February 20, 2008

Choosing a Reception Location

Posted in Planning Your Own Wedding: Step by Step, Wedding Locations at 12:46 pm by Jess

To help things go as smoothly as possible in planning, contact your vendors A.E.A.P. That’s As Early As Possible. Whether you are opting to hire someone for every aspect (Photography, Video, Lighting, Food, Music, Floral etc) or doing a mix of Vendors and DIY/Generous Friends, it helps to look early at the possible vendors. Here are a few of the reasons why: 

~There are many, many other couples out there, and a very specific, limited number of dates. Getting to a vendor early means that you will get closer to your heart’s desires, and hear fewer Nos. Probably. You will here many “We are already booked” and more the longer you wait, which spurs a particular sinking of the heart that one doesn’t wish to endure on a daily basis.

~The vendor can help you set up a realistic time-frame for when things need to get done. From the Expat perspective, I can share that I do not have access to unlimited number and type of flowers here. The florist told me over the phone that I could come, but that the flowers to pick from won’t be ready, or available for viewing, until April. So I can mark down April for the time-frame that I need to go back in and have a more detailed meeting.

~Perhaps you are torn between hiring a Musician and asking a friend. We had a similar experience with Photography, and we are currently leaning towards asking friends. Our budget is very limited due to the incredibly high cost of food and wine in Switzerland. Photography is a priority, obviously, but we do have a talented friend. Still, we scoped out Photographers as Vendors, and it pays to do so: The information you gather helps make some decisions for you. Photographers here seem to be less expensive than in the United States, but are nowhere near as stunning. I will get into this on another, more personal post, but suffice it to say that researching the Vendor options has quickly made up our minds that we want to ask our friend.

Bottom Line: The more information you have, and the sooner you have it, the more options you have.

Now, for those of you planning a destination wedding or living as an Expat and planning in your new country, you are probably going to learn that things run on a different schedule than in America. For you expats, you know that all too well with daily life, right! Consider that the Wedding Industry is truly an American Brainchild – something created and propelled by America. On the one hand, other countries are beginning to see Wedding Planners (there are 4 in Geneva that I know of). The UK has an accredited program for Wedding Planners specifically modeled after the US style. Nonetheless, you may have fewer options, less flexible budgets, and an entirely different take on Customer Service. I can say from real experience that Customer Service is Bad if not Nonexistent in Switzerland (except for the odd exception which makes my whole month), so I am none too thrilled to be starting to meet with vendors this year. I anticipate friction, or fewer options, and I may just have to live with that – with what they have. You may too. I don’t mean to suggest that it will be a negative experience. You simply must be aware that a destination wedding is not in America and thus you will have to adjust your expectations a bit. (On a positive note,  perhaps you will be surprised in positive ways. I hope that through my personal journey documented here you will see some of the happy, surprising sides of a destination/expat wedding too)Here are a list of questions that I recommend asking the manager of the location and/or figuring out on your own:

What does the price include (Cleaning, preparation, serving food etc)

If it is outdoors, what is the Rain Plan? What are the indoor options?

What time can you have the location, what time must you be out of the location

Is there a working, or caterer’s kitchen? *You will want to organize a visit with the caterer to assess the equipment on site

What kind of dishes do they have on site already?

What kind of musical/electronic options exist?

What is the lighting situation?

Is there a microphone, projector screen?

What are the site of the tables, what are the shapes of the tables, what do the chairs look like?

Will someone be on site, or will you need to return the keys to someone afterwards?

What is the liability policy?

What are the handicap options?

How far is it from Ceremony, Hotels, Airports?

Take a Notepad, Two Pens and a Camera. Take MANY Photos and notes while you are there. Trust me, this will be key. You will forget so many of your detailed thoughts when you are visiting multiple places. The 2nd pen is your backup 🙂

Lynda Barness, via Style Me Pretty has this absolutely NECESSARY list for destination weddings, and general vendor questions also.

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