One of the biggest decisions you’ll be making when planning your wedding is selecting the right venue.
There are so many wonderful Wedding Venues in Northwest Arkansas, the task of finding one can seem overwhelming.
So I’ve put together a few tips I’ve picked up over the years from Brides and venues to help you along the way.
And at the end I’ve shared a link to my 3 favorite Wedding Venues in NWA.
How many people are you expecting at your Wedding, 50 or 500?
You don’t want a place too small and feel crowded, but you also don’t want a place that is too big and lose that intimacy with you and your guests.
Plan how many guests you think will be attending, and go from there.
Tip 1: Go with the higher number of guests
If you are inviting 200 guests, then expect 200 and plan for that. If 150 show, and you have space for 200, thats much better than guessing only 100 will show and having 200 turn up. Better safe than sorry.
Tip 2: Ask if the Venue can accommodate lower numbers
Many people don’t consider this as an option, so they never ask. You may have found the venue of your dreams, but it’s just way too much space. Ask if there is a way to only use the space you actually need, and block of the other areas not in use. It never hurts to ask, and you’ll find many wedding venues can easily accommodate.
Accessibility & Parking
You definitely want to make sure there is adequate parking for the number of guests who will be arriving, but also find out if parking is reasonably close to the venue. I’ve been a part of weddings in bigger cities, both as a photographer and a guest, where the parking was as far as a full city block away from the venue.
Handicap accessibility, another important factor. Such as parking, entries, exits, restrooms, and other areas of the venue where guest may need to get to who need special assistance such as wheelchair access.
Tip 1: Parking Fees
Depending on location, especially in big cities, there could be parking fees.
This could be a big factor in budgeting, if you are going to be responsible for the parking fees of all your guests. Find out if there are any, so you can figure out how it will be handled.
Tip 2: Leasing a Limo, Party Bus, or even a Helicopter
You definitely want to make sure that if you are going to hire a Limo or Party Bus, that first, either can get close enough to the venue to drop you and your Bridal Party off at the door, and second, the parking lot can accommodate them and all your guests.
Many couples are adventurous and ride off into the evening in an actual helicopter. So if you are a couple who love the thrill of flying off into the night sky in a chartered helicopter, find out how the venue your looking at is able to handle the landing and takeoff.
Among everything you take into consideration, cost will no doubt be one of the biggest.
So being very clear on All costs is vitally important. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of deposits, fees, penalties, retainers, any extras you may want like clean up service, etc.
The last thing you want, is to have your budget set, and then find out there are hidden fees for things you did not know about.
Tip 1: Get Itemized
Don’t leave any stoned unturned. Make sure you discuss everything with your venue, and ask them to list out each fee you have to pay and what those fees cover. Most venus already have this breakdown by packages or a la carte. Things like main venue rental cost, clean up service fees, fees to serve alcohol, and much more. It’s your money, make sure you know where it’s going. And at the end, ask “Are there any other fees that we don’t know about or could possibly be subject to?”
Tip 2: Be open and honest about your budget
If your dealing with a professional, your not going to have to worry about them taking advantage of you, or trying to cheat you. If you find a venue that you love, and fits with your wedding, be up front with what you are able to spend, and what you are looking for from the venue. It’s not about haggling. They are there to provide an equal exchange of value for money. So explaining to them what you have budgeted, and what you would like to have, will help your venue better serve your needs. Some places you look at may just not be able to fit within your budget, and it’s much better to know that upfront than spend hours talking with them only to find out they are out of your price range.
But remember, you always get what you pay for. So don’t let cost scare you away. Understand not just what they charge but the value you are receiving.
Services and Amenities - Alcohol, Food, Kitchen Use
This is something you will most likely be discussing when you talk about packages, but it’s always good to know what the fine print says and have a clear understanding of the venues policies when it comes to things like serving alcohol, kitchen use and capability. Here are a few things to keep in mind when talking with your venue.
Some venues may charge a fee if you want to bring in your own alcohol and serve it there.
And I’ve seen these charges as high is $5000 just to be allowed to serve your own booze.
Ask your venue if they provide drinks and a bartender as part of their package.
Make sure you understand what their rules are around serving alcohol.
Also make sure you are familiar with local laws and regulations when it comes to serving alcohol.
Tip 1: Hire a professional bartender
If you are going to be providing your alcohol and are responsible for serving, hire a professional bartender. Many of these companies that provide bartending services are insured and licensed, and understand the laws around alcohol service. Hire a pro. You’ll be happy that you did.
Tip 2: Keep the menu simple
In many cases having a “Full Bar” can be very cost prohibitive. So keep it really simple. You can cover all your bases with just three options:
Beer - all you need is a couple local brewery faves and a couple brand options.
Wine - cheap box wine (trust me your guest are not going to care or even remember what they were drinking).
One speciality drink - something that is popular, adds a bit of variety, and is easy to make. For example a Moscow Mule. Can’t go wrong there.
The Kitchen and Food
Do they have a full kitchen with ovens, stove tops, microwaves, sinks, refrigerators and freezers? Depending on who you hire as your caterer and what you plan on serving, use of a full kitchen may be necessary.
Most caterers prepare their food at their location and bring it onsite, so use of the kitchen is fairly simple.
Also, some Wedding Venues offer full catering options with some of their packages. So remember to ask.
Tip 1: Understand what the full capability and equipment available is
Most likely your caterer has already served an event at the venue you are looking at, so they know the ins and outs. But just in case they haven’t it’s probably a good idea to know these things so you can advise them. That way they’ll be able to fully prepare for your day and eliminate any unexpected issues. So remember to ask about the equipment, stove, microwaves, cooking equipment like pots and pans, just in case your caterer has a need to cook onsite
Tip 2: Extra Fees
While use of the kitchen may be worked into the cost of the venue, what does “use” actually mean. Is it simply storing food in the refrigerator, or using the sink to clean up? Or does it mean firing up the stoves and ovens, using the dishes, and cooking utensils, etc. This could add on extra costs, so be sure to ask.
While we covered some great points there are certainly many more questions that could be asked. I hope this helps with covering the main issues, and gets you a good starting point.
And in the future I will be sharing with you blog posts that are specifically about many of the wedding venues here in NWA, introducing you to the the people behind the places.
But for now, I’d like to share 3 of my favorite Northwest Arkansas Wedding Venues, that I highly recommend you take a look at, so just click below to learn more.
Being an Arkansas Wedding Photographer, I’ve captured many beautiful Weddings at some amazing places. And I can assure you that the Wedding Venues in Northwest Arkansas, are some of the most breathtaking locations you will ever find. From beautiful historic sites, the rustic glam of a charming Arkansas Barn, to an Italian Countryside, and so much more.
In future posts, I will be bringing you information on many of these places, and the people behind them. Providing you with comprehensive information, that you can use when making your venue decision.
Hi, my name is Manuel, and I am a Northwest Arkansas Wedding Photographer, based in Bentonville, AR. I serve my clients in NWA and travel all over the state of Arkansas, to capture beautiful weddings. My focus is telling your story, and capturing your vision with beautiful images. I take the time to understand who you are, and what you want your Wedding Day to be, and create amazing photos that tell Your Story.
Let’s get together and have a cup of coffee to talk about your big day