Recently I had an opportunity to spend some time with Carla Towns, Sales Manager at The Royal Banquet venue in Raleigh NC. The Royal Banquet is a beautiful venue located on Hillsborough Street across from Meridith College. I highlighted it in my10 Popular Wedding Venues in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area posting where I photographed Nadia and Tomas's wedding.
With over seven years of experience in the industry, Carla has some great tips to share to any bride looking to book a wedding venue throughout North Carolina.
1) Most Important Advice to Brides when Renting a Venue: Ask Specifically about ALL the costs and Fees Up Front!
One of the most important factors for a bride to consider when renting a venue is what the costs are. Brides have a right to know, UP FRONT, what all the costs will be on their special day.
Venues may be a flat rate venue (like the Royal Banquet) with their costs very clearly stated and others may have some hidden fees that brides may "miss" in their initial discussions. Brides should be sure to ask about additional costs such as:
- Service Charges
- Charges to being in Caterers
Carla shares that not only do they provide a detailed planning guide to the bride, but because all the planning can seem overwhelming at first, they go over the details three times to help the bride absorb all information during:
- The initial tour
- The signing of the contract
- The creation of the floor plan
2) Know your Rental Time Period
It's important to understand what your rental period is for your event. You need to understand:
- When will you have access to the Room
- When will you have to be out
- What will be done to the room
- Who's responsible for setting up the room
Be sure that you clearly understand what access you will have, when you'll have it, and who is responsible for doing what when it comes to setting up the room.
3) Does the venue fit your vision for your wedding? Are you going to be partying all night or have special traditions?
Every bride has a vision for their wedding. Many have had their vision since they were a young child and others get their vision just as they start planning their wedding. Either way, it's important to have a venue that matches that vision.
You need to understand if your vision will come with it's own restrictions. Restrictions? This seems like an odd thing to want to understand. However, depending on what your overall "party plan" this item is very important. Let me give you two examples why:
Example 1: Is your party going to be loud and go all night? If you know you're going to have a loud group celebrating this special day with you, then you better be sure that you're venue isn't in an area that has any noise cutoffs. This is important becuase many venues (such as the Royal Banquet) have an inside and an outside area for your reception.
You have to consider local Noise Ordinances. If your venue is in an area that is effected by noise ordinances, your party may be over by 11:00 PM whether you want it to be or not. The Royal Venue is in a commercial area of town, so people can "Party Hardy" as long as they want (within the agreement of the contract of course )
Example 2: Special Requests of Unusual Practices May Not Be Allowed Every culture has certain practices, some benign, others may raise an eyebrow or two. For example at Tomas & Nadia's wedding, because Tomas is Czech, they have a wedding tradition of braking a plate at the feet of the happy couple.
Then the couple must sweep the chips together. The chips bring happiness and the newlyweds show a will to cooperate by jointly sweeping the chips away creating harmony in the marriage. This practice would be not problem for the venue.
However, another couple wanted to have a "fire ceremony" at the venue. That wasn't possible due to safety reasons and the fact that if they tried it, everyone would be showered in water as the sprinkler systems went off. So the couple had to opt not to do that ceremony.
4) Common Mistakes Brides Make
Absorb the details slowly
A wedding is an extremely exciting time for all involved, especially the bride. Their excitement sometimes overtakes them and they miss out on the details. They've found a venue that they like and they miss what the details from the venue.
It's important that not only does the bride find a venue that helps them through the process to understand the details one step at a time, not all at once. Carla recommends that a bride book the venue, and then go back at a separate time to go through the details. This allows the bride to absorb all that they need to know with any documentation provided by the venue.
Find Vendors that you Trust
It's common for a bride to become detail obsessed. To prevent this find vendors that you trust. Vendors that are professional and have proven experience that they know what they're doing and learn to trust them.
If a venue is cooperating with you, the caterer is cooperating with you, don't over obsess on the details. Don't stress. With the right vendors guiding you it will all come together. By the way, this is true with your wedding photographer as well.
A good photographer will guide you through the up front planning so be sure to understand what their process is in the planning stage. I always remind my brides that we will be doing up front planning on all aspects of the photography to make the day go as smooth as possible.
5) Relay, enjoy, It'll all work out
Remember, the most important thing is to relax and enjoy your wedding reception. The most important thing is that you got married to the person you love! None of your guests will notice or remember if a flower is out of place or some other small details. Your guests will remember if they had enough food and did they have a great time!