Remember the legendary scene from The Sex and the City when Steve and Miranda drop the grocery bags by accident, only to find the perfect location for their nuptials? Even though they didn’t plan to wed, the (completely ruined) venue inspired them to do so.
Well, if it can make an imaginary hard-to-shake advocate to change her mind, imagine how powerful it must be to the real people!
The venue might not be the queen of your day, but it surely can make it or break it.
Read on to find what to look for, what questions to ask and ultimately how to know you’ve hit the home run.
Some Basic Rules and Questions
Read carefully and take notes:
- All other things you decide on will be tied to the space you choose- so, find your place first. Unless you are planning a religious part as well. Then check with them first.
- Don’t count on lower attendance. Count your guests well and choose accordingly. Also, ask your parents how many people they intend to invite.
- State your non-negotiable loud and clear and stick to it.
- See if the venue had booked any other events that could affect your celebration (in terms of staff, noise, crowds, parking spaces, etc.)
- Check the catering policy: if they have it, who they allow, if you can choose for yourself (both the chef and the menu)
- How long and how hard can you party?
- Are there any hidden costs (for an on-site ceremony, china, linen, tables, lighting, power generator, parking lot, additional bathrooms, gratuity, cleaning service, a cake-cutting or corkage fee…)
- Last but actually first- can you afford it? Before answering, remember to calculate the cost for EVERYTHING else, including vendors, staff, decor, florals, jewels, the gown, music, and a lot more.
Oftentimes it’s better to hire a wedding planner than do it all on your own because it can be truly daunting and overwhelming.
Planners know their job and they’ll help you give your vision life. If you want to have a photo session at the venue with, say, a buffalo, or a groom’s room in a real, life-size vintage train, this wedding venue in Houston is the real deal, and your planner will know its capacities and how to negotiate.
What’s important here is to have the vision. Then match it to reality. Decide whether you’re a modernist or a naturalist. Then they’ll know whether to look for an industrial artsy designed space or a ranch.
Also, whether you choose a planner or not, someone needs to ask questions to the venue runners before signing the contract. We’ve already covered the basics above, here are some additional ones:
- Do you charge differently for different days, parts of the day, or seasons? (We all know that Saturday night summer wedding is the most expensive)
- How much do we need to pay to be the only event that day? Conversely, how do you handle multiple events?
- What exactly do you charge, how much is the “plus plus” (tax plus tips)?
- What if one of the contractual parties cancels or changes the date?
- Is there any space for the plan B? (in case of bad weather)
- What exactly does your staff do? Do we need additional help (with million things, really- setting the tables, helping the vendors, putting the decor, taking out the china, unloading the crates, etc.)
- What if we need more food or drinks- can we bring our own?
- Can we have rehearsal dinner here?
“Asking your event venue the right questions at the booking stage will not only ensure you get maximum value, it can help you avoid nasty surprises and save you unexpected expenditure.
But these questions aren’t the only thing to focus on when choosing your event venue. You want to make sure your venue stands out as well.”, says Rachel Grate of the eventbrite.com
Say Yes to the Wedding…Venue!
But how do you definitely know that a wedding venue is the right one?
Well, if it is within your budget (remember, not the budget in total, but the approximate allocated amount for the venue, including all the necessary cost, accompanying it), and you can fit your guests, that’s a good start.
Of course, you need to like it, that’s non-negotiable.
Try to find a flexible, indoor/outdoor location, that can meet most of your needs and requirements- a dance floor, for instance. They say ok, you say yay. As long as they pay attention to safety, you can hang a dragon chandelier and have a cake of the same size, all good.
You know that a venue is solid if they have functioning wheelchair access.
And if it’s convenient on the map (close to main roads or an airport), bingo! The turnout will probably be bigger since the long-distance traveling won’t be such a buzz-kill.
Always pay attention to restrictions- and find the venue with the fewest- regarding light, decibels, duration, you name it. So, the more flexible, the better.
On a lighter note, have your theme and color scheme in mind. You’d want your venue to be a nice extension as your, so to say, “photo booth”.
Lastly, there are some more, seemingly less important questions you may ask before signing the contract:
- Do you have photos of previous weddings?
- Can I come again and see the venue for another couple’s wedding prior to signing?
- What about candles, or fireworks?
- What’s the table size (in terms of the number of guests)?
- Do you have high chairs for kids?
You see, A LOT of questions may pop up in the process of choosing. It’s not the simplest thing to do, nor the cheapest. But it’s critical. Because if it accommodates (almost) all of your (and your guests’) needs, it will be the only natural to let your hair down and feel the magic of your day.
It’s oh-so-important to come prepared. Don’t rush the decision, but don’t think for too long, either. If you feel it’s the one, take it.
In the end, it’s not that you’re deciding whether to marry a person or not.
It’s just the next big step down the road.…