How To Understand Your Venue & Selecting Correctly

The venue is one of those major decisions that you will make in your planning process. Far to often this decision is made to quickly, and I understand why; depending on your area, you do not have to many unique venues to choose from so when you get engaged, you start calling and you take the first thing that is available. I would like to give you a challenge just to sit down for an evening and give yourself a moment to really discuss how many guests you would like to have at your wedding. Keep in mind this is the sole source of putting your wedding over budget. Think about this with me for just a moment, the more guests you have the bigger your venue needs to be, the more tables you need, the more centerpieces you need, the more invitations you purchase and send out, the more special favors you purchase, and the most expensive…the more meals and drinks you will pay for.  With all that said, please just take a day or so and get a good grasp on how many guests your budget will accommodate, it will save you frustration in the end with either booking a venue that is to big or even worse to small and have to cut guests from your guest list.  As a wedding planner I love taking care of these topics for my brides and their families, but I wanted to share with you the questions that are most often asked of me.

What do I need for the first meeting with my venues event coordinator?

For your first meeting your venue coordinator will need just the following: Name, address, and phone number of the main contact, monies for the deposit, wedding date, and estimate guest count.

Why do I need to give my guest count a week to a week and a half before my wedding?

Believe it or not your venue, that is providing your dinner, also needs to go grocery shopping, and most venues do their ordering on Mondays or Tuesday for the following week, so this is a must! Also, when doing this it tells the venue how big your wedding is so they can schedule the right amount of staff to take care of your guests.

Why do I have to pay for plates of food for the guests that did not show up?

Remember when your venue had to go grocery shopping to make sure all your guests had a meal…. they did, and they start prepping for your fantastic meal you chose the morning of your wedding. I completely understand the biggest frustration of planning is the million-dollar question “how many guests are having dinner?” and you think you nailed and guests still say they are coming and do not and have guests that just show up. Rest a sure it always balances out in the end so do not overly stress on this topic. In worse case scenario most venues have a restaurant and you can order something comparable off the menu …it will cost more…but at least it is a back up option if you run short. In my 15 years of event planning…no one has gone hungry!

Why in some venues I can not take the extra food home…after all I paid for it!?!

I hear this all the time and totally understand the frustration; the answer in all cases this that it is a state health regulation code violation if the food leaves the venue.  This rule cannot be broken or the venue will loose their privilege of their fantastic catering services; so be nice to your venue staff…they did not make the rule, the local state health department takes full responsibility for this one!

Why are there rules on what I can and cannot use for decorations?

In some cases these are venue preferences in order to keep their venue looking professional and preserving their venue for years to come. You as their client most likely will be so very careful taking the tap off the walls or using glitter or clean up after your confetti celebration dance…but you are only a select few…so they had to put an end to it because it was damaging their property. Some have put a banned on open flame and that is one of two reasons guests did not follow their rules for open flame or, the local Fire Marshall but the rule into law…both cases your venue is not going to budge, just respect it. Now there are fantastic LED candles that look so real it is amazing!

What can I do to help my venue coordinator and make it easier for them?

First and for most be respectful and caring, this will get you the best service possible. When the venue coordinator tells you “you cannot do ______” …its ok…there are other options and they will help you.  Respecting the deadlines is so important; others are relying on you to do so. If you have a certain floor plan of how you would like things set up for your reception, draw it out and give it to your venue coordinator one month before your wedding for their approval. At your last meeting one-week before your wedding give your venue coordinator your timeline of your wedding day so they know your days plans so they can be on the same page and execute your dream day vision smoothly. Also, at the one-week prior meeting you will sign off on the set up floor plan as well. Remember, your set up floor plan most likely can not be changed the morning of your wedding, your venue might not have the staff to do it, in fact, in most cases the staff was there all night cleaning up from an event the night before and setting up for your wedding and now they are getting their well-deserved sleep.

What are some questions I should ask when looking for a venue? Here are some helpful questions to ask your venue to make sure they are a great fit for you and your wedding.

  1. What is the deposit and finial payment requirements?
  2. What does the rental fee include?
  3. How many guests can be seated in the space?
  4. Is there a space to hold the social hour separate? Is that extra?
  5. Do you supply the linens and is there an extra fee to use them?
  6. What colors of linens are available?
  7. How much are the security guards per hour?
  8. Does the venue supply the security guards?
  9. How many security guards do I need?
  10. What time does everybody need to be out of the venue on the night of the wedding (including the decorator)?
  11. What time do we get access to the venue to start decorating?
  12. What percentage is the gratuity or service fee?
  13. Is there a preferred vendor list I need to choose from?
  14. May I bring in baked goodies?
  15. May I have a candy buffet?
  16. Is there an extra fee for a cordless microphone and/or corded microphone?
  17. Is there an extra fee for using the projector and screen?
  18. What are the restrictions for decorations for the venue?

Here are a just a few topics that are brought up to me often, my desire is to help you understand your venue and understand the “why’s” behind some of their policies. Remember be respectful, have open communication and respect the property and you will get along with your venue coordinator perfectly and you can be confident that your venue coordinator will go above and beyond to see that your wedding runs smoothly.

Congratulations to the newly engaged couples and Happy Planning!!