Updated: Apr 3, 2019
Short on time? We've created a simple PDF guide that summarizes the 3 questions you should be asking your venue. You can save this guide to your phone or print it out so you have it while touring venues. If you'd like to receive a copy (plus any future tips), sign up HERE, and we'll email it to you.
The first wedding vendor almost every couple books is their venue. And of course, because you usually need a wedding date to book other vendors. But sometimes venues have rules, restrictions, or just unwritten quirks that will impact the vendors you hire, and you unfortunately don't find out until after you've booked your venue. As you're shopping around for wedding venues, here's 3 questions I would recommend you ask the venue and why the answer will impact your floral designs and costs.
1. When is the venue available for vendors to access? [Ask this especially of restaurants and venues open to the public!]
For wedding venues that exclusively function as an event space (or at least exclusively function as such on your wedding day), vendors are usually granted all day access. There are many benefits to early access for your florist:
on site installations and more elaborate setups are possible,
delicate, very specialty flowers can be used because they can be inserted on site with minimal damage to those flowers, and
fewer people are needed to setup.
Restaurants and spaces open to the public (like museums and gardens) will often only allow your vendors an hour or two for setup because those spaces do not want to close early. The result is that your florals will need to be pre-built and very little site-specific work can be done, so you may be limited to more simple setups. Your florist may also need to bring in extra help to be sure everything can get done in time.
**NB: There are event venues that normally allow you all day access unless they have double booked. The venue may have a brunch wedding and then a dinner wedding on the same day. If you are the dinner wedding, your vendors now only have a few hours to set up. Ask your venue if they permit double booking!**
2. What are the logistics involved in vendor access to the space? [Especially a concern for urban venues.]
I absolutely do not expect my clients to know the details of how to load into their wedding venue. It's my job to handle those logistics on their wedding day, and it's their job to be in love, get married, and maybe get a little tipsy! That said, asking potential venues how vendors access their space will give you an idea of how much time and how many costs your vendors will need to factor into a proposal to be sure they can complete your setup. Things to think about are:
Is there designated parking for vendors or (if not) is this an area with ample legal street parking? If not, your vendor may need to factor in garage costs or extra time spent loading in from several blocks away.
If there is parking, how long can it be used? Some venues will only let you park for as long as it takes to unload. Then you must go search for parking, and you run into the same problems above.
What is the elevator/stairs situation? Are there multiple elevators that must be taken? Are they shared with guests or staff? Are they small? On the other hand, must stairs be taken? This means rolling carts cannot be used, and everything must be taken by hand.
3. Venue Restrictions
Some venue restrictions have could impact your floral and design costs. Common ones are:
Not permitting real candles. LED candles (and their batteries) are more expensive than traditional candles. Although it's only a few dollars difference, if you have 150 candles, those few dollars could turn into a few hundred.
Requiring candles to be in glass. Just like LED candles, supplying glass cylinders for larger candles like pillar and taper candles may add on a dollar or two for each candle.
Requiring breakdown to be completed in a certain amount of time. If breakdown must be completed quickly, it may require additional staff.
Requiring scissors lifts to be used for any hanging installations. It's not surprising that scissors lift rentals are more expensive than using a ladder, but another hidden cost here is that anyone using the lift must pay to get licensed.
None of these factors should sway you from choosing the venue you love! But knowing the answers to these questions beforehand will help you estimate how your venue choice will affect other costs, and it may also help guide your design choices. If you know you won't want to rent a scissor lift, then you won't pin images of chandeliers covered in greenery.
And on the flip side, ask venues what they do provide for vendors. For example, some have in house ladders, on-site parking right next to the venues, or rolling trolleys for use that make load-ins much faster. All of these perks make it easier to work at a venue, which keeps your costs down and opens up more options for your designs!
Don't forget, we've created a simple PDF with all these questions that you can print out or save to your phone so that you have it with you while touring venues. If you'd like to receive a copy (plus any future tips), sign up HERE.
Photo Credits: Brooklyn Historical Society photo by Love Like Ours; Wythe Hotel photo by Ryon/Lockhart Photography; Brooklyn Botanic Garden photo by For Love & Light; 501 Union photo by Chi Chi Ari Love.