What You Need to Know Before Choosing an Unconventional Wedding Venue
Choosing your wedding venue is probably one of the most time consuming and overwhelming tasks in the whole wedding planning process. In the Western Cape, we are spoilt for choice on venues, particularly in the Wineland region. That being said, if you are of the ripe age when all your friends are getting married, you’ve probably been to most of the venues making it really difficult to choose something different and unique for your wedding day. Many brides are looking at more unconventional wedding venues, ones which don’t immediately scream wedding.
These venues provide a blank canvas, if you will, to create something extraordinary in an otherwise un-extraordinary location. Think museums, national parks, monuments, barns, aeroplane hangars, restaurants, or art galleries. Having your wedding at one of these locations will certainly leave a lasting imprint in your guest’s memories, however they do come with their logistical complications. We’ve put together some things to keep in mind when considering an unconventional venue.
It’s a big misconception that by choosing a non-wedding venue, you will save on cost. It’s quite the contrary. You may save if you have your wedding at a restaurant, but if you consider a museum, park, or art gallery, you may need to bring in kitchen facilities that are adequate to cater for your number of guests, toilets (if in a park), generators for power, as well as chairs, tables, cutlery, crockery, glassware, tablecloths, napkins, the list goes on. This adds up quickly and can substantially chew into your budget. If this is the case with a venue you are considering, we highly recommend hiring a wedding planner. A wedding is made up of many moving parts and the last thing you want on your wedding day is the lights tripping throughout the evening because your kitchen equipment is on the same circuit as your designer lights.
If a location doesn’t normally do weddings, it’s unlikely they know what is required of them. Ensure you request a knowledgeable person to be on-site such as a venue manager who can assist with finding all the relevant light switches, opening the relevant doors and managing other aspects of the venue. Imagine having to lock up the venue on your wedding night!
Rules and Regulations
Some locations may require a venue permit such as national parks or gardens. If you are having more than 150 guests, you may need a temporary liquor licence as well. Make sure you book a reputable bar service who can advise you on what is required and they can sort this out for you. You may also have noise restrictions, parking restrictions as well as restrictions on when you can start your setup and when you need to have everything removed. Make sure, if there is no existing venue contract, that you are aware of what you can and can’t do and get it all in writing. Restaurants, for example, may only allow you to setup after their lunch crowd has departed restricting you on setup time before your ceremony. Often, they require all items removed on the same night as they don’t have storage facilities and this will increase your service providers delivery fees.
Information is Key
Ensure that you have exclusivity of the space and make sure you get this in writing. Similarly, make sure you inform them of everything you plan on doing, from hanging fairy lights, to the setup of the bar and kitchen. This will open the communication from the start for them to tell you what is possible and what is not. Also make sure you understand their policy on property damage. Things like double-sided tape and Prestik leaves marks or pulls off paint and if it’s a Museum or Art gallery, they won’t be happy if you start pulling out plaster from the walls. Also ensure you have a site inspection with all the necessary service providers so they can dot their I’s and cross their T’s and advise you of anything additional they may need.
Make sure you consider a Plan B – particularly if you want an outdoor celebration – weather has become so unpredictable and things like rain, wind, extreme heat and cool weather could make your wedding uncomfortable and memorable for all the wrong reasons. Make sure you see the area around the same time of year that you plan to get married. You may fall in love with a space that is green and lush but if your wedding date falls within a different time of year, you may end up with a dry, grassy area.
Photograph by Ryan Graham Photography
If in doubt, hire a wedding planner who can run through all the checks and negotiations with your chosen venue. A professional planner should have experience in using unconventional spaces for events so they will know what to look out for and what to get in writing. They will also be able to advise you upfront of what you can expect to fork out so you know from the beginning whether what you have in mind works within your wedding budget. Don’t be scared off – go out there and be unconventional – we love it!
The EA Team.