Choosing Your Location

As you begin to embark on the journey to your wedding day, there will be many decisions you will need to make and many suppliers to consider. The best piece of advice I can give you is to “Get Professional Help”! That being said, many brides and their families will still want to do most of the selection of whom and what will be at their wedding. I will be publishing a series of articles on what to do and how to do it as it relates to some of the key things of a successful wedding and reception.

When brides and grooms start looking for wedding venues, too often they fall in love with the beauty of the place and sign a contract before they take the time to look at the practical aspect of their needs. But unless the place is so magical that you’re willing to plan your whole event around it, you should not choose your wedding venue until you’ve decided approximately how many guests you’re inviting and the size of your budget. You’ll also need to decide if you want to have your ceremony and reception at different locations, or if you want an all-in-one wedding venue.

Over the past few years, the traditions have changed. There was a time when almost all wedding occurred in a church. The reception, if any, may have been in the church basement or possibly at an outside location. Today, many couples are choosing to have their wedding and reception at the same facility. It makes sense, because guests do not have to travel between locations, and many young couples today are not members of a church congregation. Once you have made this decision, you will need to start researching and interviewing different wedding venues. Here are some items to keep in mind and some questions you may want to ask during your interviews.
You will want to book your venue anywhere from six to eighteen months before your actual selected wedding date, as the popular venues tend to fill up quickly. If you have your heart set on having your wedding at a particular facility, in addition to booking it early, you will want to keep your wedding date flexible.

You need to make a tentative guest list early and only consider venues that can comfortably handle the number of guests you think you may have. If you think you may have 160 guests, do not get a venue that sits only up to 150, hoping that some people don’t show up. It is never a good situation to have more guests than available seating.
It is also important to establish your overall budget early in your planning stage. Establish what portion of your budget will be devoted to the location. Keep in mind that a single location will generally be more economical unless you can use your church for free. Be sure to ask if certain days, like a Thursday or Sunday, offer a reduced rate. When you decide on a venue, make sure to find out when deposits and payments are due. A deposit to hold the date will be required and virtually all venues require full payment at least thirty days in advance of the wedding date.

Find out what items are included in the price. Some venues offer tables, linens, chairs and, even, decorations, while other venues offer only the space that you will need to fill. Be sure to find out if a set-up or clean-up fee is included in the price, as well as the hours before and after the wedding needed to do so.
If you and your partner have a particular type of food you want served, ask the venue if they require in-house catering or if they allow outside caterers. If the catering is in-house, is this a factor in the price?
Should you decide on an outdoor ceremony and reception, make sure you have a backup plan in case of bad weather. Ask about changing rooms for the bride, bridesmaids and groomsmen.

If you plan on serving alcohol, find out what types of rules or restrictions are in place at the facility. Some venues allow you to bring in your own liquor, while others make you use their own in-house bar and bartender. If you provide your own alcohol, plan on purchasing liquor liability insurance for your event.

Depending on the location of your venue, you may need to discuss the parking situation. Some venues may offer valet parking while others offer adequate-sized parking lots for all of your guests.