How to Pick a Site That’s Outta Sight: Northern California
Invaluable tips on how to select a wedding location in Northern California
Locking in Your Event Date
Let’s say it’s the first day of your hunt for the perfect spot, and the second place you see is an enchanting garden that happens to be available on the date you want. You really like it but, since you’ve only seen two locations, you’re not 100% sure that this is the place. No problem. You decide to keep your options open by making a tentative reservation. The site coordinator pencils your name into her schedule book and says congratulations. You say thanks, we have a few more places (like 25) to check out, but this one looks terrific. Then off you go, secure in the knowledge that if none of the other sites you visit pans out, you still have this lovely garden waiting for you.
The nightmare begins a couple of weeks or perhaps months down the road when you’ve finished comparison shopping and call back the first place you liked to finalize the details. So sorry, the coordinator says. We gave away your date because a) oops, one of the other gals who works here erased your name by mistake (after all, it was only penciled in), b) we didn’t hear back from you soon enough, or c) you never confirmed your reservation with a deposit.
To avoid the pain (and ensuing panic) of getting bumped, here’s what we suggest: instead of just being penciled in, ask if you can write a refundable $100-250 check to hold the date for a limited time. If the person in charge is willing to do this but wants the full deposit up front (usually non-refundable), then you’ll need to decide whether you can afford to lose the entire amount if you find a more appealing location later on. Once the coordinator or sales person takes your money, you’re automatically harder to bump. Make sure you get a receipt which has the event date, year, time and space(s) reserved written on it, as well as the date your tentative reservation runs out. When you finally do commit to a place, get a signed contract or at least a confirmation letter. If you don’t receive written confirmation within a week, hound the coordinator until you get it, even if you have to drive to the sales office and stand there until they hand it over to you.
Parking is seldom a critical factor if you get married outside an urban area, but make sure you know how it’s going to be handled if you’re planning a party in a congested area such as downtown San Francisco, San Jose or Berkeley.
A map is a handy supplement to any invitation, and there’s usually enough room on it to indicate how and where vehicles should be parked. Depending on the location, you may want to add a note suggesting carpooling or mention that a shuttle service or valet parking is provided. If there’s a fee for parking, identify the anticipated cost per car and where the entry points are to the nearest parking lots. The last thing you want are surprised and disgruntled guests who can’t find a place to stash their cars, or who are shocked at the $20 to $40 parking tab.