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Wedding Planning 101 – When and Where?

Well, my baby is getting married.  That’s right the last of my kids — my little girl — got engaged over Easter weekend.  We can’t be any happier for her.  We love her; We love her fiance; and we’re praying for their lifetime together.

BUT… the wedding planning has already begun.  First things first — date and venue.

Almost immediately the planning started for the “where” and “when” and the last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of activity around both those.

After contacting a large number of places, and ruling out a bunch of them based on the emails, prices and websites, we visited 5 sites over Thursday and Friday.  Of those ONE was ruled out almost immediately as “not what we were looking for”.  The problem now comes that of the remaining 4, they ALL are possibilities but have VERY different advantages and disadvantages.

I think we have it narrowed down to two now – one a beautiful lakeside hotel with a wonderful outdoor facility for the ceremony (but a non-existent backup in case of rain) and the other a beautiful “castle” setting for the princess.

So what have a learned two weeks in:

  1. If you are less flexible on dates, then you better plan way ahead.  14 months out, we are still finding venues that don’t have our desired date available.
  2. It’s expensive.  You can go cheaper, and that’s perfectly okay, but you can also go through the roof in terms of price.  The trick is finding what you want in the price range you want.
  3. There’s three parts to the wedding day — ceremony, pictures, and reception.  Are you doing it at three separate locations, or at an all-in-one venue?  What if there’s bad weather. What will the surroundings look like on the day?  How many in the wedding party?  What about musicians?  How long for each part?  Will you need permits?  Will you be restricted by other weddings? etc, etc, etc!
  4. There is LOTS of variety.  Size, budget and style are really the determining factors.
  5. Fridays and Sundays are way cheaper than Saturdays.  Not only is the “per person” cost of the meal higher on Saturday, but the venues usually have a higher “minimum number” on Saturday, so your cost can be easily 50% more on Saturday for the same thing!
  6. Watch for “hidden” costs.  Some venues will quote you a per-per-price that includes everything — limo, decorating, bridal room, tips etc — but others will nickle-and-dime you death.  We even had one venue charge a $3.50/person “environmental fee” and an additional $3.50/person “capital recovery cost”.  What?
  7. Pictures can be deceiving.  The idyllic photos you see on the websites (venue and photographer’s sites) show the good stuff, and are positioned to block out the flaws (ugly carpet; construction cranes; dumpsters, etc).  Go to the site and look carefully for yourself.  The pictures might look great, but what will your guests experience at the “real event”?

Like all other major purchase, it pays to shop around!

So, we haven’t decided on these “when” and “where” decisions yet, but we’re close.  More new to come soon (I hope) 😉


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