This past weekend was quite the adventure. As you may know, I got engaged in July. I’ve been pretty slow to jump into the wedding planning but little by little I’ve started to create a list and timeline to start pulling details together. First up was the engagement party in November. I haven’t written a blog about this yet because I’m waiting for the photos to get in. The next step for us was venue shopping. Throughout this post, I have included photos from the appointments. You’ll find out where we chose at a later time. This post is specifically about questions to ask as you start this journey: where, when, how many, and BUDGET.
Question 1: Where? Locations are very personal because the options are basically endless. You could choose your living room, a national park, a church, a mountain top, a mosque, an island etc. I suggest doing some chatting with your partner about what place is special to you both and why. For example, you could choose to have the ceremony in one place and the reception in another. This may be best for individuals following religions where it is required that you get married within their buildings. Or you can choose to have no reception at all, it’s what best fits you and your partner. Then there is the element of travel. If you want all of your family to come (and they all live in central location) it may be best to choose somewhere close to them. If you want to elope and not worry about guests, perhaps Vegas appeals to you. Choose what has meaning to you and your partner. Personally, Jay and I have family everywhere. Texas, Michigan, Colorado, Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina, North Carolina, etc. Thus, choosing a location that was convenient was not going to happen; anywhere we chose would require travel of everyone. My only stipulation was that the location was within a 3 – 4 hour driving distance of Atlanta and I had to feel a connection to the place, which is why we chose Asheville, NC. The connection part is a whole other blog post I’ll try to write in the future. 😉
Question 2: When? This question is a big one because it can affect the where, how many, and budget categories. May places have “busy seasons” for weddings. Typically those seasons are late spring, summer, and early fall. However, this will change by location. Usually, during these seasons it is more difficult to reserve already booked venues and the prices sky rocket. Venders know they are in high demand so they can ask for more money for their services. On the flip side, getting married in a not so busy season can be difficult because photographers, musicians, caterers, and florists maybe on vacations or taking periods of leave. Which leads me back to my example in Asheville. I decided I wanted a Christmas wedding. Reds, greens, golds, twinkling lights, trees, hymns, etc. My thoughts are, it’s less to decorate and people will hopefully already be traveling that time of year. So far, the idea has held budget-wise. Venders are already giving us deals because they have no other clients booked and they want the business during the slow season. The hang ups have been venders on leave for the holidays and the possibility of bad weather. Asheville snows, ya’ll. It gets cold and there is the possibility of bad weather on the actual wedding day. This led us back to the where. Are the venues on top of hills or mountains? Do they have weather contingency plans? Are they a part of a hotel where the guests could stay if they got snowed in? All of these are things to think about…
Question 3: How many? How many people do you want at your ceremony and reception? Will you allow children? How many people will actually fit in your space? Will there be elderly people or those with physical disabilities who need an elevator or ramp? Know all of this before going venue shopping. If there are children, many people decide to hire a professional babysitter so parents can enjoy the reception. Venues may have the option to hire a kid’s club staff member. Additionally, how many people will fit into the space? If you’re planning for 200 people, a space for 150 will be too tight and a space for 500 may be WAY too big. There is nothing like paying for unused space. Food also comes into play here. Most places have per-person prices for food. They will give you options and you will pay per the number of people who attend.
Question 4: Budget. Money can be an uncomfortable topic for many but (overall) weddings are not cheap. Have an honest conversation with the person or persons footing the bill. Do your research and have an idea about what ball park you are shopping in. Don’t spend all your time looking at venues that are too expensive. It will be discouraging and a waste. Again, there are so many beautiful and wonderful places to have a wedding, the venue should not break the bank. I started with my dream location in Asheville and moved on from there. I knew it was not realistic so I looked up other venues more appropriately priced for us. They all had the same look and feel as the dream but not the price tag.
In the end, I talked to 6 venues, made 5 appointments, and ended up touring 4 locations. They were all beautiful and had wonderful coordinators willing to answer all my questions. I went in with a compiled list of questions such as: Parking? Linens? China? Set up/ take down? Bridal (day of) coordinator? What’s included? What’s not included but mandatory? How many days till you need to sign the contract? Deposit? Payment schedule? Blah, blah, blah…My best advice is to do your homework and come prepared! I was blessed to have my mom there to shop with us for a third set of eyes, ears, and to share her thoughts. If you’re able to bring a third party or opinion you trust, I encourage it. Hopefully some of the things I’ve learned will help you. Remember: the most important thing is not the wedding, it’s the marriage. Whether your marriage starts on a beach in Tahiti or in your backyard, it will be beautiful because it is yours.
Pro tip: don’t schedule all your tours during a snow storm. There is high likely hood you will get snowed into your hotel and/or your AirB&B will cancel on you.
Sorry to those of you who don’t want to read about weddings. It’s the current season I’m in so, these posts will occur periodically. However, your regularly scheduled michelle. book-of-the-month and travel posts are still on the docket for 2019.
Perhaps you hate weddings? Perhaps you hate snow? You do you, boo.