One of the most important choices that a bride must make in the preparation for her big day is where the festivities will take place. Here, real brides give their two cents on picking a venue. All agree it ultimately comes down to which spot best compliments your vision.
◗ Consider an all-inclusive venue that serves as the site for the ceremony, reception and hotel for the wedding party the night before. It can make for less stress on the day of the event. “We booked all of the rooms so the attendants could stay there the night before and already be at the venue to get ready the next day, ” says Abby Cowart Parrott who tied the knot at the Fairhope Inn. “We basically woke up, got ready and walked out the door to the wedding!”
◗ Check to see if the location has an on-site wedding coordinator. “My venue’s event manager was able to handle all of the day-of details without having the extra cost of a wedding planner, ” says Katie Martin Toomey, who got married at Steelwood Country Club. “She delegated tasks to the country club employees and was able to coordinate the arrival times of the many vendors.”
◗ If you are hiring a wedding planner, make sure his or her aesthetic is a good match with the venue. “It’s important to find the right wedding planner to complement the venue, because they really make the magic happen, ” says Cameron Pfieffer Traylor, who hosted her reception at the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, above. “In conjunction with our wedding planners, the director at the Bragg was incredibly gracious and accommodating to our requests – everything from unique table placements and spotlights on cakes, to a photo booth in the courtyard.”
◗ Ask if the place requires the use of an in-house caterer. “Since there was a restaurant on site, they had a full bar and kitchen open every day. That made it easy for us to taste our options ahead of time. We went to eat there several times to try out different menu items. They also had backup food and drinks if we happened to run out on the wedding night, ” says Danielle Boos Hays, another Steelwood Country Club bride. “If your location provides their own food and drinks, find a place where the chef is flexible and willing to work with what you want. After all, it is your special day!”
◗ Be sure to inquire about alcohol and bar service availability and costs. Beer and wine are usually not too outrageous, but liquor is where you can break the bank. “We had virtually every type of bottled beer you could imagine and seven or eight different wine choices, ” Lauren Lambuth Dempsey says. “The liquor was more pricey, but we only had to pay for what was consumed (liquor bottles that were halfway full at the end of the night only cost half price), and all the mixers were free.”
◗ Figure out any decorating restrictions and get creative. “Originally, we were going to use burlap toppers over Fairhope Yacht Club’s white tablecloths, ” Dempsey says. “They actually had a contract with a linen supplier and were able to get us brown toppers that looked like burlap without the shedding and smell.” She also recommends renting soft draping fabric to camouflage any wall decor at your venue that might distract from the ambiance of your day.
◗ Research the set-up and tear-down policies. “The Alabama Cruise Terminal allowed us to have access to the building for the entire day of my wedding and the day before to set up at no additional charge, which was even more ideal, ” Kimberly Hardin Williams says. “Also, there was no rush to remove our belongings; the vendors were able to wait until Monday after the wedding to come and get their items.”
Text by Mallory Boykin