Hey friends, welcome back to the Wild At Heart Podcast! Today, I’m joined by the wonderful Kaitlyn Lamotte, Wedding and Events Coordinator at the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel & Conference Centre, to talk about the process of choosing your ideal wedding venue. We’ll be discussing the pros, cons and costs of indoor vs. outdoor wedding receptions, the must-ask questions to discuss with potential venue coordinators; the important details you should keep in mind for outdoor venues and our best budget saving tips for selecting your venue.
My first recommendation before choosing your ideal venue is to draw up an idea of what your guest list is going to look like. I always prefer to make the venue work for me (and my guest count), rather than work for the venue. [00:02:12]
The next step when I sit down with couples and discuss venues is to decide if they envision an indoor or outdoor reception. Many ceremonies these days are happening outdoor, but the bulk of the consideration for rentals and logistics happens during the reception. Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of both options! [00:03:32]
When it comes to wedding planning there are a thousand moving parts and deciding between a wedding hosted at a traditional venue or an outdoor private property reception involves very different styles of planning. One of my recommendations is to discuss with your partner how hands on you would like to be with your planning. [00:04:27]
With a traditional venue, couples typically have access to a Venue Coordinator that knows the venue intimately and is able to help you during their planning process. Kaitlyn suggests meeting with the coordinator at potential venues to assess chemistry and to ask important questions such as whether or not they will be present on your wedding day. Venue coordinators are also excellent sources of information and inspiration when searching for new and interesting ideas for your wedding. [00:08:06]
One of the biggest pros in my opinion for selecting an established venue is often the cost savings. There is a big misconception that outdoor or private property weddings are less expensive than costly venue rental fees. However, venue costs typically include common items such as tables, chairs, podium, dance floor, linens, cutlery, glassware and dishes; as well as less commonly thought of requirements such as lighting, AC and heating. The additional cost of renting these resources can often total more than traditional venue fees and also require more planning work. Some venues operate on a Food & Beverage minimum spend rather than a venue rental cost, so they can be quite achievable for couples. [00:10:27]
Many venues such as hotels or resorts also offer on-site accommodations for guests, which can be convenient and also help you to save on transportation for guests at the end of the evening. On-site accommodations also have the added benefit of creating a “family reunion” atmosphere for family & friends attending your wedding, and are helpful for out-of-town guests that may not know their way around town. [00:13:16]
One of the largest draws for outdoor or private property receptions, is the wide range of landscapes that can act as backdrops for your wedding. By utilizing the beautiful scenery around you, an outdoor wedding often requires less decor to cover up unwanted features that may be found at a traditional venue. Outdoor venues can usually also accommodate more guests and allow for more personalization of your vendors (catering, bar, etc.). [00:13:48]
The biggest consideration that comes into mind with outdoor weddings, besides the additional planning time, is weather. Sadly, we can’t control the forces of nature and extra precautions or measures – such as tents, heaters, AC units – should be put in place for outdoor weddings as a back-up plan incase of adverse weather like rain, wind, snow, or even high sun and heat during the summer. [00:18:10]
In order to ensure that your venue selection will work within your budget before booking, I suggest that couples meet with their potential venue coordinators for indoor receptions, or with rental companies for outdoor receptions to get a full cost estimate. If you are able, consulting with a wedding planner can be very useful to ensure that no items get missed from your estimate before confirming your vendors. [00:19:40]
When you are meeting with a venue coordination, Kaitlyn recommends that you find out or ask the following questions:
- Determine if your venue coordinator will be working with you all throughout your planning and also on your wedding day.
- Ask the venue coordinator to provide you with a full estimate based on the vision of your wedding day (rental, catering, alcohol, taxes, fees, gratuity etc.) and to sit down and go through all the costs with you. A great venue coordinator will ask you many questions regarding catering, guests, decor and theme in order to provide you with an accurate estimate.
- Ask the venue coordinator if there are any complimentary extras that they are willing to provide (couple gifts/accommodations, storage room for decor, complimentary breakfast etc.)
- Inquire about accessibility to the venue (ceremony & reception) for guests with mobility issues.
- Discuss parking access and accommodations on-site for guests.
- Some venues will host more than one ceremony or reception on-site on a weekend, and if you are interested in exclusivity, discuss that possibility and cost with the venue coordinator.
- If many similar weddings are hosted at your potential venue, ask your venue coordinator for inspiration on ways to transform the venue into a different reception space than when has previously been done.
- Discuss set-up and take-down times with the coordinator to ensure that you and your planning team have enough time to coordinate decor on your wedding day. If you require more time, or access the day before for a decorating company, inquire about any additional costs or the possibility of having the room ‘on-hold’.
- Ask if the venue allows external catering or bar services (food, alcohol, wedding cake or desserts).
My best budget saving tip for couples choosing their venue is to select a venue (indoor or outdoor) with good bones or beautiful surroundings to avoid the cost of extra “lipstick” (decor) to cover up unwanted features. Kaitlyn also recommends inquiring with different venues if they will provide better pricing for off-season, weekday or holiday wedding dates. [00:39:02]