Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Road Bump: Finding A Rehearsal Dinner Venue

As I alluded to in my last post, we went and looked at the reservable picnic spots at the San Mateo park, and were completely disappointed. We had wanted to do a casual BBQ in the park, so we could have all our close family and out of town guests attend the rehearsal dinner, and Central Park was relatively close to the Marriott where everyone would be staying. But when we went to go look at the picnic sites, they were Ugly, with a capital U!

The four sites were all practically on top of each other, with old bark under the tables, and right across from a loud playground and busy street corner. We were thinking if we did the casual park set up, we'd put out frisbees and a badminton net, to provide some entertainment other than staring at each other across picnic tables. But here, the grass was nowhere nearby, and pretty much this plan just wasn't going to work. (sorry, I didn't take pics of the ugly picnic sites because I didn't want to be rude and take pictures of strangers eating. You'll just have to take my word for how lame the sites were!)

So, back to the drawing board. After looking at the San Mateo park, I spent the entire week researching potential new locations. And believe me, it wasn't easy. We were trying to spend under $2,000, since that's what the FIL Colas were contributing to the dinner. And for about 35 people, that's not easy to do in this area! Here were the options I came up with:

Kingfish, downtown San Mateo


However, their cheapest dinner option is $38 per person, not including tax, tip or drinks. So that would be a grand total of $2,462.21, allowing each person to spend $15 on drinks (which is really only about 2 drinks eac
h), and including tax and tip.

Porterhouse, downtown San Mateo

Their cheapest dinner option is $35 a person, also not including tax, tip or drinks, so it would be $2,326.50 total. Not much less than the first option.

Fish Market, across freeway from The Marriott

Looks-wise, this was the best option (as I'm sure you've guessed by now, I love things being outdoors!), and they would let us make our own pre fixe menu. That turned out being between $26.75-34.75 a person, depending on which men
u item they chose. But that was still $2,315.19 total.

Coyote Point Museum, Coyote Point Park, San Mateo

This place looked pretty decent, being that it was outdoors, and assumedly we could have it catered for less than the restaurant options. But it was not meant to be, since they never answered my 3 e-mails asking for pricing and rental info.

San Mateo Garden Center, central San Mateo

(pictures taken by me)

This place is located in central San Mateo, but not too much further from the hotel than Central Park. The rental fee is only $450, including chairs and tables, for 5 hours, and we can have it catered by whoever we want. So the total before decorations would only be $1,477.49! Bringing our own beer and wine will be a huge money saver, and I love this location so much better than the BBQ in the park.

So naturally, this is the location we picked. Especially after seeing another reservable picnic spot right after seeing the Garden Center, at the park behind it:

(ick, just no comparison to the Garden Center. Photo taken by me)

So the San Mateo Garden Center is our rehearsal dinner location! And it only took me about a week of pulling out my hair to figure it out. Next up I'll share how we're going to pretty it up!

Did you struggle with finding your rehearsal dinner location? And did the price play a big part in your decision?


  1. I love the one you picked! Looks really nice and conducive to mingling.

  2. We struggled and we're still struggling. ;) It hasn't been picked yet.

    I love the site you ended up with!

  3. Ah, before I read that you picked it I was totally going to tell you to pick the San Mateo Garden Center...very cool and sounds like it fits your tastes perfectly. The rehearsal is a hard thing to nail down. And difficult because you typically have the groom's parents hosting it but you are really doing most of the planning part and scouting. Looks like it worked out. We have not nailed our location down yet but have a very good option that is super reasonable for what we want the Groom's parents to have to pay...and we will have 46 people at the rehearsal! But we are not supplying any alcohol for them (they'll have to get that on a cash purchase basis). Anyway, I am hoping to nail that down in the next month or two. The only real downfall to the Old Spaghetti Factory that we have chosen in Newport is that it is about a 25-30 minute drive from our wedding venue and we will be driving to it at 4:30 pm on a Thursday right in the middle of work traffic :(

  4. Great choice....very scenic. You'll have great pictures at this location.