Picking a paid venue

This event was at the Foundry at Puritan Mill in Atlanta. The building has an artsy warehouse feel, which some may see at unfinished, but was lovely with decor.

The third option for a ceremony and reception is renting a paid venue. Within that category, there are a multitude of choices.

Obviously, the first choice is to pick a venue geared specifically to weddings. The advantages of this is convenience and the ease of making choices because, typically, everything is included. Some may not want the stress of meeting with different florists, caterers, rental companies etc.

The disadvantages is that a wedding facility limits your choices and, typically, costs more. Sometimes, you can get a package deal with some discounts, but remember you are dealing with a preferred vendor monopoly at a wedding facility so the package is a “take it all or leave it all” option. There is very little negotiating because most owners feel if you want the place bad enough, you’ll pay it.

If you are serious about this option, make sure you like the food and the menu, make sure you like their floral choices and the wedding coordinator. Contracts with such facilities are very difficult to get out of and most require at least half down.

Some facilities will let you go off the preferred caterer, florist or other preferred professional list if you pay an additional fee. Usually that is $500. This ensures the venue owner they make their profit off such a service even though you are bringing in someone else. While most don’t see the need to spend extra money to hire someone outside the realms of the venue, there are times when it can become necessary.

An example: A few years ago, I got a call from a very upset couple. They had put down a deposit at a country club facility for their summer wedding. The facility had it set up for one particular company to do all its catering. They didn’t like this man in charge of catering. The caterer wanted them to have an expensive event (so he would make a lot of money) and they wanted something simpler that would fit into their budget and their tastes. The caterer began to treat them rudely, not returning phone calls and such.

The facility had the buyout option so the couple brought us in. For the couple, the extra money was worth not having to deal with the preferred caterer. As it turned out, we provided them with the exact menu they wanted and our prices were so much lower than the original caterer that it more than made up the additional $500 they had to spend to get out of the deal.

Another paid venue option is having your wedding at a hotel. This is very popular in northern areas like New York because their hotels are spectacular. Again, if you do this, you will be required to use the hotel catering but some will allow you to bring in other vendors like florists. This will likely also be more expensive.

I like to urge couples to look at other facilities that allow you to choose your vendors. Options include city community centers, state parks, libraries, theaters, museums, art galleries, gardens, subdivision club houses, or gated community buildings. These come in a spectrum of costs, so many are good options for those on a budget.

Community centers and state parks are going to be the most affordable. Many communities have, in recent years, built new upscale centers that offer full commercial kitchens and beautiful lobbies. State parks have shelters (I’m talking about a building not a pavilion), which can be lovely.

This was a wedding at one of the shelters at Red Top Mountain State Park. The shelter holds up to 250 people and was $250 for this wedding.

One of our favorite venues is Red Top Mountain near Acworth. One shelter is renovated and is on the lake. The other would hold more people but isn’t renovated. Both have good fireplaces which provide for a good atmosphere for a winter or early spring event.

Depending on your location, some of these type of buildings may need some extra decor to spruce it up. Others may be new. It varies so you will  have to physically look at each building. Most cost between $250 to $1,000.

Libraries typically have private rooms they are willing to rent to small groups. Some have a historical room which is interesting as a backdrop, but they may be cautious about food and drink in there.

Theaters are typically owned by a community volunteer group, so they are always looking for ways to make money when there is not a production. Some have beautiful lobby or guest reception areas, which would be ideal for a reception. Others have only a stage, but even that could be put into use for a ceremony or a reception. This would be ideal for a couple who are into theater or the arts.

Art galleries, museums, and gardens are in the same financial boat as theaters. Most aren’t profitable on their own, so they rent out. There might be some stipulations on food and drink set up areas because of the displays, but otherwise they are easy to work with.

This wedding was at the Roselawn Museum in Cartersville. It is a beautiful 19th century estate home, but filled with expensive antiques that guests and wedding workers must be careful around.

Rents on these type of facilities range from $200 to $2,000 depending on the space. A small community venue would be less than something like the High Museum or Fox Theater in Atlanta. Also, when you go for larger venues in places like Atlanta or New York, be aware they have their own food services and will require you to use those services.

Finally, you have community club houses, country clubs, and gated facility venues. The only disadvantage for these venues is you have to be sponsored by a member. Prices for most of these venues start at $500 and can go up to $3,000.

Community club houses and some gated facility venues, like Big Canoe in Jasper, Ga., allow outside vendors. County clubs require you use their services, but they do work with you on the menu and the price a little better than a wedding facility.

This was a rehearsal dinner at the Big Canoe clubhouse. Gorgeous facility that allows outside vendors, but expensive.

I encourage couples to think outside the box to find a venue they can afford. One of our brides was quite creative. During the extreme downfall of the housing market, she worked out a deal with a realtor to pay a small rent for a day’s use of a gorgeous million-dollar house that wasn’t selling.

See the home she rented

Since there was no furniture in the house, we could easily bring in tables and chairs for a reception. The ceremony was held outside. It had a wonderful kitchen as well, which was awesome for us.

So keep looking until you find the perfect spot!

Melody Dareing Events Coordinator

Dareing Events Catering Inc.

The cost of a wedding coordinator

 

Ok. You’re on a budget. You look at the idea of a wedding coordinator thinking it’s something you can do without.

It’s not.

However, most brides are concerned only with the cost of a coordinator and how it will affect their budget. So they skip the idea to save money.

What they don’t realize is that a good wedding coordinator will not only pay for themselves but save you money. And time.

The cost of a wedding coordinator/planner can be up to 25 percent of your budget, although some offer flat rates for specific services. Many negotiate depending on the services you need.

A full-service coordinator helps from the very beginning with finding a venue, wedding dress, caterer, floral etc. They go with you to every vendor and discuss options with you for you to make the final decisions. They meet with you weekly as the wedding gets closer, go over your budget, and see where you can cut costs.

They are there at the facility days before the wedding, the day of the wedding, and sometimes the day after to make sure everything gets returned, picked up and secured.

The make sure everyone is in his or her places at the rehearsal and at the wedding. They act as producer to make sure everyone does their part at exactly the right time.

They take care of every detail

They are worth every dime.

An event planner does much of the same thing, but on a smaller scale and with less personal service. After all you are paying them a flat fee, so there is a limited amount of time they will spend with you before their time outweighs their profit.

They send you ideas for venues, help you with rentals, floral, catering, music. They answer questions, go over your budget and are there to make sure everything goes smoothly immediately prior to and at the event.

They are also money well spent.

Here’s how these professionals can save you time and money. Unlike family, who sometimes offer to help plan or coordinate, these professionals already know vendors – probably your vendors. They’ve done the research. They know the trends and the prices.

Time saved.

Most of all, they know how to negotiate prices and get you the best deal.

For instance, you may want beef for the reception dinner. The caterer will try to get you to use the best cut because, hey, that makes the meal better and is more profit for them. However, there may be a cut that is suitable for half the price. Chances are your guests won’t know the difference.

A wedding coordinator knows these things while you might not.

Same goes for wedding dresses, floral and even music. A good wedding coordinator should be able to save you 50% on costs compared to what you would have paid retail.

So consider this part of your planning not as another budgetary burden, but as an investment not only into your savings, but into your sanity.

 

How much should I spend on a wedding?

There is no real right or wrong answer to that, but the next step in planning your wedding is to create a budget.

Brides (or their moms) usually make a couple of mistakes in wedding budget planning 1) they don’t have one or 2) their budget is so low that it’s unrealistic and 3) they don’t plan for all of the costs associated with the event or any additional cost that may occur.

There have been brides coming to me to plan the ceremony and reception when she has already spent half of her wedding allowance on the wedding dress. Then, she has to skimp on everything else to make it work or—to her parents or fiance’s dismay—go over budget to accommodate all of the needs of the wedding. By the way, it’s been my experience that the end result has always been the latter.

There have also been brides who come to me saying they are having 300 guests but only have $1,500 to spend on the reception. Sorry, but $5 per person is a bit unrealistic.

Then, there are those fathers (sometimes fiancee’s depending on who is helping to fund the event) who start to get angry as the wedding day gets closer and more checks keep going out for all the little things, like wedding programs, bridesmaid gifts, a guest book, candles, and bubbles. I know what he is feeling. It seems like the cost never ends.

A good budget really helps keep everything on track and, really helps keep everybody sane.

Generally, it will take about $6,000 to have a nice wedding with around 100 guests. We’ve done some much lower and several much higher. The amount depends on where the event is being held, the type of reception you have, the number of guests and how “designer” you want the wedding to be. The average wedding in Atlanta is rumored to cost around $25,000. I know some weddings can certainly cost that, but feel that is a little high for an “average” wedding. I feel most could have a beautiful wedding that meets all their expectations for much less.

Everyone knows the obvious things to pay for, like the dress, the venue, music, and reception food. However, there are several not so obvious things such as renting the formal candle lighters, buying the unity candle and the separate candles for the side of the unity candle, paying the officiant, tipping your servers and bartenders, bubbles, linens, party favors at guest tables or at the door, a wedding cake platform, aisle runner, wedding programs, parking costs for guests, additional thank you notes, toasting glasses, cake cutting knife and server, gifts for groomsman and bridesmaids, gifts for parents, preserving your flowers and dress cleaning/preservation.

Some of these are optional, but most are typical wedding expenses so they should be a part of your initial planning. You can always decide later to opt out, allowing for more money in your budget. It would be much harder to find the money later should you discover you need some of these items and services.

A great budget planning tool, the best in my opinion, is found at www.theknot.com. That is what I used when we got married. The cool part about their budget program is that it instantly gives you ideas for what you can accomplish on your budget. Since it lists absolutely everything and you just plug in numbers, it is extremely user friendly so a bride or fiance doesn’t have to think about everything to include.