I seriously love getting emails from readers and this one rocked my socks. We’re wedding twins – same area, same budget, same problems (ie. our area, and our budget). Hopefully I can save her the grief I went through on the venue hunt. Here’s what Rogue Reader Julia had to say:
Hi there, my name is Julia and I stumbled onto your site. I definitely fit into the Rogue Bride category: Determined to have an awesome wedding for 16k or less. We’re looking at Santa Barbara, San Diego and Catalina as options, but the perfect venue is eluding me. We live in the LA area and are determined to have a weekend getaway wedding. We have a lot of out of town guests and want to find a fun hip hotel that everyone can stay at. But we don’t want to pay the crazy hotel reception prices. So the ceremony and reception could be off site as long as they are near the perfect hotel.
We’re thinking of a March wedding.
I’m doing a trade with a wedding planner (I own a little spa that is quite rogue-ish www.nitespa.com) but she’s new and just as stumped as I am on the venue hunt.
The things that are important to me: a great dance party, foodie food and a hotel where everyone can stay that isn’t too pricey.
Care to share where your wonderful venue is? I want to hear about all 16, but I am desperate to read them all ASAP!
Julia, I love that you’re bartering with the wedding planner – way to work it!
Ok, so, the venues. My venue is Karl Strauss in Sorrento Mesa down near San Diego. What I discovered is that San Diego is half the price of nearly everything North of it. I also looked at the Wild Animal Park (amazing, but too pricey for us), the Santa Barbara Zoo (which was an awesome possibility and worth checking out), Stone Brewery (too expensive and doesn’t really allow dancing =lame), and this all-inclusive wedding venue in Temecula that still would have stretched our budget.
The Santa Barbara Plan
You say you need a hotel that’s reasonably priced. Here’s the lowdown. Santa Barbara is an expensive area, but your March wedding date works for you. You’ll be able to get some discounts on accommodations and wedding reception prices. Look at TripAdvisor for the best budget hotels in the area, and find the one closest to State Street. Agave Inn is looking good to me. Santa Barbara’s best priced venues are the parks (if you can dodge the homeless people), and the Courthouse (much lower odds of homeless people). The Santa Barbara Courthouse is gorgeous, and outside sites are very reasonably priced. March weather can be iffy, but this year was stunning. It’s a risk, but one I might be willing to take. From there, you can walk to a number of great restaurants, my favorite being the Middle-Eastern Zaytoon for its very cool yet romantic atmosphere, and its danceability.
The Orange County Plan
One option I found recently is The French Estate near old town Orange. If you haven’t been to Old Town Orange, you have to go. Great restaurants, vintage clothing stores, antique stores, and it feels like freakin’ Mayberry. I have it on good authority that this venue rocks: http://roguebride.com/2011/08/23/venue-tip-the-french-estate/
It’s also a Bed & Breakfast. The only drawback is that you can’t party late into the night because it’s in a residential neighborhood.
The San Diego Plan
Karl Strauss is my venue – and it would take me a long time to give you the full scoop. Essentially, it’s got dancing, food, and drinks, cake and a DJ for our budget, though they have raised their prices recently. We estimated our guest count at 85-91 when we priced this, so if your guest count is lower, I think it would work. The Cons of the property are that it’s in a business park and the only accommodations around are big chain hotels, like the Marriott across the street. Our total venue cost is about $10K. And the food ain’t that foodie (though maybe they’ve improved the menu with the raised prices – here’s hoping).
Essentially, I’d recommend heading South. Temecula and inland San Diego County have some unexpected and interesting venues if you look really hard. My San Diego engagement photo photographer recommended her venue, The Spanish Village near Balboa Park, which looks amazing (and she said it was affordable). Here’s a pic:
Good luck with your hunt, and let me know what you find so we can save some other brides trouble!