As a wedding planner, I get to see the entire process of planning a wedding from start to finish, and that’s given me the bird’s-eye view that no other vendor really gets to see. The beauty of this position is sharing the knowledge that will help both couples and vendors so that we’re all marching to the beat of the same drummer. In this new blog series entitled “Working with your vendors,” I’ll be sharing tips for both couples and vendors that will allow us all to work better with each other. These will include tips on what works well, things everyone should avoid, and ways to keep improving the wedding experience.
First up: working with your venue.
To couples: your first stop on planning your wedding is picking a wedding venue. Many of my couples come to me before they’ve chose a venue because they have trouble finding a venue that suits their needs. The advantage of having me involved in this process is that I will always find a venue that fits. Here are some things to consider when booking your venue:
Budget: this one seems obvious, but because this is the first step for many people, there is a tendency to misunderstand just how much the rest of the wedding is going to cost. Yes, your venue and food/beverage are going to be the bulk of your wedding day costs, but there are many other vendors that will be involved. If you spend too much on just this one category, the rest of your planning will likely be very stressful.
Style: many brides and grooms just give up and accept something that is in budget but really doesn’t match what they were envisioning for the day. There are many ways to skin a cat, and even if the first few venues you see are out of budget, there is usually a way to match your style to your budget. One of the first conversations I have with my full-service couples is about priorities for their weddings as well as the overall wedding budget. These do have to match, but an honest conversation about what that looks like is necessary for you to get the wedding you want.
Size: you may fall in love with a venue, but what will the guest experience be like if you pick a venue that doesn’t suit the size of your guest list? No one wants to be overheated on the dance floor, and you don’t want to give your guests a reason to leave early because they are crowded, especially now. Conversely, having a huge space with no one to fill it can also feel very awkward. Ideally, you will find a space that matches your guest list size.
Travel time: if you’re not getting ready and/or having your ceremony as the same place as your reception, be mindful of how long it will take to get from one to the other. Sometimes it may be hard to avoid the distance but be mindful so you’re not wasting a lot of time on just travel.
Flexibility: every venue has rules (which of course they should). You will have to follow venue guidelines but be sure they are also willing to work with you as opposed to just dictating how the day will go. How well do they partner with other vendors? Is the person who’s working with you (and has received your wish list of items) going to be working on the day of your wedding? If not, do you have an opportunity to meet with those that will be there? It’s important to have your needs translated to the people who will be working on the day of the event.
Ultimately, I help my couples navigate these and many other potential issues that come up during the planning process and on the wedding day. If I am helping you find a venue, please be honest about what you’re looking for as it will save a lot of time and energy. I am happy to say that I always find something that works well for my clients, even in a year like 2022 when many venues were already booked. For those that have booked their own venue, one more important step is to ensure that the venue is ready to work with me a planner and we talk about what that looks like.
For the wedding venues, it’s always a delight when I work with a venue that values my role as a planner. That may look like different things but here are a few of the most common:
Timelines: making yourself (and those that will be on site the day of the wedding) for a timeline discussion will help the day go more smoothly. Of course, not everything will be perfectly timed, but if we (the planning and venue team) do our parts, it will still make it feel seamless.
Venue coordinators and Bridal attendants: are an important and valued part of the wedding day team. I love when venue coordinators are willing to partner to achieve the dream day most clients are expecting. Planners and venue coordinators fill separate roles, both of which can have a positive impact on the day of the event.
Flexibility: we know you’ve done this many times before, but each wedding and situation are unique. It’s great when a venue doesn’t try to make each event cookie-cutter and respects the clients wishes as well as the individual vendors that are all here to achieve one goal: ensuring that our mutual clients have a fantastically fun and amazing wedding day.
Communication: my favorite venues are the ones where the staff is willing to discuss any potential issues, both before the wedding day and on the day of the event. If we are open and honest about the situation, we can resolve any issues together (and keep the clients happy).
Whether you’re a client or a vendor, I am here to help. Do you have any questions? Post them in the comments below!