A Private Affair: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Getting Married at a Private Estate
Big Ticket Surprises
“It’s difficult for a bride to anticipate these expenses on her own,” says Steve Sarna of Wine Valley Catering. Steve thinks that a wedding planner should be a requirement for all estate weddings. He has a list of line items that he considers when matching his clients to exclusive properties generally designed for a single family. These include: swank restrooms built to accommodate large numbers of guests; whisper-quiet generators to handle the electrical needs of a party in full swing; heaters; sound systems and dance floors. He’s even brought in a Water Buffalo, a 400-gallon mobile tank unit that pipes water to a station with taps to fill pitchers with water suitable for mass consumption.
Of course, you also have to cover the usual rentals—not just cutlery, china and glasses (things usually included at a restaurant, hotel or country club setting)—but tables, chairs, couches, umbrellas, bars, even rugs. It’s almost like furnishing a Hollywood set, and indeed, many of the private estates available for rental have also been featured in magazine spreads, commercials and movies.
Speaking of movies, celebrations planned at private estates can end up involving a cast of thousands. In addition to the owners (yes, they’re often on site), the bride and groom, their entourage, their families, the guests, the officiant, the photographer and the usual catering and serving staff, suppliers have to be on hand for pickups and dropoffs scheduled to suit the property owner’s requirements. Depending on the location and layout of the grounds, valet parking or shuttle service for guests could be needed. Security guards might also be necessary, and not just to keep out the public or the paparazzi. Property owners require them if they’re worried about their possessions, and clients sometimes rely on them to identify gatecrashers who are, by the way, to be expected. One popular estate was “haunted” by a twosome who’d show up every week dressed for the party with gift in hand, and hungrily help themselves to the hors d’oeuvres. “People are very curious about exclusive events at exclusive locations,” says Marcia Coleman-Joyner. “They’re drawn to them like moths to a flame.”