Choosing a venue for your wedding can be the most nerve-wracking part of the planning process.
Of course, there are other decisions to make as well.
Would-be newlyweds have to find a caterer, a DJ or band, a photographer, and a wedding cake.
These other choices are important, but none of them are going to directly affect the wedding experience as much as the venue.
If the cake or the music don't live up to expectations, it is possible to either overlook the problem or to find a remedy.
If the venue isn't right, though, it is not as easy to overcome.
You can't simply move your entire wedding to a different location.
That is why finding the right estate for your wedding is so vitally important.
When touring potential estates, asking certain questions can help you see potential pitfalls before it's too late.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Capacity – An estate's ambiance and amenities are important, but it is imperative to not forget the basics.
Your guests not only have to fit in the event space, they have to fit comfortably, with enough room for dancing, eating, lounging and whatever other activities will be part of your special day.
Would-be brides and grooms should go as far as seeing all the event spaces for themselves so that they can decide whether the capacity quote is accurate.
2. Facilities – Having enough room for guests is one thing, having the proper amenities and facilities is something else entirely.
Good estates will have ample restrooms, handicapped access (if necessary), sufficient parking and spaces for caterers and other vendors who will help put on the wedding.
3. Rules – Estates might have different rules that guests have to abide by.
These could range from things like not allowing candles in certain rooms (for safety reasons or to preserve fragile antiques) to not allowing guests to have access to certain indoor or outdoor areas of the property.
It is best to ask about restrictions upfront, so that any misunderstandings are avoided.
In addition to guest areas, make sure that areas used for food prep and photographs will be accessible on the day of the event.
4. Décor – Many people want to have décor that features a consistent theme and colors.
To achieve the desired look, some decorations may have to be put inside the estate.
Some estates have in-house decorators who can handle this, but others do not.
If an estate doesn't decorate for you, it is good to make sure that your decorators will be able to have access before the ceremony and reception and, more importantly, that they will not be breaking the estate's rules by placing the decorations around the property.
5. Fees – Estates might require their renters to use in-house services (for catering, music, etc).
Wedding parties that rely on outside vendors might be charged an additional fee.
This is not always the case (most estates go out of their way to accommodate guests' desires), but it is better to be sure than to find that the wedding is beyond your budget because of unforeseen fees.
Bringing your own alcohol can be another major source for fees.
Many estates make much of their event money from serving alcohol, so they may charge some sort of corkage fee for weddings that bring their own beverages.
6. Other events – Larger estates may host more than one event during a weekend.
It pays to ask if there will be any other events and where they will be hosted.
While most estates are pretty good at separating their guests, it can be frustrating if noise or crowds from another event interfere with your wedding.
The estate may not have another event scheduled at the time that your wedding will take place, but one could be scheduled at a later date, so it is best to proceed like another event will be taking place (if the estate hosts more than one event) and then making sure that the other event spaces are sufficiently separated from your own.
Finding out these details early can help you make the best choice for your wedding venue.
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