10 Questions that Some California Wedding Venues Avoid At All Costs

Researching California wedding venues? You may be in trouble if a wedding venue can’t answer them.

The best way to make sure your wedding is amazing is to hire the right wedding venue.

We want your dream wedding to be a reality. But you’ve probably never had to search out a venue before getting engaged and that can be daunting. What questions do you ask, besides pricing and guest count, the obvious ones?

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We’re going to cover 10 questions you won’t find anywhere else, that can save you a ton of heartache and headache on your big day.

It’s not a glamorous or inspo wedding blog, but it’s a reality check.

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1. Is this a “secret” wedding venue?

Mountain House Estate’s Answer: No, we are not a secret California wedding site. We are an LLC and are licensed and insured.

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Did you hear about this wedding site from a friend? Did this friend tell you that they don’t do many weddings? Did you find them through Airbnb, VRBO, but no website? Are their prices are really low?

If any of these are true, run away fast! Your wedding day and your guests could be canceled last minute, or worse.

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Secret California wedding sites usually don’t meet safety requirements and haven’t been inspected.
Things we’ve witnessed and stories we’ve heard about secret spots include:

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  •  A roof blew off during a ceremony
  • Rat droppings on the dinner plates at the rehearsal dinner
  • Allowing fireworks that caught the brides dress on fire during the reception
  • People were so drunk that there were fights and vomit everywhere
  • Near drowning with no one sober enough to help the victim during the reception
  • First responders unable to find the venue out in the country
  • Shuttle falling into the septic tank
  • Dozens of guests in the hospital with food poisoning
  • The shooting at an Airbnb wedding with no security

This list can continue for pages. The lesson is, don’t have a wedding at a secret site.

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2. Does our caterer have to bring water?  

Mountain House Estate’s Answer: No, we have safe drinking water. Our water has been tested and is potable.

Wrong answer – Yes, we ask that the caterer bring the drinking water. P.S. That’s code for “our water isn’t safe to drink.”.

Some rustic California sites have unsafe drinking water.

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These Cali wedding sites could be a type of barn or farm, or they could have been used for another purpose. These places might have old wells that can’t provide clean water because of old seals. Older wells do not have seals that stop runoff water (chemicals, animal manure, etc.) from going down the well and polluting it.

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3. How many bathrooms does the site have?

Mountain House Estate’s Answer: We have a bathroom in the bride’s room for the bride tribe to use, we have another in the groom’s room for him and the guys to use, we have a separate one for staff and large, easy-to-find ones for the maximum capacity of our place.

You need to know: the rule of thumb is that you need one toilet for every 50 people. Don’t only count your wedding guests; make sure to include all staffing in that count. For a 150 person wedding, you want at least four toilets.

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You may have to pay extra for porta-potties

What about the bride and groom prep area – do they have separate bathrooms or do they need to use the ones the guests use? Do the bathrooms have baby changing facilities? Are they handicap accessible?

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If the wedding site doesn’t have enough toilets, are you ready to spend the money on porta-potties? Even luxury Porta-johns are just fancy outhouses. And then you have feminine products – are there provisions to handle them, so they don’t get flushed?

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4. What does the venue do to control insects?

If their answer isn’t thorough, we hope you aren’t hosting your ceremony or reception outdoors! The best wedding venues work to control insects and pests.

Mountain House Estate’s Answer: We work day and night to control the insect population. Actually, here’s a breakdown of how we handle various types of insects:

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Yellow Jackets

MHE uses a combination of methods – We set up traps that let us know if there’s some in the area. If one is detected, then a specialty insecticide is used to kill the nest.

Flies and Mosquitoes

First, we make sure the problem doesn’t arise by not having animals around the venue or sources of breeding water. Our pond is stocked with various species of fish that eat larvae. We employ natural methods including bats who will eat their weight in insects each night.

Anywhere there is water, there can be mosquitos, and there needs to be a plan. We heard a story from a wedding guest about another wedding he recently attended by a natural lake, where tents were set up in the meadow.

It was a beautiful location when toured in the early spring. But the summer wedding had a different experience; tall, dry grass that harbored the fleas and ticks mentioned before, and there were clouds of mosquitos swarming around the lake, which was covered with a green ooze of algae.

Everyone was trying to be polite as they swatted at the mosquitos, but the lights after dark seemed to make them more aggressive.

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Fleas and Ticks

Within landscaped areas, we use a combination of methods to prevent them from establishing a colony. First, the wildlife areas are fenced away from the venue, and the venue is surrounded by large parking areas. For any lawn pests, a specialized insecticide is used.

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5. Does the wedding venue have a commercial septic system?

Mountain House Estate’s Answer: Yes we do! 

We handled the subject of bathrooms earlier, but it all runs downhill’ as the saying goes. Some wine country wedding sites are hooked up to the public sewer system, and as long as it’s a commercial hook-up, it should be fine.

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But this can be an issue if you are having a DIY wedding in your grandpa’s backyard. His bathroom(s) were never designed to handle that many flushes in a day.

The best California wedding venues will be hooked up to city sewer or have their own septic system. Otherwise, your outdoor space can turn into a sh*t storm.

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6. Will there be odors during my wedding?

Mountain House Estate’s Answer: No, there will not be, because we operate exclusively as a venue (not as a farm, ranch, or agriculture center).

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In the winter and early spring when most couples take a tour, everything is wet and odors don’t travel. But in other parts of the year, it can be an issue. There are Cali wedding spots located near odor-producing enterprises, where the source of the odors is totally out of sight. Think mushroom farms, animal farms, and more.

So ask the question, drive around the area, and look for yourself.

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7. What is the weather like at the time of year I want to get married?

Mountain House Estate’s Answer: Mountain House Estate is located in a mountain pass between the Alexander Valley in the Russian River Valley (RRV), and the Mendocino Coast. Our property is the highest location in the mountain pass, at 1,220′. Because of this, we experience a very unique microclimate.

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MHE is usually 10 degrees cooler than Cloverdale and will get an afternoon breeze from the Mendocino Coast. We do hot girl summer the right way.

Here’s some more info about our weather.

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Our weather is almost similar to that of Yorkville, CA 95494, located 10 miles to our west. However, our mailing address is Cloverdale, CA 95425 to our east.

Cloverdale is located on the upper RRV floor at 335′ in elevation. The Russian River continues down the Alexander Valley to Healdsburg, with an elevation of 105′ above sea level.

Know the microclimate.

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Every area has its climate, but there are also microclimates. Wedding spots should show you the average high and low temperatures, and describe the particular microclimate they occupy. Is it in a valley or on a bare hill that gets brutally hot? Is the place on the Sonoma or Mendocino coast where a cold fog can roll in and be bone-chilling cold? What is the average rainfall, and what’s the backup plan?

8. Are there any issues with neighbors and noise?

Mountain House Estate’s Answer: No, there is not, because we are distant from our neighbors and have great relationships with our neighbors.

There are two ways that this question should be answered when touring.

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If your wedding makes a bunch of noise, are the neighbors going to call the authorities? Some Cali places have ongoing feuds with neighbors, and you don’t want to get wrapped up in their issues.

Are the neighbors going to make noise during your ceremony?

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What, this be a problem? Heck yes. There’s one place in wine country with a feuding neighbor, where the neighbor, knowing when the wedding ceremony is most likely to happen, starts up his weedeater, or backpack blower, both of which he’s removed the muffler.

This place has made videos, complained to the authorities, but has been told nothing can be done. Your wedding day shouldn’t suffer from an ongoing feud.

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Another place in Sonoma Wine County has neighbors whose teenage boys now have off-road motorcycles, and like to ride around on wedding days. Not only is it noisy, but it’s also dusty. The wedding venue is in an area with rolling hills and no neighbors within a mile radius. But the boy’s parents, not wanting to hear the noise, send the boys out to the track they’ve created within sight and sound of the place.

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While you are at the tour, look far and wide, do you see evidence of motorcycle tracks, earthwork, construction, or anything else that gives you a clue to something else that you should consider?

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9. Is the road to the site easily accessible for you and your guests?

Mountain House Estate’s Answer: Yes, we are located right along the highway at 38000 CA-128, Cloverdale, CA 95425.

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This is an easy one. You need to see if the roads and parking lot at the place look safe. In Cali, these businesses must follow fire safety standards. Many of these requirements are in place to make sure that first responders can get into the place quickly in case of emergencies.

Can fire trucks and ambulances find the place?

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Can they turn into and out of it easily? Are all of the roads paved or gravel (and not slippery)? Does everyone have to be shuttled from off-site parking?

Wildfires seem to be an annual event in California lately. Caused by PG&E or others, they are scary and dangerous. As you approach or leave the tour – are there multiple escape routes? If both sides of the road are on fire, can everyone still get out safely?

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There are plenty of stories about first responders not being able to get to the fire, heart attack, stroke, choking, and more at various wedding venues in California.

You have a lot of people together, for many hours, and something could happen. You simply need to look around and think – “if I have 150 people here and their cars, can an ambulance get in to pick up my grandmother?”

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10. In the event of an earthquake, is it safe?

Mountain House Estate’s Answer: Yes, you will be safe. If you can’t tell from this article, we employ safety measures and precautions to safeguard you and your guests. Mountain House Estate was built as a wine country wedding venue in the late 1990s and passed all the inspections. It was remodeled in 2014 and passed inspections a second time.

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We live in California – earthquakes can happen any day, any time.

What if “the big one” happens during your wedding? Look around the California wedding venue and all areas where you and your vendors will be. Ask yourself,

  • Does everything look secure, braced, new, and safe?
  • Are there large arbors holding grape vines that will be overhead?
  • Are there art installations that are not well secured to the ground?
  • Are there trees that will topple or block the escape routes, including roads?
You don’t have to live your life in fear, but you should make wise choices.

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It’s your wedding, and your guests are your family and friends.

Don’t subject them to a knowingly dangerous wine country venue.

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Don’t go for a low-budget place that can cost you in the long run.

Going for low-cost spots in Southern California or NorCal can cost you in the long run. It actually may be the most expensive decision you’ve ever made. Contact us today if you have any other questions regarding your search for California wine country wedding venues.

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Why consider Mountain House Estate if you’re located in Southern California?

If you live in Southern California but want to have your wedding in NorCal, there are more wedding venues than you can count! NorCal is gorgeous, from wine country to the coast and has some of the best venues in California.

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Your wedding can be a destination wedding and vacation.

Many of our wedding couples searching for wedding sites are coming from Southern California cities such as Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, and Orange County.

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Southern California is gorgeous, but if you love wine country, rugged coastline, a cool ocean breeze, and laid-back vibes, the best wedding venues are in NorCal.

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Orange County and Southern California Wedding Venues

Southern California wedding venues and most wedding venues in California usually have outdoor event spaces, such as the Post Ranch Inn, Parker Palm Springs, Ojai Valley Inn, or Biltmore Santa Barbara. Many couples across the entire world are looking at Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Huntington Beach, and other destinations in the Golden State (California).

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Distances to MHE:

San Diego: 9 hr 39 mins
Palm Springs: 8 hr 55 mins
Newport Beach: 7 hr 54 mins
Inland Empire (Riverside): 7 hr 49 mins
Los Angeles: 7 hr 29 mins
Central Coast: 6 hr 48 mins
Santa Barbara: 6 hr 21 mins
Lake Tahoe: 3 hr 58 mins
San Francisco Bay: 2 hr
Golden Gate Bridge: 1 hr 14 mins

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Why consider Mountain House Estate if you’re located in Southern California?

If you live in Southern California but want to have your wedding in Northern California, our venue is perfect. Northern California is gorgeous, from wine country to the coast. Your wedding can be a destination wedding and vacation. Many of our wedding couples searching for wedding venues are coming from Southern California cities such as Los Angeles California, Palm Springs California, Santa Barbara California, Big Sur California, and Orange County California.

Southern California is gorgeous, but if you love wine country, rugged coastline, a cool ocean breeze, and laid-back vibes, you should host your wedding at Mountain House Estate.

Orange County and Southern California Wedding Venues

If you’re looking to get married at Los Angeles country club wedding venues, banquet hall wedding venues, resort spa wedding venues, Palm Springs golf course wedding venues, restaurant wedding venues, hotel wedding venues, or Orange County beach wedding venues, then our venue is not a good fit. Of course, we think it’s not a good fit for anyone who wants a one-of-a-kind wedding! Read more here.

Southern California is known for its stunning weather, and a lot of couples choose to have their wedding outdoors because they know that the sun is almost always shining in this region. However, you might not want an outdoor ceremony if it will be too hot for guests or the bride, so make sure your Southern California venue has plenty of indoor seating options as well.

California Venue Type and Event Spaces that are Not “Event Only”

You want your dream wedding day to be special and memorable, right? Then you should pick a venue that will WOW your guests and is “event only”. This means it is an event space that operates exclusively as a wedding venue. There are a few types of venues that are not “event only,” including:

  • Southern California Hotel and Resort Type Weddings
  • Southern California Bed & Breakfast/Inn Type Weddings
  • Southern California (Temecula) Winery/Vineyards Type Weddings
  • Southern California Mansion Type Weddings
  • Southern California Event Center and Banquet Hall Type Weddings
  • Southern California Grand Ballroom Type Weddings
  • Southern California Private Club Type Weddings
  • Southern California Golf Course Type Weddings
  • Southern California Modern Museum/Art Gallery Type Weddings
  • Southern California Traditional Church and Temple Type Weddings
  • Southern California Community Center Type Weddings
  • Southern California Beach Town or City Type Weddings
  • Southern California Yacht Club Type Weddings
  • Southern California Mountains and Beaches
  • Southern California Garden Type Venues

Distances from Southern California and Northern California cities:

San Francisco Bay, California: 2 hr

San Diego, California: 9 hr 39 mins

Palm Springs, California: 8 hr 55 mins

Los Angeles, California: 7 hr 29 mins

Santa Barbara, California: 6 hr 21 mins

Lake Tahoe, California: 3 hr 58 mins

Inland Empire (Riverside): 7 hr 49 mins

Central Coast: 6 hr 48 mins

Golden Gate Bridge: 1 hr 14 mins

Newport Beach: 7 hr 54 mins

Northern California, Central California, Southern California, East Bay weddings, Lake Tahoe / Northern Sierras, Monterey and Carmel, North Bay / Marin, Sacramento / Gold Country, San Francisco, San Joaquin, and Central Valley, Santa Cruz, Shasta / North State, Catalina Island, Los Angeles, Palm Springs / Palm Desert / Coachella Valley, Riverside / Inland Empire, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena, Ventura County