Friday, March 18, 2011

Fab fridays: Questions to consider before you choose your Wedding Venue

When brides & grooms start looking for wedding venues, too often they fall in love with the beauty of the place and sign a contract before they've considered the more practical things. It makes sense -- who wants to look back and say only, "Well, it was practical"?

But unless the place is so magical that you're willing to plan your whole event around it, your shouldn't choose between wedding venues until you've decided approximately how many guests you're inviting and the size of your budget. You'll also need to decide if you want to have your ceremony and reception in the same place, or if you want an all-in-one wedding venue.

Once you know these things, and you have a few wedding venues in mind that fit that budget and size, then it's time to start asking questions!The following are they qs you should consider before you decide on the your wedding venue:
  • Location of the wedding venue. How far is it from your home? Do you consider the back & forth you will partake when preparation & planning for the reception? Our SA fe-b says "We chose a nearby venue to home cos there will be times our commitee need to go back home & forth few times to get the reception things (decor, doorgifts, etc)". What about the distance of the venue? is the venue in the city centre in the middle of traffic or are they in the suburbs that may take longer to get to?  
  • Does the wedding venue allow booking in advance to avoid disappointment?  Nothing's worse than missing out on the perfect venue because you left the booking too late. Ensure you do your research in plenty of time, shortlist a couple of possible wedding venues and then book your favorite. Don't be forced into having to accept second best - you'll regret it forever.  
  • Make sure the wedding venue is a suitable size for all the guests you want to invite. Visit the venue in advance, meet the team and ask the management for advice. Have a good look around. If lots of children will be celebrating with you, does the venue have space for them to run around and let off steam in safety? And will the staff be sympathetic to energetic youngsters? As with all aspects of wedding planning, attention to detail avoids disappointment on your big day.  
  • Is there friendly, co-operative staff who are passionate and focused on your needs will ensure that your wedding reception runs smoothly. Who will be supervising and troubleshooting before the day of your wedding? Is there a wedding venue coordinator?Who will be supervising and troubleshooting on the day of your wedding? Can you meet them now? Do you have a wedding coordinator or someone in charge that make sure they will cater for your special requirements; are kids welcome; provide tables & chairs, PA system, food etc etc 
  • If the wedding venue is hotel; do they offer other perks included in the wedding package? Do they provide honeymoon suite for the newylweds, discounted rooms for your guests, carpark validation and can they provide a free airport transfer if you are flying off on honeymoon. 
  • If you have a large number of guests, do ensure there's plenty of onsite car parking. From an eccentric uncle's vintage car to your Rolls-Royce or Mercedes, make sure your short listed wedding venues offer enough onsite parking for wedding cars and guests' vehicles.  Are there extra fees for parking? Do they have valet parking? If the venue is hotel/restaurant; are guests entitled to flat rate or validate their carpark ticket? One guest did mentioned of having to pay extra RM20++ for parking when attending a wedding in city. Make sure you don't make your guests feel unwelcomed by having to pay additional parking fees. 
  • Security of the Venue. Does the venue ensures security of the guests and the commitees when handling expensive items such as VIP doorgifts, jewellery wore by Bride & MOB, doorgifts, money & gifts from guests etc. Or do they provide keys to safe keeping rooms, store etc?Is the venue children-safe environment?  
  • What's the decor like? Does it fit your style and wedding colors? Do they have proper table cloths, napkins & chairs according your wedding theme? Will you have to spend a lot of money on flowers and decorations to make it beautiful? If you need dais/stage & main table for VIP guests, does the venue provide them? If they dont, do they allow renting them and space for them? 
  • Is there spaces/stages in the wedding venue for dais/pelamin, wedding band and/or other entertainment such as ghazal, traditonal dancers or performances? Or spaces for main table / traditional ceremony?  
  • If you have any other outside decors besides provided by the venue, what time is the venue open for decor? Are they any charges incurred to use (decor, rehersal) the venue before the reception? A bride did mentioned to us, for some community halls: they charge RM80 p/hour for using the venue prior reception for decor & rehersal. Better make sure you know your rights before you sign the contract! 
  • Is there any limitations in putting your own decor? Are candles or other open flames allowed? Do the venues allow other props to be brought in the venue? Is the venue carpeted or needs to be carpeted (some halls require tenants to rent carpets to cover the floors) 
  • Do they have an in-house caterer, and do you like that food? (While an in-house caterer can be easier and cheaper, sometimes the food is not as beautiful as the room. So make sure you do foodtasting 2 weeks prior the wedding!) Do they have a limitation on which outside caterers you can use? Do the caterers provide other types of food for guests who are vegetarian & muslims? Do they give food value courses in their package (eg Starter, main, coffee & desserts) 
  • If you using outside caterer, does the wedding venue provide preparation kitchen room? If outdoor wedding, do you have to provide them space/ tent for their food preparation? Is there a supervisor during the food preparation?
  • Do they have adequate dressing room for the wedding couple, bathroom facilities, praying place, smoking balcony, Waiting room for VIP guests, access to walkway aisles, etc
  • Is the wedding venue wheelchair accessible or ramp available for older guests?  Do they have elevators service? If not, are there many stairs to climb? How close is the parking to the ceremony and reception rooms? 
  • What's the cancellation policy? Is there a return policy for fees paid if cancelled at the near wedding? Is there a payment schedule? What kind of deposits are required? Are there any hidden costs? (Before you sign the contract, read it carefully.) What are the charges if there is any breaks or damages to the wedding venue property & items? Make sure you make aware the charges to your wedding planner or person in charge. 
  • After reception: Is there any specific time to vacate the venue? What are the overtime charges? Is there any specific time to clear-up the venue? A lil birdie told us some community halls insisted the halls be cleared by the next morning if there is a wedding reception on the same hall the next day. Be sure you know your responsibilities & avoid the unneccesary costs. 
  • Does the wedding venue already own a sound system with adequate speakers (PA system) or will that need to be rented? Or if you using a Livefeed for the wedding, does the venue provide plasma or flat screens? 
  • Where will you take photographs? Will there be a nice background to take pics? Is there a park nearby, or do the coordinators have recommended spots on the grounds? 
  • Is there a space for the videographer (if using one) to put their AV equipment? Be sure provide them a space that doesnt block the guests view.  
  • Is the wedding venue convenient to public transportation, especially in big cities? How long will it take your guests to get there? Have you consider the traffic to the venue?
  • Is there a seating arrangement in the wedding venue? Does the wedding venue provide a commitee that handles such coordinating & arrangement?  If there is, are the guests made aware of the seating arrangement? 
  • For other non-muslims wedding: Do they have a liquor license? Will they allow you to bring your own liquor? (This is usually cheaper, even with the customary corkage fee.)
    If its an Outdoor location, do they have any backup plans for rain or other inclement weather? If not, is there a place that you can put up a tent/canopy?
When Looking at Separate Wedding Reception Venues and Ceremony Locations
  • How far is it from one location to the other? Is there an appropriate break in between the two ceremonies when guest can freshen up and take their time going to the other venue? Do you provide directions & maps to the other venue? Or is there a bus/transportation that can bring your guests to the other location?
  • Do the two places have the same level of formality and a coordinating style? Does the decor & coordination takes alot of time? Or can they be decor 1 day or the night before the wedding? 
  • Are guests aware of the formality & coordinating style of the 2 venues? Are they informed of the function attires? Some receptions are casual affair while functions in hotels/posh restaurants guests to wear in formal tuxes & dresses. Make sure your guests are told of the function attire to avoid humilation and uncomfortableness.
  • Do they both accommodate about the same number of guests? Or are they 2 different group of guests? Is there seating arrangement? If there is, are the guests made aware of the seating arrangement?
  • Does the wedding reception venue have any experience with weddings from your ceremony location? Make sure your wedding venue staff are familar with your wedding programme or else there will be chaos & unprofessional services take place!
When Looking for Wedding Venues for Both Ceremony and Reception
  • Do they own enough chairs for the ceremony, or will they need to be rented? Or is there a floor or seating arrangement? Is there a wedding coordinator that can handle impromptu changes of more crowd than expected, back-up chairs or spaces or table settings?
  • Does the wedding venue have an entirely separate area for the ceremony? {It is not uncommon that while the guests are at the cocktail hour, the caterers will transform the ceremony room into the dining room.)
  • If not, how long does it typically take for the staff to change over the room?

    Hopefully, these questions will help you cover the basics while you're looking at wedding venues. In your search for a wedding venue, there will probably be even more questions that arise for you personally. For example, you may want the menu to reflect your heritage, or with a large wedding party, you may need ample parking if you have a large number of guests.

    Adapated & courtesy from Weddings About

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