Before you decide to make a recommendation to clients for another vendor, you have to be really sure that the client is likely to be very pleased with the services and products they receive from that vendor. Of course, since I don't personally book with the below listed vendors, I cannot speak to their pricing for events, only the quality of their work. So the list will grow slowly but you can be assured that I have high regard for any vendor I choose to list on my site. There will be no favors or paid promotions. The below list will represent my true recommendations.
VENUES (Note: My venue referrals are for banquet facilities only. They are not for accommodations, which I don't get to evaluate)
CLARION HOTEL, CONCORD
I recently worked at the Clarion Hotel (August 2017) for the first time. It was a very pleasant experience. I found all of the venue staff, from the banquet manager, and food & beverage manager, to all of the staff working the event, to be extremely attentive to the needs of not only the guests, but even to me. The room that the event was held in was very nice.
Several specific things are worth mentioning. Firstly, many venues don't have good lighting setups in their banquet rooms that allow for setting the lighting mood to fit the different activities of the event. The Clarion has several different sets of programmable lights in the room which allowed us to set up an ambiance in the room that worked for everyone.
Secondly, let me mention the dance floor. In many venues, old sectional dance floors are used which have been put down and taken up a million times, and are often in pretty bad shape. At the Clarion, the dance floor was beautiful. Maybe in 10 years it won't look new anymore, but for now, it's fantastic.
The food at this particular event was simple, but very tasty. I am sure the kitchen staff has many options for food choices for your special event.
One other thing to mention, just because it was so unusual (literally the first time I've ever seen it). They had an iced coffee urn where you could get iced coffee and then add things like chocolate syrup, caramel, and whipped cream. I don't know about you but I love iced coffee and was thrilled to have that available.
Other little things can make a big difference. For instance, for the dinner buffet, both sides of the buffet table were used for guests to serve themselves so that the line moved nicely dinner service. I just hate it when there is a single file line for a buffet while one side of the table goes completely unused. Kudos to the hotel for doing that.
CROWNE PLAZA HOTEL, CONCORD
Let me tell you why this venue impressed me as a professional:
1. From a vendor perspective it was great. The people I worked with were friendly, the load-in and load-out of equipment was easy, there was ample space for the storage of equipment/cases/covers not used during the event, and there was plenty of space for my DJ setup, which is reasonably large in comparison to other typical mobile DJ's. They even had a very nice, sturdy, low-to-the-ground stage for me which I absolutely loved.
2. The lobby of the hotel is like a tropical paradise. When you see the lobby you won't think 'hotel lobby'. It is absolutely beautiful and wonderfully maintained. Live plants and trees everywhere, not a brown leaf in the place. The air smells fresh, like when you've gone to Hawaii and visited a tropical garden.
3. They don't skimp on staff. I did a 300 person event and there were a very large number of servers working the event. I watched a sit down plated meal for 300 people get served like absolute clockwork.
4. The main banquet room is very beautiful. There is a raised ceiling in the middle with accent lighting built in around it that looks fantastic.
GRANDVIEW PAVILION, ALAMEDA
I recently (June 2017) was the DJ at a large event (about 230 people) here. The first, and perhaps one of the most important things I would say about the venue, is that both the management and the staff are extremely friendly and very nice to work with. The event room is quite large, with big picture windows overlooking a golf course. And the food was a significant step above the average catering food. They have an excellent chef. Both the cocktail hour food and the dinner food were delicious. So I highly recommend giving them a call if you are looking to have an event in the Alameda area. The operations manager is Val Seagren (510.865.5322 ext 11 - email@example.com). Give her a call; I think you'll be pleased.
The Picture Mirror
This is one of the most unique photo booth opportunities you will ever see. I was introduced to it at a Bay Area Wedding Fair where I had a booth. It is unlike any other photo booth service I've seen before and believe me, I have seen hundreds of them in my career. I saw how popular it was firsthand at the wedding fair. Send inquiries to PictureMirror@sourcephotography.com to find out more about this service. Don't do the same thing everyone else does. Have something unique your guests will be talking about after the party. NOTE: I have recently been told that they are not good at returning inquiries. If that feedback continues I will remove them from my site in the near future.