Be flexible: During the busy wedding season (May-October, and December), many reception sites can book as far as one year in advance, especially for Saturday evenings. Flexibility about your date and time can save you a lot of stress and grief. Always ask what date and time periods are available. You will also want to know if the facility coordinator will hold a tentative reservation for you on your desired date, and for how long they will hold the reservation. Be sure to inquire about options. Fridays and Sundays are wonderful days for weddings, and most facilities offer reduced room rates for these days.
Visit the location: Do your homework first. Ask friends and family members for referrals. Review the Banquet & Reception Sites sections. Make a list of the facilities that best fit your needs, then start making calls. Once you have narrowed down your options, schedule appointments to visit these facilities. Often, the look and feel of a room or location will sway your decision one way or another. It is also important to meet with the salesperson or coordinator from each property. It will be their job to assist you in facilitating all your requests, so be sure you are comfortable with them.
Legalities: Every couple of years, we hear that a venue has been closed down because they don't have the proper permits. If your location is in a rural or mostly residential area, check to make sure the venue has current use permit(s) for gatherings of your size and if there are any restrictions. These permits spell out maximum capacities, hours of operation (like how late the music can play), etc. Without the proper permits, all it takes is one unhappy neighbor and the venue is shut down. If your venue has been hosting events for a long time, chances are you won't have any problems. But it never hurts to ask!
Be sure to get a signed contract that spells everything out including refunds and damages if something happens to the venue that would cancel your event.
Preferred vendors: Be sure to ask the facility you select if they have a list of preferred vendors they work with. It is often easier to have vendors who are familiar with the facility's set-up than to have someone who has never worked there before. Also keep in mind that some companies only allow you to work with vendors from their preferred list.
Having your ceremony and reception at the same site: Many facilities can accommodate your ceremony as well as your reception. If you have decided you want both in one location, it is best to select a property accustomed to providing this service. Inquire about the number of events they have handled in the past that combine ceremonies and receptions. Look at photographs of the room setup for a ceremony. Also ask your salesperson or facility coordinator what ceremony services they can provide, and what fees they charge for these additional services.
Coordinating your ceremony and reception at different sites: All your friends and family are asking, "When's the wedding?" Of course, answering this question requires reserving your ceremony and reception sites at times that work together. It is very important to handle these two tasks simultaneously. Reserving the church without the facility will cause you as much of a headache as reserving the facility without the church. When discussing reservations with the ceremony site coordinator and prospect-ive reception site, make sure to obtain a list of all available dates in your time frame. This information will help you find the perfect match.
Gift table: Assign a reliable person to be in charge of gifts that brought to the ceremony or reception. He or she should have scotch tape available to tape cards securely to packages. It's very frustrating and embarrassing to open gifts and not know whom to thank. Also, make sure you have someone responsible for transporting your gifts to a secure location after the reception.
Secure your gifts, especially when holding your wedding at a "public" facility, such as a park or beach. Unfortunately, when everyone's attention is on the bride, your gifts may be at risk.
10 Crucial Questions to ask your facility:
- How many weddings have you hosted?
- Do you provide catering or do you work with outside caterers?
- Do you have a kitchen, bridal dressing room, grooms room, etc?
- Do you recommend vendors?
- How many people can you host?
- What are the rules and restrictions for decorating, music, flowers, etc?
- Do you have current use and health permits?
- Is your site wheelchair accessible?
- What bathroom facilities are available?
- What kind of parking to you have?