As the start of a new year overflows with a new season of engagements, so begins your search for the perfect location and the perfect event venue. While it seems that may be the best place to start in your planning journey, there are a few key elements to consider prior to selecting the perfect place to say “I do” in front of hundreds of your closest friends and family.
There will be challenges at any location or venue that is chosen, which is why my preference is always to sit down and discuss your most important goals first with the decision makers. This is a strategy we practice with our clients and the tool that allows us to build our clients’ entire experience from the ground up.
Over the years, we have worked with countless couples, each of whom are being faced with a myriad of considerations, from pricing – to location – to the guest list. While understandably, selecting your event venue is one of the more exciting items to solidify, there are also many considerations to categorize prior to making this leap. With so many venues to consider from around the world, the options can feel endless, which is why beginning the discussion around your priorities is the most important conversation at the beginning stages. Here are some of our top priorities we think you should consider before selecting your event venue.
Disclaimer: It’s important to begin with the understanding – there is no perfect event venue. There is only, perfect for you and even then, a plethora of scenarios and “what if’s” to consider and plan for in order to have a successful foundation for the event planning process.
One item likely not to change exponentially once established is the guest list. A high priority, and one we assist our clients in curating, around their expectations, scrutiny, and etiquette. Thus, the guest list is where we begin our journey to venue selection.
Many will go straight to family members. I personally think it’s best to begin with the “A List”, for us, this is the list of people you can not fathom your wedding day without, which will consist of a mixture of family and friends. This the first step and where your planning process must begin. Next, consider those you would like to see at your wedding. And last, the political invites. We cannot consider venue shopping before we know exactly how many guests we are planning to invite. Your guest list should be broken down into three sections, A, B, and C Lists. These lists will include priority VIP’s (A List) and their plus one’s, those you would “like to have” (B List), and political or courtesy invites(C List) which you can read more about here.
When you quiet all of the outside noise and think about making the world completely perfect for one day, what do you envision? This step may take some focus, but it is an exercise I do with each of our clients and is the essential foundation to finding the perfect event venue. What is the temperature or season? Are you outside or cozied up indoors? Who is there with you? Are you working the dance floor to a live band, a DJ, or both? Let’s explore this.
To get to the core, there are a certain set of questions/suggestions I pose to our clients, helping them think beyond the venue, the caterer, or the florist. Some of my favorites are: 1. When you think about your wedding day, list three adjectives that come to mind. 2. It’s the weekend – what are your plans for a fun night out? And 3. You are planning a vacation with friends and it’s dealers choice – where are you taking them and why?
The next step is determining the overall goals for your event. What do we shoot for above all else? What expectations do you or your parents have? The answers to these questions should be top of mind. Just as important as the goals, challenges will arise and need special consideration as well. As a planning and design team, we have witnessed I want to know what you love and what you don’t love. What you would like to have and what is a must. What does the experience look like for you? Are you moving from place to place or do you prefer each of the events under one roof? Both options are possible.
We often organize multi-day events for our clients, allowing us to spread out the guest experience and to an extent, the aesthetic as well.
Each of the points above establishes the framework for which we use to assess and determine our clients financial assessment. We then use this as a benchmark for selecting our clients event venue or location. Because so much is still unknown at this time, it’s important to establish a healthy range, which will afford you financial freedom to splurge on those those items of most importance.
Start with percentages of the whole. Give consideration that the largest spend will likely go toward food and beverage, allocating a minimum of 20 percent toward this category alone. Next, we want to consider those items we discussed above. What are the top priorities? Our team allocates the higher budget percentage to the items you prioritize after considering any necessities. It takes time and consideration to narrow down the specifics and will always depend on your event space as to what is necessary.
Gone are expectations of a ballroom with terrible lighting and even worse carpeting. We find most couples are opting for a destination wedding, turning the single event into an entire week/weekend vacation. And a single night becomes a myriad of experiences, moving from one location to the next.
A destination wedding has proven to expel its own kind of magic. Taking to a place that makes you feel “at home” and on vacation at the same time. If you prefer your guests are all staying in one location, but want something a little more personable and homey than a hotel wedding, we have a few suggestions from around the country.
Contrary to hosting destination wedding, when your backyard is inviting and spacious enough to host your guest count, a catering kitchen, and back of house staffing, you may consider venue options a little closer to home. When it’s the right fit, our clients home can be transformed, offering the intimacy of a secluded reception that is equally personal.
There is nothing more significant than hosting your wedding or event at your private home. While it takes skilled planning and preparation, it will leave you with some of the most treasured memories. Tented weddings are some of our favorite to produce and lead to an experience that will host a lifetime of stories to be told, a legacy. In our minds, there is no better experience than crafting your story from scratch, literally building the framework from the ground up.
Set on a 4,200 acre farm, Blackberry Farm in Tennessee is high on our list and is perfect in late Spring, the Fall, and even Winter months. Cottage Estates and multi-bedroom property provide guests with suite luxury accommodations, forging an ideal Tennessee mountain experience with views you will never tire of. Not to mention a number of activities to keep your guests entertained throughout the weekend and dining experiences only a renowned farm-to-table culinary experience can produce, with foods indigenous to its region and heritage.
Further West, The Ranch at Rock Creek is one of the country’s most coveted Montana locations. If it’s a white wedding you’re hoping for, you couldn’t ask for a better spot than this in December. Planning for an entire weekend can be easily accommodated with horseback riding through the valleys, clay courses, and even snow skiing in the winter months.
For a truly unrivaled experience, Aspen provides some of the most pristine views and extraordinary living experiences.
With collective dedication to our clients and the demand for a high-touch collaborative process, we accept select few multi-day events per calendar year.