Planning an Estate Wedding

Estate Wedding King Gillette Ranch Wedding

In my opinion, private estates and non-traditional venues have been my favorite site for a wedding. I’m sure you have been inspired by a gorgeous outdoor soiree with bistro lighting, a natural backdrop that speaks for itself, and thoughtfully selected decor pieces that fill the tabletop. This aesthetic is captivating and makes any couple dream of a wedding like this. This is why I love estate weddings. When it comes to estate weddings, there is a greater level of flexibility and far more opportunities for personalization, design, and transformation.

In this article, I am going to share all my insider tips that will prepare you to host a wedding at a private estate or non-traditional wedding venue (i.e. not a hotel ballroom).

Greystone Mansion Estate Wedding Beverly Hills

Greystone Mansion Estate Wedding Beverly Hills

Let me go ahead and get the most important misnomer out of the way before diving in: Estate and non-ballroom style weddings are not less expensive.

Most couples overlook the fact that all your additional items become a new line item in your budget. More often than not, you do not realize the immediate implications associated with hosting an estate wedding because you feel on cloud 9 by the “rental” fee which seems very reasonable at first glance compared to a hotel’s food and beverage minimum.

Keep in mind, when it comes to the fees associated with an estate wedding, there are a vast number of line items not included in the rental fee that you need to be aware of. Read your contracts carefully.

Estate weddings are not for every couple but those that choose to go this route do not regret it. Believe me. There are far more logistics that go into the planning process and management of the event, but the overall outcome of the wedding will outweigh the work associated.

The Living Desert Estate Wedding Palm Desert

**If you do plan to have your wedding at an estate/non-traditional wedding venue – this is when you would need to hire and consult a professional, experienced wedding planner.**

Now, let’s get into the details.

How is pricing different?

As you start planning and reviewing your venue options, (after completing step 1 of wedding planning), you have probably received varied information around venue costs (i.e. what’s included, and what’s not, etc).

Halloween Wedding at Carondelet House in Los Angeles Dried Pampas Grass Installation

All-inclusive venues.

All-inclusive venues will provide you with just about everything (except your major vendors): rentals (tables, chairs, plates, flatware), dance floor, linens, food, bar, staffing, etc. You get the picture. Their cost breakdown will typically be marked as a Price Per Person++ and be formatted in a ‘package’. At face value, this process makes it easier for you (the couple) to get everything in a bundle. If you want simple – this is probably the best route for you.

Rental Only Properties.

Rental Only properties, especially in California, will usually charge a certain fee (starting around $8,000+) for a specific number of hours and access to the property. This typically does not include anything else. Yes, you read that right – everything else needed for your wedding to run smoothly is additional. No rentals, kitchen, electricity, lighting, tables/chairs, restrooms, floormats, dumpster, etc. (some venues are an exception but we are going to keep this in general terms).

You may be wondering – what are the other variables I need to consider if we choose to have an estate wedding?

Here they are:

  1. Rentals (i.e. tables, chairs, linens, heaters, flatware/glassware, napkins)
  2. Catering
  3. Kitchen Buildout

                                    Your venue may not have a commercial-sized kitchen on the property or a kitchen you are able to utilize, this means you will need to plan for a kitchen build-out. On                                             average this will cost an additional $3000+. Make sure to receive the rental needs from your caterer before approaching the rental company.

  1. Lighting
  2. Restrooms
  3. Power
  4. Trash / Trash Disposal
  5. Curfew / Noise Ordinances
  6. Permits
  7. Parking / Transportation / Valet
  8. Security
  9. Vendor load-in/load-out
  10. Event Insurance
  11. Rain Plan

At this point, you agree with me on the importance and necessity of hiring a wedding planner to assist and guide you through this planning process. Plus, your head is probably spinning with all the information you need to keep track of.

Casita Hollywood Estate Wedding Los AngelesCasita Hollywood Estate Wedding Los Angeles

How could there be any benefits after reading all of this?

Let me provide you with some insight into the positives.

In my company, I focus heavily on creating an event that conveys a deeper meaning that will be remembered by you and your guests for the rest of your life. Through personalization and a focus on the guest experience, regardless of their backgrounds, I see each couple that I work with as having various experiences and unique personalities. I see these as opportunities for innovative design ideas. This is why having a wedding at an estate is a perfect fit.

Here are the 3 Benefits of Planning an Estate Wedding:

The Ability to Transform the Space

I love estate weddings for the fact of being able to transform the space and make it your own. With most all-inclusive venues, there is usually a “typical” floor plan that they provide to all of their couples. With an estate wedding, we can have fun with this and get creative. Do you want zigzags, X, a mix of rounds and rectangle tables? I thought so – we can make that happen when there is flexibility in the space.


This is the big one – you have pretty much full reign of opportunities – so much room for activities! Personalization in my planning process is HUGE and with flexibility at a venue to make it your own, this is where we can have a lot of fun.

Guest Experience

If your estate has rooming available on-site, this could allow you to create a wedding weekend experience for you and your guests. Imagine celebrating all weekend long and fully immersing yourself in the festivities of the weekend. Not only is the wedding weekend idea a possibility but using the opportunity to create an intimate and romantic feel regardless of the size of the property. You can really think about what you want and the feeling you want your guests to leave with.

Carondelet House Estate Wedding Los Angeles

My biggest takeaway for you, should you decide to plan an estate wedding, is hiring an experienced wedding planner. I know you are excited to plan your wedding and start your marriage story together; and, I am sure that the equation does not involve debilitating levels of stress. With guidance, you will have the ability to enjoy the planning process and your engagement to its fullest.

May 12, 2020