Recently, Jacksonville brides and vendors were shocked at the news that one of our local venues, Palm Valley Gardens, would be closing its doors in a couple weeks after a 2 year long fiasco with incorrect zoning and permitting to hold special events. The news came shortly after the judgment was given when it was covered by Erin Hawley on First Coast News. After the news settled in, many vendors realized that there was a huge problem… brides would have to switch their dates and venues fast! Contracts that were booked would have to be canceled and brides would be scrambling to re-plan the biggest day of their lives with a substantially smaller budget. Because of this, many vendors stepped up to help by offering their services at a discounted rate to these brides. (See the list here)
Although I am completely blown away by the kindness and generosity of the vendors who are reaching out, I want to educate you on a few key pointers to have in mind before you go to sign the dotted line and hand over the non-refundable deposit. After all, you are planning the biggest day of your life and it is probably going to cost a lot of money!
2. Are They Registered, Licensed and Insured?: This is a BIG one. Any vendor or venue who takes themselves and their business very seriously has their business license and liability insurance to protect themselves and you. Want to know if they are a registered business? Go to www.sunbiz.org and search their company name. If you can’t find it, ask if they are doing business as a fictitious name. A fictitious name or “Doing Business As” (DBA) name is a business name that is different from your personal name, the names of your partners or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation. DBA names can also be called trade names or assumed names. Once you find out the actual name of the registered company, search for it and make sure it is active on Sunbiz. Want to know if they are licensed and insured? Ask them to show you a copy! When filing for business licensure at the tax collectors office, you are immediately given a temporary document that shows your license information. They mail the official document shortly thereafter. After applying for liability insurance, the carrier will send a document explaining the coverage given and the term length of the policy. If your vendor can not or will not show you a copy of these records, beware, your dollars could be in danger!
3. Hire an Independent Wedding Coordinator: We know, most moms, friends, family, your neighbor, and even some vendors will tell you it isn’t necessary, but here is why this will save you time, money and a lot of heart ache: Their interest and care is for the bride and groom to be, only. Even if your venue has a day-of coordinator, their interest is still in protecting the venue. You will spend big bucks with florists, photographers, caterers, musicians, rental equipment and etc. in the next coming months and an independent planner can help you spend your money wisely and not make hasty decisions that can cost you. You will also be spending countless hours pouring yourself into the details and décor of the event, and even if you are DIY bride, an independent wedding coordinator can help reign you in and make sure your details are cohesive and worth the time. Amber Veatch, a wedding planner with Flaire Weddings and Events was a DIY bride, and on the importance of hiring an independent coordinator for her own big day she said, “As a DIY bride myself it was important to me to ensure all of my hard work didn’t go to waste by being set up in a way I hadn’t envisioned. I wanted to make sure all the little details were displayed properly. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time to even make it all. I think staying on time is very important as well. A good planner can help with that. Ultimately the bride needs an advocate for their special day to make sure the vendors are doing as planned and things get set up just how she wants. A DIY bride can make all the details she wants but she can’t coordinate her own wedding while enjoying the day and not stressing.” Don’t get me wrong, as an independent planner and designer myself, I LOVE the event coordinators at venues! They ensure that their staff is on point and that their venue is in tip top shape for a flawless event.
Looking for a Coordinator for your Jacksonville or North Florida wedding? We have done extensive research into these companies and would recommend them to any of our readers: http://www.thejacksonvillebride.com/preferred-vendors/event-planning/
4. Check the Zoning: Finally! You found the spot where you will look into your fiancé’s eyes and tell him this is forever! HOLD ON!!! Don’t sign your dollars away just yet! We know this is time consuming and probably going to check out for most venues and hotels, but check the zoning and permits! Checking the zoning actually takes a few minutes. You can do this by going to the County Property Appraiser Website the venue is in, clicking on property search, and type in the address. Refer to the Use Code that the property is listed under and the zoning codes of the county that spell out what you can and can’t do for each code. Pay extra attention to use codes if your venue was ever a single family residence or a barn. Commercial property laws are strict and you can’t just wake up one day and decide to host events at your house. You have to file for a change in zoning and obtain the correct permits to do so, and this is a lengthy process! To make sure your venue has no outstanding or unfinished permitting, simply check with the local government agency.
Duval County: http://apps.coj.net/pao_propertySearch/Basic/Search.aspx
St. Johns County: http://www.sjcpa.us/Disclaimer%20CAMA%20Search.html
Clay County: http://www.ccpao.com/newsite/
Nassau County: http://www.nassauflpa.com/
Baker County: http://bakercountyfl.org/pa/
Flagler County: http://flaglerpa.com/
Following these five rules can save you time, money and protect you from wedding nightmares! We want this to be the best day of your life, so do your research and be sure before you put the pen to the check! If you are a North Florida bride, you can also contact our Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org for vendor reviews and recommendations!
PVG bride? Check out the Vendors who are Reaching Out
Have any questions? Comment below and let us know!