Are you getting married in France and looking for a wedding venue? Then you simply MUST read today’s post by our resident wedding planning expert Fabienne Slater owner of Elian Concept Weddings and Events and member of UK Alliance of Wedding Planners – A Wedding Venue Visit Checklist.
Following my last post about the “Top questions to ask your wedding venue”, a little more help in your search of the dream location for your big day. As already mentioned, visiting your preferred places (preferably no more than three) is recommended, especially if you do not have a wedding planner to assist you in the early stage of your planning process.
Though it is perfectly understandable that for a destination wedding it might not be convenient or cost effective to do so, in particular if you live overseas.
If a visit is on the agenda, providing you have explored the main questions during your search and selected your 3 favourite venues, the following checklist may help you to make a well-informed decision amongst the venues you have shortlisted. All you need on top, is a camera and a notebook.
To illustrate the subject, I have used pictures taken by Julie Derache during a site visit at the lovely Chateau de Roquelune.
1. First impression:
Note your feelings when you first approach the venue and while you are walking through the building and the grounds.
Consider the charm, personality and size of the site. Can you envision where your guests will be seated and entertained?
Chateau de Roquelune – First look
Just be aware that if you visit the place out of season, it might be cold, wet, the trees are bare, there are no flowers, and may be some works going on. It could take a bit of imagination to visualise the full potential of the venue.
Does it fit with your number of guests? If you have a small wedding, the question will also be: Is the site too big?
Double check exclusivity if it is a key point for you.
2. Locations of the day events:
For French destination wedding, the ceremony, cocktail reception and dinner usually all take place at the same location, but this does not mean in the same spot.
Will you be serving welcome drinks? Do you need a specific area for this?
Where will the ceremony be held? Can it be set outside? Is there enough space to sit all your guests? Check the possible backgrounds and the aisle you will be walking down. How far it is from your room?
Ceremony background at Roquelune: Outdoor fountain or Chapel?
Where will the cocktail reception be served? How close/far from the ceremony area?
Where will the wedding meal be served? Can it be outdoor? Is the room/location separated from the ceremony area?
Check the back ups for all 3 events if the weather is not suitable for an outdoor setting. Are there alternative options i.e. marquee or other room? Should the ceremony room be turned around for the meal?
Ask the venue about the position of the sun at the time when you will be having your ceremony and cocktail reception. Is there natural shade?
3 Food & Drinks:
Catering provided by the venue: Are they flexible with the menu and will they cater for specific needs? Do they provide drinks? Even so, can you bring your own? Is there a corkage fee?
Catering not provided by the venue: Do they have one (or more) recommended caterer? Do you have to use them or can you bring your own? Is there an extra charge?
Wedding dinner location at Roquelune: The Orangery
If the venue provides tables, chairs and linen, what style and sizes are available? Ask if you can see them. Check also china and glasses, if they are provided. If you prefer to hire your own selection, is it possible?
Barbecue the night before and brunch the day after – check that it is possible and what are the conditions?
4 Flowers and decoration
If you are having your ceremony outdoor, check the natural décor. If you are visiting out of season, ask the venue what would be flowering on your date.
Look for items that could be used for your décor. Check it would be possible.
Decoration: A few of the items available at Roquelune
Check if they allow petals, confetti, candles, lanterns etc. What are the restrictions, if any?
If you have already some decoration ideas in mind, mention them, especially if they involve hanging items from walls, ceilings or trees!
Take as many pictures as possible. You may not have another chance to visit and it will help you to remember more precisely, especially if you are seeing several places.
5 Music & Entertainment:
Do they have one (or more) sound system in place? Check the location and suitability based on your requirements (ceremony, cocktail, dinner or evening).
Where will you have your evening reception? Will it be at a different location than the meal? Will the guests need to move around? Do you need a dance floor?
Check if there is noise limitation. Does the music have to stop at a certain time?
Do they have restriction on entertainment (e.g. fireworks)?
Are there activities on site already that you could use?
Outdoor terrace at Roquelune
Check the outdoor lighting if you are staying outside for the dinner or the evening party. Is it sufficient and safe?
6 Accommodations and facilities:
Visit all bedrooms and facilities that will be available for your wedding party and guests and note sleeping arrangements. Can they provide breakfast for the residents?
Check toilet facilities and cloakroom.
Ask for a floor plan (if you book them).
Accommodation at Roquelune -Photo credits: Chateau de Roquelune
Check arrival and departure times. Are they compatible with your event? Is cleaning included?
Look at access and parking for the residents and for the guests. Is there disabled access?
Where applicable, ask to meet the key staff that will be present on your wedding day.
At the end of the tour, once you have seen all the spaces, it is worth imagining your day as a whole and walk through the venue from the room you will be getting ready in to the ceremony area. And then again as a guest from the arrival at the venue to the ceremony, the cocktail reception, the dinner and the evening party. Take pictures (a lot) or even better take a video.
Finally, having looked at the booking conditions or a contract sample before the visit, discuss it while you are on site so you have a clear understanding of the terms, in particular what is and is not included in the price and what is and is not allowed.
Along with the photos (or the videos) and the notes you have taken during the visits of your preferred venues, you should have now enough information to help decide which one will be the more suitable for your wedding.
Fabienne is owner of Elian Concept Weddings and Events, who is a bi-lingual wedding planner who is available for weddings throughout France. For more information visit: www.elianconceptweddings.com
All photo credit Julie Derache Photographe – unless otherwise stated