• Debra Reece, CWP

Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Venue

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

Tips of Venue Selection! When you are selecting a venue for your private party, corporate event or wedding there are several things you want to keep in mind:

  • Rental Fees! So many people are floored when they find out how much the rental fees are for certain venues. Hotels and restaurants typically don’t charge a rental fee because they build it in to the costs of your food and beverage and hotels always have a food and beverage minimum (which I will get into on a future blog post) which is normally negotiable. Some restaurants also have a food and beverage minimums, but not nearly as high as hotels and some restaurants can be easier on your pocket book.

As far as venues go, rental fees can be high. So proceed with caution. Read the fine print. There may be some hidden fees associated with your rental so make sure and read the entire contract carefully so you’re not caught off-guard. I’ve experienced venues that charge big bucks if you don’t leave the facility in immaculate condition after your event so look for these kind of hidden fees in your contract. Also look for discounts that are offered during certain times of year. Off-peak season is obviously the time you want to book, but if you’re having an outdoor wedding and off-peak season is in July (depending on where you live) you obviously want to consider the timing of your event. Now, it never hurts to ask, “Is this the best price you can offer?” Some venues may experience an unusual slow booking season and may be willing to cut you a deal just to bring in some business, so do your research and if they won’t come down on the price, at least you asked!

  • Customer Service. If the person you are working with at the venue of your choice is constantly having a bad day, ask for another person to help you – permanently! You want to know that your event will be handled by someone that cares as much about your event as you do! It’s important your venue rep is responsive to your calls and emails in a timely manner, that they deliver on all of their promises (and make sure it’s ALL in writing) and that they have a good work history with the venue. If you get someone that’s new to the company, make sure and ask that the manager or someone more “seasoned” with the company assists with your event through its completion.

  • Amenities. Of the many things event planners consider when choosing a venue, one of the major items is amenities. Consider these items when choosing a venue:

  • Are there restrooms in close proximity to where your event is being held? Are there enough restroom stalls for the number of attendees you plan to invite? Are the restrooms in decent condition?

  • Electrical outlets – make sure that the facility has enough outlets for music, food, margarita machines, etc. Make sure and determine where you will put all your vendors and check on how many outlets there are in each area. You may need to tell your vendor to bring extra extension cords just in case!

  • Parking - are you going to need shuttle service to and from the parking lot? Is there enough parking spaces for your guests, caterers, band and other vendors? If not, what does the facility plan to do to help you with parking? Parking is a big deal. If guests (especially women who are wearing fancy heels) have to walk through gravel, grass, muddy areas, sticks and stones to get to your reception they won’t be happy campers. So plan accordingly. I highly recommend that you rent a few golf shuttles to tote people to and from the reception if they have to trek-it in rough conditions or if there is a long walk. They will thank you greatly for it!

  • Signage – some facilities will be willing to put up minimal signage for parking, entrances, and other areas to help attendees but ask the question if that is something they will provide. If you don’t ask, you don’t receive! If they do not offer this service, then make sure and have some signage ordered with easels (for indoors) or stakes (for outdoors) to direct guests. Also, please do us all a favor and make sure we can READ your signs! So many people make illegible signs or signs that are too small to read. You should have a 24x36” sign with LARGE print. Don’t be that garage sale that makes a small bandit sign and writes “Garage Sale at 111 ABC street” in pencil or with a fine sharpie marker and they expect you to read it while you’re driving 45 mph past the sign. UGH!

  • Unloading dock or other areas for your caterer, photo booth vendor, band, etc, to unload for easy access to their areas. I know sometimes this is unavoidable but make sure you go over the loading/unloading procedures with each of your vendors prior to the big day.

  • Location. Is your venue out in the boonies? If so, great! Everyone loves a good road trip. HOWEVER! Make sure you don’t select a time when people have to fight rush hour to get to your event. Is there going to be construction or road closures on major highways leading to your event? Are the roads to your event easy to access and is there data roaming service out in your boony area? You’d be surprised how many people turn around in frustration and go back home because they can’t find your venue because there aren’t satellite services to help them reach their destination.

Are you serving alcohol? If so, is your venue reachable by Lyft, Uber or Taxi services in case someone has too much to drink? If not, you’re going to need a few designated drivers or put someone in charge of making sure everyone arrives home safely. Another thing to keep in mind is hotel accommodations if some of your guests plan to stay overnight. Make sure there are a few hotels nearby and book some room blocks just in case you need them. Again, especially for those that have imbibed a little too much. Get them to a nearby hotel safely!

  • Cancellation Policies. This is a tough one. Cancellations happen - especially now! There are times when extenuating circumstances may prevent you from having your event and you need to cancel. Make sure you understand CLEARLY what your options are for cancellation if the need arises. Flat out ask the “what if” questions with your venue representative. Ie: What if there is a flash flood warning on the day of my event? What if my husband, mother, father, etc has a serious accident or worse a few days prior to the event? Every venue has a different cancellation policy and most of them are not lenient. It’s not the venue’s fault if your beloved pet dies or you get in a serious car accident. Life happens and you will need to cough up the fees associated with cancellations. So again, read the fine print and ask as many questions as you can so you are aware.

Feel free to send me a note if you have any questions. I’m here to help! If all of this overwhelms you, I’m here to help!

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