TOP 6 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING YOUR WEDDING VENUE
Pop the champagne, you’re changing your last name! Our event experts at Longwood Venues will give you the inside scoop on selecting your wedding venue. Although simple, these items are often overlooked in the height of the excitement. Did you know that wedding venue, food, and beverage will construct approximately 75% of your entire budget? That being said, this is probably the next most important decision you will make, aside from saying yes.
Here is what we recommend considering before selecting your location:
Sentiment and Personality. Discover your personality as a couple and what tugs at your hearts’ strings. This will lead you to your dream wedding venue.
Begin by making a list of items that are important to both of you. Is there a place you both grew up vacationing as children? Do you share love for city life? Are you both attracted to old world Hollywood glamour? Are you weekend warriors wanting to treat guests to a mini vacation? If it is a specific look you are going for, try to narrow down your non-negotiable items (unique decor, unforgettable location, date) and don’t compromise.
Flexibility. When selecting your date, it pays to be flexible. There are only 53 Saturdays in 2017 and 52 in 2018. The harsh reality is most of them are already taken, however, don’t despair. Consider Friday or Sunday, which are usually a little less expensive, a midweek option, off season, or an early afternoon affair. Daytime wedding will allow to highlight the beautiful outdoors if your reception is en plein air. Furthermore, ask your sales person if there are dates they need to fill due to a shorter term openings or recent cancellations. These dates can save you upwards of $10,000.
Be open about your target budget. Many clients have the misconception that you shouldn’t discuss money in the first appointment. Talking about money will actually help you in this case. Purchasing a date at a wedding venue isn’t the same as purchasing a car. There are so many variables that could change your bottom line. A budget could change based on guest count, date, plated versus stationed dinner, flat rate bar versus consumption bar, ceremony on site versus off-site.
If you are looking for flexibility, research the peak seasons – often forming around most desirable time of year for your geographical location – then ask about availability in the shoulder periods. The shoulder seasons are often the last to fill. Your flexibility may sometimes win you locations you thought were out of the question or allow room for beautiful enhancements.There isn’t any negotiation in peak sellout periods.
Assistance in Planning. In the height of your excitement you want an event venue or caterer who is equally excited to help you. You will know this right off the bat – and listen to your gut. Things to note: How long does it take to get a response after your initial inquiry? Is she/he taking the time to really listen before quoting you a price? Are proposals and contracts clear and do they outline everything you discussed? Are you comfortable with the proposed planning and detailing phase? Are milestone meetings and expectations laid out? Do you need to consider a wedding planner? This is one of the biggest days of your lives, be sure you trust the professionalism of the entire team of vendors you choose. Understanding and setting expectations will give you peace of mind.
Recent Renovations + Plans for Improvement. A great way to understand how well the venue is cared for is to ask about recent renovations and their future plans for improvement. This could be as small as painting and buffing floors or as large as multi-million dollar refurbishment. Venues with solid capital plans are investing in their future and the experience of their guests.
Quality of Food. Be sure to learn about the culinary team. Ask questions about food quality. What items are made in house? Is food prepared on site or in a commissary? If the latter, be wary of hot boxes (aka food warmers, meaning food probably sits in these boxes for a period of time before being served to guests). Frozen products are usually lower in quality. Ask about the newest culinary trends. Is customization possible? Sticking to package A, B, or C can get boring.
Service Level. Understanding staffing standards will allow you to gain a comfort level. The event team will build timelines, floorplans, check vendors in, and worry about all of the details you discussed but your “day of” team truly executes the plan. What is the waitstaff ratio? Industry standard is 1 per 10 guests for a seated dinner. What is the bartender ratio? Industry standard is 1 per 100 guests. If you are adding interactive food stations, cocktail service or tableside menu ordering, more staff may be needed for flawless execution.
Best of luck in your planning. We know you will make the right choice and your wedding will be exactly how you dream it! We hope to meet you throughout your search. If you are doing your research before the question is officially popped, kudos for being on top of your game!