There are so many things to consider when looking at locations and deciding if this is the place that's perfect for you and your fiance'. First in looking at locations, consider your guest list and how many guests you're planning on attending. Tomorrow's post will discuss more on guest lists, but take an approximate headcount to know when moving into your search what size location you should be looking at. Falling in love with a location that can't house your 300 guests would be such a let down and we want this to be a happy experience! Here are some elements to consider when looking into your location:
- Availability: Make sure that when you approach the sites coordinator or sales manager that you let them know of the date that you're interested in and if you have any flexibility on that. If it's a site that you fall in love with, your flexibility on your date may make the difference as to whether you can host your party there or not. Also another thing to consider, time. Do you have a time frame that you have the site for? Does your event need to be over by 10:30 because of music? Does everything have to be out, including you and your guests, by midnight? Can your vendors come in earlier, rather than later? Also, consider if your location has overtime charges, what they are, and how those issues are resolved. Also, will your location be hosting other events that may overlap?
- Decison: Make sure to see the space before settling on it. If you have a planner who is scouting sites for you, she will have your best interest at heart. However, you do need to see a location and know for sure it is for you. For out of town couples this may not be something that is completely possible, so check out sites and have your planner send in site photographs.
- Parking: Is the location that you're choosing have parking available to your guests? Is it free? Would you be hosting your guests parking with vouchers or valet? Will your guests have to walk a far distance from paid parking to get to your location? Also, in a downtown area consider the events that may be going on your wedding weekend. There are lots of local entertainment calendar's to check into to make sure your guests aren't going to be totally inconvenienced to be at your event. Yes, it is your once in a lifetime and your guests do want to be there, but do have their interests at heart as well.
- Contracts: Make sure that you read all of the fine print on the contract before signing your signature on the dotted line. Some venues may require you to put forth more money than you would prefer, and there are many that have very strict cancellation policies. Also, make sure that your food/beverage minimum is well spelled out, as well as all of the preliminary details of your event like timeframe, rooms, fee, etc. Make sure that your location can't boot you if a better "deal" comes along for them to make more money.
- Liability: More and more venues, especially historic locations, are putting into their contracts that the rentee must have liability insurance, most require $1,000,000, to host your event at their venue. You can arrange this one-day policy through your personal insurance company or through companies that focus on wedding insurance like Wed Safe. You must provide a certificate to your host venue to show the purchase and coverage before your event, most require 30 days prior. Even if your venue does not require it, I definitely suggest considering it.
- Decor/Rentals: Does your space have decor available for your use/rental, or will you need to provide everything? Does your space offer items that you may have to rent at other locations, such as tables, chairs, linens, tableware like china, glass and silver, etc.? We will discuss these options in a later posting if you choose a site that doesn't have all of these available.
- Staff: Does your location take care of clean up, or do you need to pay someone extra to come in? Who will you be working with through the duration of your event and who will be your planner's day of contact? Who will sign off on your BEO (Banquet Event Order which is the entire days structure in writing)? Do they have a staff member that will stay the duration of your event and attend to your vendors? More than likely not, so you do need to consider hiring a wedding coordinator if you don't have a planner. See my post regarding this here.
- Power/Lighting: Make sure that your location has a sufficient amount of power/lighting available for your vendors, especially your band/DJ and keeping in mind your photographer/videographer may have equipment to plug in as well.
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Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay