Like many brides-to-be, I didn’t quite know what I was getting into when I started planning my wedding. Believe it or not, I thought it would be a breeze. I generally consider myself a relaxed and easy going person, and I couldn’t imagine getting caught up in all the little details and spoiling the experience. What mattered to my husband and me was the big picture—sharing the special day with loved ones, being among the redwoods, and enjoying a delicious meal.

Looking back now, I know that everyone starts out the wedding planning process with the best of intentions. Couples that are still riding the blissful high of a fresh engagement swear to each other that as long as the day ends with them being husband and wife, nothing else matters. I definitely began my wedding journey like this but I soon learned that, while it is important to keep the heart of the event in perspective, it is also important to be realistic.

When my husband started planning, we felt confident that between the two of us we could accomplish all the planning within our budget. So, we chose a cheap venue and started to piece things together ourselves. Unfortunately, two months before our wedding, our efforts to save money backfired, and we had to change venues and replan our entire wedding. Sure enough, the all-inclusive venue we had ignored when we first started planning is where we ended up having our wedding in the end. And we’re so glad we did.

Below is the story of my all-inclusive wedding in California and what I learned from trying to do it all myself. My hope is that if you are newly engaged and looking to start your own wedding planning process, you’ll learn from my mistakes and save yourself unnecessary stress, drama, and money by choosing an all-inclusive venue from the start.

Why I Wish We’d Chosen an All-Inclusive Wedding Venue in California in the Beginning

In California, all-inclusive wedding packages are a great way to save time, money, and mistakes.Our wedding day was a dream. Everything ran so smoothly, the venue was gorgeous, the food was wonderful, and our families and friends were there with us. The best part of it all (other than the getting married part, of course), is that everything was taken care of for us. In the end, it was a blessing that we had to replan our entire wedding just two months before the big day. If we hadn’t, things would have been very different for us.

Originally, our plan was to have our wedding reception at our favorite farm stand/cafe. While they’d never hosted a wedding before, it was a cute place with a talented chef and a full kitchen. As we got further into planning, however, we realized that the venue owners had no idea what they were doing—and neither did we. While the price to rent the venue was attractive, we didn’t anticipate the cost of renting enough chairs, glasses (water, champagne, wine, and beer), plates, cutlery, tables, heat lamps, and umbrellas for everyone. What was even more off-putting was the thought of picking everything up from the rental place, setting it up, and returning it all the next day.

The food was also working out to be pricier and more complicated than we’d hoped. Since the venue didn’t have all of the equipment they needed to prepare and serve the meal, we would have to rent chafing dishes and an extra refrigerator. Things were beginning to get quite overwhelming at this point, financially and when it came to the amount of work that we would need to do the day before, the day of, and the day after our wedding. We worried we wouldn’t even get a chance to relax and enjoy ourselves and our families who were traveling so far for the event.

Thankfully (although it was a nightmare at the time), about two months before the wedding, our point of contact at our venue quit unexpectedly and all our plans left with him. Not knowing what else to do, we started looking for another venue. Luckily, a great all-inclusive venue in the Santa Cruz Mountains had our date open! With eight weeks to our wedding day, we booked the all-inclusive venue and never looked back.

What Is Included in Your Fees at an All-Inclusive Venue?

The second we made the switch, it was as if a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders and we actually started to look forward to our wedding again. We met with a coordinator who showed us the breathtaking venue and chatted with us about our vision. After customizing some details, like whether we were having a buffet or a plated meal, and what color linens we wanted, we were assured that everything would be taken care of for us—all we needed to do was show up and enjoy our big day!

We paid the fee for our all-inclusive package, which included the following:

  • The wedding coordinator (a private consultation, collaborative planning leading up to the wedding, and all coordination on the day of)
  • The reception venue rental
  • A tasting
  • Catering and beverage packages
  • Tables, linens, glasses, cutlery, and china
  • Umbrellas and heat lamps so that we would be prepared for any weather  
  • A beautiful 4-bedroom Hacienda home for the bridal party to get ready on the morning of the wedding and a Casita for the groom’s party to prepare

Even though the all-inclusive package fee seemed like a lot to us before we started planning, once we got a taste of how much everything cost and how much work would be involved for us if we were to do it ourselves, we realized it was a stellar deal.

Of course, there were things that weren’t included in the all-inclusive package, but the venue had a great list of preferred vendors which made things a lot easier. Here’s a list of what wasn’t included in our all-inclusive package:

  • Photographer
  • Officiant (our ceremony was elsewhere so this didn’t affect us)
  • Rehearsal dinner
  • Lighting and decor
  • Music
  • Beauty services
  • Flowers

To book our vendors all we did was send a few emails and we were set. Since our coordinator had a lot of experience working with the vendors we chose, everything went very seamlessly.

All-Inclusive Venues Make for Stress-Free Wedding Planning

The day of our wedding couldn’t have been more perfect. My husband and I were both so relaxed because we knew that our coordinator had everything under control. Having our special day at an all-inclusive venue experienced with weddings was worth every penny just to have a stress-free, hassle free lead up to the day. I can’t imagine what things would have been like if we’d stuck with our original venue and plan, but I know we wouldn’t have been nearly as happy.

Now that it has been a few months since the wedding, we find ourselves looking back and laughing about the fact that we managed to plan a beautiful, real-life fairytale wedding in two months. It’s amazing what a great all-inclusive venue, experienced coordinators, and curated vendors can do. I truly can’t thank everyone involved enough for giving my husband and I the best day of our lives.

At Kennolyn, we believe that planning a wedding should be an exciting, enjoyable, and stress-free experience—and that is exactly what our all-inclusive packages and professional coordinators do for you. We would love to have the opportunity to bring your wedding vision to life so that you can focus on enjoying the most important day of your life. To find out if our beautiful venue in the Santa Cruz mountains is right for you, visit our weddings page.


Lead Image Source: Unsplash user

Black and White Image Source: Unsplash user Madi Robson

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