For many people, the right venue is crucial to a dream wedding. The location sets the tone of the whole ceremony, from the size of your wedding to the style of reception. Here are some questions to help you in your wedding venue-hunt.
What do we both want? After the initial excitement of the proposal has died down, it would be a good idea to discuss what kind of a wedding you both desire. You might find, unexpectedly, that your spouse-to-be and you have totally different ideas of the perfect wedding. Supposing he wants a cosy wedding for 50 at his favourite restaurant whereas you've always had your heart fixed on a full-blown grand scale wedding for 500 at a country club, how do you proceed? Or you have always longed for fireworks on your special day but your spouse just wants to keep things simple. Talk it out and make a list of things you both absolutely must have and compare them.
How much are we willing to spend on the wedding venue? Wedding venues can get very expensive. However, more expensive doesn't necessarily mean better. Get the rates of the venues you like and make a shortlist of those you can afford. Vist the shortlisted locations, spend some time inspecting each site and organise consultations to discuss details. There are areas in which you may incur hidden costs: administrative fees and taxes, time limit charges (when your event runs overtime) as well as parking and valet charges. Don't forget to also ask if the management can throw in perks and freebies into your package. Some items you can negotiate for would be free flow of beer, free bottles of wine, a few nights' stay at the hotel for the wedding couple, free chair covers or a straightforward discount per table. The more tables you require, the more bargaining power you have.
Can the wedding venue accommodate all our guests and their needs? How many people are you intending to invite? Choose a venue that can seat around 80 - 90 percent of your invited list, as it not likely that you have full attendance. For weddings that require an RSVP, typical of Chinese and western weddings, you can tweak the seating number and layout when you have the final figure. There may be more people coming to your wedding than planned though, as friends may bring their children, or relatives who did not respond to your invite actually turned up. It may be a good idea to set aside a table for such guests. For Malay and some Indian weddings where RSVPs are not required, it is wise to err on the higher side of the number of guests you have invited because they will typically bring children and guests unannounced. Other than being able to accommodate the number of guests comfortably, the location should be relatively accessible by your guests. Be mindful of the facilities that the place offers (e.g. number of parking lots, valet parking, coat check, washrooms) as every aspect helps in making your wedding a wonderful and memorable one.
Do we absolutely love the place? Does the wedding venue speak to you? Does it reflect your personality? Better still, does it hold a special meaning to both of you? Some people have been known to get wacky and creative by holding their wedding at a bowling alley, disco, museum or even a stadium. If you prefer a more traditional venue, but not the ubiquitous hotel or church, a wedding in a restaurant, country club or yacht can be equally lovely.
One way to help you in the decision-making is by discussing together as a couple the pros and cons of each place you visit. Note down the points and take shots of the location. It's much easier to recall a place with pictures in front of you. When torn between different venues, just ask yourself which place you love the most. Don't try so hard to please other people that you forget to consider your own needs and wishes. It is after all YOUR big day.