At Venuelust, we love nothing more than exploring and comparing venues from across the globe and describing our findings for all of our readers. However, few people in this world are as well equipped to really break down the business of venue shopping more than professional wedding and event planners. So, today, we are thrilled to share with you an interview with Stephanie Martin, Founder of One Fine Day Events, a Lake Tahoe-based boutique wedding and event planning company. Get your notepads ready, folks, because this event guru is sharing some serious wisdom:
Venuelust (VL): What is your favorite part about shopping venues with clients?
Stephanie Martin (SM): Seeing a client’s reactions to different venues and the unique possibilities for each one. We get to show them a blank canvas and explain how we will dress up a space to bring their vision to life. The look on their faces when they’re able to imagine themselves walking down the aisle at their venue is priceless!
VL: Being in Tahoe, I'd imagine you've planned many a snowy winter wedding. What are some of your favorite things about winter weddings and the design opportunities they provide?
SM: There is something about a chilly, snowy Lake Tahoe winter’s day that evokes a magical, intimate and romantic feeling. The outdoors are a big part of the culture and way of life in Tahoe, so we like to incorporate at least some of that into a winter wedding. We have to get really creative to keep everyone comfortable, like providing mugs of hot chocolate and blankets during an outdoor ceremony.
Since we are limited to mostly indoor spaces though, it can be challenging to find a space that will fit a client’s vision for their big day. Like for Paige and Ken (pictured): they wanted a simple, warm and inviting space, to be surrounded by white, and to have the space be lit mostly by candlelight. There just wasn’t an all-white space available, so we had to transform a ballroom into their winter wonderland with fabric draping and a creative lighting design.
Our favorite challenge for an indoor winter wedding is finding ways to make staying in the same space for hours interesting for the guests. For example, if we need to have cocktail hour and dancing in the same area, while everyone is having dinner, we will give the room an “outfit change” and completely transform it into a fresh new space for them to come back to.
VL: What one piece of advice would you offer to couples who are shopping wedding venues?
SM: Look for someone who knows the venues you are considering, and who has hopefully done events there before. Even if you’re a super savvy bride who asks all the right questions, having a professional with experience and insider info will save you a lot of time in finding a venue that will suit your needs and style. Equally important though: Be sure to have clear expectations of what you want out of a venue. If your dream is to get married in a forested setting with twinkle lights, don’t book a ballroom or an open meadow with no trees. You won’t be happy.
VL: What's your favorite design trick for sprucing up a venue?
SM: Linens and lighting, especially in a venue with certain features you would rather hide. A thoughtful combination of those two things can work wonders to transform a space. The eye is automatically drawn to the beautiful details you’ve hand selected, rather than the weird patterned carpet or harsh overhead lighting.
VL: What's the biggest or most challenging venue transformation OFD has ever executed?
SM: For one wedding, we built and stained a 40x60’ raised hardwood deck on the lawn for the dining area, carpeted the entire driveway in sisal flooring, erected an 18ft. beam structure surrounding the bar and completely covered the dance floor area with a canopy of several thousand twinkle lights.
The rental company that installed all of this for us said that the flooring alone was “more complicated than the Oscars!”
VL: What unique design challenges do indoor and outdoor venues each present?
SM: Indoors, the four walls and the existing décor can be limiting. Maybe the venue has killer views, but an oddly-shaped layout, bright carpet or dated chandeliers that don’t suit your tastes. You have to find ways to work with those elements, or find a work-around to camouflage them and distract the eye with other things.
Outdoors, especially in Tahoe at one of our private estates, it’s two things. First, the weather. We always have to have a Plan B (and sometimes a Plan C). When a couple spends a year or more working with us to design their dreamy summer wedding at the perfect lakefront property, we aren’t going to let a little thing like rain (or snow!) keep us from putting on a flawless event.
Second, it’s the fact that these properties were not designed to be wedding venues for 150+ guests. They’re essentially just someone’s back yard and are truly blank canvases. So we have to bring in power, figure out where to get water, and provide almost every single thing the guests will see, touch or use while making sure both the loveliest design elements and the utilitarian necessities still blend with the beauty of the location.
VL: What's your favorite off-the-beaten-path Lake Tahoe venue?
SM: We work with so many lovely private estates like Rocky Pines, a gorgeous little spot on the lake shaded by a canopy of pine trees with a private pier. Or Sandy Shores Cove, which is perched on the edge of a bluff with a panoramic view of Lake Tahoe and the mountains.
But our favorite “off the beaten path” venue is the Gold Coast Estate. It’s way down the West Shore in Rubicon Bay, at the end of a private drive that’s only marked by a ring around a tree. The lawn looks out over a white sandy beach, the color of the water there changes from turquoise to deep blue, and the alpine glow at sunset can be a breathtaking backdrop for photos.
Did our interview with One Fine Day Events give you any ideas or insights? Share your thoughts in the comments section.