Trying to choose the right wedding venue for the ceremony and the reception is important as it is the cornerstone for many other wedding planning decisions. Price is a major factor and it can be simple to just look at the bottom line. What is included in the bottom line will greatly vary from venue to venue and caterer to caterer. Here are some guidelines to help choose the perfect caterer and venue and form a good working relationship that makes the stressful task of planning a wedding just that much easier.
Read the contract- Make sure everything is understood. See if any fees will be added for everything and know what the final price includes and what it will be per person including any service charges and cake cutting fees.
Coordinate dates- Before booking a wedding venue, coordinate the date with the place the ceremony will be held. These are the two places you cannot change dates for really so they need to be in agreement for you to set a date and make other plans. If one venue is a must have then you may have to compromise on a date to get it or compromise the other venue. Plan early before setting a date.
Look for reviews- Read reviews online, ask friends and other recent brides for recommendations. Read the good and the bad and don’t ignore either. See how venues are rated on bridal sites and forums. Be on the lookout for anything mentioned in the bad reviews when interviewing venues.
Haggle for the extras- If a venue charges extra for some extra setup or decorations (or other little things) they will often agree to a discount or waiving the fee in order to save the booking. If need be, ask the sales person to consult a manager. Do not push too hard if the venue is first choice and there is no suitable alternative!
Get every little thing in writing- Haggle a discount? Agree to extra flowers? Get permission to hang a backdrop for a photo booth? Get it in writing! Every tiny little change to the agreement should go in writing. The person who agreed to the change may not work there by the time the wedding is held. Also they work with a lot of people and may not remember or may not have cleared it with their boss. Putting it in writing usually means it has been cleared and a couple has recourse to make it happen.
Do a food tasting- Wedding food is expensive! The per person cost can range anywhere from $12-$40 a person and that is just basic meals! Some couples may pay up to $200 per guest just for food. For all that money it should be well prepared and taste good. Be sure to request a tasting in advance of the event preferably before booking a caterer.
Get the vendors working together- A caterer will need a good idea of what the reception venue has to offer for space and a kitchen. Florists will need to see the space they are decorating. Be sure to get all the vendors access to the venue as needed at least once.
Check out bridal shows- Some smaller halls and more private caterers may not be as well advertised or well known as the big names but many of them have very nice facilities and do great work. Many of them are more affordable and offer more for the price they charge. Bridal expos and searches on bridal forums are great ways to find these lesser known vendors, save some money and have an event to remember. Plus bridal expo vendors always bring samples of what they can offer. Caterers will have food samples and venues will have pictures of their facilities, general price lists and maybe even pictures of past events. They will also be working with a lot of people so it is easy to slip in, get the information you need and move on to the next booth, nearly eliminating sales pressure.
Wedding venues and caterers are some of the biggest expenses when having a wedding. Go into the search informed and then be confident when a choice is made. Choose vendors that are trusted and share a vision with the couple and then let them do their jobs. A good vendor that doesn’t have to be micromanaged and takes the initiative can save the bride and groom to be a lot of unnecessary stress in the wedding planning process.