This is Part 1 in a series on the vendors I used for my wedding.
As you can imagine, the guy who runs a happy hour blog likes getting good value for his money. That doesn’t always mean getting the cheapest drink, but getting the drink you want for a good price. It’s with this mentality that I went through the whole wedding process.
We got married in early April in Sacramento. In choosing our wedding vendors, we did a lot of research. In almost every case, the Sacramento wedding vendor we chose wasn’t the cheapest, but it was one that we felt comfortable with, one that met our needs and one that provided good value.
This research was a lot of work. I wanted to take this opportunity to share the vendors we used and give a short explanation as to why we chose them. Hopefully, this series can save you some time, effort and money while providing you with a great experience on your wedding day.
(Also, I understand this is a happy hour blog. I promise there won't be many of these posts.)
Rehearsal Dinner - Red Lotus
In order to run this blog, I go to a lot of happy hours and I get to experience a lot of restaurants. I called a dozen local restaurants to see where we could seat our party of 30 on a Friday night. We ended up choosing Red Lotus. We chose Red Lotus for a couple reasons. First, we love their food. It’s fresh and inventive. If you get the chance, you have to try their braised pork belly and their chili shrimp. Both are simply amazing. If you want to see our rehearsal dinner menu, click here. We're also both Chinese, and having a meal at Red Lotus allowed a way to include some familiar tastes for our eldery relatives without having to hold it at a Chinese restaurant.
Second, they were amazingly affordable (for a wedding-related event, at least). With an open bar, seven courses served family style, and dessert, we paid a little over $30 per person. Many of the other places we priced out were in the $30 to $40 range for food alone.
If I had one criticizism, it was that the food took a long time. Even though we had arranged with the kitchen the exact dishes we wanted ahead of time, I'm not sure their kitchen is used to pumping out that amount of food all at the same time while serving other customers.
Wedding Reception Venue - The Old Sugar Mill
After visiting more than 10 wedding reception venues in the Sacramento area, we decided to hold our wedding reception at the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg. It’s a renovated old sugar beet processing plant that’s now houses a number of small wineries and tasting rooms. It’s an old brick building with a lot of character, and compared to holding the reception at a hotel ballroom, it was more affordable. April is the end of their offseason, so we were able to get a great rate.
One of the advantages of having a wedding reception at a winery is the relative affordability of the alcohol. Wine was from their host winery, the Carvahlo Family Winery and beer from Sudwerk Brewery in Davis. Both offered a solid selection and were well received by guests. Instead of doing an open bar where they keep track of each drink and charge you at the end, the Old Sugar Mill charges a simple per person fee for alcohol – a fee approximately equal to two glasses of wine at a restaurant. Given that many of our guests enjoy drinking large quantities of wine, it was much cheaper that we were charged per person as opposed to by the drink.
Cocktail Hour Food - The Brick Oven
We wanted to do something a little different for the food for our cocktail hour. (Alcohol was provided by the winery.) We both work in a profession where we go to a lot of receptions and have the same finger foods, vegetable platters or Swedish meatballs. There’s nothing wrong with these options, but we wanted to do something different. At the Old Sugar Mill, they have an area where you could park a food truck. We considered doing a slider truck, a taco truck and a mobile brick oven pizza. We priced out at least three options, and we decided to go with The Brick Oven, a mobile pizza kitchen. It was the feature of the wedding that we got the most positive comments on.
While we were taking photos during the cocktail hour and didn't see it for ourselves, we were told that the pizza was so good that there was a continual line of people waiting for pizza. The pizza baked quickly, but our guests snapped it up as quickly as they could make it. We even asked for a pizza to go so we’d have something to eat in case we weren’t able to eat during the reception, and when we finally got back to our hotel and ate the pizza at 11 p.m., it was still great.
If you have any specific questions about these vendors, please send me an e-mail, and I'm happy to elaborate on our experience. [email protected].