Choosing your Wedding Venue
The largest amount of money is to be saved in choosing your wedding venue, food and drink, guest numbers and a planner (guest numbers have been previously covered, so we will now cover the other considerations)
If you choose an exclusive wedding venue, you will incur an exclusive hire fee; they may insist on their own caterers and quite often won’t negotiate on price.
The reason being that for these venues, events are their business, they get no revenue from anything else, so if you don’t want to pay it they would rather wait for someone that does.
They do not wish to cannibalize their only product by offering it cheaply, the only time you may have the upper hand with these wedding venues is if you are making a last minute booking and they have availability, (a lower profit booking is better than no booking!)
If you experience this try another angle, ask what else they can give you for your money. Some venues may be prepared to add value if they are not prepared to reduce the price.
If you choose a unique venue or a hotel or any venue that is not exclusively an event venue, you will have much more room for negotiation.
Similarly if you hire a wedding venue that is being offered simply as a shell, like a barn that has no affiliations with specific suppliers you have scope to get much better value for money as all the supplier s you use are your own choice and corkage fees don’t apply!
Beware of packages, whilst many of the items/services offered in the packages may sound great, remember very little of it is complementary and is charged for within the package.
Did you budget for these extras? Do you really want them? If not, say that you don’t want everything that is included and that you would like a new package without all the extras.
Package prices also include a mark up charge based on a minimum number of guests. If the minimum guest numbers are set at 100 (this means that an extra cost has been built in to the price per head to cover non-maximum capacity) and you have 80 guests you lose money, as you are paying an inflated price for having less guests.
If the minimum is set at 100 and you have 120 you lose money, as you are now paying the inflated price per head for more than 100 guests. It’s impossible to offer a catering package that fits all, so push for a bespoke package, always ensure that you explore all the services that the venue has to offer.
It could be that they are able to offer good value for money as opposed to large discounts; ask about accommodation discounts for you and guests. This is where a planner would affect most, if you have little or no knowledge of hospitality management; get a professional if you really want to save money.
We have planned and executed sizeable events within 3 months (although wouldn’t recommend this), very little is impossible in today s world, hold your nerve and keep your head! That’s what a reputable planner would do, (the better qualified the planner, the more creative, innovative and often cost effective the negotiation, planning, problem solving and execution will be)!
If you are allowed to use an outside caterer in your chosen wedding venue, you will have much more choice over your menu and style of service and the cost can be very reasonable.
You will need a menu tasting to establish food quality and presentation and ask for testimonials. Having an outside caterer whilst has very positive cost implications, makes your wedding a little more complicated in as much as you now need to choose the style of chairs you want, the linen you want, the equipment you’ll need (catering, refrigeration, glassware etc.)
The caterers will of course assist with all this, but there is no one size fits all and you will need to make some decisions and understand what you are paying for and what you will need to arrange from someone else.
There is also often a cross over in what a marquee company and what a caterer can provide and therefore attention to the detail of both quotes (if you are having a marquee) will be needed.
Your menu can have a huge impact on your equipment costs when using an outside caterer, e.g. if having a trio of starters on one plate as opposed to a plated individual starter, aside from having a number of different foods to pay for you will now need the starter plate and the 3 individual serving receptacles for the trio, meaning your crockery costs for starts could increase by 4.
Do you want to be spending your catering budget on plate ware? If presentation is important then yes, if not keep it simple!
With regard to you own purchased wine, outside caterers do not charge corkage, but may well charge a nominal fee per head to provide glassware and service of the drinks.
If the caterer does not have a refrigeration van you will need to hire fridges to chill your wine and champagne this will be a £150-£300. There are many more things to be aware of under these circumstances.
Most caterers will order this for you; some will have their own to hire to you others will order it from somewhere else. Be aware that if the caterer does it for you they will charge a handling fee and therefore your linen will cost more than if you went direct to the hire companies.
Also there are so many lovely choices for linen that can make a massive impact on the look of your wedding. I f you go direct to the linen supplier you can beautiful colored linen for the same pr ice as white linen from your caterer.
Your caterer can also do this for you at a price if you have no desire to do these things for yourselves, be aware of your options.
Food & Drink
The style and quality of the food you choose will also (understandably) alter the price. Do, however, be aware of what you are actually paying for.
For example: A 3-course roast chicken meal that is silver served will likely cost more per head than a roast beef dinner that is served plated. This is due to the fact that silver service is labor intensive, therefore in this example you are paying more for a cheaper product.
Is the style and speed of service important to you or is the quality more important? BBQ and Car very food is generally equal in quality, but as it is self serve can be as little as half the cost. Similarly, a buffet can offer very good value for money, do consider the length of time that your guests will be with you and what meals you should reasonably provide.
Wine also is often offered as a package, for example: You may be offered half a bottle of red or white wine per guest for £10 per head, and be given a choice of several wines to choose from.
It’s is likely that 1 or 2 of the wines you can choose from are priced at £20 per bottle, but the rest are likely to be a lesser retail price. So, unless you inadvertently choose the most expensive wines you will lose money.
E.g. £10ph x 100 guests = £1000, this is what you will pay, but if you chose wines at £16 per bottle you will have overpaid by £200! You will not know the normal retail cost because this won’t be listed next to your options as the package price is £10 per half bottle. This happens!
There are so many ways in which wedding venues/suppliers can and do make extra money, that I couldn’t possible list them all, but again an experienced planner should be aware of these things and have the strength to get the most added value for their clients.
Whatever you decide upon, you should have a menu and wine tasting, and this should not be charged for if you subsequently book. You are about to spend a lot of money with this supplier, the least they can do is let you taste what you are potentially buying.
All licensed premises will have their own bar and there is little room for maneuver on drink pr ices and corkage in such cases, however in a marquee you will need an outside bar. Quite often if you want to provide your own drink the caterer will create a make shift bar and provide staff to serve your drink at a reasonable extra cost.
If you require something more professional in appearance there are outside bar companies who specialize in providing bars to non licensed event premises.
They can provide a free bar or a pay bar; just discuss your requirements with them. NB checks with your venue before ordering kegs of beer, some venues don’t allow pressurized containers.
Marquees come in lots of shapes and sizes and can vary hugely in cost; the cheapest is not the best quote. Ask to see images of the marquee you are getting or you may be disappointed on your wedding day. Understand that a quote for a tent is not a quote for a marquee as you might expect.
The linings, sashes, lighting flooring, dance floor s, staging are all extra. If there is no suitable power source to the site on which you are pitching your marquee you will also need a generator and probably portable toilets, this is also extra.
As mentioned before the marquee company will also quote for tables, chairs and other furniture, ensure that there is no repeat between your caterer and marquee provider.
Event lighting is a great way to make an impact on your wedding, if you are going to have lighting, have plenty. The largest cost in lighting is paying for the electrician, this cost doesn’t change with having more lighting and some lighting options can be relatively cheap.
If lighting is your thing and you’re not a flower person transfer some of your flower budget, to lighting will really create something high impacting and more you.