You are engaged! Bring on the wedding planning excitement!…but where do you begin?
First and foremost, the best piece of advice we can give you as you begin the wedding planning process is to start touring venues sooner than later. The venue you select often dictates the color scheme, style and design of your wedding, so if you already have these things in mind, the venue should definitely blend with what you are envisioning for your wedding day.
Wedding venues are probably one of the most difficult things to shop for. A lot is riding on this decision and let’s face it, having some of your best memories in a venue that is second best is just not going to cut it. Maybe you already have your dream venue in mind or maybe you have no clue where to start. No matter where you stand, having the right set of questions to ask is key before going on your first tour. We have put together a list of questions that go beyond the cost, budget and staffing questions, and delve deeper into some of the things that are too important to forget but are often not remembered because of the excitement of the first visit.
1. Do you Have Any Restrictions on the Vendors that we Use? Is There an Exclusive List of Vendors We Must Use?
A preferred list describes a partnership between the venue and a particular vendor and indicates that they trust these specific vendors and know that they will do a good job based on experience. This preferred list is a great starting point for couples when choosing their “vendor dream team” for the big day.
PLANNER TIP: It is especially important to ask if this “preferred” list is an “exclusive” list. If the vendor supplies a list of vendors that they exclusively work with, chances are they will only allow vendors from that list to work at their venue, or may charge a fee if you select someone who is not of their list. This can sometimes be a major deal breaker if you have your heart set on a specific vendor that is not on their list. Save yourself the stress and double check to make sure this is just a recommendation of highly regarded professionals NOT an exclusive list of who is allowed on site.
2. When are Vendors Allowed to Set Up?
If you plan on coordinating tables, chairs, dinnerware and centerpieces all from different vendors it’s always helpful to be able to have all of these vendors on the same page. Giving everyone a set time (with enough wiggle room) will ease the stress of many.
3. Do you Have an On-Site Coordinator and What Are Their Duties on the Wedding Day?
An on-site coordinator is basically your insurance for the day… if it has to do with the venue that is! Often an on-site coordinator will handle sales of the venue, the contract, food and alcohol if included, and furniture if you are using what the venue provides. If you are hiring a wedding planner (and we highly suggest it.. shameless plug! haha), they will often work together, but it is important to know what limitations the coordinator has and how the things that they are willing to assist with. All too often, clients don’t ask this question until the very end of their planning journey when they realize that the venue’s on-site coordinator doesn’t manage their day-of vendors, keep their timeline on track, or fluff dresses. They are then forced to make a last minute day-of coordinator addition to that already super stretched wedding budget!
4. Are There Rules About Amplified Music and What Time Will It Need to End?
It is a good idea to know ahead of time any rules that may hinder your celebration from going all night long. If you are getting married in an area that you are not familiar with, it is best to ask about noise curfews so that you can plan accordingly. This may even dictate if you can have a band vs. a DJ at certain outdoor venues.
5. Does the Venue Allow Candles and Sparklers?
Nothing beats a room filled with the allover glow of candle centerpieces. Both warm and welcoming, they provide the romantic ambience that we love at weddings. If this is your vision, best to know ahead of time how your venue feels about candle use as some may restrict their use altogether and will only let you use flameless candles.
The same goes for the visual treat that we have all come to love at the end of a great wedding… sparklers! If you envision sparklers all around you as you have your first dance or have always dreamed of this magical addition to your final send off as a married couple, making sure the venue will give you the go ahead before hand is a “brilliant” idea in our opinion.
Planning a wedding comes with an overwhelming amount of decisions. From the moment you are engaged until the very last sparkler goes out as you exit at the end of your night, every bit of your wedding will have been expertly planned.We suggest taking the stress out of this exciting journey by always having the right questions to ask! So, grab your wedding binder and a pencil and get planning!