San Diego Wedding Venue Advice

Engaged? Looking to plan the wedding of your dreams? We at San Diego Party Ride asked local San Diego wedding venues their advice to ensuring your wedding is one to remember!


“What advice do you offer to couples who are debating on having their wedding reception at a residence opposed to a venue?”



I would have to say that a venue will definitely simplify wedding planning.  A venue will be able to provide everything you need for your wedding day, tables, chairs, linen, china, glassware, silverware, dance floor, banquet staff and most importantly they can provide a wonderful wedding menu and beautiful wedding cakes.  We work directly with our couples and their wedding planner on providing a simple planning process and help them save time…we have everything they need and all they have to provide is their décor and their vendors.  But a venue like ours can also provide a list of preferred vendors, so we can even help you find that perfect wedding photographer, florist and wedding planner. 

If you are considering a wedding at a private residence, you have to also provide everything for your wedding day.  Couples will have to rent all their banquet tables, linens, china, glassware, etc.  They will also have to hire a catering company and find a bakery for their cake.  Then they will have to coordinate the drop-off and pick-up of each of the rental items.

Many residences only allow you to use their outdoor space and in the case of weather not cooperating, you usually don’t have a back-up plan or an indoor area that you can use.  A wedding venue usually has outdoor and indoor space, so if it turns out that the weather isn’t the best, there is usually an indoor space that can be used.

When using a venue such as Park Hyatt Aviara, couples have a wedding specialist at the venue that is available anytime to assist and guide them through their planning process.  It’s unlikely that a residence would offer such personalized service.

Park Hyatt Aviara


For those Brides Brides and Grooms with a spectacular vision, plenty of time on their hands and an army full of decorators, rental companies and coordinators can pull of an amazing Wedding Reception in a blank canvas like an outdoor space or “empty” venue.  However, for those who don’t have all of that should consider a venue that specializes in private events that a can provide food, beverage, ambiance, decor, service staff, coordinators, tables, chairs, linen and a stress-free, successful event! Too many times over the past 20+ years I have heard that the bride and groom have bite off more than they can chew and by the time to wedding day comes around they can’t wait to have it be over with.  Your Wedding day should be one to look back on and remember as an amazing experience from start to finish, not one that you wish was over!  So many venues have professional planners, culinary staff, amazing banquet servers, bartenders and professional well-kept equipment. Not to mention, planning your day at one venue can save you tons of money for that relaxing well deserved Honeymoon! Let the professionals do their job and help you create the wedding day of your dreams while staying within budget and stress-free!  Check out the University Club atop Symphony Towers for ALL of this plus a VIEW you only dream about! Toast from the Top!

University Club atop Symphony Towers


Be ready for the unexpected and hire an amazing coordinator with a strong team!  I’ve assisted a wedding of 300 guests at a gorgeous residential venue, it was incredible but there’s a lot more work involved to confect a flawless evening when bringing different teams together for the first time in a new space.

The Lafayette Hotel



Choosing the backdrop for the reception is one of the biggest decisions a couple will make when it comes to planning their wedding! Not only is the venue one of the first things booked, it is typically the most expensive! While using a private residence may seem like a logical inexpensive way to save on the wedding budget initially, couples may end up paying more in the long run! Sometimes it is more expensive financially to bring in individual items needed for the wedding like chairs, tables, heaters, lighting, linens, the list goes on and on. Other times it can cost a couple a lot of time and energy to arrange each and every detail. Whereas established venues are used to the day to day needs of events and typically already have everything onsite. Furthermore venues tend to carry quite a bit of insurance that protects the venue and couple should any issues arise. Ultimately if a couple is really into organizing and personalizing every detail a residence may be a good fit for them. I have found the majority of couples I meet are usually already surprised with the amount of work planning a wedding can be! Spending a little more at first can end up saving your budget in the long run!

Oak Mountain Winery



What could be more romantic than getting married on a boat? It’s a memorable, distinctly “San Diego” experience that guests of all ages will enjoy. Many brides and grooms are surprised to learn how affordable it is to host a private wedding on the water. At a cost that’s no more expensive than most popular wedding venues in San Diego, you can make your dreams of getting married on a yacht become reality. We’ll make sure all the details are in place and your special day goes exactly as you imagined it would. Whether it includes the ceremony or just the reception, we’re experts at finding custom solutions to accommodate your vision. All our packages are completely flexible. No two weddings are exactly alike.

Flagship Cruises & Events


My advice to couples considering various options for their wedding venue would be to go with the space where you feel most comfortable.  There are a lot of stressors involved with wedding planning, and when it comes down to it you want to be able to relax and enjoy your day.  Your definition of ‘comfortable’ may be very different from the next person’s.  So I would suggest going with a space that will allow you to make the day/space your own, and work with vendors that will do their very best to accommodate your vision.

Bird’s Surf Shed



Good question!  It is a great idea!!!  There are SO many benefits!!!  But there are some things to be aware of.   I would suggest couples NOT choose a location that has just started.  The problem with a brand new “venue” such as a private home or estate — {we are currently over 10 years old!}  is that there is a lot of LEARNING that goes on. No one wants to be a guinea pig, especially on your Wedding day!  It takes time for things to get into a rhythm.  Also it takes a lot of money to get things going the right way.  I would suggest to the couples to ask how many Weddings they have done, and how long they have been doing it.  Check into their reviews online, such as google, or yelp, etc. Many “Pop-Up’s” have come and gone over the years and currently it is very popular to become a Wedding Venue, as everyone thinks that Wedding Venues make loads and loads of money!  This is actually not the case – at least not at first,  even if it appears to be the case.  Some get into it for this reason alone, (Money) and if that’s the case, they may not be able to weather the storms and may not be around come Wedding Day! (We’ve been called many times by crying brides looking for another place since their place went under, sadly)  We ourselves started doing Weddings as something kind of fun to do, however it wasn’t “dependent” on Weddings to support it, it was our second home!  We had rented out our home/ranch many times previously.  The Weddings were much more fun than the other “vacation renters” as we got to know the couple and put it all together together!  We then decided it’s best to include EVERYTHING for the couples so they didn’t have more work for our venue, we needed to have everything:  a staff; the tables, chairs, linens, china, dishes, flatware, a staff to help with cleanup, setup, takedown, etc. etc.!  We also include a “day-of” coordinator!  This is KEY!  She knows where everything is, how things are done, what should be happening and when!  Without someone like this – I would never choose a venue without this key person!!!  We interviewed many Coordinators, DJs, Caterers, Bar Services, etc. etc, and picked the best we could find… it’s now a well oiled running machine!  Our couples write such amazing things in our guest book ~ Thanking us for allowing them to use our Ranch for their Wedding and that their families could have never spent so much time all together anywhere else, especially not at a hotel!  They have memories for a lifetime of the Wedding and all of the other days they spent together at the Ranch!   It also can save quite a bit of money!  Per night it’s a lot of money, however when you divide it up between lots of couples, it works out to be comparable and when you don’t eat out every meal, and can cook together, it actually saves money!  This we feel is the way the Wedding business is going with people wanting more for their money, and expecting it!

The Condor’s Nest Ranch



A few things to consider when looking at a residence as a potential wedding reception venue are the length of the reception, time of day, accommodation of your guest count, and decorations/features of the venue. Being in a residential area, you’ll have to pay attention to how long into the evening your reception will go to abide by the residential noise ordinance. When planning for your guest count, you also need to be aware of the space that tables, chairs, dance floor, bar, etc. will be occupying as it will change the venue occupancy. Finally, many non-residential wedding venues have unique features (i.e. highly manicured gardens with water features) and decor that you won’t find at a residential venue.

Japanese Friendship Garden Society of San Diego



Here are Carmel Mountain we take care of setting up, cleaning, providing staffing and everything else needed for a catered event. These are all things you would have to get and worry about in your own residence. Everyone avoids having to clean after a huge event at their home. Let us take care of that!

Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club


Photo Credit: Larissa Bahr Photography

Having a wedding reception at home is a wonderful idea, but can potentially cause more headaches in the end. Things to think about would include if there are enough restrooms, ample parking for your guests, and even if there is a noise ordinance for the neighborhood (especially if you plan on having part of the party outside). There can also be potential damage to the home’s contents (i.e. furniture) which might cost quite a bit to repair or replace. Another important aspect is insurance. All venues have liability insurance to make sure that they are covered should something happen. A wedding reception at a home is not necessarily covered under homeowners insurance. I’m fact, many vendors will require that you hold event insurance for the potential problems that can arise. With that in mind, weigh your pros and cons! A wedding at home or different venue will be beautiful, regardless!

Coridano Winery Weddings & Events



Your wedding reception will be the biggest expense in your wedding budget, so there is much to consider.  You’ll need to take into account the number of guests, time of day, food, beverage, parking, music as well transportation from the wedding to the reception.

Couples often consider holding their wedding reception in their own home, the home of a friend or family member.  This arrangement can be ideal if you are planning to hold the ceremony in the same spot and are on a tight budget.  You may have to keep the guest list small, and be comfortable making many of the preparations ahead of time.

On the plus side, a home wedding can motivate people to finally doing those projects around the house.  Like redoing a garden, or painting the living room.  You’ll want to consider the lead time you have before the wedding. You’ll also need to consider the neighbors, parking, catering, renting tables and chairs, decorations, flowers, food, alcohol and finally the big clean up.  As you can see it will be a lot of work, for your family and friends.  It is also highly likely that as the bride and groom you will ask to pitch in at one point or another.

On the other hand, if you choose a winery, hotel, dedicated wedding reception site or church basement… many of the things you will need will be provided for you, including the clean up.  You may not have to rent linens, tables or chairs or deal with parking for your guests. Wedding venues often offer recommendations for bartenders and caterers. Or they may require that you use their preferred vendors. You will likely have to provide a minimum number of guests depending upon the venue.  This option will almost guarantee that your family and friends can enjoy themselves as guests~ and the chances of having stress over many of the small details will be greatly reduced.

At the end of the day, you will be married to your best friend, and how you choose to celebrate your wedding day is a very personal choice.  Whether you choose simple or elaborate, it will require careful planning and budgeting ahead of time to make sure it the “day of your dreams”.

Elope San Diego


Compiled By San Diego Party Ride