When selecting a wedding venue, attend an open house or a bridal show organized by that wedding venue. It will be a great opportunity to evaluate how smoothly your wedding will go should you choose to gold your wedding there.
As a preferred vendor, AFA Limo always participates in the Castle McCulloch Wedding Show. Several team members usually attend so we can provide personal attention to all the brides and guests who came to the show; this also allows us an opportunity to meet fellow vendors. As I walked the grounds, I could not stop feeling that I am a guest at somebody’s wedding: the place is decorated, caterers and bakers serve food, music playing, there is excited talk about nuptials and lots of laughter. That got me thinking that, if you paid attention, you can really evaluate the venue by the way they organized the show.
Get a feel for the place. There is a difference between an empty room you looked at with a venue coordinator and the room full of excited brides.
- During the show, everybody is talking (just like your wedding guests will be) so you can get a very good idea of the noise level. Is there an echo? Does the noise travel far?
- During the show you can do a quick count of the attendees in a particular room, so you can compare to the number of your wedding guests. Will this particular room be too crowded or just right for the number of wedding guests that you had in mind?
- Is there an outdoor space for “smokers”? If not, would it be possible to designate certain area with a sign? As long you know these things in advance, you can take care of fine details.
- Are the bathrooms conveniently located and clearly marked?
- Is the staff nice and attentive? The way the staff treats the show attendees is a good example of how your wedding guests will be treated.
Check the traffic flow and the parking. You probably checked out the place during the day when it was empty, but how will it look once it gets dark:
- Was it easy to find the location? If you had a hard time finding the location, you can bet that your gusts will have hard time as well. It is no problem; just consider placing signs on intersections directing your guests to your wedding.
- Is the venue easily accessible? Are the roads and walk ways paved? Your guests might find it’s hard to walk on the gravel. Road conditions are especially important if you hire transportation such as limousine or a shuttle bus. Please advise the limo company of the specifics so they can plan accordingly. For example, if the venue parking lot is very small then the limousine might not be able to turn around. Also if there are many low hanging trees, shuttle buses might not be able to go through. It is better to address all these nuances before the wedding.
- Are there enough parking spaces and are they clearly marked? When parking spots are not clearly marked, guests tend to park in all sorts of directions which can cut down on the number of parking space available. If parking lot is small, consider hiring shuttle buses to transport your guests between hotel and reception.
- Is the parking lot lit up at night so guests can find their cars? Is the parking lot is far away, should you offer valet parking or set up extra lighting?
- Is there a good traffic flow? Can guests easily find their way in and out of the parking lot or is somebody going around in circles in the parking lot trying to find the exit.
Price everything. Wedding magazines offer many decorating ideas, but are they within your budget? During the show, vendors usually display samples of their work.
- Decorations: You can easily ask the florist to price the particular decorations on hand; this way you would know how much it will cost and how it will look.
- Food: Check the particular selections and see what people are enjoying. What are they commenting on?
- Rentals: Table runners are great on display, but are they a nuisance to place your glass and plate on?
- Floral: The huge center piece is a work of art, but what good is it if guests cannot see you on the other side of the room or cannot see people seating at the same table.
If you hired a wedding planner, she will probably point out all these things. But if you are planning your wedding yourself, we hope these suggestions will be helpful.