and HGTV, but people want weddings and events to be as extravagant and ornate as anything you can find in the media.
But when you boil it down to its essence, wedding and event planning hinges on three elements — time, location and cost.
Hotels are Budget Friendly
Hosting your event at a hotel will always be the most budget-friendly option. Hotels come with kitchens. They come with equipment and staff. Hotels own linens, flat wear, glasses, plates and china. They own chairs and tables. They have electricity and lighting and many times, built-in audiovisual systems. By using all of these existing goods, you are going to realize an enormous savings when it comes to production costs. On average, it is 30-to-40 percent less to host an event in a location that has all of those things in place.
But consider this — regardless of the money you save, you are almost always sacrificing quality. Hotels aren’t on the cutting edge in terms of food, service and decor.
You are stuck using their china patterns. Despite what you do to the room, you are still going to be in a ballroom with some type of kind of corporate, aesthetically unpleasant carpet choices or wall sconces. The linens and chairs are very formulaic.
And if you want to hire an event designer to create a custom look, the designer will bring in furniture, tables, bespoke china and glassware and drape the walls so they have a blank canvas to work with. At the end of the day, you’re going to spend more money on the look and environment, but you will still be stuck with limited food options and service from people who in many cases have been working at the hotel for 30 years.
When making these choices, you need to determine the objective of your event. If you want a budget-friendly venue with limited menu options, a hotel could be for you. However, if you’re looking for a very specific, curated experience with decor and cutting-edge menu choices, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
When the location takes priority over cost, or if you a a budget that allows for more, there are still many elements to take into consideration. You can make adjustments based on what’s important to you.
If you are going to contract an event designer or producer, they will make location suggestions based on what the parameters of the budget are. Perhaps the designer will bring in their own furniture to create a lounge if it lends itself to the experience. They may do food and beverage activations or stations with other vendors. We’ve seen great activations something unique that adds to the experience. Our recent favorite is people who do sugar blowing — it’s a highly-specialized skill that’s like blowing glass. And the resulting candy is so beautiful.
The one thing to be cautious of when it comes to choosing a location is this — if you’re going to have an event at a raw space, you will have to bring in all of your equipment, all of your furniture, all of your lighting, all of the decor, all of your kitchen equipment on top of that, you’re paying for your service staff and everything else.
The Ideal Venue
We’re veterans of thousands of events in the Los Angeles area and hundreds more nationally, so we know what we’re talking about when it comes to choosing the right venue for your wedding or event.
Our favorite places are raw spaces that have decent power sources so you’re not bringing in generators. The space needs to have excellent bathroom facilities that are lovely and nice, so you’re not bringing in insanely expensive bathroom trailers. Building the staging and audiovisual is always a huge expense, so locations with infrastructure save money. And in Los Angeles, there has to be some sort of option for parking. We love working on movie studio backlots because they have tremendous power and electrical sources and nice bathrooms.
Companies of our size already own much of our own equipment, so we don’t really need to rent huge setups for the kitchen. That’s a savings to our clients and we’ve found that it’s a substantial savings. We have such great relationships with so many venues in Los Angeles that we can often steer clients to the right fit for their event.
The Pop-Up Wedding
Like what’s happening in retail right now with pop-up shops temporarily taking over vacant storefronts of a limited time, the pop-up event seems to be on the rise. Consider empty stores, restaurants or event theaters when it comes to planning your next event or wedding.
When we were planning our wedding, there was a nightclub that had recently closed on the Santa Monica Pier. We wanted to get married on the beach, so contacted the owner and rented it for the evening for the reception. Because there was a blue moon happening, our designer ran with that theme. The Blue Moon Saloon, complete with a rented neon sign proclaiming such, was open for one night only. We had guests saying things like “I’ve never been to this club — what is it?”
We had this incredible wedding that was really cool, on the cheap.