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California Meets Italy - THE VENUE SEARCH

Updated: 2 days ago

When Karina and Jackson came to us, they had a very clear vision for their wedding day - an Italian-inspired Norcal celebration, with al fresco dining and dancing under the stars. Having lived in Rome for 9 months, I Immediately got excited dreaming about sprinkling elements of Italian hospitality throughout the evening, especially with food service, and knew we had to work together.

Once it was officially, we hit the ground running looking for the perfect venue. As we know, the venue sets the tone for everything else - design, guest flow, vendor needs - so we thought we'd give you a glimpse into our venue scouting process.


During our kick off meeting we do a deeper dive into priorities, overall guest experience, and budget. This allows our team to get to know you better and narrow down the eligible list to only those venues that fit your needs. A few of the high level preliminary details we discuss:

- Geographical Location

- Season

- Guest List Size

- Order of Events

- Aesthetic


With the additional details in hand, we spend 2-4 weeks compiling a list of venues that fit the bill, followed by outreach to pull pricing. In addition to pricing, we also like to know:

- Available Dates

- Catering Policy

- Parking/Transportation Requirements

- In-house inventory, including furniture, kitchen, and restrooms.

- Onsite Accommodations (if applicable)

PRO TIP - request a list of their preferred vendors to get a sense of overall vibe and "all in" cost.


Once we receive all the of the pricing proposals, our team compiles a comparison report that provides an easy apples to apples comparison of various venues. This includes an "all in" budget number, so you can understand what each venue truly costs. A venue without in-house inventory (or restrooms), will require additional spend on furniture, portable restrooms, and potentially things like generators. Below are some items to consider for the comparison report:

- Venue Rental Fee

- Misc Venue Fees - admin, cleaning, security

- Onsite Restrooms

- Kitchen Setup

- In-house Furniture Inventory

- Shuttle Requirements

- Parking Requirements

- Nearby Accommodations

- Weather Backup

PRO TIP - rental fee alone is not enough to know if a venue aligns with your bottomline budget. Look at all the "extras".


After presenting our top 5-7 options to the couple, our usual process is to narrow it down to 3 to actually visit. This allows us to see enough variety, without getting overwhelmed and having everything blend into each other. Seeing a site in person is crucial - no matter how many photos and videos are online, you don't get a "sense" of the space and how it flows unless you've been there. And in Karina and Jackson's case, we toured the top venues and while on paper they all seemed to be great fits, in person they just didn't feel "right". And that's 100% ok! Think about when you're house or apartment hunting - not every space feels right.

Our job is to make sure your venue (and vendors!) tick all the boxes, so we went back to the drawing board, reflecting on what about each venue didn't quite work, and started a new search. This time, we reached out to Distinct Locations to see if any of their properties might work, and as if meant to be, they just added a new venue that not only screamed Italian villa but was also the perfect size for this intimate 60 person guest list. As soon as they arrived at the property, Karina and Jackson knew this was it.

PRO TIP - if you're able to, visit your venue during the same season as your planned celebration, to get a sense of temperature, landscape, and setting.


After the successful site visit, we request a formal proposal and based on this, rework the line item budget to reflect what it'd would take to host the wedding there. While Karina and Jackson's property came with beautiful architectural details, rolling vines, and an infinite pool, everything else had to be brought it (with the entire event planned to be hosted outside). A few items to doublecheck before signing the venue contract:

- Event Hours

- Load In + Out Hours

- Misc Fees e.g. moving existing onsite furniture and/or art

- Ceremony Rehearsal Policy

- Onsite Getting Ready Space + Timing

- Parking

- Alcohol

Once signed, pop a bottle of bubbly and celebrate a HUGE task completed. This will be the foundation for the rest of your planning journey - from event flow, to lighting, to design details.

Join us for Part 2 of Karina + Jackson's wedding, where we break down the food and beverage planning journey.

PHOTO: Chelsea Gee Photography

VENUE: Distinct Locations

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