Monday, January 10, 2011

Tips for Finding the Perfect Wedding Venue - Part Two

Hope everyone had a great weekend and was able to read Part One of my Tips for Finding the Perfect Wedding Venue! Part Two is here we go!

Some venues include this as a complimentary service and others out source.  Find out either way and what the cost per person is.  Providing a valet service for your guests is a nice gesture, but not always necessary. You might be able to add this a week or two before your wedding date after all the money dust has settled and you know where your budget is.  Find out if that’s the case a head of time and if there are any extra fees for booking the valet at the last minute.

Special meals
Let's face it we all have friends that are picky eaters so find out what their veggie choice is, can the venue do kosher meals and what the cost is.  Also find out the cost of kids meals and what they serve.  Another question you should ask is if they allow outside food. Some won't even allow you to bring in outside cookies as a favor. Or if your aunt is making the cake they may say no.  So find out before so there are no surprises!

Vendor Meals
So many of my clients forget this, but the truth is you should feed your on site vendors such as the band, photographer and planner.  Find out the cost for a warm meal (preferred by most vendors - trust me) and a cold meal.  Remember well fed vendors create happy vendors which creates a fabulous wedding!

This is one area I have a professional issue with - some venues do and some venues don’t offer tastings.  Some venues say they don't because their food is spectacular and they have never had an issue.  I say that's great but what if you and your family don't like spicy food and the salad dressing is too garlicky the night of?  You will have a lot of unhappy guests that will forever talk about how bad the food was.  So I always opt for a tasting.  It's the perfect time to collaborate with the chef and make sure you are getting exactly what you want and are paying for.  Now don't be surprised if they won't do a tasting until you have signed the contract and paid a deposit I can't blame them for not handing out free meals.  If you are weary of doing that find out what the cost would be to do a tasting before signing the contract.  You never know they might let you do it.  I know many venues will give me a lot of flack here, but in the end your guests talk about the food especially if it's not what you want.  It's your right to try the food!

Some venues include the cake and some do not - so get some clarity.  If they do provide the cake it may be an outside baker where the venue pays them for certain style cake.  In most cases it will cost you more to have the cake decorated a specific way. Ask to speak to the bakery to see if they can accommodate your design and if so are there extra costs.  Most likely this is one area where the venue may not negotiate.

Vendor Lists
Almost all venues have a vendor list they want you to work from.  This is a great thing and a bad thing.  Great because it helps you narrow down who to go to and in most cases the vendors have a stellar record.  But it is also bad because you may want to fly in a band from Miami and the venue won't let you.  Find out before how strict their policy is to allowing you to bring in outside vendors.  If they say you can bring outside vendors other than those recommended then get it in writing in your contract.

This is one area that can get tricky so ask your venue if you need to take out an additional insurance policy naming them as an additionally insured.  In most cases you don’t have to, but you don’t want to get surprised after signing the contract that you have to take out a special rider on your homeowners policy just so you can throw your wedding.  As a vendor myself I must carry insurance and very often have to name the venue as an additionally insured.  In fact you should check with all your prospective vendors and make sure they have event insurance.  Your cousin may be a great DJ, but if he doesn't have insurance he won't be allowed to play at your wedding.  So find out what the parameters are.

Electric costs
Some venues require that you pay for electric or pay for additional electric.  Ask up front and then ask your vendors (band / DJ / photographer / videographer) if they will require excessive amounts of power.  Relay that to your venue. Changes are okay with most venue, but you never know.  Also ask your venue if the power is new or old and if they have multiple circuits.  So often the venue says it's not an issue we clear it with them, but then a circuit trips right in the middle of the first dance and the band goes dead. It's a nightmare but it happens because people forget to ask.

Doing a site visit - time - canceling - bathrooms - handicap -
Most of the questions above are really for when you do a site visit one on one with the venue representative.  A few things to remember: always try to be on time, if late let them know.  They keep super busy schedules and it's nice to be courteous to them just like you expect them to be with you.  If you must reschedule or if you don't want to look at the space anymore, just let them know. When looking at the venue look and see if there is a bridal room.  Is the venue handicap accessible for grandma?  What do the bathrooms look like?

Contact the day of
Very often the person who books your event is not the person who is on site the day of your wedding.  Therefore, ask who will be on site to trouble shoot any issues you have.  If you want a specific person just ask, but remember they can make no guarantees.

Hotel Venues
Some, but not all hotel venues may offer a complimentary bridal suite the night of the event.  If they do that’s fabulous news!  However, be sure to ask when you can check into the suite.  In some cases you can't get in until 3pm.  That may be too late for you.  So you may want to opt and book your suite the night before.  It's nice waking up in your suite knowing you don't have to rush to get ready!  Also when booking with your hotel venue ask if there are any conventions in town or are they expecting large bookings.  There may be nothing worse than finding out it's the national kazoo convention at your hotel.  Finally ask if they can do a room block for your wedding guests.  Very often they will do this at a lesser cost as a compliment to bringing them a large amount of business.

These questions may all seem a bit overcautious, but then again as a planner that's my job!  Just remember not everything is negotiable, be courteous, and be thorough. 

Until next time - Cheers!


  1. Thanks for doing this Shawn! I forwarded the link to my sister to help her out. Can't wait for part 2!!

  2. Whoops! I guess I actually commented on part 2. It was excellent as well. Thanks again!

  3. thank you for remembering the vendor meals!!
    my photographers are always appreciative!