Are you in the early stages of planning your wedding – or even just discussing the possibility of getting engaged? Gerrie and Ravi with the Hilton Garden Inn Findlay (HGIF) Sales Department have shared their FAQs with us and provided some tips on what you should really be asking potential venues. No matter where you decide to have your reception, the information provided here is vital for any couple making plans for their big day.
#1) Do you have [insert specific date here] available?
Some dates are in high demand; remember that you’re not the only ones out there looking for a venue. You’ll find it easier to book if you have flexibility with dates, provide more than one date, or share a month/season you’d prefer. If there is a specific date that you absolutely must have, you’ll probably want to book at least 12-18 months in advance. If your date is flexible, feel free to ask if there are dates/times when it’s cheaper to book. You may find discounts are available in the off-season, or a day other than Saturday.
#2) How large of a group can you accommodate?
Every location will state an average number, but take it with a grain of salt. Some may advertise a maximum capacity entailing cramped spaces and little setup flexibility. Spacing & capacity depend on square footage, equipment size, and layout. Here are some things to ask yourself:
- Will you be using traditional round tables, or are you open to some long tables?
- How big is the venue’s dance floor?
- Are you getting a DJ or a band?
- Are you doing a buffet? If so, where will it be located?
At the HGIF, our maximum capacity for round tables is about 320 people. A comfortable large wedding brings us down to 250 guests as we take into account dance floor, head table, banquet bars, and DJ. We can fit 280+, but you may need to incorporate long tables, decrease dance floor size, and relocate items to outside of the ballroom. If you have a band instead of a DJ, and really want a photo booth, too, you’re probably going to have to compromise and take out 2-5 additional tables of seating.
#3) Can we bring our own outside food or catering?
There’s a belief that finding your own caterer is cheaper, but that isn’t always the case. Plus, it’s more legwork on your end to coordinate and prepare the vendor. Venues that don’t provide catering may charge you more in rental costs. Do your homework and see how much providing an outside caterer + rental fees will cost all together in money & time.
Venues with in-house catering, like the HGIF, usually require you to use their food & alcohol. Ask about policies, and request a menu with pricing to see their options. Verify whether or not a tasting is included. Is there flexibility on bringing in certain food items? Can they take off-menu requests? This may seem pricier upfront, but you could actually be saving yourself money and logistic hassles.
#4) Can you accommodate ceremonies or rehearsal dinners?
Some couples want to keep things traditional with a church ceremony. If this isn’t make-or-break, having the ceremony in the same location as your reception could save you some money. Ask the venue about ceremony capabilities. Some may charge a little extra, while venues like HGIF have no additional fee!
Many locations jump at the opportunity to also host rehearsal dinners. What’s convenient about this is that you’ll be able to stay and prepare for your reception immediately after dinner. Ask if there are deals for booking your rehearsal dinner, too. For example, at the HGIF, we provide 2 free nights in our wedding suite and no additional rental cost for a rehearsal dinner if we book your reception.
#5) Can we get a discount on overnight accommodations for wedding guests?
Nearly every hotel has a room block policy, and are more than willing to help you out – whether you have your reception there, or not. Ask how many rooms they can hold for you & for how long, the adjusted group rate, if you will be charged for any rooms that your guests don’t pick up, and if amenities such as breakfast or parking are included. *Pro-tip: Ask if there are perks like a complimentary suite if you book a certain amount of rooms, or a rewards program for you to earn points!
#6) What will all this cost me?
With so many details involved in wedding planning, no two price tags are alike. Some couples will immediately turn down all-inclusive large price tag venues without realizing they could have saved money and stress in the long run.
Be open about your budget. We understand that some couples have smaller budgets, and will work with you. A venue will let you know if your budget realistically fits their offerings. Go over all ideas with the venue, and let them know what packages you’re considering. This will allow them to build a realistic quote just for you.
Ask venues to provide similar quotes so you can compare them, and ask questions along the way. What makes one more expensive than another? Do they provide tables, chairs, and linens? Is the facility new and up to date? Are you setting up, or is their staff? Are decorations included? Do they offer better food? Are they flexible with services, or strict in what you can and can’t do? Are your contacts personable and willing to go the extra mile?
Feel free to take your quote to a different venue to let them know what the competition is offering. They may negotiate a better offer or explain what service they provide that makes them worth the extra cost. Negotiating can be okay, but realize venues carefully price their services and may become less flexible if you start making changes and requests down the line. Do your best to reach an agreement that both parties will be happy with.
Follow this link to visit the Hilton Garden Inn Findlay Wedding Event page for additional details and the uncut Q&A with more detailed answers to fully prepare you during your search.
Do you have more questions not answered in the Q&A? Get in touch with Gerrie or Ravi at the Hilton Garden Inn Findlay by calling (567)250-2525. Or you can email them now at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Gerrie, Ravi, and the whole HGIF team are ready to help plan your big day – whatever the occasion!