Wedding Site Review #1 Part 1: Yelp-Approved Carondelet House

Paging through my endless trove of this year’s photos, I noticed I had quite a few from wedding venue scouting. Of course I do — I’ve been scouting venues for 10 months now (officially … wink!).

Pictured: the patron saint of stagnant wedding planning.

Pictured: the patron saint of stagnant wedding planning.

If you are still stuck on the worrisome phrase “endless trove of this year’s photos,” good eye! Yes, I am still taking photos of everything, constantly, and storing them all up like Robin Williams in “One Hour Photo” (R.I.P — to Robin Williams and to “one-hour photo” establishments), or weird meat hooks-swinger Adam Levine in the Maroon 5 “Animals” video.

What are we doing here?

What are we doing here?

Perhaps now you are now stuck on the reference to the Maroon 5 “Animals” video, either because you know me in person and have heard me decry the preening antics of Adam Levine, or you are of working eardrum and share my opinion that the man sings in the timbre of an estrus tabby. Fear not — it is only at the forefront of my mind because Deepak has decided that footage of Adam slappin’ around his carrion luggage, as he does in the “Animals” video — is just what we need to inspire us to dizzying heights of fall fitness.

Bod by burpees?

Bod by burpees?

I continue my open-ended quest to be Los Angeles’ most knowledgable non-married wedding expert. I make the distinction because wouldn’t someone who’s gotten married multiple times here be the true expert? I’d like to track that person down, Los Angeles’ Most Married, and ask him/her advice. I’d take all the relationship advice and do everything the opposite, then ask for wedding planning advice and cherry-pick what to do the same.

Visiting every single venue possible.

Visiting every single venue possible.

I’m getting away from the point here. Maroon 5 distracted me. Should I be doing yoga, as he says he does, or high-intensity interval training, as Deepak advocates? Is writing increasingly tortured metaphors and meandering around the point on this blog sufficient exercise?

2014-02-28 16.07.07

One of the first wedding venues I scouted was the Carondelet House in Westlake, Los Angeles. A neighborhood note: Westlake — unlike the storied and gorgeous West Lake in China; bumptious but lovely West Lake subdivision where I spent my youth in Augusta, Ga.; or the similarly named Westlake Village in Ventura County, Calif. — is gentrifying like the rest of Los Angeles, but still features a relatively low median income and just a touch too much crime than some may be accustomed to.

Just outside

Just outside

So this means that if you were to choose this venue, the rough-ish neighborhood could have ramifications on: parking (pro: it’s plentiful and unmetered; con: may create a bad impression when guests have to hotfoot it past mendicants and/or discarded heroin needles); lodging (pro: it’s plentiful and affordable; con: the area’s lacking in entertainments and as stated above, if you hear someone yell “Horse!” around Westlake chances are that person isn’t playing basketball), etc.

Nice details!

Nice details!

Even hallways are alluring.

Even hallways are alluring.

I found Carondelet House through Yelp. When you begin wedding scouting, you may discover the trove of vendor and venue reviews on WeddingWire, Here Comes the Guide, etc. But I found those wedding-specific review sites had way too many positive reviews. What’s more, the reviews lacked specificity in favor of bland banalities and suspiciously positive platitudes. I’m happy that allegedly these people thought their weddings were 5-star, impeccable affairs and that every single venue and vendor they dealt with comported itself with impossible class, style and respect for the person’s budget. I just require some “wish they had done this differently” or “they nearly ruined our perfect wedding!” doses of realism in my reviews to know that I am speaking with a reasonable human adult and not a two-dimensional Disneyfied bridal cliche / SEO bot.

The seating arrangements are very Game of Thrones-y. That is, you will be sitting at long banquet-style tables rather than the more traditional round tables.

The seating arrangements are very Game of Thrones-y. That is, you will be sitting at long banquet-style tables rather than the more traditional round tables.

These were my impressions after visiting the site on an open house in February:

PRO:
Responsiveness. The venue and its coordinator were great at getting back to me and providing no-nonsense pricing sheets, info about venue, availability calendars, etc. Very appreciated, and much rarer than it should be in the industry!
Variety of spaces and long rental time. You get 7,600 sq. ft. of space for 10 hours. While the rental fees are rising yearly/astronomically, the variety of setups and length of the rental can help ease your premarital addled mind. For ~$7K, you also get an impressive variety of indoor, outdoor, courtyard and lounge spaces.
Savings (or at least the perception of it). Once you’ve plunked down rental fee, you get a significant “break” on their in-house caterer (i.e., discount built into price to encourage you to stay vertically integrated).

Definitely a warm-glowing, romantic feel.

Definitely a warm-glowing, romantic feel.

CON:
The place is heavily booked! Is this a pro? Clearly the masses have approved and descended on the place. The vibe at the open house I went to last year — in which only 2 Saturdays for the present year remained open — resembled a feeding frenzy. People whipped out checkbooks on the spot and they booked up within the hour.
Not a one-stop-shop. As the site tells you, you get a sound system, the vintage-y decor (like oil paintings and sculpture) and ample lounge seating. Also, a baby grand! However, you have to rent linens and provide your own chairs for dinners above 100 guests. (You also have to provide the things you do at most other places, including flowers and additional lighting.)
Exposed brick. I know, random con! Maybe this is a pro for you. “Exposed brick” became a shibboleth for Deepak and me. He never saw this venue in person. When I showed him the photos, he had a positive reaction. I realized, unfairly, that the venue didn’t really speak to me and I was just waiting for him to be similarly underwhelmed. I kept saying: “But don’t you have a problem with exposed brick?!” Moral of the story: The place photographs beautifully … but think long and hard about whether you like the aesthetic to begin with.

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Up next, read my personal reaction to the venue and find out whether it’s still on the possibilities list.

One Comment
  1. Pingback: Wedding Venue Review #1 Part 2: "Factitious" Carondelet House | Violet On Orange

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