Renting out a private estate is not your typical location and there are many challenges and obstacles that will occur when producing an event for hundreds of people (especially at a location that is not a traditional event venue).
Here are some common questions we get asked all the time from our clients in terms of providing their own services…
“I have a family friend that owns a restaurant and we want them to cater our wedding, is that okay? “
“Can we hire a bartender to serve our guests and buy all of the alcohol from Bevmo or Costco?”
“Can my friend be my wedding planner?”
I understand where many of these people are coming from…at the end of the day, most want a beautiful wedding and would also love to save money wherever they can.
However, cutting corners, whether intentional or not, will often lead to many unexpected expenses down the road…..guaranteed!
Without a doubt, the biggest misconception is that providing your own vendors will save you money.
I have seen time after time where people insist on doing it their way and after all is said and done, it costs them more money, much more stress and a lot more time doing it on their own as opposed to utilizing the services provided by the venue (who know the property inside and out with great success), or utilizing the services of someone that was highly recommended by the venue.
The fact is that a vendor that has worked at the event location will already know what needs to happen to execute a flawless event.
Receiving a quote from a caterer who has never seen the location before and then comparing it with a quote from the location’s recommended caterer are 2 completely different bids.
The caterer who has worked on site before has factored in every last detail:
- from the extra lighting needed for the kitchen area
- to the protective flooring to cover the driveway
- to a rented sink they will need for running water
- or simply the extra staff necessary that will be crucial to ensure a successful event
I could probably continue to rattle off many many more reasons why you should choose vendors that are recommended by venues but I wanted to share 10 mishaps by vendors that had never worked at our properties:
1. Catering - Staffing -
Not providing enough staffing.
Often the area to prepare food is not right next to the reception area and food needs to be transported a lot farther than what they are typically used to.
If this happens, you risk having cold food and really slow service.
I have also seen clients get charged a hefty overtime fee from the location because they were understaffed and were unable to break everything down in a timely manner.
2. Catering - Damages -
I have seen it all…
- Oil spills on driveways
- Pouring massive amounts of grease down the kitchen sink
- Kitchen staff dumping bar bucket sludge down the toilet
- Stashing trash on the property
- Not cleaning the china and flatware (rental companies will charge you for this)
- Leaving the venue absolutely trashed
The biggest reason why you will lose your security deposits is due to catering companies that do not have respect for the location or flat out, just don’t care!
3. Driveway & Parking Area – Damages -
Vendors who are unfamiliar with the location will often drive their vehicles in areas they are not supposed to.
Pulling trucks into driveways and taking-out low hanging trees, knocking out lights, running over curbs and damaging landscaping.
There is nothing worse than planning to get married under a beautiful tree at a private estate and your rental company was too careless and lazy to park on the street so they destroy the branches of the tree just because they wanted to get a little bit closer.
4. Lawn – Damages -
Any venue that has an outdoor reception area where the event will take place on the lawn, most likely has a list of rules to protect the grass from getting damaged.
Often times people do not communicate these rules with the rental companies they hire and they do not take the proper precautions to protect the grass.
Damages caused by rental companies are ultimately the renter’s responsibility and they can cost you lots of money when the event is over.
5. Power Loss -
Not having a generator when needed.
The last thing you want on your wedding day is to be sitting in the dark with no music.
6. Transportation -
Valet not having enough attendants because they never came out to the location and did not plan accordingly.
For instance, they did not account for the length of the driveway that they would need to run up and down or the distance to the lot where the cars are located.
There is nothing worse than your guest’s first impression being stuck in their car for 30 minutes waiting their turn for their car to be valeted.
Shuttle companies not knowing the location and getting lost is another mishap that happens a lot.
Surprisingly with GPS, iphones and all the technology at our fingertips, this continues to occur without fail.
7. Rental Companies – Delivery & Pick-Up Policies -
If you are not planning a wedding or event every week like we are, then you are probably not familiar with the questions you need to ask your rental company.
Most rental companies will give you an 8-hour delivery window, unless you specify (and there is typically a fee if you do specify).
Another question to note; does your venue require rentals to be removed before a certain time?
A rental company might provide you with a quote, but has not factored in all these additional fees that you will be charged for.
8. Rental Companies – Forgetting Items -
If the rental company you hired forgets an item, many times they will not get that item to you until it’s too late.
Here is why: Corporate account’s, venues and planners are always a priority over an individual so if you have personally placed the order and do not notice something is missing then you may be having your wedding or event without forks, coffee cups, dinner napkins or…(feel free to fill in the blank here as it has most likely been missing).
9. Experience -
Not being familiar with the challenges of an outdoor event space.
When having an event at an outdoor event space, whether it be a backyard, garden, or public park, there are a lot of things to consider:
- Is your caterer familiar with creating kitchens outdoor?
- Have you planned for enough lighting?
- Are there enough outlets or a generator to accommodate that lighting?
- Do you have a tent on hold if it rains?
- Have you budgeted for a tent (the proper tent for your event)?
A server that was hired for the day, or a delivery driver that has 10 more jobs to complete after yours, probably doesn’t care if his truck leaks oil on the driveway or if his actions of dragging a bag of leaky trash across a white carpet will leave a stain.
While you may personally ask if it’s okay if the delivery truck can drive on certain areas of the property, or if there are designated smoking areas for your guests, the sad truth is that many vendors will not ask these questions that appear to be common sense and they will just do what they want to get the job done as fast as they can.
The end result in these hasty decisions is that they will end up costing you thousands of dollars that you did not have in your budget.
You may already have the florist of your dreams in mind or plan to have Anthony Bourdain cater your wedding and that is great, as you should certainly do so if your venue allows.
However, keep in mind that it is your job to make sure your vendors know the rules that have been outlined in your contract since you are the one that will be held responsible.
All these things may seem like common sense to you, but the vendor driving the truck or working behind the bar that day may not care if their actions cost you unexpected fees.
Do you have a mishap or learning lesson that you would like to share?
We would sure LOVE to hear it in the comments below…
About the Author
Jamie is the Co-Founder and President of Estate Weddings and Events. Jamie and EWE have been featured in The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, Grace Ormonde, Style Me Pretty, WE TV, Premier Homes, and many other publications. When Jamie is not managing Luxury Events at EWE, you can find her traveling the world. Her favorite destinations visited are Laos and the Maldives.You can follow her on Google+ here.