Adventures In Wedding Planning – Location Location Location
So now that you’ve got your budget and a date, up next is the Location!!! This kind of goes hand in hand with your caterer since most venues have a specific caterer they use.
When shopping for real estate, the old adage is “location, Location, LOCATION”! The same is true for wedding ceremony and reception locations.
There is no easy way to do this. Making a budget, coming up with a date and finding a location are the THREE HARDEST PARTS, in my opinion, in wedding planning. These three components take a lot of time and work. There’s no way around it. That’s why I think you should work on getting these three things figured out in the beginning.
Ceremony locations will differ depending on your religion. We had our ceremony on the resort where we were hosting our reception. That made it logistically easier for our guests. We were able to do that because our ceremony was very non-religious.
If you decide to have your ceremony and reception area at separate locations, make sure you give your guests enough time to get from place to place.
Here’s some thing to think about :
This is what we did…sort of. Indian Wells is a little farther away from Palm Springs. That’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Los Angeles. It’s far enough away that it feels you’re getting away from the city without having to jump on a plane.
For a true destination wedding (Europe, Asia, Hawaii, etc), it might be more cost efficient because your guest list naturally filters itself. While it might cost more upfront because you’re having your wedding so far away, your guest list naturally shrinks itself down to the people who either really want to go or who can really take the time / money to go.
If you’re on a budget, see if your church will let you use their rec space. Check out convention halls too. Catering might be more affordable.
You know what else is a lot of fun? Backyard receptions!! BBQ, giant pitchers of margaritas, DJs and a dance floor….yup, those are tons of fun and super affordable too.
Hotels are a pretty good choice for receptions because they have the space to host large parties. An added plus is not having to worry about your guests driving home drunk when they can enjoy a room on site at a group rate discount.
Also, look into restaurants and banquet halls if your guest list is manageable, like less than 150 total. Our guest list was over 220 and most couldn’t accomodate that.
Here’s what I did when I went scouting for locations. When you tell the events coordinator / wedding coordinator that you’re there for a wedding, they usually hand you this pretty folder full of pretty pictures, facts, figures and menus.
Those are good to look at but I’m not interested in that.
The only question I asked them after we toured the grounds and I politely listened to their sales pitch was “What is your food and beverage minimum?”
That’s all I wanted to know because that’s all that really matters. This figure tells you EXACTLY what the bare minimum you’ll have to spend in order to book that space at that venue for that day.
The pretty menus they give you is what they hope you’ll get because it’s usually more than what the food and beverage minimum is. What I did was figure out what was the bottom dollar amount they needed me to spend and if I could afford that in my budget.
The answer was usually “no, I can’t afford that”. I would tell them what my budget was ($18,000) and ask them what my options are. Most of the coordinators I met with were very professional and very understanding (unless you’re talking about this crappy place).
Most tried to work with my small budget and that’s how I learned about the Sunday/Friday and Saturday morning options.
The only advice good advice I can give you about finding a good location is to be flexible if you’re on a budget and be willing to work with the venue. Be honest with your budget and your expected guest head count.
Also, negotiate. I negotiated a lot of my food costs down so that every dollar went further. The secret to doing this? Just ask! Here’s what I said – “Can you give me a better deal?”
That’s it. You’ll never know unless you ask.
Up next – Food!