There’s no doubt about it, searching for your wedding venue is the most considerable and time-consuming aspect of planning. It’s daunting, it’ overwhelming and it can be difficult knowing what to look for and what to expect before and during your wedding planning process. you book and during the planning stages.
Nu Bride Ambassador Hannah from The Corinthia London are here to help, outlining how to work with and get the best out of your wedding venue.
Your wedding venue is arguably the most important supplier that you will sign a contract with and, in turn, can cause a little overwhelm. At The Corinthia London we offer a hands-on approach when it comes to organisation and planning to reduce a little of that overwhelm, but whatever the style of venue you choose, there are certain things that you should expect as a minimum from their staff and in turn, that they should expect from you as their client.
Gold Lens Photography
Before you even begin your search for your wedding venue it’s helpful to manage your expectations in advance.
Be realistic about your budget, what you want to achieve aesthetically and logistically and what you expect the venue to do for you. If you are choosing an inner-city hotel, you should know that a hog roast or an outdoor barbecue are not going to happen.
Be clear with your vision and stick to it. This will help you narrow down your search.
You should be able to enquire with a venue by telephone or email to request all necessary information via email inclusive of photos, options that suit the numbers of guests and importantly costings. It’s helpful to have access to these key bits of information before viewing a venue and also to help you with shortlisting.
You should be encouraged to come for a site visit (this is the easiest and quickest way to determine if the venue is right for you) during which you should be shown all relevant spaces, a bedroom if applicable to the venue, and have a sit down and discuss further.
Questions to ask
I could write you a HUGE long list of questions to ask during site visits, however the most important things that I tell all couples is quite literally to go there, see if you like it and get a feel for the spaces.
This may seem incredibly obvious, but so many couples get engrossed in their list of questions involving the location of plug sockets, whether the breakfast the following morning has waffles and all, quite frankly things that can wait!
The main things to ask yourselves are:
1) Do I like this space?
2) Does it work for our numbers?
3) Can I see us getting married here?
Once the above key questions are answered, then fire away!
Other things to consider
Whether in person or a follow up email after your initial visit, you should be asking for information on deposit schedules.
How much do they need and when? How the contracting is done; are there any restrictions on music and to what time you can party until? The same is applicable to the bar – what time does the licence end?
If you are looking at a predominantly outdoor venue, it is important to explore what the ‘rainy day options’ are and to check that you would be equally happy with that in case the weather turned.
Once you have chosen your venue you will be expected to sign a contract to securing the venue and date. It would be reasonable to pay between 10-30% of the overall fee if the date falls in at least 9 months time. When booking closer to the wedding date, this may significantly increase.
Non-refundable deposits can seem like a lot of money to pay, however think of it in these terms… When you put an offer in on a house, it gets taken off of the market so no one else can buy it – securing the date for your wedding is exactly the same.
To Negotiate or Not
Gold Lens Photography
As a general rule, the price is fixed at wedding venues in the sense that their teams have considered all cost factors when putting together any packages or hire charges. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t a number that they just plucked from the sky.
Dependent on the day of the week and your guest numbers, you may be able to negotiate. For example, if you were to go for a Sunday as opposed to a Saturday ; and if the minimum numbers for the wedding package were 150 and you had 250 confirmed.
There is no harm is asking for a reduction, however if your venue politely says no, or “this is the lowest that we can offer”, you really need to accept this, and if it doesn’t fall into your wedding budget, then unfortunately you may have to look elsewhere – never stretch yourselves too far where it could later cause problems. (Nu Bride: Couldn’t agree more, I always think of it in these terms; if you wanted to buy a Ferrari you wouldn’t go into a Vauxhall dealership. There are price points for all pockets, weddings are like allowing kids to run riot in a candy store, so much choice! But we’ve got to remember to be honest and realistic).
Event Manager v’s Wedding Planner
Know that the service a venue provides for you is not a 24/7 wedding planner. This means that they will not manage your RSVPS, source your bridesmaids’ shoes nor Skype you at 3am while your are in a different time zone.
If you need this kind of attention and assistance for your wedding, you should consider hiring a wedding planner to assist you (Nu Bride: That’s not to say they should be available on call at 3am either!)
This is a biggie….
It is really important for venues and suppliers alike, to deal with just one or two points of contact. Which ideally should ideally be the bride or groom, or the person footing the bill! If we are contacted by a multitude of people for one wedding, we may get mixed information and when wires get crossed there are often mistakes made.
When contacting your chosen venue, keep professional discussions and contact to email or phone… not texting, not Facebook or other social media platforms.
Emails and phone calls are easier for us to keep track of (any of my Corinthia Couples will tell you about my blue files filled with emails and phone conversation notes, combined with sticky tabs!).
Meetings: We love to see you and there is nothing we love more than discussing your wedding over a cup of tea as face to face meetings are not only fun but always much more productive. This said, please don’t just turn up at your venue and expect to be able to your wedding contact, we may not be there that day, or we may already have appointments scheduled. So do always arrange an appointment. Can you imagine if all of my 40 couples for 2016 just turned up whenever they wanted?!… It would be chaos!
Speaking of meetings, when you have an appointment, please be punctual. We understand that you’re busy with work and other things in your life, but so are we… We plan our days around our couples’ appointments to make sure we don’t rush and that we have enough time to dedicate to you. Running late or simply not turning up can make the process more difficult and we often have to cut our meeting short which is always a shame.
Always remember to be reasonable. We know how important your day is to you and we will always try to be flexible where possible (my couples will tell you that I will always do my best to meet them even if this means staying late or coming in early) but remember that we also have to live (and sleep!) as well! Productive wedding planning for couples tends to happen in evenings and weekends , but remember even though you are ready to plan and arrange everything at 9pm over dinner, or a lazy bank holiday Monday, those are outside normal business working hours and you really shouldn’t expect a response at these times.
Even though it often feels like it, we don’t actually work round the clock so do be reasonable in thinking when to call us and allow us enough time to get back to you. We understand that every query is important and should be answered, however try to compile them and perhaps send just one email per week with a list of things for us to answer.
Absolutely everything comes down to great communication. The better that both sides communicate with each other, the more stress-free it will be for all involved. Like anything in life, if you are considerate and nice to deal with (this is directed at venue contacts as well!), you will get so much more out of the people around you and your overall experience will be so much richer!
Brilliant advice! Thank you kind Hannah !
Unless otherwise stated: Photography courtesy of Corinthia London