3 Things to Think about when Booking a Venue
Where will tables be placed? And when the tables are placed, is there still space for a dance floor? Are there designated areas for ceremony, cocktail and reception? And do they flow well together?
All of this seems a little obvious, don’t you think?! But it’s truly one to take seriously.
Many venues advertise they can accommodate up to a set number of guests, aka their max capacity. But, here comes a SHOCKER, this number is often higher than what is actually comfortable for your guests within the space. Or it’s for standing room only. Or it doesn’t account for anything but dinner tables. Like, okay, now what am I going to do, I’ve have zero space for bar, food stations, dance floor, photo booth, etc.
And, let’s all get real, who really wants to deal with moving tables out of the way after dinner is over so guests can dance? Not me. I’m here to celebrate and party, not do manual labor!
So be sure to ask venues:
At your max occupancy, what does the space feel like to you? (do you feel it’s too tight, will we need to move tables throughout the event, etc)
Would you mind sharing your max occupancy layouts and photos with me? (ask them to note where the DJ, bar, service tables would be set)
Now, let’s talk about how this relates to The Union. We can hold up to 225 guests. We host weddings of this size often, but we have found that our sweet spot is 175 guests or less. At a 225 guests count all tables are required to be placed in one set layout, which we are always happy to share with clients. The great thing about this layout is it allows space for the dance floor, cake table, buffet, DJ and bar without any issue or moving of tables.
What about the FLOW? Have you ever been to an event where you arrived in a room, was asked to then move to another room for the ceremony, only to move back to the same room you arrived in for the reception? How anticlimactic, am I right?
Here’s what you need to do to avoid spoiling the reception (which tends to be the space most decorated at an event)…
When looking at venues, keep a look out for three spaces that are close together, but separate. Separated enough so guests experience all the venue views and textures and rooms has to offer. These three spaces could be the perfect combination for your guests to take a little journey through your wedding… from their arrival to the ceremony location to the cocktail hour site to the reception space to the send off area.
So be sure to ask:
What does the flow of a typical wedding look like, from guests arrival to their departure?
Will there need to be a transition time when the ceremony chairs will need to be moved inside? If so, will we disturb my guests during cocktail hour?
Back to The Union! Our space really does flow so effortlessly perfect together. We have subtly divided our property into three distinct areas, each reserved for a particular part of the wedding. When guests first arrive, they usually enter our gated courtyard where the ceremony is held. They jot their name in the welcome book at the entry of the gate, then meander to their chair, while they patiently (and, sometimes, not so patiently) wait for the action to happen.
Once the ceremony is complete, guests are invited to the side courtyard where cocktail tables, a bar and appetizers are served. While the guests enjoy a nice margarita and charcuterie board the size of an eight foot table (oh my!), the bride and groom, along with their wedding party are whisked away by the photographer to take photos. Also during this time, the ceremony chairs are moved inside to the reception tables and set without your guests even knowing it happened!
After the cocktail hour, our large garage door opens up and guests flow through and take their seat for dinner. For the first time, really experiencing the interior of The Union and beautiful decor you so painstakingly chose! Post dinner, we find guests like to spread out by revisiting all spaces. The best thing about our spaces is no matter where your guests choose to hang out as the night progresses, they always feel a part of the party. From the courtyard they can see inside and from the courtyard they can… escape the music 😉 It’s all just perfect!
For your guests: Put yourself in your guest’s shoes for a minute. Or maybe you have already been on the other side of this situation so you can relate. You’ve received an invitation to a wedding, you are so stoked to join your besties at the wedding of the year, only to find out it’s in BFE. The FOMO is real, but you keep logically thinking to yourself, how am I supposed to get there and then where do I stay after a long night of partying?
We’ve all been there. So, let’s take it easy on your guests. When choosing a venue, keep in mind location, location, location. How easy will it be for my guests to get here? Will I need to hire a shuttle service to ensure my guests arrive safely on these back country roads? Is valet offered or a large parking lot nearby? Or is it better for everyone if I find a venue closer to hotels, restaurants/bars and attractions? I know, I for one, appreciated the latter!
Don’t forget to ask:
Where are the nearest accommodations for guests?
Do the hotels shuttle or should I provide this service for my guests?
What do these fees look like?
You guys, The Union makes it easy-peasy for you and your guests. We are located in an urban area, charming downtown Georgetown, surrounded by hotels, Airbnb’s, and all the entertainment y’all could possibly desire! Not only do a few hotels shuttle your guests FOR FREE, but Uber and Lift are always hovering around, awaiting your ride request! And, no sweat, if your guests want to drive themselves to the wedding, they can use our valet service conveniently setup at the front of the building or use the City lot a short 2 minute walk from The Union.
For your vendors: Listen, you are asking your vendors to provide a lot of time and muscles in pulling off your big day no matter where you choose to hold your wedding. And, more than likely, they will be happy to do as you wish— at an additional fee. Yep, I said it. AT AN ADDITIONAL FEE. If it’s harder for vendors to get in and out of a venue, if they need to pop up a tent to cook under, if they don’t have the proper electricity needed, etc… they will charge you more for labor and for the supplies needed.
Do your vendors (and your pocket book) a solid, and take note of the load in and load out areas, as well as, prep kitchen availability and trash areas.
Don’t forget to ask:
Do you have a kitchen my caterer may use, and may they cook on site? If not, what does this look like and what is required of my caterer?
What are your end of night cleanup requirements?
The Union is open to all insured vendors, so we never charge a fee should you hire a vendor off our preferred vendor list. We want EVERYONE, including your vendors to enjoy their time at The Union. So, we try our best to make it an easy load in, load out for your vendors bringing all the things to make your wedding day run smoothly. There are two separate doors that vendors can easily access throughout the event, while their vehicles are parked just a few steps away. I mean, it couldn’t be any simpler! We offer a prep kitchen designated for your caterer, but should they need to cook on site, we have a covered space outside for them to setup under. Within our contract, we have a clear end of event checklist that we share with all vendors, but we require that the caterer is responsible for completing this checklist.
If you’ve started the venue search, then you’ve probably seen the extra fees that are applied on top of the rental fee. Usually these fees are small, but I get it, it all adds up real fast when you are planning the wedding of your dreams.
So, let’s not talk about how some venues don’t disclose their additional fees until after you sign the contract. WAIT, actually, yes, let’s discuss that. It’s crummy, but happens often.
In addition to the rental fee, aka, the fee to use the venue, you will usually find additional fees for a security officer, valets, cleanup, event planner, choosing vendors not on the preferred vendor list, etc. Some venues also require that you use their in house bartenders and caterers. These are prices you have every right to be aware of, as well as, have a clear idea of final pricing based on your needs and guest headcount.
I remember bumping into a gal I gave a tour to at Anthropologie a few years ago. As we carried on a brief convo, she said though she was on a tight budget, she really wished she had booked The Union. That she didn’t take in account the costed of having to rent tables and chairs, or what the fees for delivery and setup look liked. She ended up paying more for a venue that was at a lower rental fee than she would have at The Union because we already included in house tables and chairs. So, a little advice… be sure to compare apples to apples before diving into your final decision. Little fees here and there will add up to big money losses for you.
Be sure to ask:
In addition to the rental fee, what other fees are associated with your requirements?
Do you have a list of all items (tables, chairs, bar, etc) that are provided with the rental fee?
Do you require I use only the vendors on your preferred list, or am I allowed to bring in others with or without an additional fee?
Would you send me a quote for the rental plus all mandatory additional fees and list out optional fees for me?
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