So, our situation is a little bit different, in that our rental of the space comes with tables and chairs, and the museum staff will set them up for us (It is also a $5,000 rental with all that included, for the ceremony site, cocktail hour room over the ocean, and reception in their grand Axline Court – if you’re willing to do a wedding in San Diego, I *highly* recommend them!). We are having both our ceremony and reception on site, so we ended up having to rent chairs for the reception, as there wasn’t enough to have both the ceremony and dinner area set up at the same time….and we didn’t want people running back and forth through the cocktail hour with chairs the whole time! So, we did end up having to do some rentals (tables are pretty cheap, and depending on your guestlist size/chair preferences, they don’t have to be horribly expensive either. Expect a delivery charge of around $300 – more like $500 if you have to go with a company out of L.A.).
Does your museum have a list of preferred caterers? Ours did, and I didn’t realize how high end they were until after I signed on with the museum. I don’t regret it – the caterer we ended up going with is AMAZING, but it is also the cheapest on the allowed list ($5,000 to feed 80 people 3 tray passed apps, 2 salads, 2 entrees, 3 sides, rolls, all flatware/dinnerware, service fee, linens, staff costs). But – the best part – our caterer comes with a wedding coordinator. This is SO key! She had a lot of great hookups so that we were able to get lounge furniture at a big discount, she is handling all the vendors day of, she’s setting up the centerpieces, place settings, escort cards, favors, etc. If you can find a caterer like that, it’ll make your life SO MUCH EASIER.
Our alcohol had to be purchased from the museum. That meant $$$. Open full bar was our only option – we could choose what “shelf” of alcohol, and any extras like martinis/custom drinks, mojitos, etc for an upcharge. We weren’t allowed to have red liquids, I guess to keep stains off of the artwork? So, no red wine allowed.
Other than that, it has gone quite smoothly. My uncle worked at the museum for about 20 years, so even though i’m planning from afar (Boston!) it is a place I am very familiar with. One of the good things about museums is they are already pretty spectacular, art and architecture-wise. The best thing you could do for decoration is keep it simple and get some great lighting/uplighting if that’s allowed. It’s pretty cheap – our guy is doing it for $20 a light, and not charging us an arm and a leg for labor. He’s also setting up our sound system, since we’re doing an iPod reception. Flower-wise, i’d check with the coordinator and make sure that you don’t have to go with a certain certified florist. Some museums can be weird about pests getting tracked in with certain florals or wood and destroying the artwork.
The event team at our venue has been first class all the way – they really know what they are doing, they do weddings all the time. If your venue is new, i’d just make sure to stay vigilint about asking questions and getting answers. It’ll really come down to your caterer knowing their stuff, since they will likely be in charge of all the rentals, set-up, etc.
Hope this helps! Feel free to PM me if you have more questions :-).