Choosing the Venue: California

Korea has the fancy venues, but America has the cozy ones. the vintage ones. the fun, ourdoor beach ones. It took me a while to decide the type of theme that I wanted  for my American reception.  All I knew was that because Korea’s wedding would be formal, fancy and grand, I wanted my American reception to be laid back, cozy, and fun.  I wanted the guests to enjoy the night as much as we would. My ultimate must-haves for my reception would be GREAT FOOD and festive atmosphere. 

Hotels didn’t fit the laid-back theme I was looking for, but I’ve decided to check them out anyway because I’ve always wanted to hold my wedding at Beverly Hills Hotel if I were to wed in America. It’s classy, fancy, and historic. But when I called them, I was quoted $70,000 just for the reception alone. It may have been worth it if I’m just celebrating my wedding once, but with two weddings in the picture, I was looking more for a budget wedding that’s DIY and PIY (plan-it-yourself) inspired.  Here is a picture anyway, because I just adore this historical landmark:

I shall hold some type of event here someday! Perhaps a don-janchi (Korean 1st Bday for babies^^).

Other hotels I also like were Montage Laguna Beach, The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast, and Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel which are also in the similar price range.

We then looked into outdoor receptions. While I absolutely love beach ceremonies, I’m not a fan of sailor/beach theme with their white folding chairs. But I do adore tent weddings. There’s just something so intimiate and fancy about them, and you don’t need much table decor because tent itself already looks embellished:

but where to park the tent? was the question. We considered my church lot, St. Thomas in Anaheim, but unfortunately they didn’t allow it and the difficulty about tent weddings is that you have to build everything from scratch, and I didn’t have enough time nor resources for that.

Wineries/ranches are beautiful as well, but as with the tent weddings you are basically just renting the lot. You would have to individually plan and bring in everything, from tables to catering services. Ranches and wineries in LA/OC rent their lots ranging from $10,000~15,000 a day. Girls on a tight budget who are great planners would definitely be able to put together a beautiful wedding for cheaper, unlike hotels which have minimum requirements for guest number, flowers, alcohol, etc. Everything and anything goes here. But because I didn’t feel like preparing a wedding reception from scratch, I decided to look elsewhere.

Cheaper alternative would be lower class hotels, churches, gardens and lots in cheaper cities, affordable restaurants, etc.

Then after hours of research, I came across Summit House. It’s actually my parents’ favorite steakhouse and I had no idea they had ballrooms for events here. Upon revisiting the restaurant, I absolutely fell in love with its cozy atmosphere. The main ballroom is floor-to-ceiling windows that looks out to San Bernardino Mountains. The room fits up to 200~250 people, perfect for our small guest size (150 people). It has a beautiful outdoor lawn where we could take pictures with my Bridesmaids. Best of all, having my reception here would serve my guests the best quality food. Here are some pictures of our visit:

Entrance to the Main Ballroom from the parking lot. They have free valet service on the night of your reception.

You can see the ceremony area which I won’t be using, but for anyone who’s interested, it’s was really intimate and cute. It’s only $500 or so extra to rent the space.

The main ballroom. I really dislike those chairs

The beautiful window-to-ceriling windows! looks beautiful in pictures.

There’s a built-in wooden dance floor free-of-charge. I wanted to change to white, but we would have to rent it from an outside vendor. (Average cost: $1000)

The front entrance to the ballroom where I’ll have an outside bar, guestbook table, and name card table. People will be able to mingle here before the reception starts.

The outside view and tall windows. Beautiful. 🙂

There is no extra fee for bringing in outside vendors, which was a big plus. The choice of table linen that comes with the reception package is white and ivory, with more variety of napkin colors to choose from. Of course, the food, tables, chairs, dance floor, projector screen all comes with the package.

I’ll be using outside vendor for:

-Gold chivari chairs
-photobooth
-lighting
-DJ
-flowers and other decor

I debated on not having a DJ/photobooth/lighting because my theme is “simple yet elegant vintage,” but because it will be a dinner “party” I thought it was crucial. Plus, we wouldn’t be able to celebrate it this way in Korea because there is no dancing or drinking going on. In our American reception, we hope to make it up by doing our first dance, father and daughter dance, and all the other fun order-of-events that we couldn’t do in Korea! I can’t wait to see how this reception will turn out.

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