Florida-Central Florida

Bella Collina Wedding

Hey ladies,
My fiancée and I have an appointment to go look at Bella Collina next Saturday... and we are a little unsure. The pictures look BEAUTIFUL, but there prices are definitely steep and would stretch our budget to the max... (6,500 for ceremony and reception rental alone) The communication has been pretty poor to date, I Emailed first about 3 weeks- a month ago and just today finally got a response about coming for a tour. However I am in love with the pictures, so we're going to look either way. Has anyone had experience with this venue good/bad. So far I'm unimpressed in terms of costs (the menu prices were VERY steep as well) and in order to accommodate our guest list of 150 we would have to be split some inside some outside or do it entirely outside on their lawn. SOOOOooo long story short, it's beautiful but I have some reservations. Any input would be wonderful and very much appreciated. Thanks in advance! I also noticed someone mentioned negotiating prices with them on another post, has anyone done so successfully? I assumed prices were set in stone, but I could be mistaken. Thanks! :)
- Becky

Re: Bella Collina Wedding

  • Theresa626Theresa626 member
    edited December 2011
    I'm not familiar with the venue but I just have to say, I would never want to book a place where people have to be split between two places.  I think it would really ruin the feel of your wedding and people would wonder why you put them in one place and want to go to the other. Plus, what if it rains and you can't fit everyone inside? 
  • edited December 2011
    Here is an honest review:
    The place is absolutely beautiful! If you want to be completely stressed out, not get your phone calls returned and have shady "negiotiations" that end up with an estimate over $15,000 ,then go for it! LOL But, hoenstly you feel like a number at Bella Collina. The place used to be a nice "afforable" place to get married and then they turned into an industry. They do not care as long as you can pay. It really depends on how you feel, but I wanted to be treated with respect and for the person to be excited with me about getting married. I am having the Ceremony only there because I love the place, but WAY to much hassle for everything else. My friend who is getting married a week after me had a month of back and forth phone calls, a lot of stress, and said no entirelyLet me know how your visit goes, but go with your gut! I do not mean to be negative, just real! Good Luck!
  • kpabiskpabis member
    edited December 2011

    Hello fellow Knotties!  This will be my first post on these boards and so I apologize for the tirade I am about to unleash, but I was so happy to see the words “Bella Collina” pop up in the subject line that I can’t hold back.  I absolutely must share my experience with you.  I initially saw the Bella featured on a photographer’s blog.  After digging for info, I tried requesting information and making an appointment but found the communication was terrible.  It was difficult to get a phone call returned, let alone schedule a visit.  We finally received copies of their sample menus and prices.  The prices were definitely steep, but we figured we would try to negotiate, starting with their $5,000 site fee.  We eventually visited the property a couple of months ago, not expecting to love it as much as we did.  You know how people always say that when you see the venue that is right for you, you’ll just know?  Well after checking out a handful of venues in Orlando and Palm Beach, my FI and I decided the Bella was “our venue.” 


    With that, we messaged them to see if our date was available and to move forward.  A few days later, my FI received a phone call from a completely new person, who had apparently replaced the old person, and who also forwarded a new set of menus “updated for 2010.”  This time the prices were even higher, with some items as much as 50% more.  Still, determined that this was our place, we made an appointment to meet with the new dining room manager.  Before we met, she asked us to put together a short list of what we wanted and told us she would prepare a proposal for us. 


    We expect to have about 100 guests and wanted to have both the ceremony and reception there.  Being that our wedding was still so far away, we did not want to decide exactly what to serve, but we sat down at our computer and did our best to come up with something.  We wanted an open bar.  For cocktail hour, we requested two small displays and 2 or 3 hand passed hors d’oeuvres.  For dinner, we requested a salad bar, a mashed potato bar, and two carving stations.  To top of the night, we also asked for comfort foods to be displayed by the door at the end of the night, but this was not must. 


    Within a few days, the dining room manager called my fiancé and told him that she prepared a proposal but that it was probably a little high.  High was an understatement.  Together with their site fee and using the prices off of the “new” menu, she quoted us over $35,000 for food and beverage.  That’s right, I said over $35,000 for food and drinks for 100 people.  What about the other costs associated with having a wedding? 


    To put it in perspective, I could get married at the Waldorf Astoria or Portofino Bay for that price.  It makes Isleworth Country Club very affordable.  Even the Breakers, a world renowned historic resort in posh Palm Beach had more reasonable pricing and a name to back it up.  How can Bella Collina justify a $5,000 site fee and passed hors d’oeuvres for $7 a piece????  Not to mention, without meaning to offend anyone that lives in Clermont, the place is in the middle of nowhere!!!!  We thought they would be more reasonable since they are on the outskirts of Orlando, but instead, they have been anything but.  They are trying to command 5-star prices and at the same time, there are no accommodations nearby to match.  


    Our meeting with the dining manager was also complete disaster.  I felt like I was buying a used car when in reality, she had no authority to haggle with us over prices.  Despite the fact that we just recently received their packet, she described our price list as “very old” and told us she wasn’t sure if they would honor them.  She did say the general manager was definitely not going to budge on the site fee.  Apparently, they are getting a lot of inquiries regarding weddings there so at this time, they are not inclined to negotiate.  She has since sent us a revised proposal, but instead of lowering their prices, they started cutting the amount of food we wanted to serve. 


    It is stunning venue, but based on my experience so far, it isn’t worth it the hassle or the money.   When we look at what so many other venues have to offer, it is hard to justify the cost when we know we are being ripped off. 


    I also agree with a previous poster that they don’t do anything in the way of making you feel very special.  I am not trying to scare you away, I just wanted to be honest and share my experience.  They do not really seem to have it together.  We were told they have done about 15 weddings so far.  If you decide to go with them, I would advise you to hire an outside wedding coordinator. Also, the lawn is great, but I am not sure how I would feel about having the whole thing out there.  The inside is so interesting!  It is a shame you can’t fit all of your guests inside.  Good luck!  Let us know how it goes!

  • Theresa626Theresa626 member
    edited December 2011
    Wow, Kpabis. That is quite a review.  I'm glad you posted that because people should see it. I can't stand it when wedding vendors charge you a ridiculous amount for nothing.  I'm getting married at the Portofino Bay and I thought they overcharged a lot but those prices are absolutely insane. In fact, that's more expensive then Disney and Disney has a 25,000 dollar minimum expenditure!  No one should go to that place. 

    Becky, if you have a somewhat large budget, the Portofino Bay is definitely amazing and it has an Italian theme so you might really like it.  It's expensive but definitely at least fifteen thousand dollars cheaper or more than Bella Collina.  Also, they return your phone calls. 
  • edited December 2011
    WOW! Thank you SO much ladies, I had a sneaking suspicion this place might be a headache. I was floored by the prices as well, around $100 a plate for next to nothing. I found a private catered who offered more for HALF the price. We're still going to look, because we already have an appointment, and it certainly can't hurt to just go see. You know how it goes, if I don't see it for myself and talk to them in person I'll probably always wonder "what if..." With that being said, it certainly isn't #1 on my list at this point. 

    I REALLY appreciate the honesty, that's just what I was looking for. Also thanks for the suggestions of alternative sites, we are going to continue to look. I'll update you on how the visit goes. I was also a little offended when she told me she could possibly "squeeze me in" one day, I don't want to be squeezed anywhere if I'm going to be writing a check for over $25,000 to you! LOL
  • edited December 2011
    Thank you so much for all the info! I wonder if whoever manages this place realizes how people feel about their customer service. It has the potential to be an AMAZING venue, but nobody wants to deal with unnecessary stress on their wedding day. 
  • edited December 2011
    Well, today turned out to be a major let down. After speaking with my fiancée we decided we just couldn't justify the astronomical prices, so I decided to Email the events coordinator and see if anything could be done in terms of prices. I told her if we would be interested if there was something she could do to lower the price, otherwise we would have to pass. She offered an alternative catering packed, and when I emailed her to thank her and confirm our meeting today- she sent me an Email back saying she now has another appointment for tomorrow.


    I never said I wanted to cancel my appointment... in fact I told her we would be interested if she could rework the prices... which she did. I was never told/asked/informed my appointment was being canceled. THANKFULLY I double checked, otherwise we would have been out nearly 2 hours worth of driving for nothing. She promised an Email today with alternative availability times, still no Email- we'll see if that happens considering their track record for poor communication thus far.

    It's safe to say to say I am no longer interested in the venue. Beautiful or not that have already irritated me to the point I can't imagine having to deal with them for the next year. :( What a disappointment! And thank you for all your insight ladies. :)
  • Hello ladies, I am looking at Bella Collina for my May 2013 wedding and I was wondering if anyone knows if mosquitos/love bugs would be a problem if we had our reception at 5 pm on the lawn? I would appreciate al the help! Thank so much!
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