Congratulations, you are engaged, let the busiest year of your life begin! Whether you are planning your wedding yourself, with family and friends, or have the help of a wedding industry professional – there are some big decisions ahead of you.
Where do you start?
The two most important elements to establish the overall feeling of your wedding (besides you and your fiancé of course!) will be the dress and the venue. With so many beautiful properties in Central Kentucky, you are sure to find a space that fits your vision for the big day, but how do you know when you’ve found “the one”?
Before you start visiting venues, decide what is most important to you and your fiancé. Establish a list of must-haves, nice-to-haves, deal-breakers, target guest count – and of course, a budget. Pro Tip: Venues typically book 9-12 months in advance of the wedding day. If you have your heart set on a particular venue or specific date, make booking the venue your first priority!
It can all be a little overwhelming, so here are my Top 8 Topics to keep in mind while you are evaluating venues:
Sometimes venues offer different rates depending on the month or day of the week. Every venue sets their pricing differently, so be sure to ask which months the venue considers Peak vs. Regular Season or does the venue have year-round pricing? If you are flexible with your date, having your wedding a week earlier or later can offer significant savings!
Keep in mind the reception-style can alter the venue’s capacity. For example, a cocktail-style reception allows for a higher guest count compared to a buffet-style reception. Be sure to find out the venue’s capacity for plated, buffet and cocktail-style receptions.
- Single Location for Ceremony and Reception:
A growing trend in recent years is to hold both the ceremony and reception in a single location. If you are planning have your ceremony and reception in once place, ask the venue whether or not there is an additional cost to hold both on the property. It’s also a good idea to ask where the guests will go in between the two events. (For instance, an indoor happy hour space, a separate building on the property, etc.)
- Linens and Details:
Depending on the storage space a venue has, they may or may not choose to offer services like tables, chairs, linens, flatware etc. Questions to ask your venue: Does the venue have tables, chairs, linens etc.? Are they included in the rental cost, or do they need to be rented separately? Is there a charge for set-up or breakdown?
- Wedding Day:
Depending on the overall size of the venue property, you might be the only wedding scheduled that day or you might be sharing the property with other weddings or private events. To avoid confusion for your guests, ask the venue if your wedding will have rental exclusivity, or if there will be other parties sharing the property. If you will be sharing the space make sure you have signage to help direct your guests to the correct ceremony or reception site!
- A Picture-Perfect Space:
Between the happy tears and slay-worthy updos, some of our favorite wedding photos are captured while the bridal party is getting ready. Ask the venue if there is a designated area for the bridal party to get ready – will it be large enough to accommodate all of your bridesmaids, hair and makeup folks, and any other essential friends or family members you want to be included?
Typically, a venue will offer one (or more) of these four catering options which range from casual to a more formal experience: the ability to bring in your own food, select your own caterer, choose from a list of preferred vendors, or use in-house catering services. Be sure to get a full understanding of your venue’s catering policy. For instance, The Galerie does not have an in-house catering staff so we have a very flexible vendor policy. Couples are able to choose the caterer they would like to work with or even have the option to bring in their own food if they prefer!
Let’s get down to brass tacks – your venue payment can often be one of the first and largest expenses of your wedding, so understanding the payment policies of your venue is very important. Some good questions to ask the venues you are considering: Does the venue require a deposit or down payment? When is the full balance due? Am I able to pay off my balance in installments?
Pro Tip: All venues have different policies and procedures – so don’t make assumptions!
While your venue is a big part of the wedding day, just keep in mind the absolute most important thing is to celebrate that person you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with!
Written by Jessica Pantantello Kite – Director of Events & Co-Owner, The Galerie