Congratulations on your engagement. I wanted to share a few bullet points from my 20+ years experience in the wedding venue business.
- It gets easier. Selecting your venue is probably one of the most stressful components of this adventure you are embarking on. Until you have a venue (and a date) you can’t throw yourself into the “fun stuff”. There are just too many things you don’t know. This level of stress is quite normal.
- Don’t be afraid to ask about the “add on” costs. Believe me, they are out there and you won’t always hear about them up front. They can add up very rapidly. It can be anything from using your own caterer to providing your own liquor.
- BYOB. Choosing a BYOB venue is a way of saving a lot of money. The “per person” liquor packages are astronomical. I won’t work with a caterer that doesn’t know I strongly recommend this. However, on the same topic, you definitely want to purchase their “bar package”. Ice, garnishes, mixers etc. There are things to save money on and things to not even think about skimping on. Pick a venue manager or vendor that will Shepard you through this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen clients think they are going to save money, only to spend more.
- Check out the restrooms. Odd as it may sound, you can tell a lot about how a venue is run by the condition of the restrooms. If it looks like something out of a Texaco Station. RUN!
- Read reviews. Albeit no matter what you do, you won’t always please everyone, by and large, these brides were just like you in the beginning, and want to share their experience with you. A lot of consistent complaints should be a red flag. At the very least a topic of discussion when you do your initial site visit.
- Choose a venue that requires you to provide a certificate of insurance listing them as “additionally insured”. It is to totally protect you. Your best friend might not, but if your best friends date should get injured for any reason we are all liable. www.wedsafe.com and www.wedsure.com are both terrific and affordable. Plus they make it unbelievably simple. Any venue that doesn’t require this from you is up there with the Texaco Restroom.
- Choose a venue that allows you to customize it to your specific tastes and desires. As long as it is legal and doesn’t compromise the venue in any way, you should be allowed to do it. My philosophy is very simple. I have no idea of knowing whether either of you have ever done this before, but I know for certain you have no intention of ever doing it again. And my commitment to you is making sure I do everything humanly possible to get it right.
- Choose vendors that are familiar with your venue. This is a big one. Choosing a caterer, most specifically that doesn’t know the “drill” is going down a very slippery slope. Things can snowball out of control very quickly when you have a caterer that doesn’t know your venues policies. Clean-up, garbage maintenance etc. Even more importantly, don’t even think about going the “friends and family” route. The “ my aunt is an amazing cook and all of our friends are going to help clean up at the end of the night” NEVER works. EVER. If you are wanting a church basement style wedding and reception, you should do it in the church basement.
Please feel free to reach out to me personally for an appointment to see our lovely venue in person and discuss your various options.