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Determining the Best Location for your Wedding

While attending a bridal show this past weekend, I was excited to meet with many newly engaged brides.  Many of the brides I met, came with many questions as they were just starting their search and were curious about different options available for their wedding.  Hotels typically provide different offerings than a banquet hall or specialty venue which can make the process confusing when meeting with different venues.  I thought it would be great to provide a list of questions a bride should ask when setting up site visits to determine the best location for their wedding
1) How do I go about finding the best venue for my wedding?
A couple’s venue should reflect their personal style.  Ambiance, Room Size, Color Scheme and On-Site Amenities should all be a part of the evaluation process.  You should also inquire about cuisine and service style.   Be sure to verify the exact capacity of the room ensuring there is enough space for tables, chairs, dance floor, bars, etc
2) What is typically included in the basic room rental?
Some facilities include everything and some require you to rent amenities.  Room rental should include setup and tear down fees, labor, bartender fees, tables, chairs, dance floor, linen, china, glassware, silverware, table numbers and votive candles.  Be sure the inclusions are listed in your estimate.
3) What are the typical fees associated with booking a venue?
A minimum food and beverage revenue commitment is generally required for most venues.  An additional ceremony fee is generally required for on-site ceremonies.  All food and beverage packages are also subject to service charge and sales tax.

4) Are there additional fees to consider?
Typical extras may include a fee for cake cutting, corkage fee for wine or champagne, white glove service, valet parking, coat check and restroom attendants.  If a wedding reception runs longer than the number of hours it was booked for, ask if there are overtime charges.
5) What restrictions are there?
Check with the venue to find out their policy on candles, outside food and beverage being provided and the usage of hospitality rooms.  Ask before you make specific plans.

6) How many restrooms are available?
Be sure there are adequate facilities for the number of guests you plan to have and ask if you are sharing them with another event.  

7) What types of bar services are offered?
Bar options include open bar, consumption and cash bar.  When evaluating packages at each facility it is important to note the difference between bar packages to determine the true value of the overall package.
Understand who will take on liability concerning age limits.

8) Will there be another event taking place at the same time, or before or after my event?
Many facilities have events concurrently or within tight time restrictions.  Verify whether your event will be the only event that day and how much time has been allotted before and after your event , expecially if you will need additional set up time for vendors or if you may decide to extend your event.

9) Does the facility have the proper licenses and insurance?
The facility providing the bar service should have a liquor license as well as liability coverage.  Make sure they have certification from the Board of Health.  If you are hiring an outside caterer, make sure they have the licenses, liability coverage and Health Department certifications the facility and city requires.

10) Is there ample parking and what will it cost?
Is the parking free or in a nearby garage where they will need to pay?  Can reduced rates be arranged for guests for overnight parking in the hotel or during the event in a parking lot?  

11) How many hours should I book a venue for my wedding reception?
A typical wedding reception lasts about 6 Hours from the start of the cocktail hour until the end of the event.  An additional hour should be allotted for an on-site ceremony.  Wedding service begins with butler passed hors d’ oeuvres followed by a three course or four course plated dinner with champagne toast and wine service with dinner.  Dancing and open Bar follow after dinner.  The average start time for most couples is 6:00pm with an average ending time of 12:00
12) Do prices generally vary by day of the week or the time of the day?  If so, how and when do prices fluctuate?
As a full service hotel, our catering pricing fluctuates based upon time of year as well as day of the week.  Off Peak Season is generally December – March for most facilities.   Special Discounting is also available for Friday and Sunday Weddings.  Many brides will find that rentals such as linen, specialty chairs, floral, etc. are offered at discounted pricing at this time as well.
13) Is a microphone available for speeches, is this generally provided?
Microphones are available at an additional rate.  Many couples utilize the wireless microphone provided by their DJ or Band for Speeches.
14) How does it work with insurance for the event and what types of insurance are customary?
All vendors (third parties) contracted for the wedding must be licensed and insured.
15) If the event is cancelled or re-scheduled, is the deposit refundable?
At the time of contract, the bride and groom provide a deposit.  The deposit will be applied to outstanding customer charges, or in the event of cancellation, toward the applicable cancellation fee

Davina Arceneaux
Director of Catering / Wedding Specialist

Planning for 2012

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Congratulations to all future brides who have recently become engaged.  This is an exciting time full of anticipation about how your dream wedding will come to fruition.  Consider these top things to do after getting engaged:

1) Announce your Engagement
Share the exciting news with your family and friends.  This is the first thing you will want to do upon getting engaged.  After speaking with friends and family, call your local newspaper and anywhere else you want your engagement announcement to appear. There may be a publication fee.  You can check with the newspaper about writing guidelines and/or standardized forms. 

2) Set a Wedding Timeline
Decide how long your engagement will be. This is typically based upon your ideal wedding date and the amount of time it will take to prepare.  Most engagements last anywhere from six months to a year.  Be sure to give yourself enough time to plan also keeping in mind most reception sites and vendors book a year or more in advance. 

3) Determine your Wedding Reception Style
Your location will ultimately help to shape your wedding style, whether an outdoor nature setting or luxurious ballroom setting.  Take this time to also think about wedding colors and/or wedding theme.

4) Set your Budget
The following items will play a major roll in your budget.  Be sure your wedding venue and selected vendors fit within your overall budget:

Date / time: Saturdays, summer months, and evenings tend to be the most costly time of year to have a reception.

Decor: Floral, Linen, Lighting, Ceremony Decor

Entertainment: Band vs. DJ

Transportation: Shuttle Bus / Trolley / Limo

5) Organize
Get an iPad or iPhone app, a datebook or calendar to help create a timeline for wedding-related tasks. .

6) Choose your Attendants
This is a great time to honor friends/family by selecting them to be a part of the big day.  Your attendants are a great resource to help with wedding details.  Be sure to ask early and inform them about your plans. 

7) Make a Guest List
Develop a potential guest list and also ask parents about their ideal guest list.  This will help to keep you on track with your wedding budget.  You may have to scale down the guest list if costs exceed the budget or you may find that if your guest list is smaller than expected, you know have additional money in the budget to spend on wedding decor or food for the wedding reception.

8) Start Gown Shopping
It's never too early. Start by figuring out which style will look best on you.  Bridal Magazines provide a great tool to get you started.  You can view different dresses and determine which dress may fit your personal style.  When selecting your dress, keep in mind the weather conditions at the time of your wedding.  Shantung, satin, silk and tulle are perfect year round.  If you are getting married in the winter, brocade and velvet fabrics will keep you warm.  For the summer, lightweight fabrics such as organza, chiffon or linen work best.

9) Create a Wedding Website
This is a great way to communicate important information to your wedding guests.  Make it fun by including Trivia about the way you met or how he proposed.  Also include pictures and wedding details as they are finalized.

10) Start a Wedding Savings Account
Start a savings account for the big day.  Check on deposit amounts required by vendors as well as time frames that additional payments will be due for the wedding.

Davina Arceneaux
Director of Catering / Wedding Specialist


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