We are thrilled to have Mara Marian-Harwood with Events by LMG share some amazing advice on how important it is to pick the right venue for you and how to play up the natural look of your venue to create the ultimate event!
You’re engaged. You’re excited. You’re online browsing blogs and before you know it you’ve selected colors, a cake, a gown and your bridesmaid’s dresses and it’s only been an hour. You’re texting your fiancé letting him know that he and his groomsmen will be wearing sneakers instead of standard tuxedo shoes and by the way, your nephew is the ring bearer and you’ll have to see if we can come up with a job for his little brother. Sound familiar? Don’t get caught up in the excitement and go overboard on the planning in one night. Back up, slow down, and start with the foundation of your event and it’s design: the venue.
Your venue plays a key role in the tone, mood and feel of your event. Your venue will also affect your color palette, the formality of your event as well as how many people your event can host. Before you decide on anything, take the available venues into consideration. Your selected venue may also limit the vendors you’re able to use, the ability to host a ceremony and reception in the same location, and you may also be limited on your guest list if the venue cannot accommodate a large group in the format you’ve selected (i.e. formal seated dinner versus an “open-house” style reception).
Before you do anything else, get an idea of your expected attendance figure. Take your budget into consideration with every decision you make. Every single name on your guest list will likely come with a “plus one” which immediately doubles your count. Every guest is another chair, another plate, eventually another table and another dollar you’re adding to your bottom line. Once you have an idea of your total count, look only at venues that can accommodate your expected attendance figure while still fitting in with your budget.
Now that you’ve got a list of venues that can accommodate your guest list, start eliminating options that work against your plans. Translation, if you want an urban setting with great views of the city, a hotel ballroom may not be your best bet whereas an office building rooftop space may be exactly what you’re looking for. Keep also in mind how formal you’d like your event and stick with venues that match that formality naturally. Trying to transform a space into something it’s not is extremely difficult and very costly. Play up the natural look of your venue rather than forcing your vision in a space that is another look and feel entirely.
Make sure you ask potential venues what their policies are on outside vendors. Do you have to use their in house floral, catering and A/V services? Are you able to bring in the amazing independent caterer you had your heart set on? Do you have to work with their “preferred” service providers? All these requirements may not allow for whatever your initial plans had been. Don’t forget to ask about parking, hours your event can take place, and of course whether or not they’re available on your selected date. My advice is always to pick a time of year initially, rather than a specific date. If you’re hoping for a Saturday in July, pick your dream venue and find out which Saturdays in July are an option.
You’ve secured your venue, your date is set, and now comes the fun part- your event design. Schedule a walk through at your venue with the venue coordinator. Be sure to take their suggestions into consideration, especially pertaining to the floor plan and event layout. The venue coordinator has likely managed hundreds of events within that space and knows what has worked well and what has been a disaster. If tables and chairs are available on hand and you plan to use them, what do they look like? This is especially important in a hotel ballroom where the chairs are always upholstered and typically match the carpet, which by the way, is also a major factor. If you’re dying for a fuchsia and black color palette, and the carpet is a swirl of reds, golds and sage greens, you’ve got a problem. Again, work with what your venue offers naturally.
Salt Lake Hardware Building – Photo by: Jacque Lynn
If you’re drawing a blank and don’t know where to even start, start with you and your fiancé. Where did you meet? Are there any locations that are special to the two of you? Is there a place that you two enjoy going together? If you’re a bride with her heart set on a venue for whatever reason, it’s ok to start there too. Secure your dream venue, and base your guest list and design off of what your venue can accommodate.
Advice by: Mara Marian-Harwood, Events by LMG