The biggest decision and the largest amount of your budget will be spent on your venue choice. There are so many options, but which is best for you and what should you consider in choosing your reception venue? Perhaps I can shed some light in helping you determine your perfect fit.
Let's face it, outdoor weddings are by far the most romantic, with gorgeous landscapes, glowing sunsets, bonfires and fresh air. Outdoor weddings are among my most favourites, however these settings host a set of it's own challenges and budget constraints. Having a big white tent and a blank canvas can easily throw your budget right out the window.
I hate to say it, and some brides tend to be in a bit of denial when approaching the subject, but weather can make of break your wedding. I've heard horror stories of guests whom have attended rainy outdoor weddings that were wet, hot and humid. The three worst elements to endure in a silk gown. Always have a backup plan ready.
Tents are Costly
Sure the price tag might says $1,200 but that rarely includes chairs ($8-$15 per), tables ($12-$15 per), cutlery & stemware ($5-$10 a setting), linens, ($12-$25 per) staging ($100-$250), dance floor ($300- $600), draping and electricity ($800-$1200). Add that all up and your tent doubles, sometimes triples in cost. All of these items are rarely charged in other site fees.
If your looking for heat you'll be left with unsightly propane heaters which you routinely see on restaurant patios. If you do decide to go this route you will absolutely need to make sure the tent is well ventilated so fumes may escape your "enclosed" area. If it's the heat that's bothering you, the last things you should do is open all the tent walls. This encourages any slight breeze to knock over your gorgeous tall centrepieces into your guests laps. I've personally had one knock a guest on the head. Not a good situation! You can however have the option of installing ceiling fans. I've even had standing fans that spray a very light mist located just outside the tent so that guests may refresh themselves without ruining their dress or makeup application. Having paper fans and lots of water or cozy pashmina's handy is also key in keeping your guests as comfortable as possible.
Great food and exceptional staff. Everything you need right at your fingertips. Prep suites, ceremony, reception and accommodations all in one place. Bonus, no transportation costs which can save you upwards of $1,500. Because hotels typically host a variety of functions rentals costs are trimmed down to esthetic only. No need to bring in chairs, tables, cutlery etc etc. Hotels are truly an all-in-one experience. You can also arrange a post wedding brunch the next morning with your hotel guests, continuing your celebration.
Lack of Flexibility
I always find this a challenge to maneuver. But a good wedding planner can encourage options and possibly work those loop holes you might not have thought of. Some hotels also have proffered vendors which you must work with. Your hotel may also be unionized which can slow down vendor set-ups. Tip: Never order any audio visual last minute. It's ghastly. And always check any possible looming strike mandates which could effect your special day.
It's not uncommon for hotels to sometimes double their pricing on Food & Beverage from one year to the next. What you choose today in your consultation may either not be available or the market price of your prime rib just might double. Other fees you might not consider, parking ($12-$25 per), vallet ($20-$25 per), cake cutting fees ($1 to $3 p.p), coat check ($2-$3 p.p), overtime ($100-$250 pr/hr).
Sentimental of course. I think we all dream about having our weddings in our own backyard while getting ready in your childhood home and just steps from where your ceremony will take place. Set-up can be done they day before without rushing those last minute DIY details.
Rental Costs Go Up
Just like a tent wedding your starting from scratch. The terrain in your backyard may also not be conducive to tent requirements, parking can become a nightmare and noise control in the evening can put a damper on your festivities.
Keeping guests outside and not in your home isin't as easy as simply locking the doors. Some aunt will always complain to use the in-house washroom or request to be in air-conditioning. Prepare yourself to be constantly kicking guests out.
You'll need one person dedicated to just running around grabbing last minute things you forgot such as garbage cans and trips to buy ice to replenish your bar. You'll also be left with the mess at the end of the night. Although you may have the next day to clean up, leaving certain items outside may leave you with damaged linens and mucho wasps.
BANQUET HALLS AND THE LIKE
The price is right, potential one-stop-shop for all your planning needs. In-house decorations and florals are some of the inclusive features in some banquet hall packages. Pretty awesome right?
POTENTIAL "WEDDING FACTORY FEEL"
We know that sometimes getting married in a hall with no windows can sometimes feel like being in a box. This could increase your decor budget to bring in ambient lighting or even hiding out of place wall art or random structural posts. It may also feel like your just another bride in a line up waiting for access to your space and quickly getting out before the next bride starts dropping off her decor items. Not to mention, you'll probably notice the horrible geometric patterned carpet.
Your bound by the rules. No fixing things to walls, no hanging items off chandeliers, enclosed flames or battery operated tea lights only. Storage is limited and power requirements for bands and Dj entertainment units can be tricky. As a planner I always need to know where the breakers are.
There is a real possibility that there will be another wedding beside yours. You may run into "the other bride" and sometimes even share common areas like foyers, washrooms and even bars. I have had instances where the adjacent wedding scheduled their grand entrance right as our wedding speeches were taking place. There is no such thing as a "sound proof room divider". Sorry ladies. All I can say, is be prepared to share and don't get upset if your not the only girl in a puffy white dress.
THE SAME LOOK
Most weddings at banquet halls all tend to look the same unless you bring in big decor elements to wow your guests. This is where a wedding stylist or a planner can help you create a more unique and personalized look.
If your a foodie, a restaurant wedding might just be for you. Some restaurants are perfectly designed and decorated that minimal decor and florals are needed. Most restaurants also focus on ambiance so that expensive romantic lighting we love so much is at no extra cost. Custom menu, no problem! The sky is the limit in what you can achieve food wise. But be prepared to pay!
Min. Food & Beverage Requirements
Yes, it's a thing. Some restaurants require a minimum amount spent on food and beverage for them to give you exclusive access on a Saturday. This could mean you could be looking at $14,000 to $20,000 in food and bar costs alone. Now, if your main priority is food and your not too fussy about adding decor and flowers aren't your thing, than this budget allotment will work for you.
Layout, Layout. Layout
Although a restaurant can be intimate and inclusive, it can also limit what you can do with your floor plan. You might have to sacrifice dinner tables on our dance floor with a possible flip. You also won't be able to move most tables as some venues boldt them to the ground or have partial "booth or bench" seating.
Restaurants have a completely different dinning experience. The service is slower. For example, once guests are seated waiters will take guest orders from an A La Cart Menu (15-20mins), orders are then placed with the kitchen. 20 minutes will pass before the first course is served. You would think that salad would be easy and pre-plated. Wrong! Their kitchens are smaller as they normally prepare by staggered orders. This means they plate as they go. This gives you an extended eating experience which allows for speeches in between and lots of time for your guests to chat. Add another 45mins onto your average wedding dinner period. Because guests are sometimes used to quick service they may look at their watch, but I assure you, by the time the second course arrives they'll ease right into the longer dinner service.