Welcome to the new kids in town! For years, I’ve been saying that we need more venues for weddings and events – particularly weddings – that can hold more than 200 guests. AND where the Brides and Grooms can select their own vendors without being pressured to use “exclusive” providers recommended by the Venue. For heaven’s sake, it’s YOUR money – pick the people YOU want to work with.
Enter Noah’s and Skiatook Springs – both capable of holding more than 200 guests and both about as different from one another as you can get. Noah’s, a modern yet traditional banquet style facility, will be located here in Tulsa and ready for events in late 2015, whereas Skiatook Springs, rustic and serene lakeside venue, opens late June but requires almost an hour’s drive to get there. I’ve been doing this long enough to know there are enough Brides for any type of venue you can come up with. We’ll review some others down in “south Tulsa” later.
So let’s take a look at what to look for when selecting that VERY important piece of the puzzle – the venue:
· Get your STYLE straight first. If you’re hip and modern, that’s a different look than rustic. Granted, a good designer can turn an empty box into a fantastic Wedding Fantasy BUT if the box is a distinct style, then love it or move on.
· Know your BUDGET before you sign on the dotted line. Here I am on my soapbox. How many times have I had a Bride in front of me practically teary eyed because she really wants that fairy tale reception BUT she just blew her entire budget in ONE contract. Duh – that’s what an experienced Pro can do for you. Guide your budget to its Happy Place! It pays to have a professional planner/designer on your side to get the most bang for your buck. Ok – off the soapbox.
· Space – do your homework. If you even think your event will go to the maximum venue capacity, double check the space charts available on line. Here at Lasting Impressions we use our own software to calculate layouts but this will give you some realistic ideas. I like this site because it forces you to plan for almost everything. http://www.okanaganeventrentals.com/event-planning-guide/event-space-calculator/
· Kitchen facilities – you should know what type meal/food you want to serve. MOST venues here in the area (that are not hotels) have what is called a “catering” kitchen, not a “cooking” kitchen. That means your food will have to be cooked elsewhere and then transported to be finished off before setting out on Buffet OR served plated style (that’s another blog).
· Items that come with the Venue: are there tables, chairs, what style? Do you like the style? If you rent other items, can they be delivered on the day before the event? Picked up the first business day after the event? Is there an extra charge for their tables, chairs? Is the charge comparable to rental companies?
· Services that are included: setup of tables? Chairs? Linens dropped? Napkins folded? Candles lit? Removal and cleanup?
· Hours that are included in the contract. This is a REALLY important one. Some venues here in town – and I’m not saying which – make most of their money from the “additional hours charged” not the hours shown up front. Look at your timeline for EVERYTHING that needs to be delivered, setup and decorated in order to get a realistic amount of time that will be needed BEFORE you walk down the aisle and AFTER you leave in your getaway car.
· Event coordinator on site? Let’s define this – because many of the venues offer “on site” coordination as part and parcel of their Venue fee. So it sounds good BUT is that coordinator familiar with YOUR wedding. Do they know who to call if the limo breaks down? Or the heel on your shoe breaks? Or where those groomsmen may be when it’s time for them to be lining up? In the end, the on-site coordinator still gets their check from the Venue – the one that YOU are paying. Obviously I’m prejudiced in that I’m a Professional Planner who works for the Client so I firmly believe in you having an advocate on site for YOU.
· Insurance – this is a biggie. Ultimately both YOU as the party host and the Venue will face liability (ok not a lawyer here but check it out). Ask them to provide you with a copy of their liability insurance showing that they are covered for your event.
· Plan B- If the worst of the worst happened, what is their plan? Is there a shelter for tornadoes? Who is in charge if a fire breaks out? What if an ice storm shuts down power? Always think ahead. Don’t be the proverbial Bride with your head in the sand who thinks “It’s MY wedding day and NOTHING bad will happen”. Just be prepared.
· Parking – is there enough space for ALL your guests plus the vendors? If not, you will have to shuttle guests in OR opt for valet parking. Cha-ching!
And that is why a SITE VISIT is so important. Take these questions with you when you make your visit. Remember you’re selecting a VERY important part of the big day. Make a smart decision.
Wedding wishes . . .