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Friday, April 14, 2017

Choosing Your Wedding Venue- Part 3

Written by  David Egan

Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty of wedding venue selection: cost and taste! You want a venue that appeals to you stylistically, with a rental fee that fits your budget. Let’s get right into it.

Venue fees – What are the venue’s rental fees?

To recap, by now you should have a good idea of how much money you are able to spend on absolutely everything for your wedding. In past columns (look on Baltimoreoutloud.com) we’ve discussed venue and catering costs, costs for photographers, music, and officiants, and wedding-cake costs. There are lots of details to collect and sort through. A great way to keep track of it all is with a spreadsheet that has a separate section for each one of these cost elements: venue, catering, photography, entertainment, decorating, officiant, and ceremony music. If you’re responsible for invitations and your ceremony clothing, add a section for those, too.

It’s common for wedding venues to have a range of fees. For example, at Chase Court, the venue in Baltimore that I own, Saturday afternoon and evening are prime time for weddings and are priced accordingly. Saturday morning is a few hundred dollars less, and Friday and Sunday are a thousand dollars less than Saturday night. I also offer a winter rate reduction with fees that are 25% to 50% off of the regular rate. I have all of that in a grid on my website, but not all venues are so forthcoming. If you’re budget conscious, asking about Fridays and Sundays can potentially save you a lot of money.

You’ll also want to ask specifically about any secondary fees – like a rehearsal fee – that the venue might charge. A museum, for example, might also require that you pay for extra security guards that would need to be on duty for your wedding, a cost that might not be included in their stated venue fee.

Does the venue fee include tables and chairs? If it doesn’t, anticipate chair and table rental costs that might be three to ten dollars per chair and eight to ten dollars per table. You also need to include delivery and pick-up charges, which can be in the hundreds of dollars. Chair and table rentals are usually arranged through your caterer and become part of the overall catering fee. For a 100-person wedding, renting tables and chairs can easily add $1,000 to your costs.

Look and feel – Thus far we’ve been talking about logistics: hard facts, dollars and cents, yes or no. Those are all very important. But all that is secondary to the look and feel of your venue and the experience you create for your guests. Architectural and interior style matter a lot. What do you like?

Once you have the right logistics, let your gut feeling be your guide for the final choice. Look and feel are ultimately your key criteria for venue selection, all other things being more-or-less equal. Saying “yes” to the venue is the most important decision you’ll make about your wedding, followed closely by your choice of caterer.

Go visit! – Sometimes you need to go see a venue – in person, boots on the ground – to really know what it’s like. I’m a visual and visceral person. I have difficulty visualizing spaces from afar. I need to be standing in the space, feeling it, to know if it’s right for me. If the venue touches your heart, the next step is getting a physical sense of the dimensions of the space and deciding if it can be configured for your needs.

It’s hard for most people to know, standing in an empty space, how everything fits and how their wedding will look. You can generally rely on the guidance that the venue provides about configuration and guest capacity. A caveat: some venues overestimate their capacities. Ask about how the venue feels at capacity, how easy it is for guests and service staff to move through the space with that number of guests present, and what the optimal guest count is for the venue.

Next time: the future of same-sex marriage in the U.S..

David Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a historic Baltimore wedding and event venue. Visit chasecourt.com, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook! Send your comments and questions to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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