The Big Fake Wedding NYC is only two days away (!!) Can you tell we’re a little excited to be back in the Big Apple? To celebrate, we’ve invited wedding planning guru, Nicole, of Events By SB, to take over the blog today! Nicole and her team know how stressful choosing the perfect venue can be, so she’s here with four helpful tips to finding the perfect place to say “I do!”
Events by SB is for the “not so average” couple — the couple who wants to bring their favorite board game to life on their wedding day; the couple who wishes to share their love of comfort food with their guests; the couple that simply NEEDS a giant doughnut to slice and serve, instead of a wedding cake. From venue research and selection to vendor management, event planning, and day-of coordination, they can do it all. Their specialty? Making it happen.
Finding Your “I Do” Venue
Gah! You’re engaged! The adrenaline and excitement barely starts to lift before everyone (even that annoying woman at work who you’ve only spoken to, like, twice) starts with the questions. “So when’s the big day?”, “Have you picked your bridal party yet?”, “What’s the theme of the wedding?”. Then come the opinions, “What time of year are you going to get married? I LOVE the Summer, but you NEED to book your venue 2 years in advance!”, “Did you pick your ceremony or reception location yet? I know the PERFECT place, you’ll love it!”. You know the venue is the very first thing you need to pick, and you’re feeling the pressure. Forget the haters. Enjoy your engagement, and don’t start looking for a venue until you’re ready. When the engagement haze begins to lift, use this foolproof plan to pick your wedding venue in 4 easy steps. And if you play your cards right, the venue search can be just as enjoyable as your last Netflix-binge.
Know your numbers
The two most important numbers when it comes to wedding planning are your budget and your headcount. Before you even start your search, knowing how many people you want to dance the night away with will help you focus on finding venues that can comfortably accommodate your whole crew — and then you can just ignore the venue options that don’t. This is a huge time-saver, and sometimes even helps you realize the type of venue you want.
True story example: I recently had a client who wanted to hold their 300-person wedding on a boat. The boat became hard-to-handle from a logistics perspective for a party of that size, so we found the perfect alternative: a venue on the water, with a dock (ooh the photos!), ample restrooms, a huge dance floor, and even an outside balcony (which we called the “boat deck”) big enough for all guests to enjoy. I even pulled a few strings and got the bridge over the river to be lit up in the colors of their wedding for the night!
Zeroing in on the perfect venue
What is perfect? The right size? The right atmosphere? The right food? Everyone’s priorities are different, and what’s perfect for one couple may not be perfect for you. There are so many different venues out there (from barns and farms to concert halls and theaters), so how do you choose? The first task we always give to our clients is to make a list of their wedding “Must Haves” and “Absolutely Not’s”. All of a sudden that never-ending list of venue options doesn’t look so scary, and you can easily give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to venues, simply because they’re not a good fit for your top priorities.
Location, location, location!
By now you’ve whittled your list down by size and type of venue. The next most important feature? Location. It is key to pick a location that not only works best for you, but also for your guests. Whether you’re having a local wedding that’s down the street or a destination wedding 3,000 miles away, we always recommend that you find time to visit your venue. While a rustic barn in the country sounds like the perfect backdrop for your fairy-tale wedding, a visit may open your eyes to the fact that there’s no parking for your guests, no nearby hotels and limited access to power for your caterers and entertainment. Check it out (make a weekend out of it, if you can), and live a day in your guests’ shoes. They’ll thank you later! I’ve actually seen this step work both ways – in some cases, clients remove venues from their list because of the location. In other cases, they end up deciding that the location is the most important thing, and they cut down on the guest list and their list of “must haves” in order to make it happen – resulting in more intimate events in the perfect setting.
Making it happen and enjoying the day – what’s your “day-of” plan?
By now you’ve probably already heard of a “day-of coordinator”. Just like every play needs a stage manager and every movie needs a producer, every event needs a day-of coordinator. Venues can come with a number of onsite employees like banquet managers, venue coordinators, bridal attendants, etc. But rarely will a venue come with their own day-of-coordinator, for you and your needs. This is the person that will be your right-hand for the entire day – from the moment you begin getting ready (sometimes even the night before!) until the end of your event. This person plays a key role in making sure all of your vendors know where to go, know what’s expected of them, can work seamlessly with the venue and staff, and act as the go-to person for any issues and/or guest needs, so that you don’t have to be bothered on your big day. Make sure to ask if your venue has one of these people, and if not, leave room in your budget to hire a coordinator for the day to make sure all of your plans run smoothly, so you can fully enjoy everything you’ve put together!