Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Great Venue Search: Museum of Contemporary Art

I had known for quite some time that San Diego's Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) held weddings at their La Jolla facility. I had also heard that their rental fees were quite pricey (I can't confirm it, but someone once told me that for the full museum in La Jolla, the fee is at least $6,000). A cool place, for sure, but that whole La Jolla beachside vibe never quite seemed to pair well with a contemporary art museum. However, a couple of years ago, they opened a gallery space downtown. So, I gave them a ring to check out the rooms available for rental in the downtown facility.

There are two space that would be available on the date we were looking at: the Figi Family Concourse (an outdoor space) for $3,500, and the Berglund Room & Terrace for $2,000. We're only looking for a space to accomodate about 80 guests, so the Figi concourse, while lovely, would have been to big.

The Berglund Room & Terrace was just about the right size. The downside? The $2,000 rental fee pretty much just gets you the room (they can also provide chairs, an event manager at the reception, etc), but it's pretty much a blank space.

While that means that there's a lot of potential things that you could do visually, that also meant that we would need to get lots of rentals (tables, linens, lights) on top of the catering and bar...you can see how this could quickly become very expensive. So if your budget is a little less prohibitive, I say check it out. Bonus points that their staff was super helpful.

The Great Venue Search: Introduction

Deciding where to have our reception has been an incredibly daunting task, for reasons that I didn't quite expect. We had what we thought was a great idea right off the bat: find a restaurant that we already love, both in food and appearance, and have it there. The benefit would be twofold...first, our guests and we would not be forced to choke down the same bland chicken that every hotel would serve. Secondly, if we chose a restaurant with a very distinct atmosphere that was already heavily decorated, this would save us money on decor, florals, etc.

So...we figured we made a list of our favorite restaurants in town, but we figured we could find some additional research online or in local wedding related magazines. No such luck. Frankly, if one more person asks us if we have considered the Bali Hai hotel for our reception, it might be the last sentence they ever utter. No boring hotel ballrooms. Seriously.

I had hoped that we would be able to find more about individual venues online - what their maximum capacity is, what the minimum cost is for a Saturday reception (which, for most restaurants, would mean a full venue buyout), etc. But since none of that information was anywhere to be found (at least in most cases), we simply had to start calling and emailing blindly. And it is with great enthusiasm that I share the results of my venue searches with you. Even though only one of these places will ultimately work out for us, maybe one of them will work out for you!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

How Did I Get Here?

What brings me to blog? Frustration. After many years together, by the time my fiance and I started planning our wedding, we had a lot of ideas about what we wanted the event to be like (creative, non-traditional, festive, artsy) and a LOT of ideas about what we didn't want it to be like (conventional, formal, stale, average).

Yet, as we set out for what we thought would be an effortless planning adventure, we became very frustrated very quickly. Why was is so difficult to find a cool venue to host a wedding in San Diego? We turned to the internet for help...and came up short. Want to have your wedding on the beach? How about a reception in a hotel ballroom? How about a hotel on the coast where you can have your ceremony on the beach and your reception in their ballroom? If that's what you're looking for, then San Diego and it's wedding online communities has lots of options for you. Looking for advice about having your reception at a small restaurant, loft, gallery or other unexpected site? Well, there's not much out there to help you plan.

As I read so many other wonderful wedding blogs that are full of info about great venues in New York, Brooklyn, Portland, Seattle or San Francisco, I thought "I wish someone in San Diego would start a great wedding blog!" So, I hope that by sharing my wedding planning journey with you, other unconventional San Diego brides can turn to this blog for inspiration!