Maximize Your Venue Visit

Since I regularly give tours at the venue I work at, I thought I would share a few tips tonight on how to maximize your venue tour to ensure you get the necessary information you need as well as be able to visually understand the space as it would be utilized for your event.

1. Make An Appointment
I know it’s easy to get excited about planning an event and start cruising around town at your first free moment to look at venues; however, I would highly recommend calling or emailing ahead to get an appointment. Not only does that ensure the space you are interested in will be available and not occupied by another group, but you can also make sure the coordinator is free. Obviously, there are multiple people at venues who can give you general information about the space but usually the specific questions are best limited to the one or two coordinators who work with clients and events the most.

2. Know Your Objectives
If you go into booking an appointment with a very vague idea of what you are looking for, you ultimately might have to come back to look at the venue again. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint an exact head count, but having a rough estimate will help you two ways: knowing which spaces best fit your group if the venue offers multiple spaces, and if the venue has a food and beverage minimum or per person cost, you will be able to easily ball park how much you are going to spend. Many times rental prices vary based on date, time and availability, so having a preferred date and a back-up date is what I would recommend.

3. Gather Information Ahead of Time
After speaking with you, most vendors will be able to digitally send you some sort of event packet, pricing sheet or menu options. Make sure to look through this prior to your appointment. It’s better to come equipped with questions about things you don’t understand or can be clarified during a tour than trying to think back to your tour and recall information.

4. Gather As Much Information As you Can While You Are There
A great question to ask is if the coordinator has any photos or room layouts of an event similar to yours. It might not be exactly what you decide to do, but it will at least give you a good idea of spacially what the room is capable of offering as well as spark some inspiration for design.

5. Devote A Chunk Of Time To Viewing Venues
Not everyone has the freedom and flexibility to take off a day or afternoon from work for tours and meetings, but regular business hours are often the best times for tours. Why you ask? First and foremost, the majority of major celebrations happen on nights and weekends. If you are limited to nights and weekends only, you might have to work around other events happening that same day at various venues, which can make scheduling multiple appointments in a day challenging. Secondly, the coordinator usually has a hundred things running through his/her head about the upcoming event and as much as he/she tries to give undivided attention to you, he/she could ultimately be distracted by vendors stopping in or tasks that still need to be completed for the event.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For a Follow-Up
If you have narrowed down your list to a couple of venues, don’t be afraid to ask for a follow-up appointment. It won’t be as long as your first appointment, and if you send the coordinator a list of wants/needs ahead of time, he/she is usually more than willing to have some diagrams and mock invoices prepared for you ahead of time. This makes comparing venues much easier. If you have already book a space, I recommend asking if there is another time that the venue is hosting a similar type and size event, so you can see the space laid out in person. Most of the time venues are willing to let you come by and peruse at your leisure prior to the start of an event.


The Don’ts and Details of Guest Etiquette

It’s been a while since I have last blogged, and I am going to be totally honest. It’s because I’ve been very busy with events. Wedding season and spring events have certainly picked up the last couple of weeks!

And by doing so, this weekend alone I had the pleasure of connecting with more than 600 guests at various events I helped to plan. Guests included everyone from dapper men in ROTC uniforms and ladies in evening gowns to family and friends attending a Sunday brunch reception. There are a few things I noticed over the course of these events that always seemed to be common sense to me, but I thought it would nice to share a few gentle reminders since I get to see everything from the behind-the-scenes point of view.

I’m sure the bride and groom are super pumped about you using their wedding hashtag to brag about your totally awesome time you are having at cocktail hour before they arrive, but if you show pictures of the reception room before the bride and groom even get to see it themselves, you can ruin the anticipation of seeing all their hard work come together. And as vendors you absolutely deserve to show off your delicately constructed cake or handwritten custom menus, but make sure to not do so until after the wedding has taken place. You never know what a sneak peek will do, especially if there are any surprises involved!

kitchen-731351_1280Know your boundaries.
If you have so graciously volunteered your time to help pull together and decorate a reception space, you are absolutely an important part of the wedding. However, note the type of venue you are at. If the venue is simply just an event space, and you have to hire and bring in everything from the service staff to dishes for the tables, chances are you can help yourself to the kitchen without any issues. But if the reception is happening at a place, such as a hotel, country club or restaurant, make sure you are respecting the staff and their space. If the kitchen says “Employees Only,” that really means employees only. The kitchen is the chef’s domain. By entering into the kitchen you are not only encroaching on the chef’s creative space, but you are also opening yourself up to health code violations and accidents. What if the floor is wet in the kitchen and you aren’t wearing the proper shoes and suddenly you end up hurt on the floor? You wouldn’t just let yourself into someone’s office who had the door closed would you? Make sure to ask the front of house staff if you are in need of something back in the kitchen.

steak-978667_1280Feeding the masses.
When you are at a restaurant dining with friends and family, it is completely acceptable to customize and modify your meal. At a large banquet or during a plated meal, keep your requests to a minimum. Allergy and dietary restrictions are one thing, but to ask a server for “light sauce” when they are in the process of serving 250 guests a plated meal only creates a back up in the process. Venue staff does their absolute best to accommodate special requests, but by having to take your plate back to the kitchen and send out a new one, the flow of the food running and expoing gets disrupted. And that could mean making other guests wait even longer for their food. On a side note, if you do have an allergy or dietary restriction, I suggest noting it on your RSVP card or calling the venue ahead of time to make special arrangements in advance.

corridor-495262_1280Beware of your surroundings.
Lots of event venue spaces are meant solely for celebrating and enjoying the space as party guests, but there are plenty of venues that are multi-purpose. If you attend an intimate outdoor wedding in a public park, you can’t complain about the dog running around because after all, it is a public location. Or if you’re at a country club, don’t be yelling things from the patio to the bridal party who is taking photos because there are probably golfers around trying to focus on a round of golf. And if you’re at a hotel, keep in mind there are community spaces and there are spaces for the guests of the hotel. Don’t let your children run up and down the hallways of rooms for entertainment because there are probably guests of the hotel in those rooms trying to relax in peace and quiet.

Now do you see what I mean by common sense? All of these instances were issues myself and our staff ran into this weekend. Obviously none of these caused any major issues, but it is important to think about a few of these actions before proceeding. And if you’ve never been on the other side of any of these situations, I hope I shed a little bit of light on situations you might be exposed to.

Happy celebrating!