Venue Shopping: Quick Tips
Saturday, February 16 2013
(This is the first in a series of blog posts following Oregon Bride intern Samantha Karp as she plans her 2013 wedding. More adventures to come in the weeks ahead! -ed.)
With a dwindling nine months to plan my wedding, securing a venue has been challenging. One might assume that we’d have plenty of time; my soon-to-be husband and I did until we actually started the process. Without appointments and knowledge of even the most rudimentary necessities of a venue, my fiancé and I spent a week exploring downtown Portland to find a location that not only represented our personalities and style but fit reasonably within our budget. What I came to find: Saturdays book fast.
Consider that there are a mere 52 Saturdays in a given year and only 18 of those are during warm summer months (June through September). In Oregon anywhere from 25,000 to 26,000 people get married each year so finding an available space can feel daunting. Of course, off-season dates are still a valuable option, and are typically offered at a more modest price. However, this time crunch does create incentive to research venue locations immediately. We fell in love with several ornate ballrooms before being thoroughly disappointed when we heard, "Sorry, we're booked!"
Though we chose to have our wedding in the city, there are several things to consider before you begin your search in any of Oregon's gorgeous venues.
1. If your wedding date is absolutely not flexible (like mine) make sure that your said date is available before taking part in a tour. You won't know what you're missing if you avoid it altogether.
2. Know what the venue’s food and beverage minimum is before your visit. We were crushed when while touring one of Portland’s ultra modern facilities they subtly mentioned that their minimum was our entire budget.
3. Know your headcount. Examining a hotel’s gorgeous ballroom online persuaded us to stop in. When their coordinator showed us the room appropriate for our small intimate wedding of 80, we were disappointed. It wasn't anything like the glamorous room we saw online, because what we saw online was their grand ballroom made to accommodate nearly 500 people.
4. Set aside a budget for rentals. This is one factor I encourage the most. Yes, you want to love the place you hold your ceremony and/or reception. But that’s not to say there won’t be a useless counter-space you want to cover up, or even accentuate. The mustard yellow and burnt red swirl pattern on the hotels' chair cushions might clash with your black tie affair. Chairs, drapery and decorations are available for rent and most venues have rental companies they work with exclusively. Though it’s usually an additional expense, it is polishes up a venue nicely. Think of it as that bold necklace that ties your outfit together.
5. Know what time you want to get married. Some venues book their rooms twice in one day, which can impose some time constraints. If that’s the case, as it was for us, consider then when you want to have your wedding photos taken. Is seeing your fiancé before the wedding unfathomable? If so, then make sure your venue is available early enough to allow for a photo shoot in between the ceremony and the reception. Otherwise if that’s not an option, and you don’t mind forgoing tradition—take your photos before the ceremony, not only does it help shake off those pre-wedding jitters but it provides you and your wedding party ample time to get the perfect shot.