Questions to Ask Before Selecting a Wedding Venue

I recently wrote a blog post on how to find your wedding venue. I discussed a number of questions about the costs of the venue — which I think are important enough to reiterate! I also am adding questions to this list that you should keep in mind before actually signing any contract with a venue. If you’re looking to double check questions that you should ask, be sure and check out the Here Comes the Guide questions to ask when evaluating a wedding location.

Photo from The Wedding Lens

General questions on costs/facilities to ask

  • Seating/guests
    • How many people can they seat/fit?
    • How much is the deposit/down payment? Is it refundable?
    • Does the venue provide chairs? Do you need to rent chairs?
    • Do they charge for the chairs/setting up chairs?
  • Facilities
    • Is there a dressing area for the bride & groom?
    • Are there bathrooms accessible to guests?
    • Is it wheelchair accessible?
  • Food, drinks, & catering
    • Does the venue provide food, drinks, or other catering? Do they have preferred vendors?
    • If they have food & drinks for weddings, then find out a price range, you will select your final food/drink options later. Most venues give a per person rate. (Be sure to check whether each price option includes a buffet, a seated dinner, an open bar, limited drinks, etc.)
    • Can vendors use the kitchen facilities? (Are there kitchen facilities on site?)
    • Is there a per-person cake charge?
    • Is there an additional charge for linens and utensils?
    • Is there a service charge for serving the meals?
  • Music, Dancing, Flowers & Decorations
    • Does the venue have a dance floor? Does it cost extra?
    • Does the venue permit amplified music?
    • Is there a sound system? Can an outside DJ or band use it? Is there a cost
    • Do they permit decorations/flowers? Can you bring in decorations from outside or does it have to be done through the venue? What is the charge?
  • Miscellaneous
    • Do they charge for clean up
    • Does the venue require wedding insurance? (Check out the blog post on wedding insurance if you have no idea what this is!)
    • Are there restrictions on the site? (no confetti, etc)
    • Do they have any other costs and fees? (service charges, etc)

Specific Questions to ask yourself to make sure the venue is right — at the right time

  • Go to the venue at the time of day you want to get married to make sure the lighting is right and sufficient.
  • Is there sufficient lighting? Ask the venue if there is additional lighting available.
  • If it is outdoors, are there coverings or tents that can go up if it rains? Can you bring in umbrellas? (Are there charges for tents? What is the charge?
  • Do you like the people at the venue? Can you work with them?
  • If they require a certain vendor, is that okay with you? Do you like the vendors?

Questions to ask about the contract before you sign

  • What happens if one side or the other has to cancel? Do you still have to pay fees? Can you get reimbursed if it’s their fault?
  • Is there a contingency plan if it’s outdoors and it rains?
  • Are they requiring you to do something you do not want to do or incur costs that you dont want to incur?
  • READ it thoroughly! Make sure you understand it. Take your time, don’t feel strong-armed into signing it. If you can, have someone else who isn’t involved in the process read it too. They might see something you didn’t.

~ Natasha

Green Wedding Tips: Location of Your Wedding!

An outdoor wedding venue! photo from The Wedding Lens

A lot of people are “being green” on their wedding day – even doing the smallest of things to help save the environment, just a little bit. Here’s another part in our series of green wedding tips that focuses on each part of the planning process. Here are your green wedding location planning tips!

  • Pick a venue that is outdoors.  Selecting a venue like an area of a forest or part of a beach is beautiful. You can take advantage of natural lighting and you won’t need electricity during the ceremony. And, as a bonus, many times, it’s also free! It takes advantage of the nature that is easily accessible. If you do get married in a park, make sure you check out any required permits! The National Park Service website has resources for this – just go to their site and search based on the park you’re looking at.
  • Think about where your guests are coming from. The more people who are traveling, the worse it is for the environment because of the oil & gas that gets used to travel! AND, even more importantly, the people who have to travel get hit harder in their wallets. If most people are in a certain place, consider having your wedding there. If you’re asking people to travel, then also think about asking guests to purchase carbon offsets or donate to an earth-friendly organization to compensate for their travel.
  • Consider the decor of the venue; use windows wisely! Try to select a venue that has natural light so you don’t have to use electricity. Many churches have open stained glass windows that provide natural light. Similarly, restaurants and other venues with lots of windows are great for this.
  • Provide a car- or van-pool from hotel to ceremony/reception. Rather than have everyone drive from their hotel to the wedding reception, organize a car pool or hire transportation for wedding guests to & from the venues. You save fuel and ensure your inebriated friends get home safely.

Got other green wedding ideas? Need ideas in other areas of wedding planning? Here are more green wedding tips!

Go Green!

~ Natasha

How to Find a Wedding Venue or Location

If you’re trying to plan your own wedding, one of the first things you will think about is the venue! One thing to keep in mind is that you should try to be flexible in selecting your dates. Your ideal venue might not be available on the particular date you want, but maybe it will be free the following week. You never know!

Wedgewood Banquet Center at Crystal Springs Golf Course in Northern California, Photo from The Wedding Lens!

Though there are a lot of things to keep in mind when you’re choosing your venue, the top three concerns are: 1) cost, 2) comfort, and 3) date.

Finding the venue

The first step in finding locations for your wedding is thinking about what you want and checking your budget. Do you want a beach wedding? A wedding in the mountains? A wedding in a restaurant? Or in a hotel? Think about what you want.

Get an idea of what’s out there. Start searching the web! If you’re in California, Chicago, or Washington DC, I highly recommend checking out Here Comes the Guide which lets you search by type of location (site views, site types) and by region or locale. You’ll note that the prices aren’t included — because, as The Guide explains, there are way too many variables to give you a specific number. If you’re not in those areas, just search for your location + wedding venue. once you start looking around, you’ll gather what you like, what each venue includes, and what is out there.

Questions to ask the venue

You should keep in mind your budget and what you want from your venue – but you might not know what it is you want. Here are some questions to ask and things that venues may (or may not) include. Getting answers to these questions may prove that the location is perfect (or absolutely NOT) for you! And, of course, Here Comes the Guide has another great list of questions to ask when looking at a venue!

When reviewing this, keep in mind whether the venue is for both your ceremony and your reception. Some of these questions apply only if you’re looking for a venue for both. Other questions (like about chairs & set up) apply regardless.

  • Seating/guests
    • How many people can they seat/fit?
    • How much is the deposit/down payment? Is it refundable?
    • Does the venue provide chairs? Do you need to rent chairs?
    • Do they charge for the chairs/setting up chairs?
  • Facilities
    • Is there a dressing area for the bride & groom?
    • Are there bathrooms accessible to guests?
    • Is it wheelchair accessible?
  • Food, drinks, & catering
    • Does the venue provide food, drinks, or other catering? Do they have preferred vendors?
    • If they have food & drinks for weddings, then find out a price range, you will select your final food/drink options later. Most venues give a per person rate. (Be sure to check whether each price option includes a buffet, a seated dinner, an open bar, limited drinks, etc.)
    • Can vendors use the kitchen facilities? (Are there kitchen facilities on site?)
    • Is there a per-person cake charge?
    • Is there an additional charge for linens and utensils?
    • Is there a service charge for serving the meals?
  • Music, Dancing, Flowers & Decorations
    • Does the venue have a dance floor? Does it cost extra?
    • Does the venue permit amplified music?
    • Is there a sound system? Can an outside DJ or band use it? Is there a cost
    • Do they permit decorations/flowers? Can you bring in decorations from outside or does it have to be done through the venue? What is the charge?
  • Miscellaneous
    • Do they charge for clean up
    • Does the venue require wedding insurance? (Check out the blog post on wedding insurance if you have no idea what this is!)
    • Are there restrictions on the site? (no confetti, etc)
    • Do they have any other costs and fees? (service charges, etc)

 Remember, before you accept anything, make sure that you check out the venue in person — and see if you can look at it during the time of day you want to get married. That way you can see if there is sufficient lighting or anything else you should know.

And, before you sign ANYTHING, make sure you read the contract thoroughly! What happens if one side or the other needs to cancel at the last minute? Do you have to pay all the fees anyway?

Good luck!

~ Natasha

Between the Ceremony and the Reception

A sunset on the beach, a morning mass, an afternoon in a temple… followed by the reception.  But what time does the ceremony start? And what time does the reception start? Where do guests go between?

Planning a wedding ceremony and reception requires some time coordination.  As Mrs. Radish of the WeddingBee reported sometimes the time that you can book the ceremony site and reception site may not align, leaving your guests wondering what to do in between. 

If you end up with a large gap in time between the ceremony and reception, here are a few suggestions:

  • Give your guests a list of local things to see and a map.  If you’re in a big city, perhaps a tourist attraction they can drive or walk to easily.  If you’re in a smaller town, maybe direct them to a nearby park.
  • Suggest a nearby coffee shop, bar, or restaurant where guests can hang out for awhile.  Make sure that it is either close to either the ceremony site or the reception site, though!  You don’t want your guests to have to go too far out of their way.
  • If the ceremony and reception are at the same place, see if you can find a space for guests to casually hang out and get a glass of water.

Make sure you should provide these suggestions with the invitation, so that guests are prepared for the time gap.  You don’t want guests arriving at the reception site only to be surprised that they have several hours to kill before the festivities begin!  The more your guests can plan in advance, the better.

~Natasha

To Wedding Arch Or Not To Wedding Arch

Wedding Arch

Wedding planning is supposed to be an exciting time for the bride and groom-to-be. There are so many details that have to be covered in order to have a successful yet glamorous wedding.

 

Some of the details may not arise until you arrive to your wedding rehearsal.  As you are decorating your ceremony location like the church, outdoor setting etc., an opportunity may arise for you to add a wedding arch to your decor. Do you choose this addition or do you reject it? It all depends on what kind of appearance it brings to the wedding setup.  Does it make an elegant addition or does it just add clutter?

 

Of course the bride and groom-to-be have the final say if this is right for their wedding or not.  The wedding arch may work better in the outdoors than it would in a church setting.  If you are still uncertain take pictures at the rehearsal and ceremony location  after it has all been decorated. When you go home, and if time allows, download all the pictures on the computer and scan through the photos, if you don’t like what you see then forego the arch.  Making the right decision is so very important since you don’t want to regret it in the long run.

 

If  you are in need of some more decorating ideas for the ceremony or the reception, Almost A Bride  has ideas you may wish to consider and incorporate into your wedding planning.

 

~ Lindsey