Category Archives: Venues

5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths: Myth #2 – Haggling = Negotiation

By | 5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Event Planner, Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Vendors, Venues, Wedding Budget, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Vendor Negotiation | No Comments

MYTH #2:  Haggling = Negotiation

Over the past few days, we’ve been breaking down the 5 biggest wedding myths. Today we’re tackling Myth #2: “I can haggle my vendors down to nothing!”

A powerful sign that a wedding vendor is worth every penny is when they don’t offer drastic discounts. That means a) they have experience and know-how, and understand exactly how much they need to charge to make sure you have all the resources (time, labor, materials, etc.) you need from them and b) they are so secure in their reputation and referral base that if you don’t choose them, then they’ll find another client who values them for their actual worth. It’s as if they are saying, “Go ahead – find someone new, inexperienced, and low priced, and best of luck to ya. I’ll wait for the next client who comes along and truly values me.”

Tip:  When negotiating, be reasonable. Fridays and Sundays almost always mean price reductions at venues; Fridays in particular have become very popular in the wedding world, and tend to last as late as Saturday night weddings. Also, meet the vendor in the middle – whether it’s shaving off an hour of the time frame for the photographer’s active time or letting the florist pick more cost effective blooms that still stay in your color scheme.

To save on decor budget, we advised the bride to use lanterns and floral pieces, down her wedding aisle, then we repurposed them as cocktail/lounge decor. Photo by Collective Perception.

To save on decor budget, we advised the bride to use lanterns and floral pieces, down her wedding aisle, then we repurposed them as cocktail/lounge decor. Photo by Collective Perception.

Tip:  Also keep in mind the wide swings in pricing from one vendor to another. If Vendor A charges $1800, and Vendor B charges $1500, but Vendor C charges $700, something is way off with Vendor C.   That’s just the economics of supply and demand, simple as that. Vendor C may be a diamond in the rough just starting out and building their clientele – but you better check solid references on them just to be sure. Why? Because they have not established a market value – what the consumer is willing to pay for their services. And they won’t be charging that little for much longer at all, because eventually – no exaggeration – they will make more money slinging lattes.


Find a way to make it work, and remember the realities you are working with. Once you understand actual and realistic costs, you can learn to move forward making smart, cost effective decisions!


We’re no strangers to negotiation and far, win-win agreements between clients and vendors.  Contact us anytime here or at 310-562-3306.  Happy planning!




The Great Outdoors

By | Hidden Chateau, Outdoor Weddings, Private Estates, Venues | No Comments

An outdoor wedding is par for the course here in L.A.  Because we have no real seasons (except for a bit of rain in the winter and a hellacious few weeks in the summer – when global warming doesn’t get in the way), outdoor venues are fair game nearly the year ’round.

There are a few important things to keep in mind when working with Mother Nature – and of course, the #1 factor in keeping an outdoor wedding a a success is, the weather.

If you’re looking to wed in an unpredictable time of the year, build into your budget about $2k or so for a large tent in case of rain, and an install day as well.  Most venues will add some sort of fallback into the contract, but many don’t.  Talk about your options.  But fret not:  Heavy rain is rare here in L.A., and the weather forecasts tend to be super conservative.  Watch for:

  1. Anything greater than a 50% chance of rain a week out, surrounded by days before and after with a similar forecast. That means a real storm is on its way.
  2. A forecast for a high percentage of rain, within 2-3 days of the event.  The closer to the date, the more accurate the forecast.  A 30% chance predicted 7 days ahead, just for the day of your wedding? Be alert, but don’t lose sleep over it.
  3. Tent requests.  Call your rental company a couple weeks in advance and put a hold on a tent if you have concerns.  If the forecast looks nasty leading to the week of, you may want to put down a deposit – every rental house in town will have clients asking for them.

Many spots, like the L.A. River Center, have indoor spaces that work well as backups.  Others provide other outdoor areas that lend themselves well to tenting.  Just cover it extensively in your negotiations so you can rest easy.

The fountain at LARC - a conversation piece in and of itself.

The benefits of outdoor weddings, however, far outweigh the meteorological dangers.  Natural greenery is so beautiful, and it lessens the need for large and expensive floral arrangements.  Many outdoor spaces are also full of character, from the beautiful Hidden Chateau to private estates.

We have a Malibu estate wedding coming up, and the space is just stunning. The view is without compare, and the different nooks and crannies built into the living space provide the clients unique opportunities in designing the look and feel of the event.

For example, there is a built-in seating area that, with additional chairs, can hold up to 20.  In the middle is a fire pit, which will come in handy after dinner when the sun goes down.  It’s an ideal place for parents of the bride or other VIPs.

A unique grass/stone "checkerboard" space with the banquette/firepit in the corner.

Up on the back patio is a small cove that is ideal for cake. It’s raised above the main party area, so everyone can admire dessert while they mingle for cocktail hour.

We'll replace the small table with a 42" round for the cake.

Architecture is something you see beautifully highlighted in many outdoor venues, from SmogShoppe’s living wall –

The living wall at SmogShoppe, with a Gilly centerpiece.

To LA River Center’s famous tower, here lit up with a gobo.

The tower at LARC, lit up at night.

Parcans or LED uplights can show off arches, and laser-cut gobos can splash a design or your initials on a tall exterior wall.  Some spaces will even allow for projecting an old movie on the exterior of a building.

At the risk of using a cheesy exterior pun…folks, the sky’s the limit when designing your outdoor wedding (groan…I couldn’t help myself!).

Wedding Planning, Hollywood-Style

By | DIY, Lighting, Planning, Venues | No Comments

I have two lovely clients getting married this fall at a large studio in Hollywood, and while it’s an amazing space, it’s truly a blank slate.  They decided on black, white and blue, perfect colors for the space.

A shot of the main portion of the studio, with the permanent lighting grid.

We scouted the space recently with their friend (the “man of honor,” actually) who is a camera op, director, and DP.  He’s hanging lights and selecting gels to wash the space in cool patterns and that bright blue, for a tongue-in-cheek 80s nightclub look.  When we scouted, there was a big event going on, but it showed us how well it accommodates social events.

In a studio space, lighting grids offer great opportunity for advanced event design, but it’s helpful to know how best to access the grids, what costs apply, and what liability waivers there are to sign or insurance to gain.  It’s essential to clear all this up before the day of, of course.  We have several months, so we’re ahead of the game.

The space comes with some furniture, so I took pics of the couches that come with the space and how best to use them.  Site photos are key to making sure you have all your cards on the table when creating a floor plan.

Yes, my Iphoto library is full of pictures Tres exciting, non??

In back, there’s a lovely garden area with a separate entrance off the parking.  The bride and groom will use some of the lounge furniture for VIP seating, then the rest of the attendees will stand for the brief ceremony. Sunset will fall during cocktail hour, then a reveal of the space – with lighting set, cool uplit centerpieces aglow, and music playing – will greet guests.   A fitting, dramatic reveal for the Hollywood setting.

Picture the furniture arranged in a 'v' facing left, and voila!, you have a ceremony space.

I love tackling a space like this where the possibilities are wide open, and working with the client to take their ideas from just that to reality.  And just wait till October to see the results…!

By | Agency DJs, Cake Monkey, Cakes, Dessert Table, Heirloom LA, Vendors, Venues | No Comments

There’s a  dirty little secret that events pros are well aware of:  Not all venues are ‘easy.’  I will never divulge the names of such venues, because we can pretty much put up with anything, and enjoy our pleasant relationship with all places we’ve worked.  But.  Maybe the site manager is not cooperative, or there have not been many technical upgrades; perhaps parts of it are rundown (like the piece of wood floor that came undone in the reception hall, that we – yes, we – had to tape down, because the venue manager we notified. Did. Nothing.  TRUE STORY.)

The SmogShoppe is not that type of venue.  Everything is plug n’ play, perfectly appointed- coordinating a wedding there on the day-of is a breeze.

We worked our first Shoppe wedding a couple weeks ago, and it was a pleasure.  The weather was quite nice for March, and except for some chill on the patio, everyone was comfortable and cozy, and the dancing went on past midnight.  The clients had a wonderful time and the ease of working at the venue greatly allowed us to help them enjoy their wedding as much as possible.

It’s such a lovely place, even my amateurish non-SLR photos look halfway decent.  More photos to come – we’re back at the Shoppe again very soon for another beautiful wedding.

The loft is a perfect place for a bird's-eye view of ceremonies.

The ability to play movies adds extra ambience to the urban-chic interior.

Holly Flora's whimsical blooms, vintage jars, and oil-fueled candles set the mood.

Chris Carter from Agency DJs kept the crowd dancing till the very end.

Music: Chris Carter, Agency DJs. Food:  Heirloom LA. (“Our cupcakes are made of lasagna!” Best mission statement ever.)  Cake/Dessert table (and going-home DingDong favors!):  Cake Monkey.  Flowers (including the dramatic chuppah):  Holly Flora. (Their space next door also incorporates SmogShoppe’s new alternative ceremony area.)