musings from the ladies of a day in may events


Selecting your Wedding Venue

Congratulations! You’re engaged! Now what?  Chances are there are a million and one things racing through your head as you begin to plan you wedding to your beloved. Two of the first questions to consider are ‘When?’ and ‘Where?’  The ‘When’ is certainly a personal decision. You might select a date because it is meaningful to you and your family, or because it is your favorite time of year, or simply because your favorite photographer is available that weekend. Only you can pick your perfect wedding date.  The ‘Where’, however, is something that we certainly can assist with or at least help to be your trusty guides.

A couple of years ago, we had the pleasure of partnering with our clients for the creation and development of a venue in Grand Rapids: The Ballroom at McKay.  Through that project we assisted with sales and bookings, staff training, collaborative business development, operations strategy, event furnishings and lighting procurement, art direction (collateral, website and branding materials) and so much more.  Through that partnership, we learned a lot about wedding venues most importantly, what to consider when choosing yours.


Pictured Above: Cherry Basket Farm

What is included with the rental?

When choosing a venue, it’s important to know what all is included with the rental.  This is imperative as anything that’s not included would be an additional expense and potentially a large chunk out of your overall wedding budget, not to mention, more vendors for you (or your planner) to worry about on the day of the wedding.

Cherry Basket Farm, located in the picturesque Leelanau Peninsula is “a private setting that celebrates the best and most special qualities of Northern Michigan”.  Cherry Basket Farm, also happens to be the home of Epicure Catering, an award winning caterer specializing in local, sustainable cuisine.  By choosing Cherry Basket Farm as the location for your wedding, their comprehensive catering and day-of vendor management packages also include the following: separate bride and groom dressing areas, a forested ceremony site with chairs, lower barn area with bar, cocktail tables, bar stools and a gift table, farmyard and yard games, crisp white pole tent for dining with removable window sides and dimmable lighting, tables and chairs, upper barn with dance floor, seating for 50, a coffee station, dessert station and ample power for your band or DJ, handicapped-accessible mens and womens restrooms, and on-site parking.  With all of these items included in the cost of your package, the value of the rental has increased, leaving less for you to worry about on the day of your wedding.


Pictured Above: Pacific Oaks Vineyard Estate

How long do I have access to the space?

As much as you want to believe that your wedding is the only one of importance to the venue, unfortunately, that is not the case.  Along with making sure that your wedding goes smoothly and that you and your guests have the time of your lives, the Venue Coordinator is also focusing on the next couple to get married and making sure that all of your best interests are kept in mind.  In order to accommodate multiple events, venues have established hours of rental. This typically includes a few hours in the morning prior to your wedding for setup, the duration of your event and a couple hours after the party (for tear down).  When working with your wedding vendors, it’s important that you (or your planner) make sure that your vendors are aware of these time constraints, what you are asking them to do, and that what they are proposing is able to be accomplished during the rental period.  If you are considering a lengthy setup, it may be worth your while to chat with the venue coordinator about the opportunity to purchase additional hours for setup and teardown.


Pictured Above: Four Season Resort Vail

Is there a Food and Beverage minimum?

For larger resorts or hotels, it’s not uncommon for them to forgo the room rental all together and instead establish a Food and Beverage [F&B] minimum that must be met in order for you not to incur additional room rental costs or fees.  The F&B minimum typically excludes taxes, fees and gratuity and is formulated based upon your guest count, specific location (which room you decide to book within a larger facility), the time of year (high season events typically incur a higher F&B minimum) along with a handful of other factors that come directly from the venue.  The F&B minimum is not something to be scared of but rather just something to consider.  If you are choosing not to serve alcohol, you may need to enhance your hors d’oeurves selections in order to ensure that you meet the F&B minimum.


Pictured Above: The Ballroom at McKay

Are there certain Vendors that I have to use?

When we were developing The Ballroom at McKay along with our clients, we know that it was important to surround ourselves with vendors who would respect and care for the venue just as much as we did.  Because of this, we created a Preferred Caterer list, or a list of caterers for couples who booked with The Ballroom can choose from.  As a venue, this ensured that the onsite kitchen was only to be accessed by licensed and insured professionals.  As a soon to be married couple, you can rest assured that the caterer you select will be held to the highest of standards and has proven time and time again to be “tried and true”.  A Preferred or Recommended Vendor list should provide peace of mind, however, if you are dead set on using a professional who is not on the list, you may want to reconsider your venue prior to remitting a signed contract and deposit.

These are just a handful of questions you should ask your venue prior to signing on the dotted line.  One last helpful tip to consider…we sometimes start our venue conversations by asking “What can’t I do [in this space, location, room, etc]?”.  This usually throws the Venue Coordinator for a loop, as it is not a question they get asked very often. Trust us when we say, you’ll be glad you asked!