Hey everyone, this post was originally shared on Project Wedding’s blog, One Lovely Day, but I thought some of you might not have seen it. Enjoy!
My name is Kelly Oshiro and I’m an event designer and wedding planner based in Santa Barbara. Some of my favorite locations to work in are “off premise” locations. Off premise locations are basically the antithesis of a hotel—there’s no catering on site, and depending on the location there may be no power/water/bathrooms either.
I always stress to anyone who chooses this type of location that they strongly consider getting a wedding planner, not just because it’s my business, but because these locations requires event production skills that nobody has innately. The thing to understand most about these types of locations is that they are very labor intensive and therefore can get quite pricey very quickly. However, they also tend to be the most beautiful with estates/ranches/farms falling into this category.
With that in mind, here are some of the questions you should ask when looking at these type of locations and a general range of the costs involved to getting your fantasy location ready for your wedding.
1. Is there power on site?
If there isn’t you will need to bring in a generator and lights. Depending on what you’re doing and where you live, I would say generators rent for around $1,000 -$1,500. Lighting is variable since it entirely depends on how complicated,, and therefore labor intensive, you want it to be.
2. Are there bathrooms?
If not, very nice VIP portapotty’s can be rented that has hand washing sinks inside the unit and bear no resemblance to their music festival cousins. A single standalone unit runs about $250 or so. These types of units generally have water/lights already inside the unit, so they can be placed anywhere. There’s also the trailer type of bathroom. These have stalls in it the unit and look an ordinary bathroom. These require water and power to make them work. Also, don’t forget to light the way to the bathrooms!
3. Are there tables/chairs/linens/china?
This is where most off-premise locations vary a bit. Some do provide tables and chairs, other provide nothing. If they do have some items, ask for an itemized list so you can figure out what else you’ll need to rent. If they provide chairs, make sure to take a look at them, they may be too big or unattractive for your taste. In which case, these would need to be rented. The cost depends greatly on your guest count and if you want upgraded chairs/linens/glassware etc. I would say get a quote from a good local rental company to help account for this cost.
4. Is there a kitchen on site?
Again, off-premise locations will vary as to what they have. Some will have a full kitchen ready to use, others may only have a warming kitchen, while others nothing at all. In the case that nothing is there, generally a kitchen tent, 10’ x 20’ will need to be brought in, along with ovens, tables, and so on. Your caterer will handle exactly what they need and they will also handle the general rental order as well (assuming you don’t have a wedding planner). The cost for bringing in a kitchen ranges from $1,000-$2,500 depending on what type of meal you’re serving (plated versus buffet, for instance).
5. When can rentals be delivered?
Ideally, you want everything delivered the Friday before, and picked up on the following Monday, Timed day of deliveries and pick ups will result in extra costs. Also, it’s much easier to handle the installation 24 hours before the wedding than 5 hours before. Stuff breaks, accidents happened, and all those little problems that pop up during production are no big deal when you have the time to deal with them.
6. How does trash need to be disposed of?
Some locations have a dumpster on site, others will ask you to take it off site at the end of the event. Some caterers will remove the trash for you and others won’t. If not, call your local trash company and arrange for a dumpster to be delivered. The cost is nominal, usually a few hundred dollars.
7. Is there parking on site?
Again, these locations vary a bit. Some will have parking only for vendors, others will require valet, but overall most of these sites have no parking at all. In this scenario, guests will need to be shuttled from their hotels or from a central meeting point. This can be come logistically complicated, so I always recommend doing hotel blocks at a couple of hotels at different price points so you’ll have a good idea where your guests are staying. An invitation insert, wedding website, and a welcome bag with the transportation information also helps this go smoothly. Transportation generally costs about $800 per bus (seating 40~) so budget accordingly.
Hopefully these questions will help you pick the perfect site for your wedding and help you budget accordingly!