Friday, November 6, 2009

The BESTEST thing about my entire wedding: the VENUE!

So, we didn't get engaged until Christmas Day, 2008.  But for whatever reason, in August, 2008, I decided maybe I should check out some wedding venues on the net.  I was bored at work...sue me! 

I went to this site called that has a ton of listings and info on wedding sites all throughout Southern California.  And I came across this place called Rancho Las Lomas.  Now what's so crazy is I had never in my life heard of this place...and I live like 15 to 20 minutes from it.  I just loved it!  Their web site was amazing...they had pictures of all the different places on the grounds (it's an old private estate - did I mention that?).  They even had pictures of all the animals that are in the private zoo on the grounds...oh yeah, there's a zoo!  And it's private!  Which means not open to the public...only to guests of the venue...on your event day.  Tigers, zebras, llamas...oh my!

So I just decided it wouldn't hurt to e-mail them and find out what they charge for weddings...who knows?  Maybe one day I could get married here...assuming it's not $100,000!  They responded and the fees were somewhat reasonable to rent the venue...not cheap mind you, but reasonable.  Ok, forget it...for most of you, it's probably ridiculous to pay between $5,000 and $8,000 just to rent the venue without any food, chairs, tables, rental items...nothing, nada, zip!  But if you get married in off-peak seasons (December-April) they give you well as offer discounts for weekday weddings (which means Friday).  I bookmarked the page.

Now many of my friends have told me "Oh yeah, I looked at Rancho Las Lomas...we couldn't afford it."  Why had I never heard of this place?  As a matter of fact, when I showed my sister their web site, she accused me of having kept it a secret from her so that she couldn't get married there a couple years earlier.  Apparently, it was out of the budget of almost everyone I knew...though many friends had attended weddings there.  Well, me being me, I knew that there had to be some way to make this happen should the opportunity ever present itself.

So when Mr. Fixit began talking to me about how much he loved me and could see spending the rest of his life with me, I was over the moon excited.  Especially on the day when he casually said (while we were laying on the sofa watching tv) "Maybe we should start looking at wedding venues?"  Oh boy...he didn't know the Pandora's Box he just opened!  I didn't want to seem too enthusiastic (or psycho) so I casually replied "Ok, I'll set up some appointments."  Well, within a few weeks I took him to Rancho Las Lomas.  We fell in love!  When the appointment was over and they left us alone to walk the zoo path, he said "We don't need to even look anywhere else...this is it."  Yea!  Fireworks were going off in my mind...until, I got a quote from their exclusive catering company that they require you to use.  It was ridiculous!  They were going to charge us $24,000 for 180 people to bring in all the tables, chairs, linens, plates, glasses, heaters, food, alcohol, etc.  That was completely out of our budget.

I, however, was not going to let this stop me.  I began talking to the property manager and found out if we get married on a Friday (which I wanted all along, they will let us bring in an outside caterer).  Cha-ching!  I was a bit disappointed though when they told me that our Friday affair in April (a supposedly off-peak month) was still going to cost us a $6,500 rental fee of the estate since we chose to bring in an outside caterer and weren't going with their caterer.  Seriously?  Not so cha-ching.  :( 

Now, we knew we wanted something unique and different and not your average country club, hotel or ballroom type venue where guests are basically trapped in a large square room - not that there is anything wrong with that because my sister did it and it was beautiful and amazing - just not MY thing for my vision.  But Mr. Fix It just couldn't wrap his arms around the costs.  I wanted to prove to him that we could have our dream wedding at this venue without having to spend the $50,000 minimum that most people who get married here spend.  (C'mon, in reality most weddings at this place cost over $100,000 easily!)  To persuade Mr. Fix It, I took him to 12 other venues over the next month.  We visited everything from country clubs, golf courses, hotels, cruise ships, restaurants, parks, museums, name it!  Most of them fell within a very similar budget range, but none of them had the 'ooh's and aah's' reaction that came from RLL. 

We narrowed it down to the cruise ship and RLL (how did he compare those two I'll never know).  Mr. Fix It was really pushing for the cruise ship...super fun and really nice but so not my dream!  So I showed him the budget (see previous post) and told him I knew I could make it work.  He called me a few days later and said he'd been thinking about it.  He said he knew how important it was to me to have this dream venue for our wedding, so he decided we could go ahead and book it.  I seriously started crying.  I was truly choked up and thanked him so much for being such a wonderful, loving future hubby!

And without futher ado, here are some photos and a video of our venue: RANCHO LAS LOMAS!

I mean this is it!  A private estate with a spanish style feel that has HUGE grounds for the guests to roam around and be enchanted by.  We are getting married in April right when all the trees are green, the flowers are blooming and the weather is not quite too hot yet.  I took some photos of the venue in January when I took my mom and sis to see it and then went back in April and took photos of the same areas.  I couldn't believe the difference in the greenery and flowers and trees.  It's going to be gorgeous...the perfect combination of an outdoor event but with indoor possibilities.  Can't wait to share more with you.

So tell me about your venues.  Did you get your dream location?  Was there something you really wanted and just couldn't make it work?  What do you LOVE about your venue?


PartyPlannerGal said...

Wow! I love the private zoo! We really wanted to get married at a historic mansion in South San Jose, but their fees were out of control. Kind of the same thing, where a huge amount of money covered nothing but the venue itself. I am happier now because we are getting married at a winery in the East Bay Area, which is closer to where I am from.

New Mexican Bride said...

WOW!!! Your venue is truly amazing! I love it and it looks to be a perfect place for such a romantic event. Your photos will be amazing, there is so much to see. I love the idea of the zoo and how it's exclusive for you and your guests. That is one of the reasons I booked my venue. Although, my venue was entirely way to expensive if I wanted to do it during the day, in the evening it was $1,100 plus $3.25 per chair, but if I wanted to do it before 6:00 PM it would have been $10K!!! So I think you are actually getting that for a great price. And it's better that you get to bring in a caterer.

Chocolate Lover said...

All I have to say it that it sounds (since we've never met!) very you! I love it!

A Los Angeles Love said...

Your venue looks amazing! Congrats on the find and on making it work for your budget! I had several dream venues (Smog Shoppe, the LA river Center) that were way out of our budget ($7000 for an empty site, so I hear you). Heartbroken, I kept looking, and found an unconventional venue that we fell in love with even more. Indoor/outdoor space, beautiful views, incredibly inexpensive, and an outdoor caterer/byob allowed (not to mention he proposed very nearby, so it's personally meaningful.) The building itself is pretty simple/rustic and little ways up the coast from where we live (those are our compromises) but the views and affordability/flexibility make up for it. Also, the simple building suits a rustic/vintage/thrift store romantic look, which should actually make things more affordable too. It's a winner all around, and I'm so happy we didn't go for my first fall-in-love-with-it instinct.

I love it when things work out, since so much of this wedding planning stuff is like pulling teeth. Your venue sounds amazing, and the price is eminently reasonable for an estate rental in SoCal.

very married said...

wowow! like you said, this is way out of my budget but HOW COOL! I got the venue I wanted - it's originally $2000 (nothing included) but I talked them down to $750. Not bad negotiating! ...and i'm getting married on a Wednesday. That helps!

Morgan said...

Such a gorgeous venue! I LOVE that there's a zoo there, how cool!

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