Real Bride Reveals: Tips To Consider While Selecting A Wedding VenueVenue Neha Garg Ahuja
As a recent bride, I (Manali) can attest to the fact that the wedding planning process wasn’t easy. Unfortunately, a tool like Pyaari Weddings wasn’t available for someone planning a South Asian wedding in Chicago. When it came to vendor selection for venues, there were a lot of things I did and researched to make this process go smoothly.
Selecting the Venue:
My wedding was in Chicago. My fiancé and I are also Marriott Bonvoy members. Therefore, it was a no-brainer that we would have to select a venue in Chicago that would be part of the Marriott family and that would give us points. If you have any kind of travel rewards (Marriott, Hilton, etc), find a hotel around that so that you can get additional perks. We scored around 30,000 additional points. The points help a lot when you don’t have to spend any money on your honeymoon. When selecting a venue, keep in mind that it is a long process. We toured about 5-6 hotels before we finally settled on a Westin hotel in the suburbs.
There are a lot of things you should negotiate on when it comes to finalizing a vendor. Usually, hotels will give a packet for South Asian weddings that contain some of these items, but it doesn't hurt to ask again.
1. Perks: Negotiate free suites for bride and groom and parents, free wedding cake and champagne toast, free chair covers (if possible), free day-of coordinator, and a lower or free ceremony fee.
2. Food: Most Indian weddings have some sort of food table for guests since the wedding is early in the morning. These are normally small snacks (tea, fafda, khamni, etc). If not negotiated properly, venues will charge you a fee for the food, as well as, a cleaning fee.
3. Guest Count: If you have a lot of people coming to the wedding, negotiate for a lower price. When finalizing, always give the hotel a lesser guest count than expected. If more guests come, the cost can be added. However, if fewer guests come, the cost does not go down.
What I Would’ve Done Differently:
1. Electronic trail of conversation with the vendors
I would’ve kept an electronic trail of every conversation I had with venue coordinators. During the initial days of venue selection, we had talked to the coordinator about chair covers and he had verbally agreed to provide our chair covers at no cost. However, come closer to the event, we find out that chair covers are $5/guest. We were lucky in that our coordinator remembered and still gave us free chair covers, but this was a lesson learned that I should always have something in writing.
2. Get a space map
I would’ve gotten a layout of the space and mapped out certain activities earlier on. We selected our venue a year ago, so 3 months before the event, I had no idea what banquet hall my wedding was taking place in. Get the layout early on so you can think about how you want to organize your wedding (where chairs should be, where the mandap will be, etc). Get a layout of the hotel as well so you can plan things like the baarat and vidai ceremonies. We didn’t have a layout so three weeks before the wedding, we were trying to figure out where to start the baarat and vidai to not disturb other guests who are staying at the hotel.
3. Cancellation Clause
I would’ve been more firm about the cancellation clause and talked to my coordinator about Covid-19 concerns. We booked our venue in July 2020 and I was so optimistic that my wedding was going to happen. We did have a Covid clause, but we could have negotiated a bit more on that. There was a point during our wedding planning process that both my fiancé and I wanted to cancel the whole wedding because of Covid, family not being able to travel, death in the family, etc. However, we were bound by our contract and could not cancel the event. Going back, this was definitely one of the big things that I wish I could’ve done better.
So there you have it! What tips and tricks do you have for new brides? Comment down below!
Author: Manali Shah
Photographer: Fi Photography