The biggest task in planning a wedding is usually finding your venue. Not only is it the biggest item you’ll spend money on, it completely sets the tone and style for your wedding. Thus, it takes lots of googling, viewing websites and pictures, emails and phone calls, and then takes up every weekend until you find the perfect one.
The hardest part of this process seems to be the comparing. Most want to just compare the venues offerings dollar-for-dollar. Now, while I understand trying to compare venues to get a good deal, let me first say PLEASE don’t forget to recognize the special features and services each venue offers to you. Of course price will play a role in the venues you choose, but try to remember that the venue’s worth is not just in the dollar amount you have to pay, but also how much it offers you to make your wedding vision come true.
When comparing pricing between venues, this usually means looking at what each will cost you per person. (Not the minimum amount required, which is NOT the amount you will end up paying) In other words, place A will cost you $X per person and place B will cost you $Y per person. The problem is, place A and B are offering a package deal, so you have to compare what is in each of their packages. This is where the apples and oranges come in. Each package can be (and most likely will be) totally different. One place may include the ceremony and reception spaces, valet parking, sound system, chairs, tables, linens, etc, and the other may not include half that stuff. Why is it so hard you say? Simply because venues are trying to offer you everything you want in their packages, not what you need, so that they can make the biggest bang for their buck. They tell you it is to make it easier, which of course it is, but they don’t really give you any way to determine if their pricing is fair. (This is of course where a wedding planner comes in very handy.)
If you’re stuck trying to juggle all of this and need to compare places based on price, the best way to handle it is to come up with what you want, not what the package offers. For example, you want their ceremony space for a half hour, the reception space for 4 hours, no valet parking, bridal suite, champagne toast but no bar, butler passed canapes and the roast beef dinner. Give this to the coordinator at each space and ask them to come up with a custom package for you based on this. If you prefer to negotiate, take their package and see what items you can exchange to “customize” the package for yourself. Do this with each venue coordinator, and you’ll get something much closer to comparing apples and apples. This will help you narrow down what is the true price you are paying and what you really want for your wedding day.