The first decision you may want to think about is will you have your ceremony and reception at the same venue? Think about this carefully as you consider the flow of your wedding day. Enlisting the services of an experienced wedding planner, even for a few hours to help you get started, is always a good idea. They will help you avoid common and costly mistakes along the way. You will need to make sure that any venue you select will accommodate the number of guests that will be attending – this is why you should have some idea of the number of guests you will be inviting. Obviously you will want to ask if the venue is available on the date you wish to get married.
If you’ve always dreamed of getting married in the church you pass on your way to work you will want to ask if they weddings of non-members; it is not uncommon for a church to only allow their members access. Next you will need to know if they charge a fee – sometimes it’s a donation to the church. Do they allow outside florists or must you use the florist that does the arrangements for them? If they have a church coordinator make sure you ask what their role is and how they will assist you and your wedding party on that day. It’s always important to get a list of restrictions so you don’t have any last-minute surprises when you are setting up candles only to be told open flames are not allowed. Many brides like to get dressed at the church – is a bridal room available for you? Knowing when your team can get in to set up and when the items have to be removed is also something you will need to ask about.
When considering outdoor space for your wedding or reception, weather tops the list. You should always have a back-up plan. See my article – Shells Sand and Sun. If you are not working with a coordinator you will want to appoint someone, who has authority, to make the final call if everything has to be moved indoors and to approve any costs associated with doing so.
Some people think it will be less expensive to have their wedding and/or reception outdoors but you may find there are more hidden costs then you thought – the cost of renting a tent, flooring, fans or air conditioning, heaters, tables, chairs and the list goes on. Will you need lighting after the sun goes down? These are just some of the things you will need to consider. Do not forget to consider the availability and comfort of restrooms.
All Inclusive vs A La Carte Venues
Usually this is a country club, restaurant or other venue that hosts wedding receptions etc. They typically have all the basics – linens (find out what colors are available); tables; chairs; flatware, etc. They should have an on-site coordinator. Get a list of what the coordinator will do for you and your wedding party. Will they pin boutonnieres? Will they tie sashes on each chair? If so, is there an additional cost? Will they attempt to reach a vendor who has yet to arrive? What time do they leave and who is the contact person after they leave? Do they cut the cake and if so is there a per slice cost? Do they have a cake knife you can use? Do they provide toasting flutes (if you are using them and do not wish to bring your own). These are just some of the things you will want to ask about.
Al la Carte
This could be a loft space, a family member’s backyard, a park, the beach or a museum just to name a few. It’s a location that does not have a restaurant attached. You may love the brick wall in the old building or the view of the beach or river in the background but with that comes a cost to make it everything you want. You will need to rent, borrow or purchase the examples discussed above.
Wherever you choose to have your ceremony and reception think about the logistics – the flow of everything. Where will the guest book go? The gifts? Will guests have to “double back” creating a flow problem? There is a lot to consider before making any final decisions about your ceremony or reception venue. Take your time to think it through.