Frequently Asked Questions
Where do guests park?
There is limited parking at River House but there is ample parking directly across the street in a well-lit lot located beside and behind our other day-use facility, the Coastal Community Center. All parking is free.
Do you offer valet parking?
Valet parking can be arranged upon request.
How many guests will the Grand ballroom hold?
We can accommodate 240 guests seated or 400 reception style.
May I bring my own food?
All food (except the cake) must be prepared and served by one of our approved caterers .
How long is the rental time?
You have 8 hours total from the start of set up to the end of clean up. A typical ceremony and reception is 5 hours with 2 hours for set up and 1 hour for clean up. Receptions are 4 hours. You may arrange up to 2 hours of additional set up time for $100 per hour. One additional hour of event may be arranged for $500 per hour. All additional rental time must be arranged in advanced only.
How many weddings/events do you do in one day?
We do only one event per day so there are no worries about overlapping events.
How do I reserve a date?
A $1,500 non-refundable deposit reserves your date and a contract must be signed shortly there after. All deposits can be made by cash, check made payable to “COA”, or any major credit card.
When is the balance due?
The balance is due 30 days prior to your event payable by check made out to “COA”.
How and when should I apply for the insurance coverage?
No later than 2 weeks out. We recommend using a local agent Trish Wood at VanDyke Norman 904-819-5949. You will need to get a 1 day $1M host liquor liability insurance policy with St Johns County Council On Aging as the added insured. Please have a copy of the certificate emailed to us.
What is the link to view the linen swatches?
www.cdlinen.com .. click on products and then “solids”..there are 56 colors to choose from.
How is the lighting outside at night?
Out front – the fountain area is spot lit, the covered entryway is illuminated, and there are lanterns on the either side of the front doors. In the back – the building, terrace and stairs are lit. The observation deck has small down lights. For photography purposes, your photographer will know the best lighting to use for pictures!
When do I have my “walk through” appointment?
Your walk through appointment is approximately 30 days prior to your event. They take approximately 60-90 minutes and are scheduled in advance for Tuesday –Friday 10am-4pm. A walk through form will be emailed to you prior to your appointment so that you can be prepared for what will be discussed.
Will someone from River House be present during my event?
Where are ceremonies held?
Wedding ceremonies are typically held outside on our stone paved terrace in the back, with the Intracoastal Waterway and the St. Augustine Lighthouse as the backdrop. Ceremonies can be performed facing the building as well.
In the case of inclement weather, the ceremony is brought inside and performed on our round, 1135sq. ft dance floor with windows overlooking our scenic river view.
When are the ceremony chairs set up and broken down?
As general rule, they are set up 2 hours prior to the ceremony start and taken down at the end of the evening. This is also when a decision is made whether or not a ceremony will be moved inside due to inclement weather.
How many chairs can the ceremony space accommodate?
We have had up to 230 chairs set up for ceremonies. We also have chairs and tables on our Library terrace which guests can use to watch the ceremony.
How many people are in each row for the outside ceremony?
Depending on the final guest count! Usually 10-12 guests per row on each side, with the 1st row on each side having the exact number of seats needed for the immediate family.
May I use an arch or other décor outdoors?
Yes, you may use any décor as long as it is set up and removed the same day and does not leave any permanent marks or damage to the pavers or building. Please be sure all décor is secured sufficiently to withstand any gusts of wind.
Are there any restrictions regarding ceremony music?
There are no music restrictions. Many weddings have live music for the ceremony and cocktail hour or have their DJ bring a separate smaller sound system to use outdoors. There are plenty of outlets available to accommodate any electrical equipment.
Will the officiant need a microphone?
That is your choice. Depending on the breeze on your wedding day, it may be more of a hindrance than a help. Most opt to not use a microphone.
May I have a rehearsal the day prior?
You are entitled to a one-hour rehearsal the day prior to your wedding. The timing, however, is subject to other events scheduled at River House that day. The exact time will be set up with the River House Sales & Marketing Manager. Our staff does not direct your rehearsal or ceremony so be sure to have someone available to do so.
Do I need a wedding coordinator?
Where is the cocktail hour held?
Weather permitting the cocktail hour takes place outside on our stone paved terrace. In case of inclement weather, a bar may be set up in our Library or our Conservatory depending upon the package you have selected.
Where is the buffet set up?
Weddings with less than 140 guests typically set up the buffet/stations in the alcove of the Grand Ballroom. Larger weddings usually have a double buffet in our Conservatory which is directly off our Ballroom with easy access for both the guests and catering staff.
How long do I have for set up?
You have 2 hours for set up. You may pre-arrange for up to 2 hours earlier access for a fee of $100 per hour, as long as it is consecutive time.
May I have a longer reception?
You may arrange in advanced only for one additional hour of event time for $500. Please keep in mind that in doing so there will likely be additional fees with all your other vendors as well.
What types of tables are available?
Guest tables are 72″ rounds with ten guests per table. We also have 30″ rounds, a 36″ round, a 48″ round, 36″ squares, and 2-60″ squares that may be utilized for the head table, gift table and/or cake table. An 18×96″ table is available to display escort cards. Five highboy cocktail tables may be rented for $25 each, including the floor length tablecloth.
We also have 14-6′ banquet tables, 2-8’ banquet tables and 2-8’ serpentine tables that caterers may use but they must supply their own linens for food and bar tables.
Are candles permitted?
No open flames are allowed, but candles with the flames enclosed in votives or hurricanes are allowed.
What décor is allowed? Do I need to take it all that night?
You may use any décor as long as it is set up and removed the same day and does not leave any permanent marks or damage. In order to preserve our hardwood floor, we do not allow any dance floor decals. Please bear in mind that it must be put up and taken down within the allotted time. All décor must be removed the same day unless a previous arrangement has been made with the River House Events coordinator.
May I move the Baby Grand piano?
We request that the piano stay in place due to tuning. However, the piano may be played, or you may use it to feature your cake.
Do I have a choice of linens? Can I upgrade?
We rent all our linens so you may choose any of the solid colored linens that are included in your package. There are many other options available but at an additional cost. Please ask the River House Sales & Marketing Manager to see the sample book or visit the Connie Duglin website www.cdlinen.com and request swatches.
What is allowed for the bride and groom’s “send off” at the end of the evening?
You may use bubbles, ribbon wands, bells, LED lights and glow sticks. Confetti, streamers, tinsel, rice and birdseed are not allowed. In addition, the use of sparklers, fireworks or Chinese “wish” lanterns are prohibited.
Food and Beverage
May I use a caterer not on the approved list?
You must choose a caterer from our approved list, as they are familiar with our facility and have had successful events here.
Does River House have snacks/drinks available prior to the ceremony?
We do not provide any snacks or drinks so we recommend that you bring your own refreshments to enjoy while getting ready.
How is the bar (alcohol) handled?
All River House approved caterers will allow you to do a “host” bar. This means you can supply the alcohol and they will provide the professional bartenders or recommend a bartender service. Restrictions are as follows… self service or cash bars are not allowed. In addition, kegs are not allowed and shots may not be poured.