Congratulations on your engagement! If you’ve been dreaming about your wedding since childhood, a wedding venue is more than a location – it’s an experience. What do you want to see on your wedding day? How do you want to be treated? How do you want to feel? For many brides, a wedding is that one special day to experience the best of the best: from enjoying an elegant venue with luxury amenities, to being pampered with the finest spa treatments, to feeling like royalty.
The most important piece of the puzzle – right after you’ve said “Yes!” to your new partner – is to lock down the wedding venue that matches the theme and ambiance of your dream day. Your wedding venue will be the setting for all those beautiful wedding photos you’ll enjoy fifty years from now.
So after doing some online research and flipping through some magazines, you narrow your search to three or four amazing Maine wedding venues. Here are a few tips when touring and booking your venue.
1. Finding the right wedding venue is a little like dating.
You’re not just finding a venue – you’re establishing a relationship. Be real. Tell them a little about yourself and your partner and your plans for the future. If there’s a particular reason why you love their venue, tell them! The hosts will want to know that they are offering something special to their brides and will take pride in their business.
Make sure you feel comfortable with the hosts, but also be sure to let your personality sparkle! Once you sign with them, you’re entrusting them, quite literally, to help you make your dreams come true.
2. Share your wedding vision.
Owners of luxury wedding venues are in this business for a reason – they love weddings and they love to hear about each couple’s wedding ideas. Have a unique wedding theme in mind? Are you working with a fashionable wedding designer? Are you planning to choreograph your first dance or a fun line dance for the wedding party? Are you planning some cool games for the reception? If you’re excited about particular aspects of your upcoming wedding, let your enthusiasm shine!
A luxury venue wants to host elegant, well-designed, well-orchestrated weddings with lots of smiling people. Show the venue that your wedding will be just that.
3. Price should be your third consideration, not your first.
Of course, your wedding needs to fit within your budget. Weddings are expensive, and here’s why. But before focusing on price, ask yourself why you’re having a wedding in the first place. You can always get married at City Hall for (essentially) free. But a wedding is a formal, beautiful gathering of the people who matter the most to celebrate the union between you and your partner. Couples who want an incredible and memorable wedding usually ask questions in this order:
- Do I absolutely love it?
- Does it have all the amenities and features that I need?
- Can I afford it?
4. Address concerns early on.
What are the venue’s decorating policies? Is a rehearsal included? Is there handicap access for disabled relatives? Are there enough bathroom stalls? What’s the heat and air conditioning situation?
You’ve already started falling in love with the venue, so if there are any dealbreakers, you’ll want to address them as quickly as possible. Even if there are no dealbreakers, you’ll want to make sure that some unexpected expense doesn’t break your budget.
5. Ignore the “venue fee” – Instead, consider the cost of your entire wedding.
Because every luxury venue has different amenities and offerings, the quoted “venue fee” often won’t tell you much. If one venue has good parking but the other doesn’t, then it could cost you another $2000 to rent a trolley to bring your guests to and from a remote parking lot. If one venue provides dishes and flatware but the other doesn’t, it could cost you $8 per person or more to rent these. If one venue includes the ceremony location but the other doesn’t, then you’ll need to factor in the added cost.
To compare apples to apples, the best idea is to estimate the entire cost of your wedding at different luxury venues. At each venue you tour, ask for a quote or estimate on the entire cost of your wedding and be sure to ask about items you’ll have to rent. Renting a dance floor, tables, chairs, and other items can add up quickly!
6. Be honest about your budget.
While most high-end venues have fixed prices that aren’t really negotiable, it never hurts to ask. If you aren’t sure whether you can afford the venue, tell them your budget and they’ll let you know whether it’s doable. If they think your wedding will be a good match for the venue, they’ll work for your business. They may throw in added perks or even offer a discount or other incentive to keep you within your budget. On the other hand, many venues may not have any wiggle room, so don’t be discouraged if they can’t make your budget work.
7. Ask about their preferred vendor list.
If they have a list of preferred vendors, use them! At the Agora Grand Event Center, our preferred vendors have been hand-selected because they offer excellent service and know how to showcase your wedding here. For example, if you choose a non-preferred photographer, you take the risk that the photographer may not be familiar with the venue and may not know how or where to take the best shots. Also be sure to read articles on choosing vendors. Here are our blog posts on choosing caterers, photographers, officiants, and florists.
There are some aspects of a wedding that make perfect DIY projects (great article on this), but there are others that will just result in disaster, so be sure to talk to the venue manager anytime you use a non-preferred vendor.
And the most important tip of all: HAVE FUN! Life is too short to be taken seriously. And since your wedding might be the most important day of your life, all the more reason to relax, have fun, and enjoy the process! If you have other questions or would like to find out more about the Agora Grand, let us know!