It’s almost every Miami girl’s dream at some point in her adolescent years, to get married at this beautiful mansion by the ocean. The romance of it does not escape anyone who steps foot on its perfect manicured gardens. But like any great love story, there are many hidden issues that are often swept under the rug. We are sharing with you essential tips and tricks from a wedding planner/producer that has a lot of experience at this venue.
Here are nine things you should know before signing to ensure a magical day at Vizcaya:
1. Vizcaya is mostly an outdoor venue. And Miami’s weather is about as unpredictable as it gets. I have one major rule for all my clients here. If you are not getting a tent, your guest count must be under 120 so we can use the inside as plan B. That is the max capacity! If your guest count is over that, then you must rent a tent….
2. You did a walkthrough of the venue, now go do a walkthrough of the tent. Ask to visit it on a day that it is up. See where the legs are, where it ends on the East Terrace, etc… Know exactly what you are getting so that you can plan your décor accordingly and avoid surprises on the big day.
3. If it does rain, the tent will protect you from the top, but not the bottom. The Upper East Terrace is made out of coral. The floor is not very even and has a couple of spots that are slightly sunken in. Even in light rain, I have seen the water come down from the tent’s roof and create puddles inside. Just in case, make sure your coordinator brings a mop or two to avoid your dance floor from turning into a slip and slide. No I am not joking!
4. The summer brings a lot of challenges for outdoor weddings in Miami, and Vizcaya is no exception. It’s hot, there are bugs, and the ocean can sometimes smell fishy (pun intended). Our tip is, Go Inside!!! Vizcaya can be just as beautiful in the summer if you take advantage of the gorgeous atrium with its newly renovated glass ceiling. Plus summer dates are easier to come by and you can get lots of discounts from your other vendors. Wink, wink.
5. It does not matter the season, or the sunset time, if you are having a ceremony on the Casino, please rent two lights to shine on the couple. The heavy trees in the area cast weird shadows on the bride and grooms faces, even on the sunniest day. Lights will fill in those spots and allow for beautiful pictures of the most important part of your wedding day.
6. There are no dressing rooms available to you. This is a museum after all. Your choices are to use the public bathroom to freshen up, or rent an RV and park it right outside the gate by the Casino and Mound. This is best so you have an air-conditioned place to freshen up, a place with snacks for your bridal party, and a safe place to store all your personal belongings near you. Otherwise you have to put your garment bags, extra shoes, makeup etc… in the bathroom (which your guests will be using) or in your car or limo, all the way in the parking lot at the top of the hill. Good luck trekking to get something you forgot.
7. This is a real biggie so pay attention!!!! Vizcaya allows vendors a limited amount of time to setup. You need to make sure what you are designing for your big day can be completed in that time, otherwise you are looking at a couple of thousands more to pay for early setup. Be realistic on what can be done in 3 hours or less (No, we can’t drape your entire tent!). And most vendors need bigger teams to setup quickly and in a venue where their trucks are parked so far from the venue. Expect to pay higher setup/breakdown fees from all your vendors than you would if you were at a hotel with a loading dock and/or freight elevator.
Here are the current setup times, meaning the minute that your vendors can start placing things/decorating:
Casino and Mound 4:00 p.m.
East Terrace 3:00 p.m.
Inside Mansion 5:15 p.m.
8. Start/End Times: This is one of those things that brides do not think about, so it is the first thing I tell them to avoid issues. The standard rental time is from 6:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. So you can start your ceremony at 6:30 p.m. right? Wrong. Your guests will be let in past the security gate at 6:30 p.m. (sometimes 6:15 p.m.) They still have to walk through the mansion and to your ceremony site. The earliest I have been able to start was 6:45 p.m. and that is very rare. I recommend a start time of 7:00 p.m. Also, the music must be shut down 15 minutes prior to the end time to allow time for the guests to get back up to the guard gate. Even if you pay for extended time until 1:00 a.m., at 12:45 a.m. your music must be shut off and your guests must make their way to the exit and be fully cleared of the premises by 1:00 a.m.
9. For the love of all things, hire a planner!!!! And even better, one that has worked here before. There is a small loading area which allows for limited vendor trucks, tricky power issues on the east terrace, a complicated rain plan for guest load in, etc, etc, etc An experienced planner will make all the difference between your day being epically enchanting or an epic fail.And here is a final rant of amazing things about Vizcaya….
It’s magical, the gardens at night are romantic and sexy, the huge parking lots lets you avoid hiring valet, it’s extremely private and away from it all, no wedding crashers here, you can live out your Marie Antoinette or Downton Abbey fantasies, you can say you got married at Vizcaya!