Getting hitched is a big deal. It’s a major commitment and a public gesture that you’ve chosen one person above all others. The to-do list is endless: do you don a cream Calvin Klein number, or go boho and barefoot? Should you and your honey write your own vows or just Google them? Do you really need a vegetarian option when you’re both avowed meat lovers? And just where are these nuptials going to unfold anyway? Whether you’re a world-famous director or a dewy bride, it always comes down to location.
Talk To A Planner
If you’re lucky enough to have budgeted a planner, hold off on choosing a location until after you’ve hired one. A lot of spaces look amazing on paper but come with unexpected surprises, like no power or poor-quality bathrooms. A good planner will have the skinny on every hot spot in town. Plus, you can brainstorm other options for the biggest party of the century.
Find A Spot That’s Authentic To You
Do you want an industrial vibe? An art gallery feel? Are you hankering for historic wedding venues in Charleston? It’s helpful to think about your aesthetic while you look. For outdoorsy types, an exterior location in a conservation area or park is a great way to incorporate nature. Your planner can point you in the right direction.
Think About Head Count Early
Having a sense of numbers before you settle on a location will make for smoother sailing down the road. If you book a spot before you’ve nailed down your guest list, you might find it a tight squeeze when every last person says they’re coming with a “plus one.” This will also help you budget accordingly, as a lot of items are numbers-dependent.
Make Sure It’s A Good Fit For Everyone
Sure, it’s fun to make it legal in a yurt or a treehouse in Bali— but will your great aunt Fifi concur? People often travel a long distance at great expense to witness the exchanging of vows, so you want to make it memorable for them—but the good kind of memorable. This is where a slightly more traditional location fits in. An historic inn in Charleston, for example, ticks all the boxes and could be a multi-generational win-win. You also might want to consider mansion wedding venues in Charleston. Incorporating your city’s history into your event theme is a wonderful way to show off your region to out-of-town guests.
Price It Out
Most locations have an array of rental options for big events. Be sure to find out exactly what’s part of the deal and what’s extra. Are essentials like tables and chairs included, for example? Or are you expected to bring your own? And if you’re a type-A control freak who would never dream of using the bamboo tables on offer, is renting from another vendor even an option? Some locations have a pre-selected list of vendors that are part of the package. These are the kinds of details you want to get down before you sign a contract and send the biggest e-transfer of your life. Catering is another biggie. If your location includes in-house catering, with a food and drink minimum, you’ll want to make sure you add tax, and a gratuity, into your calculations.
You’ll also want to inquire whether your event is the only one booked for that day. Having a second event planned for the same day can mean less set up time for you, not to mention the added stress of knowing there’s another bride impatiently waiting for you to clear out, please and thank you. If you can’t get a guarantee of exclusive access for the day, price out the cost of doing a buying out. Beyond that, you can ask how the staff juggles multiple functions on the same day.
Circling back to budget for a minute: how much is the deposit? And what’s the payment schedule? Have you checked out the cancellation policy? And speaking of canceling, what is the latest possible date to make changes to your reservation if need be?
The Nitty Gritty
Are you starting to wonder why you didn’t just elope at City Hall? There are loads more questions to consider before you move on to those adorable little name cards. Are you thinking of hiring a band, or are you feeling more DJ? Are you renting a sound system? Or is there one being provided? If you’re having outdoor nuptials, do you have a backup plan in case it rains? Having a tent is a significant added cost; it can be tempting to watch the weather and hope for the best. But the added stress of watching and waiting—not to mention cramming all your guests into the party room at your parent’s condo when the storm hits—makes booking a tent a bit of a no-brainer.
The Booze Factor
Alcohol isn’t cheap, and people like to drink. You’ll want to ask about the food and drink minimum and what happens if you don’t meet it. Do you have to purchase your liquor from your vendor? Or can you source it elsewhere? And if you do BYOB, is there a corkage fee? Some vendors allow you to bring in alcohol but charge a fee to drink it on the premises. However, this can still cost significantly less than ordering from the venue and save you money in the end.
Miscellaneous Hanging Threads
Your last set of questions include unpleasant ones, like what the toilet situation is and whether or not you’ll need to rent portable ones. (Please, no.) You’ll also need to consider on-site parking, how much space there is, and whether guests will be charged a fee. Last, but by no means least, you’ll want to know about noise restrictions for that glorious point in the evening when you kick off your Manolos and crank it.