Wedding Day Advice | Choosing a Venue

A Guide to Choosing Your Wedding Venue

The venue in which you hold your wedding can make or break the entire celebration – it can either be a captivating spot which creates a magical experience for you and your guests or, chosen badly, it could be the stuff of which their worst nightmares are made. Get it right by following The Wedding Directory’s 14 Point Guide to Securing a Wedding Venue

Photo courtesy Karen Wise Photography, Photographer Karen Wise

1. Think Numbers…Once you have established the number of people attending your wedding, as well as whether it will be a morning or afternoon affair, the formality of the occasion and the theme you desire, you can begin to brainstorm suitable venue options.

2. Start the Search…Word of mouth is a good way to research wedding venues, but also look online and page through bridal magazines and wedding directories.

3. Phone ahead…To save yourself the drive, ask the resident wedding co-ordinator a few key questions over the phone first:
- Is the venue available on your wedding date?
- How many guests can the venue accommodate?
- What are the catering options?
-  Does the venue hold a number of events simultaneously?
-  Are there any special conditions or rules, for example, regarding closing time?

4. Scope it out…Look over the entire facility, including bathrooms and kitchens, to gain an overall impression of the venue. Note points such as the quality of the lighting, the availability of plug points for the DJ or band and points for draping.

5. Ask to see photos…A visual record of previous weddings that the venues have hosted will help you gain an idea of what they can and can’t do.

6. Get fully equipped…Venues which supply tables, chairs, linen and other partyware will save you money and time. Ask which items the venue can provide. The less you have to worry about the better.

7. Seek flexibility…You may require something out-of-the-ordinary or have special requests. Ask the wedding co-ordinator if these can be accommodated.

8. Compare Notes…Once you checked out a few venues, compare the prices of each venue, the food options, the layout and the overall feel of each one.

9. Book it… As soon as you know how many guests you expect to attend, and have a sense of which is your favourite venue, make a booking. Wedding venues tend to be booked out months, sometimes even a year in advance, so don’t leave your booking until the last minute. Rather ensure that it’s done 9-12 months prior to your wedding date.

10. Talk about food…If the venue has an in-house chef, schedule a meeting to discuss menu options. Enquire about their specialities and their recommendations for the type of wedding reception you’re hosting – breakfast, lunch or evening – and whether they’re open to executing your special requests or menu ideas.

11. Get it all in…Enquire whether your venue will design an all-inclusive package for your wedding day, based on your requirements for venue hire, catering, flowers, wedding cake and music.

12. Save money…Hosting the wedding ceremony and reception at one venue will cut down on venue hire and transport costs, all of which amounts to less stress, both in terms of organization and for your guests, who won’t have to travel from one place to another.

13. Go for aesthetics…Hosting your wedding in a naturally spectacular or beautiful venue – a vineyard, a game farm, or the beach, for example – makes for a fabulous ambience and happy guests.

14. Get cosy…While many people tend to think big when it comes to their wedding celebration, smaller wedding venues, such as boutique hotels or restaurants, are not only half the price of grander venues, but more intimate, too.

15. Get it in writing…To avoid misunderstandings down the line, ensure that the following points are included in a contract with the wedding venue(s) you’ve chosen:
- State the date, time and head count of the wedding reception, as well as the name of the person with whom you’re liaising
- Include a repercussions clause – for example, your right to a partial refund – in the eventuality that there are snags, like malfunctioning venue equipment
- State what the quoted price does and doesn’t include – there should be no grey areas here
- Ensure the payment schedule details the exact due dates of deposits and the final balance
-  Include clear cancellation and postponement policies, with details of whether, and how, your deposit will be refunded in either eventuality
- Detail how gratuities will be charged – is it to be included in the price or added on?
-  Detail when staff go into overtime, and what overtime fees are applicable
-  Detail all rules regarding décor, food and beverages, closing times and noise levels, as well as fines applicable to transgressions of such rules.

Look for ideas here:
KZN | Durban Wedding Venues
Western Cape | Cape Town Wedding Venues
Gauteng | Johannesburg and Pretoria Wedding Venues

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