Making Your Venue About You

 By Sue Seretis


Congratulations! Enjoy your engagement, and take a deep breath. May the planning begin!


Have a realistic overall budget before you fall in love with a venue. Your budget should include your Ceremony, Venue, and all vendors for your event.


Talk with your family to come up with a guest list that fits your budget. This may be the hardest part of the journey. Is your budget too low for your guest list? If so, try trimming your list or having your wedding on a Friday or Sunday.  Many venues will offer a lower price for weekdays (M-F).  Better yet, plan to have your big day on a Sunday before a National Holiday (i.e Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, or Veterans Day).  It is less expensive than a Saturday.  Guests do not have to come AFTER work or take off work, like on a Friday. AND…most guests have the following Monday off work or could easily request the day off because of the holiday.


When you start to look at venues, are they responsive by phone or email to schedule an appointment? Are you warmly welcomed and your questions answered at your meeting? Your salesperson is the “face” of your venue. The first impression will set the stage for the rest of your planning experience.


Many couples are looking for a venue that can accommodate both ceremony and reception in the same location. Ask about a bridal changing room and rehearsal options. Having a ceremony and reception in the same location is convenient and less stressful, for both you and your guests.


Is the venue neutral in color so your colors and theme will come alive? Are tables and chairs provided and presentable? Will the space hold your guest count comfortably? Most of all, can you envision your celebration at that location?  It’s no secret that creative decor, centerpieces, fabric and lighting can transform just about any venue.  Being budget conscious means looking at the same venue, ‘as is’, and being comfortable having your celebration there even if you budget less embellishments.


Value comes with great food, service, and presentation. This is a top priority in our book! Make sure you can customize the cuisine to suit your taste and traditions.  Get creative!  Don’t like cake?  Go with a candy bar, an assortment of desserts, or a pie bar. Don’t feel as if you have to stick to the traditional courses of chicken, steak or fish.  What about lobster or ethnic cuisine?


Choose a theme that showcases your likes and interests and take advantage of vendors who specialize in lighting, ice art, beautiful linens, flowers, chair sashes and chair covers, and event furniture to transform your space. Accent with personalized favors for your guests, escort cards or seating charts, customized entrée menus, and personal photographs.  Your guests will appreciate the personal touches integrated with your celebration.


Customize your timeline. This is your day and it’s all about YOU! Instead of sticking with tradition, why not have a thirty minute “cocktail hour” or speeches and toasts before dinner? Think about your overall event time and what is most important to you.  The day of your wedding, however, take the time to enjoy your celebration and let the professionals manage your itinerary.


After finding your perfect dress, now you need to complete the look! You can do this by creating a personalized timeline for your hair and make-up.  Coordinate your on-site make-over with your Artist and your venue.


The one thing that will last forever will be the beautiful memories captured through photography and videography. Choose a professional photographer that suites your style and will capture every moment of your important day. Talk about the shots that are most important to you and the photographer’s methods for capturing those moments.  It’s also a good idea to make a list of the people you would like to see in photographs most so the photographer can be sure to put the focus on your closest friends and family.


Enjoy every minute! Don’t stress the little things because at the end of YOUR DAY, you married your best friend and love of your life! Best Wishes!

As seen in the VOW Bridal Event “Tips from the Top” booklet.  Vow Bride Editor, Kim Wadsworth and Hampton Roads outstanding Bridal Experts shared their experience and best kept wedding planning secrets!