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Should You Have Your Wedding at an Estate?

Looking for convenience or uniqueness? Tessa Brand of Tessa Lyn Events shares the pros and cons of an estate wedding.

Estate weddings come with a number of advantages, such as bringing in your own alcohol and avoiding hotel-priced bar packages; however, there are hidden fees and challenges behind property. Learn more from Tessa Lyn Events!

Locations & Venues
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Photo: Katie Shuler Photography

Estate weddings can be beautiful, unique, and a breath of fresh-air from your ordinary ballroom wedding. Be it an ocean-view mansion, the rolling hills of a ranch, or a winery villa, estate weddings have the potential to be the setting for the wedding of your dreams. Estate weddings come with a number of advantages, such as bringing in your own alcohol and avoiding hotel-priced bar packages; however, there are hidden fees and challenges behind property.

Check out the obstacles and benefits of an estate wedding before making your final decision for the big day!

Some Obstacles to Consider:

Rentals
While the initial cost of renting an estate for your wedding looks much smaller than that of a hotel or country club, you must factor in added costs. Hotels calculate their price with a food-and-beverage minimum; catering, staff, kitchen, and basic rentals are included in this fee. For an estate wedding, you can expect your rental bill to be equal to the site fee – if not more. Keep in mind, your caterer will most likely require a full kitchen build out – including tables, stoves, ovens, pop-up tents, and lighting. You will also need to rent everything from the tables to the bread baskets. At an event venue, most of these items are included.

Careful Planning
An estate wedding requires more planning for you and your coordinator as there is more room for error. For example, bringing in your own alcohol is extremely cost effective, but the quantity you need to purchase varies from wedding to wedding due to median age of guests, the season, location, and overall mood of the night. If most of your guests unexpectedly choose to have martinis instead of margaritas, you could run out of the exact ingredients needed. Because hotels have a large stock room full of anything you need, you will never run out of vodka.

An Early Curfew
Many estates in residential areas enforce an early music curfew – often your amplified music will have to be shut off by 10PM. This means ending the party early or relocating to a location for an after-party. Keep in mind, in summer, the sun can set as late as 8PM, leaving you with only a couple hours of true party time before curfew. Always ask your venue for the music curfew before you book, and keep in mind, these are rules that are strictly enforced.

Restrooms
While estates often have restrooms indoors, you will likely have to bring in extra facilities for your guests to use outside. This can cost $2,000-4,000 depending on which trailer you choose. Even with the top-of-the-line facility, many of your guests will not be too thrilled about this.  

Power
Lighting, sound systems, DJ set ups, and kitchen build outs are all things that require significant power – often more than a typical property is equipped for. Be prepared to bring in a generator to supplement the in-house power supply. Check with all of your vendors regarding how much dedicated wattage they will need. Generators can be tricky, so request a stand-by person from your rental company to stay on property for the entirety of your event to help if problems arise.

Parking and Transportation
A hotel or club has ample parking and the managerial staff built into their property, but many estates do not. Keep in mind that you will have to bring in a valet company or shuttle guests (and possibly vendors) up narrow driveways. Check with your venue representative to see what they recommend.

Vendor Load-In
Similarly, narrow driveways can make vendor load-in a bit tricky! If you have a planner, they will handle the logistics, but if not, be prepared to make a very exact load-in schedule. More than two trucks will likely not fit in a driveway at the same time, so loading all of your rentals, florals, and entertainment in and out must be planned to the minute with each person on schedule. 

Benefits:

Caterer
At a venue such as a hotel, country club, or restaurant, you will be restricted to using their caterer, leaving you with little options for food choices. At a private estate, you will be able to chose from multiple caterers – setting up tastings and picking the fare you like best. Estates give you the unique opportunity to have a wide selection of dinner options, combining your dream venue with your perfect cuisine. You can also choose the option of a more causal dinner set-up, bringing in your favorite food truck for something unique and cost effective.

Alcohol
You will be able to bring alcohol in yourself, which you can buy in bulk at cost-effective stores. All of your alcohol will be based on consumption, and you can keep the leftovers for parties to come!

Something Unique
Many estates have a limit on how many events can be held on their property each year. This means your wedding will be unique, different, and one your guests are sure to talk about for years to come. Estates often provide stunning views in more remote locations, making the event truly one to remember. Additionally, estates provide a blank canvas, giving you the ability to bring in whatever structures and design elements you like – without having to work within the restrictions of a ballroom.

Photo Ops
Estates are often on vast properties, which you can explore with your photographer. You and your new spouse can take newlywed photos in vineyards or down on the beach – creating a unique backdrop for the photos you will cherish for years to come.

Total Privacy
The property you rent will be uniquely yours for the night, making for an intimate and cozy feel. While you may be the only wedding at a venue, often other guests and visitors will be around. An estate wedding guarantees your guests alone will be present, making for a much more personal feel. Guests will feel like they are arriving at your gorgeous home for the night, rather than a public hotel.

Guest Count
Smaller estates might have a restricted guest count, but a large property opens the possibility to increase your guest list. If you are having your event on a large lawn, for example, you can fit many more guests than you would be able to in a ballroom. Estates can have more space for you to play around with the floor plan, using draping and lighting to create spaces as intimate or as spacious as you need. 

For more wedding advice, get tips on how to decide where to get married, selecting the right venue for your ceremony, and the pros and cons of having an outdoor wedding.

Opening photo by Katie Shuler Photography; Planning & Design by Tessa Lyn Events. See the full wedding here!