What is the most important thing couples overlook at wedding expos?
Join us in this second part of a three-part series
Did you see it? You know, the one thing most couples overlook at wedding expos? It was right there in front of you the whole time. Do you know what I’m talking about? The venue!
You’re probably thinking “Of course I saw the venue. I drove there and saw it when I walked in, duh!” But that’s not quite what I mean.
Did you really see it? Most couples attend shows because they are looking for a particular service or product for their wedding day, and I go into some detail on that on an earlier post. However, the one thing many couples don’t really spend the time to look at is the venue itself and how the space can be utilized for your wedding day. This is especially important for couples to do if they haven’t booked their venue yet.
I admit it: I had my blinders up, too. It’s very easy to be at a show and lose track of where you are. There are a lot of people, a lot of activities going on, lots of stuff to carry – and between talking to all the wedding professionals and grabbing a bite to eat, you sometimes forget you are at a wedding venue.
“If you’re looking for a venue, a wedding show is a wonderful way to see how the venue itself operates,” says Margaret Brower, Director of Sales at The Grandview in Poughkeepsie. “To be at the show, it’s easy to focus on the vendors themselves, if you open your eyes a little wider you can notice other things about a venue – how the tables are arranged, what the linens look like, how the staff is dressed, how they are moving about the space. Is it with calm and ease, and is the staff smiling, and is the registration organized?”
The key to remember is, the wedding expo is a big event, just like a wedding is a big event. By big, I don’t mean momentous; I mean big in terms of people. So, you want to make sure you pay close attention to how things are running, especially in these areas:
While the rooms at a venue during a bridal show are pretty packed, do try to take a look at the overall style and layout of the rooms. For example, each room could be used for a different reception, or, if you are having a large wedding, each room could be used for a different part of your reception – one for cocktail hour and then another for the reception. Paul Porco, a manager at Villa Borghese Caterers in Wappingers Falls, says they have several different affordable rooms to choose from. “We can do multiple events and have options to do singular events,” he says. Wanda Mendillo, Banquet and Sales Manager for Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor, concurs. “When you are taking a look at the overall venue that’s hosting the wedding show, you can definitely take a look at the specific area or the layout of the building. … We can do two receptions at the same time, but they’re completely private.” So, just being aware of your surroundings is key.
FOOD, DRINKS, AND TABLE SETTINGS
All expos hosted at a wedding venue will, more often than not, have food and drinks served – sometimes in a separate room, sometimes with passed hors d’oeuvres. Food and drinks are great because, let’s face it, who doesn’t like free, delicious food? But while you’re taking a break and eating, remember that the food they have could also be the same food that will be served at your wedding, depending on the package. Take note of what you are eating, and if you like the food, so that if you decide to book that venue, you can make sure you have that served at your wedding. Also, remember they are cooking for a large group of people, just like they will be doing on your wedding day. Like I mentioned before, if food is served in a different room, pay close attention because that could be the room where cocktail hour will be.
This is going to sound silly, but check out the bathrooms while you are at a wedding expo. How are they holding up with a steady stream of people going in and out all day? Are they clean? Dirty? Look at the floor and the overall tidiness of the facility while there is a large group of people there. Does it look very well kept or trashed? It’s another good indicator of how things will operate on your wedding day.
As Brower stated earlier, pay attention to the staff – not just those at registration, but floor staff and those serving appetizers. Is the staff happy to be there? Are they smiling? Helpful? Courteous? Polite? Are they able to answer your questions? You want to make sure they are giving you the quality you are looking for because they may be the same hard-working folks who will be serving you and your guests on your wedding day.
However, when all is said and done, a wedding expo is vastly different than a wedding, so you want to make sure that if you liked the venue at the show, you should definitely follow up with a private tour. No one will be around so you can see, more clearly, see where the dance floor is, how walls or curtains can me moved to facilitate your needs. Mendillo sums it up nicely by saying, “Taking a look at the size of the rooms, the layout, the outside gardens for photos is also extremely important as well as the staffing, being friendly, considerate, and helpful. But follow up with a visit, one-on-one with a sales coordinator or event planner, because you can see layout of the room set wedding style to see full effect.”
So, was this something you missed? Did you book your venue based on what you saw at a wedding expo?