|By Melissa Kay ~ September 10th, 2009 ~ Wedding Venues||1 Comment|
Choosing your venue is one of the first tasks to tackle for brides and grooms on their wedding planning adventure. Very little progress can be made before you pick the venue and set the date. So where do you start? What do you ask? What to consider?
- Start by asking yourself: “What type of setting do we want for our wedding day?” Have you always envisioned walking down an aisle created by rose petals on a freshly manicured lawn or is the drama of a grand staircase from which you descend more in line with your bridal fantasy? Perhaps there a location or part of town that speaks to you as a couple (met at the beach, proposed at the beach – get married at the beach!) Maybe its logistics for your guests or the vision for the whole weekend that will dictate the venue style and location. Maybe you don’t have a vision yet and need to explore options. Fair enough! Then consider the time of year and what that might dictate – want a winter wedding? Better opt to avoid garden ceremonies. Unless that garden is in Hawaii. Then by all means, “aloha!”
- Once you know what direction to explore, you’ll want to ask:“Does it fit in my budget?” Before you do anything more than open a bridal magazine or search online, you must have a plan on how much you want to spend and how much of that budget will be spent on the venue. That is a hard task to contemplate when you haven’t done any research on pricing. But if you start with what you know you can spend, and take time to craft a preliminary budget (WeddingWire has a great calculator to get you started!) you can then adjust the amounts in each category as you sharpen your priorities. You may start out thinking you’ll need a huge floral budget, then find a venue that is ornate in a way that your floral design can be much more streamlined in cost, thus allowing for more of that allocated budget to be spent elsewhere.
- “How’s the cuisine?” A very important question to some people. For others, it may be less of a priority. Wherever this element falls on your importance radar, do make sure that a tasting is scheduled so you can make sure you are happy with what will be selected and served to your guests. To be fair, some venues are just that – a venue – and will require a caterer. Most often, that venue will give a recommendation on caterers to consider (or may even require the use of an exclusive caterer) so this element is still very much a part of your venue selection process.
- “What are the restrictions?” Boy, this one can seem extensive, though I find most restrictions have a logical reason for them. The reception has to be over by 10pm? Most likely, it’s a venue located in a residential neighborhood. Is valet required? Probably has limited parking or no parking lot at all. Do I have to use in house provided linens/ chairs/ lighting? Sure, its a revenue opportunity for the venue, but it could also be a requirement of local labor agreements or exclusive contracts that have been established. A wedding coordinator is required? Trust me, a venue that values service to its clients will insist on a wedding coordinators presence (that topic, we’ll explore another time.) Essentially, a venue’s restrictions or rules are usually clearly spelled out in the contract and / or information packet they give you. If it isn’t – ask. And get it in writing for future reference.
- “What are the pros and cons of this venue?” This is where you and your partner get to practice communication and compromise. You may discover that your vision or priorities aren’t exactly the same as his. You may fall in love with the concept of a ceremony in a field of wildflowers while all he can see are the bees buzzin’ and a sneeze coming on. Are restrictions or rules of the venue compromising the most important elements of your wedding day? If you MUST party until dawn and the bar MUST close at 11pm, you might have a tally in the “con” column. If the venue is located near the hotel and you can move there for an ‘after party’ – “pro”! Only the two of you can compile this list (with a little help from your friends and family and anyone else whose opinion you value).
This is just the beginning – I’ll explore questions to ask your venue in another blog post. These questions are to get you started…!
Got more questions on this topic? Ask them in your comments and keep the dialogue going!