6 Things No One Tells You About Choosing a Southern California Wedding Venue

So, you’ve set your sights on a Southern California venue that has everything you could have dreamed of and more for your wedding. I love this for you – however, there are some behind-the-scenes secrets that could make or break your big day. So let’s talk about those nitty-gritty deets that you might not have thought of during your search!

1. Access Time

Okay, let’s set the scene. Your venue looks like it’s straight outta your wildest dreams. Now, the real question: when can you waltz in there and start setting up? Knowing the access time can make a massive difference, especially for those of you who have extravagant or customized decor that can’t just be thrown together last minute.

What about the getting ready suite? You’ll want to get in there as early as possible. It’s not just a place to stash your wedding outfit; it’s your pre-wedding safe space – a spot for those mimosas and heart-to-heart convos with your people before you walk down that aisle. Most importantly, access time is pertinent for hair and makeup if you are choosing to get glammed on site at the venue. Check this even before you sign a contract with a venue so you know if you need to plan on an alternate location or if you can get ready with the glam squad on site.

2. Venue Coordinator vs. Wedding Planner

Real talk: A venue coordinator is (unfortunately) not your fairy godmother. They’re the venue’s guardian angels, not yours. Their role? Making sure the venue doesn’t fall apart, not that your cake arrives on time. If anything goes wrong on your wedding day that DOESN’T involve the venue… no guarantees they’ll be able to do anything to help.

So, in short, get yourself a wedding PLANNER. They coordinate with photographers, florists, DJs, the venue – you name it – to make sure YOU don’t have to worry about a damn thing.

3. Are You the Star of the Show?

We all know you and your lover are the main characters, but does the venue feel the same way? If the venue is hosting multiple events on the same day, you better believe there’s gonna be some sound bleed, and nobody wants to say their vows over the clatter of a corporate retreat – or any other event for that matter. Privacy affects the vibe. Period. Are you comfortable sharing your day with strangers, or do you want a VIP experience? Ask your venue straight up, so there are no surprises. 

Some wedding venues act as a different business other than a site to host weddings – wineries, breweries, hotels, resorts…all places that are bustling on the weekend with other people that are hard to avoid. These types of venues also host other types of events that might overlap with or restrict access for weddings.

4. Is Your Venue Open to the Public?

Let’s talk about exclusivity. Places like museums and wineries are public spaces, and unless you’ve got the budget to shut it down entirely, you’ll be sharing with tourists, art lovers, or wine enthusiasts. Do you want your romantic “I dos” photobombed by a tipsy bachelorette wine-tasting her way through your venue? Didn’t think so.

If you’re booking a public venue, check if they have private event spaces or secluded areas where you won’t be in the general traffic flow. Check what time wine tasting ends, the museum shuts down for guests, etc… Even better, inquire about off-hours or shoulder seasons when crowds thin out, providing a semi-private experience.

5. Scenic Spots That Aren’t Your Ceremony or Reception Space

Look, any venue can give you a pretty ceremony backdrop or a flashy reception hall, but what about those sneaky, tucked-away spots for photos? We’re talking spiral staircases, historic hallways, beach access or a hidden garden that’s begging for a secret rendezvous. These are the photo ops that turn your album from cute to iconic.

I gotta take a moment here to really emphasize this: your venue is the canvas of your wedding album. The ambiance, the lighting, and even the walls can make your photos go from “Oh, that’s nice” to “Holy shit, is this a Vogue spread?” Choose a venue that complements your style and sets the stage for everlasting photographs.

6. The End-Of-Night Logistics

Let’s not forget about those end-of-the-night logistics. Where can your guests grab an Uber or a Lyft? Trust me, you don’t want your friends and fam wandering around aimlessly in their heels and tuxes. And let’s talk about last call! If your venue shuts down the bar at 10 p.m., but your reception booking time ends at 11 p.m., you might have a thirsty and possibly cranky crowd. Keep the party vibes going strong till the very end!

Now You Know the Tea About Southern California Wedding Venues

So, there you have it – your inside guide to picking a SoCal wedding venue like a pro. And remember, a venue isn’t just a location; it’s the atmosphere, the vibe, the backdrop to the most iconic love story ever told (yours). Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t settle for anything less than extraordinary. You’re not just planning a wedding; you’re curating an experience, a day that’ll be etched into your hearts (and Instagram feeds) forever.

And if you happen to be on the hunt for a SoCal wedding photographer, hi! I’m Lauren and I serve couples like you who don’t play by the rules. To hit my line, reach out via my contact form and you’ll hear from me soon!