I’ve been a Temecula wedding photographer for over 10 years now, and particularly since COVID came around, we in the vendor community have seen a venue issue pop up that’s impacting couples getting married in the Temecula Valley.
The vast majority of couples I work with don’t live in Temecula. Due to the hard work of local venues and vendors, it’s become a hotspot for weddings. Many California couples I work with are from Orange County or Los Angeles. In the past 2 years, I’m talking to more couples who are from out of state!
This is great news for Temecula, but out-of-area couples (and even local couples) are not aware of an issue impacting the region: only a venue that has an event permit is allowed to host events.
Now, I won’t get into my opinions on who or who is not allowed to have an event permit in Temecula, since I have no impact on how permits get issued. The reason for me writing this article is I have worked with couples who have had their venues shut down by Riverside County, and have had to scramble to find a new event space, sometimes in less than a week! This is a horrible experience for a couple and I sincerely do not wish for anyone to have to go through that stress!
There are very good reasons Riverside County requires event permits. Safety is the primary issue. If you’ve been to a permitted venue like Avensole Winery, you’ve no doubt seen infrastructure they have in place to comply with county codes for events. Minimum amount of parking, fire exits, sprinkler systems, etc. These are all required by the county for the safety of people attending an event. Unpermitted venues may not have this infrastructure in place, or perhaps they’re located in an area that isn’t zoned for events. Several venues have been shut down because they were operating on land designated for agricultural use.
Airbnb, VRBO and other rental properties are not approved for events. These became a popular option during COVID as permitted venues had to follow very strict event regulations. Many couples moved to unpermitted spaces that were operating under the radar, and now these types of properties are getting shut down. Most Airbnb listings now state that events are not permitted. If the county discovers they are hosting events, they can rescind their short-term rental license.
In fact, in late 2022 Temecula imposed a moratorium on new short-term rentals. According to the article, officials in Temecula are concerned about, “adverse impacts that have the potential to endanger the health and safety of residents, guests and the very environment and resources that attract visitors to the county will increase.” This type of thought process likely impacts how many event venues are allowed to operate within the region.
The types of permits issued to legally operating venues are Conditional Use permits and/or a Plot Plan for a winery. However, not all wineries have event permits, even if they have a Plot Plan, which is why it’s important to confirm even a winery’s status with the county.
Certain spaces are able to host up to 4 events per year. For example, in 2022 I photographed a micro wedding at The New Inn. As of this writing (January 2023), The New Inn does not have the type of permit that allows them unlimited event hosting. But they are able to apply for up to 4 event permits per year, one of which was used for the wedding I photographed on their beautiful vineyard property.
So what are couples to do? It doesn’t occur to most that you even need to ask a venue if it is permitted! It’s a completely reasonable assumption that if a venue has a website, Instagram and is actively booking events, they are permitted. However, that’s not the case in Temecula, and couples need to be aware of this before making any deposit with a venue.
The best way to confirm if a venue is permitted is to go right to the county. Couples should reach out to Riverside County via email@example.com to ask if a venue is permitted for events. This is the best and most accurate way to have confidence that a venue is operating legally and by county standards.
This leads me to another way to confirm a venue’s status…
Having a planner involved in your wedding day is a great way to ensure you’re working with someone very knowledgeable on this issue! Some of my favorite planners are actively aware of venue requirements and have deep roots in the Temecula wedding community. I can confidently recommend the following planners below!
I hope this information is helpful! We as a vendor community in Temecula want to arm couples with as much information as possible. We adore working in this region and know when brides and grooms work with a great venue and a great vendor team, they have an amazing wedding day and experience. We all want to make sure those good experiences and good vibes extend into 2023 and beyond!