Engagement season is upon us. This is such an exciting time of the year for some many brides. We love seeing newly engaged couples just starting to plan their weddings. We get inquiries from many brides asking where to start and we thought that it could be helpful to post some advice here for our clients.
What should you be booking first? In our experience booking the church (or alternate ceremony location) and reception location should be the first things on your list. If you’re planning to have an outdoor wedding and don’t have an exact location in mind, it would be alright to wait on booking the ceremony location, but if you have your heart set on a ceremony spot, book it as soon as possible.
The location of your reception is a critical decision in the planning process. We’ve had brides develop a theme or overall look/feel that they’d like for the reception and then seek out a location that matches or vice versa. In any case, the reception venue should be at the top of your planning list when you’re just getting started. Other details such as the DJ/entertainment, decorations and rentals, cake, etc. will fall into place after you know what’s included with your venue.
So how should you select a venue? Just a few pointers that we’ve compiled over the years….
- Budget – your reception location and catering/bar service will require a large portion of your budget. Be sure to consider taxes and gratuities when you’re considering venue/catering/bar fees.
- Location – you’re going to want a location that is convenient for you and your guests. Your wedding day will be hectic with hair and make-up appointments, etc. Make sure that the location for your reception doesn’t mean that you or your guests will have too much travel time from the ceremony location to the reception location.
- Packages – what’s included with the location is very important. You’ll find that some locations include just about everything that you need for a reception, from the cake, food, and alcohol to the chair covers and basic decorations. Other locations may only include the space itself, meaning that you’ll need to rent tables, chairs, china, etc. If you’re not much of a “planner” you should include either a company like Arvay, a wedding planner, or a trusted family member early in your planning process if you venue requires that you supply just about everything for your reception.
- Transportation – if you expect that your guests will enjoy their fair share of alcohol at your reception, make sure to either have the event in close proximity to a hotel or consider providing a courtesy shuttle to a nearby hotel. Some hotels will provide this service for a nominal charge if you’ve booked a number of hotel rooms at their property.
- Look and feel – if you’re going for a certain theme or atmosphere for your reception, but sure to pick a location that fits. If you’re hoping for an outdoorsy reception, pick a country club with windows and a beautiful view or even a balcony. If you’re going for a rustic look, consider a barn or lodge. The Pittsburgh area has so many amazing venues to pick from to fit just about any theme.
Once you’ve officially booked your venue and ceremony locations, your planning can get into full swing. It’ll be time to think about entertainment, decorations, catering, and the other details of your event. Congratulations on your engagement and enjoy the planning process. It’ll go by quickly!!