Alternative wedding venues often offer a personalised and intimate feel that can't be found with hotel celebrations and are perfect for small-scale gatherings, but there are also plenty of logistics and planning that come with it. If yours is a cafe or outdoor soiree (we're not talking about those tagged to a hotel or specialised wedding venue), these are the things to consider:
#1 It may not necessarily be cheaper than a hotel wedding
Many restaurants and cafes charge on a per head basis, can require minimum expenditure and tend to have separate packages for food and drinks. On the other hand, hotel packages encompass everything from the food to the decor, which brings us to the next point.
#2 Decor, furniture and others
These often come together with a hotel's wedding package, but if yours is an alternative venue, there's a high chance you'll have to source for:
- Catering, and service staff for an outdoor venue
- Decor and flowers (Tip: Some flowers can't survive the heat so check with your florist!)
- Furniture and serviceware
- The wedding cake
- Wedding stationery and favours
- Lighting and audio systems. Some venues might have them, but if they're not primarily an event space, there's a high chance you'll have to hire these yourself.
#3 Wet Weather
In case of inclement weather, always have a backup plan, be it spending extra to secure a second location or choosing a venue with both indoor and outdoor spaces. For the best of both worlds (a view of your surroundings + comfort and shelter from the elements), consider a clear marquee, or these stunning glass venues.
These wooden fans make for practical and thoughtful wedding favours. Image: Her World Brides
There's nothing exciting about attending a wedding and getting all hot and sweaty with perspiration running down your forehead or your fancy wedding outfits sticking to your skin. You'll need to provide cooling refreshments for your guests, and possibly large electric fans or portable air-conditioning units but bear in mind that these costs add up.
#4 Location and parking
When scouting for a venue, make a trip down to the place to give you an idea of how accessible the place is and if there are adequate parking lots nearby - if you have trouble locating it, chances are your guests will, too. One way around it is to leave directional signs at prominent spots. And if your guest list includes elderly folks, you might want to reconsider venues that require a bit of walking to get to.
Image: Chris Humphreys/123rf.com
#5 Extra space
For an outdoor wedding, your wedding caterer will need an extra space or tent for prepping the food. Discuss this with your wedding caterer and go through the floorplan. Plus, you'll also require an area for any hair and makeup changes/touch-ups or change of outfits.
#6 Electricity, running water and restrooms
This includes enough electricity for your caterer, DJ or band, and also to power any portable air-conditioners as well as lighting and sound equipment. While there might be toilets near your wedding location, consider renting portable restrooms (not your usual porta-loos. These luxury ones feel like brick-and-mortar restrooms) so your guests won't have to far to walk, or if yours is a larger party. Then include a few luxurious touches like monogrammed towels, luxe soaps and simple floral arrangements.
#7 Permits and ordinances
You're all set to dance up a storm... but the police shows up. Talk about a mood killer just as you've got the DJ ready to hit the decks. Check for ordinances on the time whereby your event has to end, or when your DJ/band has to unplug.
Some public locations require a permit, or have rules and regulations on the number of people, alcohol, food and decorations. Be sure to check with the relevant authorities before using or booking the venue.