So much of your wedding—the date, decor and food—depends on the venue that you choose. Get answers to all your wedding location questions with the help from the experts at the Hotel du Pont.
Q: How do I know what size venue is right for our wedding?
A: Before contacting venues, draft a preliminary guest list. You can use this as a gauge to research potential venues, and narrow down the options to those that can comfortably accommodate your anticipated number of guests. Be sure to carefully consider both sides of family and friends. You may have your heart set on a small, intimate reception, but your fiancé, fiancée, or parents may have a larger, more inclusive event in mind. Having all major decision-makers on the same page before falling in love with a particular venue size is key to a positive experience. Also, keep in mind the desired style of reception. A cocktail-style reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres and stations may not be able to accommodate enough seating for all guests. For a served dinner, be sure that there is enough space to comfortably seat all of your guests including a dance floor (if desired), and that your cocktail hour space will not be too crowded. Be prepared to compromise and adjust your guest list accordingly in order to accommodate a highly preferred venue.
Q: My fiancé and I are paying for the wedding reception. How should we budget for a venue, and what are important questions to ask when inquiring about costs?
A: Your wedding reception venue can represent a significant portion of your total wedding budget, so it is important to plan ahead carefully. The first step would be to assess what you are willing and able to spend on the venue. Seventy-five percent of couples tend to go over their intended budget to some degree, so it is wise to build in a little “buffer” for any unforeseen expenses. Most venues will supply you with a wedding package that is priced per-person, for ease in planning and budgeting. It is important to note all that is included in the package, and to always ask for clarification if certain basic components do not appear to be included. For example:
- Is an open bar included (regardless of consumption levels), or is that a separate charge?
- Does the venue price include house linens, tables, chairs and table settings?
- Is the price inclusive of the venue’s service or gratuity charges? (These charges can average 20-25 percent depending on the venue).
- Also, ask about any applicable state sales or alcoholic beverage taxes, as this could increase your price per person by as much as 10 percent.
- Is there a rental fee for the reception space?
- Is there a food and beverage minimum?
If you can be flexible with your wedding date, you can usually maximize your budget by inquiring about “off peak” months. Also, there are usually remarkably lower savings if you can consider having your wedding on a Friday night, Saturday afternoon, or on a Sunday.
Q: We are interested in a non-traditional ceremony. What are some of our options?
A: Not everyone is looking to exchange their vows at a traditional church, synagogue or temple. Some couples desire to bring together two religious backgrounds or styles, and are seeking a neutral location. Some have an outdoor versus indoor site in mind. There are many options toaddress each and all of these designs. One concept is to hold your ceremony in the same venue as the reception. This kind of “one-stop shopping” makes it easy on the couple and the wedding guests, who will not have to travel to two locations. In addition, this could save you on costs if you were considering offering complimentary transportation for your guests from the ceremony location to the reception venue. If a venue does not have an additional room available, ask if they can offer a “room flip,” which is when the ceremony space is transformed into a beautiful dream reception while your guests enjoy cocktail hour. If an outdoor ceremony is your ideal scenario, factor in the time of year. Your dream of having your ceremony in a field of wildflowers or a rolling vineyard is certainly picturesque, but if the temperature reaches 100 degrees in August or if it is simply raining that day, you will need to have a backup plan. Some outdoor ceremony venues offer a “Plan B” indoor space alternative.
Q: Not all of our guests are local. What are some questions to ask reception venues and hotels regarding room blocks?
A: If your reception venue is a hotel, ask if they can hold a block of rooms for the night of the wedding (and/or the night before), as well as how long they can secure the block before releasing it. Inquire if the hotel will offer you a reduced room rate since you are holding the reception on premise. Be sure to check with the hotel as to whether you will be financially responsible for any rooms in your block that are not booked. It is important to ask about cancellation policies—you wouldn’t want to be responsible for Aunt Sally’s room when she cancels at the last minute. Many venues (if they do not have on-premise overnight rooms) have a special rate relationship with a nearby hotel, and can direct you to the appropriate contact at that location.
Since 1913, generations of wedding couples have been hosting unforgettable events at Delaware’s most prestigious address. The Hotel du Pont continues to offer impeccable service in a setting of Gilded Age grace and sophistication, befitting its legendary history and traditions. Allow our opulent Gold Ballroom or romantic du Barry Ballroom to provide the refined backdrop for a wedding celebration only the Hotel du Pont can stage.
Markie Barnes and Susan Norgeot
Hotel du Pont Wedding Sales Office