A seasoned pro learns the other side of planning a wedding: The story of Kevin & Diana, part two...

By DJ Kevin O'Scanlon:

Wedding planning takes a lot of forethought. For most people, the first thing you need is a location. A venue. A setting. A theme. For my now-wife Diana and me, the original plan was an intimate wedding in Hawaii and an after party at a rented house. Seems easy enough...right?

The reality of planning a destination wedding kicked in quickly. We realized the expense per person was far more than what we were budgeting for, not to mention the fact that we were getting immediate push back from some of our guests because of the traveling expense. Not everyone could afford $1000 to fly to Hawaii for a weekend to see us get married.

So we ratcheted it all back in, and decided we should host our wedding in one of the most beautiful, unique, romantic cities in the world...San Francisco. OK - Easy enough. We had our city, we had our date (sticking with 11/11/11), and now all we needed was our venue...and so began the search.

Being a wedding DJ, I’ve seen my fair share of venues. I have always believed that an amazing wedding can be in any venue...large or small, cheap or expensive: it’s the PEOPLE that make an event special.  That being said, I am never shy to entertain people, so our plan was to find a great spot, within our budget, that would impress all of our closest friends and family.

I’ll spare you the boring details of our search and fast forward to the point when we narrowed it down to two venues. The first choice was an old social club that we discovered in the outer Mission District of San Francisco. It was a beautiful location, with hardwood floors, chandeliers, a classic long wooden bar. It was really a sweet find, for a fantastic deal.

The second choice was one of my favorite venues in The City: The City Club of SF (www.cityclubsf.com). This place had it all: historic art deco, city views, multiple spaces for both a ceremony and reception.  The problem was that even with the competitive pricing (off-season, Friday night), the price was more than what we had budgeted for our venue alone. That was until we started factoring in all of the other details...

What we didn’t consider were all the costs associated with working with a venue that just provided a ‘space’.  We would have to bring in our own chairs, tables, linens, lighting, etc. etc. etc.  Much to our surprise, the fact that the City Club was ALL INCLUSIVE with those premium items meant that the price was suddenly comparable. With the City Club, it was all there already, all included in the base package...

What’s the moral of this story? Look at everything that you’re getting, and try to think about the things you need to think about before you start thinking about them...wow...that was confusing. Point being, don’t get roped in to something that seems like a better deal, only to discover down the road that what you really need is going to cost extra. This goes for venues, florists, *cough* DJS *cough*, and just about every other element when planning a wedding. Trust your instincts and you won't go wrong!

Adrian Cavlan