5 Wedding Venue Traps
Brides! Picking your wedding venue is the absolute most crucial part of planning your wedding. In my opinion, no other planning should be done before selecting the venue as the rules, location, and inclusions, look & feel and so many other factors will determine the rest of your planning from centerpieces to photographers etc. In addition to all these factors you'll be considering when selecting a venue there are some other area's where you really REALLY REALLY need to pay attention. Failing to do so can lead you to blow your budget, or just simply not be able to have the wedding you want. So here's the 5 "traps" I have seen in the venue world. Keep in mind, I'm not necessarily using that word in a negative tone as you'll see below. But your contract is going to limit your decisions and you need to know this and be comfortable with it before moving forward.
Colorado has 2 types of venues. Ones with Liquor licenses & ones without. The venues with, you need to really make sure you understand the charges, minimums etc. Ask about bartender charges, required gratuities etc. Don't just stop at the "$15 per person" or "$995 Beer & wine package" that's NOT all the info or all the cost. Venues without a liquor license you may still be required to use a certain bartending company or to buy your liquor from a certain vendor. This might completely foil your plans to BYOB!
Almost all venues that don't have a liquor license will require you to hire a company like Dobodo Events that has certified bartenders & liquor liability insurance to cover the venue. I've written a more detailed blog post just about this topic that you can read as well.
Even a full service venue isn't going to have EVERYTHING covered right? You still most likely need a photographer, DJ, Cake etc. The trap here is venues with closed vendor lists. They say here's a list of people to choose from, you can work with any of them. Want to know why a caterer will ask you your venue before offering pricing? Because a lot of venues make what I call "back-end money" off your event. Charging 5% to 20% of your invoice from the other vendors to be allowed to operate in your selected venue.
This can get expensive! Especially on the big-ticket items like Catering, DJ's, photographers etc.
If you are considering a venue with a closed vendor list, before signing a contract I would recommend contacting some of those bigger ticket vendors and getting a full proposal from them, they aren't going to show you this "back-end charge" anywhere in the invoice, the prices are just going to be padded. I'm all for everyone making a profit, but you also have a budget, so make sure their prices are in-line with your expectations before you commit yourself to the venue and then lose control of your vendor choices!
Some venues have absolutely crazy timelines! I can think of a few off-hand here in Denver that you have 1 hour pre-wedding to setup. Things like this end up getting super pricey and can really hamper your DIY plans you might have. Think about this: Your caterer or staffing company has to come in and setup tables, chairs, linens, plateware, centerpieces, buffet etc and get it all done in an hour. That's a TON OF STAFF EXPENSES! Your timeline is going to get a bit stressful and the budgets going up to accommodate for these venues strict timeline rules.
Service Charges and gratuity are an expected part of contracts in the event world. You just need to make sure you understand what your venue is charging. This is typically only done at more full service venues that offer bartending/staffing/catering etc. These can even have hidden kitchen staff charges and other crazy dollar amounts. Press into your venue about these charges and have them clearly review them in your contract and to your satisfaction before signing.
Rentals can get pricey! Some venues have contracts requiring you to exclusively rent your linens/plateware etc from one place. Maybe you want to bring your own? Maybe your caterer can bring all of this for a lower cost? A question to make sure you ask your venue as well as looking into the rental prices and comparing them to other rental places in town. I've seen table linens range from $12/piece to $35/piece for basically the same size/quality etc. When we're talking about 25 tables, that gets pricey!