With a new year comes a new wedding season. While a-la-carte venue arrangements often seem like an appealing way to customize your wedding experience, all-inclusive packages can save you time, money and quite a bit of stress. As you’re shopping for your reception venue, be sure to keep the following items in mind so that you can be confident in your final decision!
Does the venue offer on-site catering? If not, this means an additional vendor will need to be booked. Booking a caterer often involves scheduling a tasting and paying additional fees for other necessary items that sneak into the picture, such as china, flatware and chafers.
Similarly, does the venue offer an on-site bar? Catering companies can often provide you with a bartender as well, but this also usually means paying for glassware and additional staffing charges.
Does the venue have its own in-house wait staff? While many folks tend to overlook the importance of the wait staff, servers play a major role in keeping the wedding running as smoothly as possible. Beyond passing appetizers and serving dinner, wait staff ensures that the venue stays tidy, that guests’ needs are attended to, and that the order of events remains as scheduled on the timeline. If the wait staff is in-house and familiar with the venue, this adds more stability to the event’s success.
Helpful Hint: Don’t be afraid to ask what the server-guest and bartender-guest ratio is. Some venues may include more to increase the speed and quality of service.
Does the venue include a standard/basic linen, or is it an additional cost? Linen is essential to the formality and style of the wedding and can be very costly if rented or purchased through an outside service. Be sure to ask your tour guide what linen options are included in your package and what options would be considered an upcharge.
5) Tables and Chairs
While this may seem like a no-brainer, many rustic or barn-like venues do not offer anything other than the structure itself. This means that tables and chairs would also need to be brought in from an outside source, adding more on to your list of rentals. If you’re interested in a barn wedding, don’t forget to think about components such as heat/AC, lighting and restrooms, as several barn venues do not include these facilities.
Does the venue include a point of contact who will aid you in the planning process? Will this person also be there on the day of the wedding to ensure that every element remains on track? An in-house wedding coordinator will relieve a lot of wedding day stress and can help you to prepare for the big day by answering any logistical questions about the venue and its wedding process in advance.
Helpful Hint: Don’t shy away from asking how hands-on the coordinator will be in your planning process. It is good to know how much outside help will be required and how much is already there for you to utilize.
7) Venue Fee/Site-Rental Fee
Is there a separate charge for the space itself, or is that rental fee included in your price per person? This is a crucial question to ask as it may affect your budgeting plans. A low price per person may sound wonderful, but can be off-set by a high site-rental charge.
8) Apples to Apples
Here are a few other items to consider when comparing venues:
i. Number of passed hors d’oeuvres included for your cocktail hour
ii. Number of entrees/stations included for your dinner service
iii. Number of hours included for your overall event
iv. Is a wedding cake included?
v. Is there a ceremony fee? If so, how much?
vi. Do they include any sort of centerpieces or décor?
vii. Do they offer an décor rentals (candles, drapery, etc.)?
viii. Are you sharing the space with another wedding, or is the space yours for the entirety of the day (to use as getting ready space, for photos, etc.)?
Shopping for your wedding venue is the first big step in the planning process. With your big day approaching, the last things that you want to be worried about are hidden fees or expenses. Arming yourself with these important questions will help you to make a decision that you can feel comfortable with.
Congratulations on your engagement—now get to shopping!