Photo Credit: Pixabay

Today, we have another insightful guest post from freelance writer and author Troy Lambert. (If you missed his previous post about shortening your guest list, you can check that out here.) Enjoy!

I’m 45, and my fiance is 31. For us, the age difference is really no big deal. We joke about it sometimes, but the jokes are pretty much on our terms. When someone else starts the jokes and crosses an invisible line, we tend to get a little upset. Social mistakes do happen, and we have had those awkward moments when someone asks if I am her older brother, or worse, her dad. Our reaction depends more on how they handle their error rather than focusing on the error itself. But when wedding venue shopping, it happened again. And the wedding coordinator giving us the tour reacted horribly, excusing her behavior by telling us she’d had a really bad day. That wasn’t the only issue we ran into while venue shopping. Here is how we handled them, and some of the questions we asked when deciding where we would have our big day.

Read the full post after the cut!

First, we kept our sense of humor.

“Humor helps us shake things off. Anxiety decreases when we realize that we’re not perfect and that we don’t have to be,” says Samuel Gladding a professor at Wake Forest in a recent article for Counseling Today titled No Laughing Matter?

“Humor gives us that right to laugh,” he continues. “It helps us see more of our humanity and realize that the world isn’t always a somber, serious place.”

This is especially helpful in the midst of wedding planning stress.It not only applies in cases of mistaken identity, which we played up significantly, much to the embarrassment of the coordinator who misspoke, but in other stressful areas as well.

Second, we stayed flexible.

Guest list numbers and budget in a large part dominate the discussion about a potential venue. But so do atmosphere, logistics, and potential weather related factors. We tried to keep some simple things in mind:

  • What feel do we want the ceremony and reception to have? Classy, elegant, downtown party, country, city, open, intimate?
  • How much do we need to decorate? How much do we need to do to get the look we want from the venue? The less work you have to do, the lower the impact on budget and the easier setup and cleanup are.
  • How solid is our guest list number? If this is the place that “feels” right, are we willing to lower our numbers to fit the venue, or can we expand the list to fill the venue depending on its size?
  • What are the logistics for getting guests to and from the ceremony. How much parking is there, or is there a shuttle available?
  • Can the bridal party get ready on site? How much room is there?

Third, we stayed firm.

Wait, flexible and firm? Yes. You need to decide for yourself what your deal breakers are. What areas are firm, and in what areas can you negotiate? There are a few areas where you should be comfortable.

Budget. For us, we set a cost range the venue needed to fall into. Above the upper limit was a deal breaker, although it is important to consider what’s included in the venue cost before dismissing it entirely. Things like tables, chairs, linens, kitchen space, and staff can all rapidly inflate the cost of a seemingly affordable venue.

“I set this budget which I thought was totally reasonable and doable and now EVERYTHING is costing more than I expected,” one bride told Weddingwire when she found the “perfect” venue that was “$1300 more than I expected.” The key is to shop around. It is a pain to run around looking at venues, some of which turn out to be a colossal waste of time. In the end you don’t want to settle, knowing you could have done better elsewhere.

 Photo Credit: Pixabay

Minimum Number of Guests. Just as we set a maximum budget, we also set a minimum number of guests that absolutely must be able to fit in the venue. These included close friends, relatives, and out of town guests we were sure would be traveling to attend.

We used a few methods I outlined in a previous article about Making the Cut: Trimming the Guest List. Most importantly remember this is your day, and the guest list is no exception.

Courtesy and Professionalism of Staff. This is where the “mistaken me for her dad” venue coordinator went wrong. Not only were her comments unprofessional, but her strategies she outlined for dealing with unruly guests, other assumptions she implied, and her general mannerisms were just a little too brusque and not professional enough for us to be comfortable.

Use caution when using a planner associated with the venue. Employees can quit unexpectedly. One bride, who had been working with the venue planner for six months, told Realsimple that she arrived at her hotel on the morning of the wedding to find their promised rooms were not available. The bridal party styled their hair and makeup in the lobby. At the reception space, “they had to set up all the tables backwards. The planner I had dealt with for the last six months had quit.”

She did offer some advice to avoid this type of situation. “Be aware of issues in the beginning, even if they’re small. Always have a backup venue, and make sure you have someone and a place you can trust,” she said.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Fourth, we looked at the whole package.

How did the venue fit? Was staff professional and courteous, yet did they respond with a sense of humor? (You would think this would be a given, but it isn’t)

How flexible are they? How will we, and they deal with potential issues? Do they meet our minimum needs without exceeding our budget?

Fortunately we were able to nail down our venue, finding a place that satisfied all of our requirements with little or no compromise. The best part about it? No one there called me dad.

Troy is an author, editor, and freelance writer who blogs by day and writes suspense thriller novels by night. He lives and works in Boise Idaho with his son, dog, and fiance. His work can be found at troylambertwrites.com, and all proceeds from book sales are an attempt to finance his wedding.