How to decide on the best wedding venue for you
Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Pro tips to take into cosinderation, in order to choose a venue that offers more than good pricing.
Venue scouting can take up to 40% of the wedding planning process. Not only it is time-consuming, it is also stressful as the choice of your venue will affect your wedding in ways you have not considered (yet). So before you put down a deposit, make sure you look into these factors first:
1. Total pricing, compared to the full list of services
Most couples receive a quotation and compare the price per person plus the venue hiring fee in order to choose which venues they would like to inspect in person. Unfortunately, this may not be the right strategy, if you are looking for the best value for money deal. So, questions you may additionally ask when discussing a quotation can be
a. is there a limit on the "unlimited buffet"/do you have pictures of the portions of served dishes?
b. what type of wines/beers are included in the price? are they bottled?
c. what is the charge for alcohol? Can I bring my own bottles? If yes, is there a cork fee?
e. Is service included?
f. Is tip included?
g. Is cleaning and bartending personnel included? Parking valets charge per person or per car?
I know they sound too obvious as questions, but the answers coming from the Greek market may surprise you.
2. Potential exclusive partnerships
Many Greek venues have an exclusive partnership with a DJ or a catering (if they do not provide with their own kitchen). This may affect your originally planned budget for these services or save you some time. Make sure to ask for exclusive partnerships, and if any, you have the right to contact the exclusive partners in parallel, before you make a venue decision. If their price and quality of service are to your expectation, these partnerships may even be of benefit, as they will already know the space and the necessary logistics and layout.
It may sound extremely baby logic, but many times it is not. You may be in love with a location but it is important to consider the distance your guests may have to drive before and after the wedding. Especially in Athens, the farther from the center the venue is, the better the prices.When you have found a great location at a great price, make sure to take your guests into consideration, as soom of them may need to book a hotel close to the venue so they can enjoy the open bar, or not drive tired on the way back. Location can even be a factor of closing time or fireworks allowance, depending on the municipality.
4. Closing time
Based on the location, a curfew may be applied, depanding on the proximity of the venue to residences. For example, Santorini is an extremely popular wedding location but did you know all wedding celebrations have to be shut down by 1 am, or even at 11.30 pm at certain venues? Most island venues also have a specific music license allowing them to hold the party until 1 am or 3 am.
5. Licensing & technical layout
In order to host an event in Greece, a business needs to hold permits and licenses defined by law. There are venues where a DJ is allowed to play (until a specific time, checkpoint n. 4), but hosting a live band requires a different type of licensing. Moreover, you need to make sure whether a venue has the basic appropriate light & sound party system, otherwise, your DJ will have to bring/set up/hire a production on their own, exceeding your original DJ services budget.
6. Additional services
Many locations offer a bridal suite for the couple, some decor elements, tiffany chairs, or even a church in their plot, free of charge. Before you turn down an "expensive" deal, including a suite and a church, make sure to compare it to a "cheap" one, covering only dinner and wine.
7. Finally, make sure it matches the style of your wedding
I will never forget the day a couple and I were inspecting a fantastic beach restaurant, planning the ceremony on the beach. It was exactly what the couple had requested and at a great price. When we were ready to leave, I jokingly commented on the sand on my shoes and how maybe we should add customized flip flops for the wedding guests. The bride looked at me dead serious and said "no, no way. I know my guests, they are very chic. Everyone will be wearing high heels on the beach." She demanded to cover all of the beach with carpets. In fact, multiple layers of it so a floor hard enough coule be created for high heels to walk on it. Could I do it? Yes. Was it worth it? Well, it certainly did not feel like a beach wedding any more.
Pro budget tip: Depending on the location, it is possible you will get the best value for money deals from wedding estates than restaurants/clubs as the latter will have to charge based on the anticipated income on your requested date. This means that the quotation you will receive will be based, not on the services you will receive, but on the spending guests would make if the specific restaurant was open for the public on your wedding date. For the same reason, a weekday is cheaper than a Saturday, and April-May-late September-October is cheaper than June-July-August. It is a simple demand/offer financial rule but you would be astonished how many couples reach out to mainstream beach clubs for a Saturday in July wedding of 50 guests (spoiler alert, they get disappointed).