So you're engaged & happy to begin this wedding planning journey with your new fiancé. If you’re having trouble deciding where to begin, wedding conventions are a good place to start. Eventually, you will need to decide if your wedding & reception will be at the same venue, or if you will be searching for more than one. How do you know when you've found the venue that's right for you?
The major factors to consider are cost & location, however, inside each category there are many variables that contribute to the final decisions. As a major venue for weddings & receptions in the Buffalo, NY area ourselves, we'd like to give you a little more detail on what to look for as you visit these venues.
Affordability can often cross venues off the list before you even visit them. By either looking at their website or calling the venue for a general estimate, you can save yourself a lot of time & effort. Just remember that when you get these estimates, they are just that. There are a lot more package options to consider that people sometimes don't ask to be included in the initial estimate. These can include extra hour costs assuming your reception isn't ready to die down at the original agreed ending time. Something else to inquire about is the PPP (price-per-person) cost associated with meals & drinks if you plan to use the facilities in-house services. Ask for a detailed description of the packages that venue offers to determine if it's a right fit for your wedding.
Inclusions are major factors when it comes to what a venue is going to cost. Does the venue's price estimate include item rental such as tables, chairs, linens, & silverware?
Requirements of the venue are something to inquire about when visiting. Does the venue require you to use in-house services or a preferred provider for photographers, caterers, entertainment, etc.? These are all things that you might not think to ask.
Consumables as in hors-d'oeuvres, meals, desserts, & drinks. Do they offer an open bar option? Consider what that open bar might include such as name brand options or well liquors. Take a look at what wines & beer they serve. Does the food meet your expectations for the price you're willing to pay? Make sure that you sample things from the menu. Know beforehand if you plan on having a buffet style meal or if you'd like your guests served at their tables. Also, ask to view pictures of food presentation based on the package you are interested in.
Location is very important. Whether you are looking for a banquet hall to rent for the afternoon or an elegant private estate for the weekend, or elsewhere; there are plenty of location-based factors to consider. If you plan to have the wedding ceremony & the reception at in separate locations, for instance, how close will the venues be? Although it's your day it's also important to consider your guests in this aspect. How close is it to hotels for out of town guests? How is the traffic at that time of day & will it allow for a smooth transition between venues? Does the venue have ample parking to suit your guest list?
Space allotment when it comes to your guest list & activities should be considered. If you already know the number of guests you are inviting this can be a large narrowing factor. Just remember that because a venue can fit 150 people doesn't mean it allows for that many to move about comfortably. Ensuring your guests aren't elbow-to-elbow is sure to add to their enjoyment. Meal time isn't the only factor to consider when it comes to space. Does the DJ or band have a designated area large enough for them to set up? Are you also planning on having the wedding at the same location? If so, will the space required allow for an easy transition from altar to dining hall?
Layout of the venue is important. Many couples picture a large rectangular room but that's not always the case. Some venues have different shaped rooms, offset areas for food & the bar, or raised platforms. Ensuring your wedding party is the center of attention should not be a concern when planning your wedding. Make sure you can picture where you'll put every aspect from tables to entertainment. On that note, make sure there are also enough electrical outlets at the venue. Banquet halls should have this covered but outdoor venues might not.
Atmosphere is something a lot of people looking into venues don't consider until it's too late. It’s imperative that you pay attention to the lighting at the venue. How many windows does it have? How are the acoustics? Always check for this as a lot of places without carpeted floors can have an echo. Consider that with so many people in the room they'll want to hear each other during conversation. This especially matters with the entertainment as the band/DJ's sound can become distorted in some environments.
Formality concerns go right along with checking the atmosphere. Depending on how casual or formal you would like your evening to be, you may want to look into if the venue truly fits your expectations.
Coloration of the venue & how it relates to your wedding’s color scheme is important to consider. You don't want your theme clashing with the venue's. Many banquet halls go for neutral colors & avoid this but if you are planning to meet in a private location, these can often already have their own theme.
Timing is everything. Once you believe you've found the right place, check up on the venue before committing. Be sure to visit at the time of day you'd be using it as lighting can be a big factor in setting the mood. Ask to see pictures from past years during the season of your wedding. As mentioned earlier, traffic near the area around that day & time is a good to pay attention to at this point as well. Another thing to consider checking in to is there will be other events nearby that could clash or cause issues for your guests.