Where to begin? Good question.

Scanning for juicy – I mean, helpful – little tidbits on WeddingWire, I came across this post:

where do I even begin??

so I am recently engaged and have no idea where to start. We have a date, but that is about it. We are not getting married until July, 2011. Do I find a venue and then make a guest list or do I make a guest list and then find a venue. Or do I not worry about that until later down the road? Is it too early to start planning? AAHHHHH! I am so lost with where to even begin with all this planning!! Thanks

Perhaps it’s because we’re a venue and biased, but ladies – for the love of pete, please always start with your venue. And, if it’s possible, before you even select a date (unless you’re willing and in a position to book two years ahead). I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve had one of the following scenarios occur (keep in mind these are based on real conversations):

Scenario A:

Bride: “Is Saturday, July x available?”

Me: “Unfortunately, no, we already have a confirmed event on that date, but the Thursday and Friday before it are, and also the Sunday after. Is your date flexible?”

Bride: “No…we’ve already told all our family that this is the date / booked the band / had the invitations printed.”

Me: “Oh. Well, I can give you the names a few other venues in the area (while thinking to myself: That are most likely already booked, too, since Saturdays in July go faster than Early Bird deals at Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving).”

Scenario B:

Bride: “We’ve invited 350 guests and are planning a plated dinner. How many people can you seat in the Main Hall?”

Me: “In the Main Hall…comfortably…without using other areas of the building…240.”

Bride: “But we’re expecting at least 300….”

Scenario C:

Bride: “Our dogs are in the ceremony and are like family. Can we bring them inside?”

Me: “Unfortunately, we can’t allow pets inside the building unless they’re service animals.”

(We actually even had this question about a horse not too long ago…)

Scenarios D – Z (our favorite questions always come from vendors hired by brides):

Vendor: “I need to get in at noon to set up/sound check/decorate/drop items off.”

Me: “I’m sorry…the bride has secured our facility beginning at 4 p.m.”

Vendor: “But I can’t do what I need in that amount of time/I have a wedding in Vail to get to…”

When it comes to the order of things, look at it this way:

The venue is the top of the flow chart. Once you have the venue selected and a date secured, you can confidently have invitations printed, establish a guest list (if needbe dictated by the venue’s capacity), and tell your vendors not only the date, but the exact times they will be permitted in the building to set up. Having a venue selected and secured will also answer questions like:

  • Do you need rent (and budget) for linens? Tables? Chairs? Or does the venue provide these amenities?
  • Can the DJ or band plug into the venue’s sound system, or will you need to pay them a premium to bring their own PA?
  • Is it possible to take pictures before your ceremony at the venue?
  • Does the venue have a suite for you to get ready? Or will you need to plan to get ready at home / in your hotel?

At the Pavilion, we try to be as flexible as possible. But there are some things we simply can’t accommodate…like having a horse inside the building…So before you get into the nitty gritty details of planning, check with your venue on the things they do and don’t allow. Trust us – you’ll spare yourself, and your vendors, a lot of unnecessary frustration.

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