How to Pick a Site That’s Outta Sight: Southern California
Tips for choosing an event location in Southern California
as excerpted from the Here Comes the Guide book
Is Your Site Geographically Desirable?
Your first big decision is to select a location that will make geographical sense to you, your family and the majority of your guests. Most people have special events close to home or office,
so there’s not much to consider. But if you pick a spot out of town, you need to think about the logistics of getting everyone to your event site.
Guests may be traveling a considerable distance by car to get to your party destination. Considering the Southern California freeway system and traffic congestion, you’ll save them lots of time and trouble if you provide, along with the invitation, specific directions on a separate map drawn to scale. Include symbols indicating directions (north, south, etc.) and the names of the appropriate off ramps. If you’re not sure about exits, landmarks or street names, take a dry run of the route to make sure everything on your map is accurate and easy to follow. And, if your function occurs after dark, do the test drive at night so you can note well-lit landmarks that will prevent your guests from getting lost—both coming to your event and going home.
If you’re having a Friday evening event, take commuters into account, especially if your event site is in an area that gets bumper-to-bumper traffic. Plan to have your event after 7pm when freeways are less congested.
Even if you have few constraints when picking a location, it’s still worth considering the total driving time to and from your destination. When it’s over two hours, an overnight stay may be necessary, and you may be limited to a Saturday night event, since your nearest and dearest won’t be able to spend hours on the road during the week. If you have guests arriving by plane, it’s certainly helpful if there’s an airport nearby, and if your coworkers, friends or family enjoy drinking, try to house them close to the event site. There’s no reason why you can’t contemplate a special event in the San Diego mountains or in a wine cave in Santa Ynez. Just remember that the further out you go, the more time it will take to choreograph your event—and you may end up having to delegate the details of party planning to someone else.
You’d think that it’s an obvious consideration, but you’d be surprised how many people—especially brides and grooms—are unrealistic about what they can afford. Part of the problem is that most people aren’t very experienced with event budgeting and don’t know how to estimate what locations, products and services will ultimately cost.
In the early planning stages, it’s a good idea to talk to a professional event planner or wedding consultant to get a sense of what’s feasible and what’s not. You don’t have to make a big financial or time commitment to use a professional; most will assist you on an hourly basis for a nuts-and-bolts session to determine priorities and to assign costs to items on your wish list.
Part of being realistic involves some simple arithmetic. For instance, the couple who has $5,000 for 250 guests should know that $20 per guest won’t go very far. Tax and gratuity combined can consume an average of 25% of the food and beverage budget (the range is 22% to 28%). If you subtract that 25% from $20, you have $15 left. If you also serve alcohol at $6/person, you’re down to $9/person for food. That’s not enough for a seated meal, let alone location rental fees, band, flowers, printed invitations, etc.
Before you make any major decisions or commit any of your funds for specific items, take a serious look at your total budget and make sure it can cover all your anticipated expenses. If it can’t, it’s time to make some hard decisions. If you have a very large guest list and a small pocketbook, you may need to shorten the list or cut back on some of the amenities you want to include. No matter who foots the bill, be advised that doing the homework here really counts. Pin down your costs at the beginning of the planning stage and get all estimates in writing.