By: Kristen Castillo
Big Events & Holidays
“Always research convention center happenings because that will impact your booking,” explains Zweig. “Think of your guests traveling and booking rooms.” Even if you’re a huge Star Wars fan, you probably don’t want your wedding during Comic Con. The convention center downtown and the surrounding region is a buzz when the super popular convention comes to San Diego each July. During a major event like Comic Con, you and your guests would fight traffic and parking problems, which all around wouldn’t be the best wedding experience – and that’s something that would aggravate even the greatest of superheroes.
“One main disadvantage for holding a wedding during a city wide convention and or a holiday is the availability of guest rooms,” explains Lisa Knoer of the Bristol Hotel San Diego. “Although guestrooms on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day are usually plentiful and discounted rates would be offered. “I encourage couples to consider the Saturday after Thanksgiving, especially if they are on a budget and still want a Saturday evening.” Summer holidays can be popular for weddings too. “I have actually had weddings during Memorial Weekend and July Fourth weekend; for us, it is a good time because most other types of events are not booked,” says Paris. “Also we have noticed family and friends normally have that time off work and spend it together anyway.” Zweig agrees, “Brides love it because guests can have time in San Diego and enjoy the beautiful weather.”
Friday 11-11-11 will probably be more popular than Wednesday 12-12-12, but these trendy dates are still very kitschy and popular wedding dates. Hey, if you choose one of these dates, your anniversary will be easy to remember.
Even if you don’t want to get married on a trendy day, keep in mind that many brides do, which could free up other dates for you, like Saturday 11-12-11. Since San Diego is a year round destination with beautiful weather, weddings can be held here anytime. Still some times are more popular than others. Zweig says San Diego’s wedding off season runs from November to February. Many couples are taking a little more time to plan their wedding. Caterers and sales managers say some brides are booking a year and a half to two years in advance – a big change from the one year engagements of just a few years ago.
That change is good though for brides because it gives you more advance notice to find and book a venue. Still venues book fast, so once you pick a date, a time and a special place to celebrate, make sure you reserve the details in writing.
“While Saturday evening (6 pm to 12 am), still remains the most popular day for weddings, Sunday evenings and Friday evenings are running a close second,” says Knoer. Budget conscious brides can get a deal and have a classy event on an “off” day.
Melissa Paris of the San Diego Air & Space Museum says Sundays are often slow at the museum, so they can offer deals. “Normally we reduce the admission and throw in certain tables for free but we base each event price on a case by case basis,” she says. Other venues have discounts too. The Bristol Hotel San Diego offers, “a $10 to $15 discount off our published wedding packages if couples choose an ‘off’ day for their wedding,” Knoer says. “We are also flexible with the food and beverage minimum and will customize a package that works with their wedding vision and budget. “Another way to save a little, aside from an ‘off’ day is to have a sunset ceremony, say around 7:00 pm, and offer the guests a dessert reception with light hors d’oeuvres.” Many venues have minimum pricing requirements that must be met, but often they can budge on those rates. “I can lower the minimums,” says Zweig. “I can throw in perks like room discounts, champagne toast and an upgrade to the bride and groom’s suite.” Be aware though that while planning ahead is good, it doesn’t always result in savings. “If it’s a popular wedding month like July or August and a year out, venues will stick to the minimum,” says Karen Criebbs of the Sheraton La Jolla Hotel. You’ll get the best deals closer to the event date, but you likely won’t have lots of venues to consider since many are booked far in advance. You can save money depending on the reception’s time of day. If you want to trim your budget, Criebbs says midday is a good time: “Luncheon pricing is less expensive than dinner pricing.”
Criebbs says many couples aren’t hosting dinner receptions. “In lieu of dinner, we are seeing heavy hors d’oeuvres.” Still that doesn’t mean an hors d’oeuvres reception is cheaper than a dinner. Often it’s pricier to serve tray passed hors d’oeuvres than to host a plated meal.
Planning Time Frames
“The wedding market is very competitive and saturated with caterers and restaurants; brides have lots of options and price points to choose from,” says Lisa Bolger of Festivities Catering. No matter when you want to get hitched, make a solid decision as soon as you can. Then send out your save-the-date cards to give guests a heads up about your event. Once you have a venue and a timetable, you can start planning all the other wedding elements!