Couples these days are increasingly drawn to unique wedding sites that offer both privacy and an opportunity for maximum personalization. From a faraway tropical island, a secluded wine country villa or at a seaside manse, weddings at signature private properties are at the top of brides venue picks. But these private estates can come with a hefty price tag, sometimes more than renting a venue! So here’s what you need to consider:

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  • What’s included in the rental fee (and what isn’t)? The rental fee at a private estate may not cover much beyond use of the property, so it’s possible to rack up a lot of extra costs providing all the things you’ll actually need to make your wedding come to life.
  • When can we set up for our event? In addition to knowing when the venue is available for the actual event, it’s important to be clear on the start and end times for setup, load-in/out and cleanup.
  • Will the inside of the house be available to us? There are a number of reasons you might want access to the house: special bathrooms for elderly or handicapped guests; use of the kitchen by your caterer; a get-ready room for the bridal party or guests; and maybe even overnight accommodations.
  • Can we use our own caterer? Many private estates have an exclusive caterer or a list of preferred caterers. Some allow you to bring in your own, but may charge an extra fee. The advantage of using one of the venue’s caterers is that they’re familiar with the venue and know how to work in that environment. If you do use your own caterer, it’s a good idea to have them scope out the place in advance so that they don’t run into any unwanted surprises (like equipment they expected to be there but isn’t).
  • Are there any plans to sell or renovate? Obviously, you want to make sure that neither of these things is going to happen until after your event/wedding. However, if, say, property upgrades are scheduled to be completed before your Big Day, you should get a guarantee in writing.
  • Can we have amplified music outdoors and, if so, when does it need to end? The curfew for amplified music at many private estates located in a residential area is 10pm, but it could be earlier or later depending on the neighbor situation or local regulations.
  • What’s the parking situation? You’ll want to know if your guests can park on site. If the answer is YES, ask whether the estate has a valet service you’re required to use or if you can bring in your own. Also, if limos or shuttles are part of your plan, find out if they’re allowed (sometimes the road into the property isn’t large enough to accommodate them).
  • What’s the plan for bad weather? It’s important to know if an indoor option is available for whatever parts of your event you had planned to host outdoors. If not, then ask if the venue has their own tent (which may or may not be included in the rental fee) or if you need to bring in your own (there may be a size limit).
  • Are there restrooms on site or do I need to bring them in? Either way, you may want to consider having an attendant on hand to keep the restrooms presentable throughout your event.
  • Are there nearby accommodations for overnight guests? Make sure there’s enough lodging close by for your out-of-town guests and, if feasible, you may want to arrange a shuttle service so that they can party without having to worry about driving back to their hotel.
  • Does the venue require insurance or permits? Most estates require a certificate of property and liability insurance, a recommended investment to get the 50% security deposit back. And permits can limit noise ordinances or event the amount of events per year.

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