Planning your wedding may be the most fun you’ll ever have. There are lots and lots of details to consider, so don’t get overwhelmed by them… indulge in them!!
Planning an elegant and luxurious wedding ceremony and reception, particularly if it’s a destination wedding, requires thinking about every element of the event from start to finish. The most important elements to your wedding — other than the venue — are the photographer, florist, and DJ/band, but don’t forget the smaller details of your wedding reception that are nearly as important! It’s always best to hire a professional wedding planner, but some brides prefer the challenge of planning their own weddings. If you want to plan your own wedding, here are a few tips to consider, whether you’re considering an all-inclusive wedding package or an a la carte wedding package:
1. Who is responsible for decorating, and how long will you have to decorate?
Some venues, such as the Agora Grand, don’t require much decorating, while others, such as Maine barn weddings, will require much more. In either case, you should consider who will actually do the decorating — placing the centerpieces, setting up the place cards, lighting, flowers, and so forth. This is often done by a combination of the caterer, the wedding coordinator, the DJ, and even the wedding party or the bride’s parents. Just make sure you know who is doing what.
Also, decorating takes time. The amount of time you’ll need depends on the wedding venue you’ve selected, with some requiring just an hour or two and others requiring an entire weekend. The wedding packages at the Agora Grand offer a full 14-hour rental (or even more if desired), allowing a solid half day for decorations and preparations. Some venues, particularly large resorts and hotels, offer fixed 8-hour packages, leaving you only an hour or two to decorate.
2. Who is providing all the dishes, chargers, flatware, glassware, linens, tables, chairs, and other items?
Try to visualize what each place setting will look like — even better, draw it on paper! Consider who will provide each and every item on your drawing. These items will usually come from a combination of the wedding venue, the caterer, and a rental company. But don’t leave any items to chance, and don’t wait until the last minute to reserve these items!
At the Agora Grand, our wedding packages include all dishes, chargers, flatware, glassware, linens, tables, and chairs. However, our Masterpiece Wedding Package includes attractive banquet chairs without chair covers, while The Grand Wedding Package includes a choice of chair covers or chiavari chairs. Be sure your wedding will look exactly as you’ve dreamed!
3. What kind of beverage service is provided, and who is responsible for tea, coffee, and water?
Most venues will offer various beverage packages, such as cash bars, limited open bars (beer & wine only), or full open bars. Make sure you have the package you want, but also make sure that you and your guests can get their favorite beverages! A few months ago, the Agora Grand hosted a Scottish-themed wedding in which the guests only wanted Guinness beer and single malt Scotch, while at another wedding, the guests drank almost nothing but Sam Adams and high-end tequila. Make sure that the venue you select can accommodate your preferences! Better yet, ask about a signature cocktail, the perfect drink to commemorate your wedding and share with your guests.
Also, non-alcoholic beverage service is usually separate from the bar service, so make sure you know who is providing this. The Agora Grand wedding packages provide this service, but at other venues it may be the caterer who provides this service for an additional fee.
4. What about cake cutting? A wedding toast?
These are important details, but they often get forgotten in the excitement of engagement and wedding planning. Often, the caterer will cut the cake, but sometimes it’s the venue, and without an up-front agreement, it could end up being overlooked! The wedding packages at the Agora Grand all include cake cutting for no additional fee, but some venues charge a fee, while others don’t offer this service at all and rely on the caterer (who will typically charge a fee).
Also, not all brides care about a formal wedding toast or Champagne toast, while others absolutely have to have one. The Agora Grand provides weddings toasts as part of our packages, but not all venues do.
5. Will you need handicap access? Does the venue have adequate parking?
Often, in the excitement of planning a wedding, it is easy to forget about an ailing or handicapped family member who may have difficulty getting around a barn wedding venue. Take a second look at your guest list and consider which guests may benefit from handicap elevators and access.
Also, if your wedding venue is located in a city, make sure there is adequate on-site parking. If not, you may need to rent a trolley or other transportation from the lot to the venue. Your elderly grandmother may not like having to walk a few blocks from where her car is parked!
6. What equipment will you need to have a beautiful and fun wedding reception?
Does the venue provide a dance floor? If not, you’ll need to rent this. (The Agora Grand has a large built-in dance floor.) What about DJ or music equipment? If a venue is not already equipped with a built-in sound system, the DJ can provide this, but often at additional cost. What about custom uplighting? Again, some venues offer this — like the Agora Grand — while others either do not have such lighting or charge an additional fee for it.
These are just some of the smaller details that we’ve noticed tend to come up long after the wedding planning process begins. There’s plenty of time to consider them all, but don’t wait until the last minute!
We hope this has been helpful, and if you have other questions about the details of planning your wedding, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
Photo Courtesy Rene Roy Photography