Wednesday, October 16, 2013

“It may seem odd, but….”

The venue is gorgeous, but where do you put a dance floor?

For many couples, venue searching is (hands down, usually) THE most stressful aspect of wedding planning. After all, venue searching presents the perfect trifecta for wedding stress: size, cost, and appeal. Sheesh!

There are the regular questions to ask at a venue:

How many people can the space hold?
What space will I be allowed to use for a cocktail hour?
Are there any restrictions on event times?
Where are the guest bathrooms?
Are there any noise restrictions?
How do you handle parking?
What tables and chairs come with the space?

However, there are also a few unique questions to ask. These questions provide in-depth information about the venue, which can help couples feel more secure when making a choice.

What entrance do servers use? The means by which servers enter and exit the kitchen should be unobtrusive. A doorway in the middle of a venue can result in servers being the main item in photos or numerous run-ins between guests and servers.

What permits do I need? Most hotels are set up for events and do not require couples to acquire special permits for their ceremony or reception. This is not always the case for private clubs, museums, or other special venues. For these locations, couples might be required to obtain alcohol or special-event permits.

Where is the band or DJ usually located? Power, amplification, and speaker placement are key to ensuring that reception music can be heard and enjoyed. Most venues have a specific location (or two) where a band or DJ works best, but some might not. This may affect the ability to use the space or require more thought about floor plan layout.

Where is the dance floor typically placed? At most receptions, the dance floor is centrally located. However, if the venue has an out-of-way location for the band or DJ, the dance floor might not be adjacent to the music source.

Are there any changes or renovations planned between now and my event? Although venues cannot predict emergency repairs or changes, and although some might not know of the property owner’s future plans, most venues have a good idea of any changes, renovations, or construction that will occur within the next year. Changes or renovations may impact the color scheme, size, view, or availability of a space – all of which can seriously affect a reception.

Where are cocktail musicians usually placed? Where musicians will be located during a cocktail reception is often overlooked because most venues do not have a specific location for placement. In this case, ask for several location options and also inquire into how cocktail tables, food stations, and bars would be set up in these circumstances. If the venue has a piano, ask whether it can be moved and, if so, to where so that it can still be played.

What are the limitations regarding floral arrangements? Florists are usually familiar with local venues, but don’t necessarily know every rule for every location. Additionally, rules can change on the venue’s whim. Ask for a list of what flowers and other décor (including candles with open flames) that you can and cannot have at the venue and whether that list is subject to change.

Does any furniture stay in the room? Inquire into what the venue will let you move out of the reception and cocktail spaces and what must stay. Large tables, chests, or heavy pieces can often not be moved, which not only impacts décor but also table layout.

Are there restrictions on how the furniture that stays can be used?  The grand table that stays in the room might be beautiful, but you might not be able to place any food or drinks on it. That may mean that it can only be used for place cards, which you had in mind to put somewhere else. Asking how you can use furniture that stays in the room tells you how you must arrange your cocktail hour and reception spaces.

Where do you typically place bars in this space? Nothing can impede a room’s flow more than having bars placed in awkward areas. Ask not only where bars have been placed in the past, but also where they are prohibited from being located and how servers access them. This ensures that drinks are easily delivered to your guests in a timely manner.

Choosing a venue is a difficult decision. The more a couple knows about a space and how it can be used, the easier it is to select a reception location.