Compare Apples to Apples When Choosing Your Wedding Venue
by Laura Baker
Last year a client was thrilled with the amazing deal that they thought they were getting on their reception site. Then they found out that the service staff was not included, nor was the corkage fee, the venue had heavy restrictions, there was a 40th birthday party occurring next door at the same time, and there was a 25% service charge.
I had another client sign with a catering company to only find out the day of their wedding that the food was only to be dropped off, there was no buffet, servers, chafing equipment, or serving equipment. At some time in our lives, we've all heard the saying "compare apples to apples." This is especially sage advice when comparing one reception site with another.
The average wedding these days costs about the same as a mid-level car and I cannot stress enough how important it is to know ahead of time what you will actually receive for your money. I often hear my clients tell me about a wonderful deal that they received from given vendor for their wedding or special event. As a planner, I am always working with my clients to protect their best interests, asking what they really get for their money. Not all vendors are the same. The prices for different levels of service can vary greatly from one vendor to the next. What one vendor will be offering you for one price is not the same level of service another vendor is offering you for another level of service. So my lesson to those out there is to make sure and know what you are getting for your money. Remember to ask questions. Never assume that you are receiving something without explicitly being told that the service is included in the price.
Here are some things you should know about your reception venue before booking it:
- What is the reception site fee?
- What is included with the reception site fee?
- Do you allow outside caterers?
- Are kitchen facilities available for an outside caterer?
- If you do allow outside caterers, are there any special fees involved?
- What is the payment policy?
- What is the cancellation policy?
- Is parking available to my guests? If so, how much does it cost to park?
- Are there any decor restrictions?
- How much time will be allotted for us to come into the venue before the reception to decorate and how much time do we have afterwards to clean up? (This question is very important because the laws in the decorating universe are that anything that can happen, will happen. Having time to decorate and deal with the unexpected things that occur is crucial. Very rarely (and I've been doing this for decades with the best in the industry) do things go exactly as planned.
- Does the location provide for day deliveries the day before the event If I am getting rentals from a rental company? (Or the rental company's standard rental time -- many have pick up/ drop off fees)
- If I get the food from the venue, what is the price range for a seated dinner? Buffet?
- Do you allow outside alcohol and beverages? Is there a corkage fee?
- Is there a cake-cutting fee?
- Does your venue provide service staff? What is the ratio of servers to guests? If a catering company, what is the charge per server?
- How much time will be allotted for my reception?
- Are there restrictions on music?
- Are there alcohol restrictions? (I have personally seen this one make or break a venue selection several times, because some people charge per drink, some people price per person, and some per hour.)
- What decorations are available?
- Is there a changing room available?
- Is the dance floor included in the site fee?
- Are tables, chairs, linens, plates, cutlery, and glassware included? (Yes, it is pretty common that they're not)
- Does the facility have full liability insurance?
- Are there any permits required for using your venue?
Armed with the answers to the preceding questions, you should be able to fairly compare one reception site to another. Only then can you make an educated decision about which reception venue is best for you.