How to Pick a Site That’s Outta Sight: Southern California
Tips for choosing an event location in Southern California
Do you know what kind of event you want? Will it be a formal or informal affair, a traditional wedding or an innovative party? Will it be held at night or during the day, indoors or outdoors? You can set the tone of your function by selecting the right location, but know what you want before you start looking at places or the sheer number of options will be overwhelming.
How many people are anticipated? Many facilities want a rough estimate 60 to 90 days in advance of your function—and they’ll want a deposit based on the figure you give them. A confirmed guest count or guarantee is usually required 72 hours prior to the event. It’s important to know what the numbers are early on in order to plan your budget and select the right ceremony or reception spot.
It’s also important to ensure that the guest count you give the facility before your event doesn’t change during your event. Believe it or not, it’s possible to have more people at your reception than you expected. How? Some folks who did not bother to RSVP may decide to show up anyway. In one case we know of, the parents of the bride got an additional bill for $1,200 on the event day because there were 30 “surprise” guests beyond the guest count guarantee who were wined and dined. To prevent this from happening to you—especially if you’re having a large reception where it’s hard to keep track of all the guests—it’s a good idea to phone everyone who did not RSVP. Let them know as politely as possible that you will need to have their response by a given date to finalize food and beverage totals.
Southern California, for all its (pardon the expression) faults, has got some great advantages weather-wise. Outdoor special events, ceremonies and receptions can take place throughout most of the year and, from June to September, you can anticipate sunny skies and warm climes. However, when the mercury rises in inland areas, watch out. A canopy or tables with umbrellas are essential for screening the sun. In fact, you should ask each facility manager about the sun’s direction and intensity with respect to the time of day and month your event will take place. Guests will be uncomfortable facing into the sun during a ceremony, and white walls and enclosed areas bounce light around and can hold in heat.
If your event is scheduled for midday in July, for example, include a note on your location map to bring sunglasses, hat and sunscreen. If you also mention words like “poolside,” “yacht deck” or “lawn seating” on the map, it will help guests know how to dress. In summer, you might want to consider an evening rather than a midday celebration. Not only is the air cooler, but you may also get an extra bonus—a glorious sunset. If you’re arranging an outdoor party November through April, or in the foothills or mountain areas, expect cooler weather and prepare a contingency plan. Despite Southern California’s favorable Mediterranean climate, it has rained in May, June and July, so consider access to an inside space or a tent.
Sometimes, places have strict rules and regulations. If most of your guests smoke, then pick a location that doesn’t restrict smoking. If alcohol is going to be consumed, make sure it’s allowed and find out if bar service needs to be licensed. If dancing and a big band are critical, then limit yourself to those locations that can accommodate them and the accompanying decibels. Do you have children, seniors or disabled guests, vegetarians or folks who want kosher food on your list? If so, you need to plan for them, too. It’s essential that you identify the special factors that are important for your event before you sign a contract.