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Beware the Bride Grinder

When it comes to selecting your ideal wedding venue, the choices are endless. From backyards to banquet halls, and everything in between, choosing the right venue for you is often the most challenging, rewarding, and potentially disappointing decision you will make when planning your perfect wedding.

Since Arrowhead DJ's start just over 10-years ago, Franky and I have worked in virtually every type of venue Southern California and Las Vegas has to offer; and we have had the privilege to work with some of the best of the best and, unfortunately, the less-than desirable, strange and potentially hazardous, worst of the worst locations.

We have received “Red Carpet” treatment from the largest hotels in Las Vegas and been stuffed into the dark, deserted corners of Southern California’s hottest, most remote desert cities. We have worked at incredible mansions in the mountains and the deserts. We've actually had some of the best overall wedding experiences in small, quaint backyards of some of the areas most modest homes.

While I would love to simply list the venues we have worked and pass it along for your review, we have made a professional business vow not to do so. The fact is, while we may have had a bad experience at one venue – that particular experience may have been a fluke. However, we have seen enough that we can pass along some things to watch out for when you are about to run the credit card to hold your perfect venue. Here are a few steps you can use to help avoid the nightmare wedding venues:

Cheap Advertising

This should be a no-brainer, however, it is worth mentioning.

Try and avoid venues that have old, cheap banners that say, “WEDDINGS” hanging outside their venue. This says a lot about how they view the importance of weddings. They are most likely trying to “get into the wedding biz” to make a few extra bucks when their B&B or hotel revenue is lacking.

Location, Location, Location

When visiting your venue, consider the location. Will your guests be able to find it? It is situated near a freeway or high-traffic road? How is the parking? How is the noise level? When you say, “I Do,” will the Queen Mary blow their ships horn precisely at 6pm? (Very cool by the way when it happens in perfect time) Is it located near a public park, soccer field, or other sporting event grounds that may have hundreds of fans cheering and yelling during your ceremony? Are you in a residential area where sound ordinances are in effect?

Inside vs Outside?

This is most likely the FIRST question you might be asking yourself. We probably perform 75% of our weddings outdoors – after all, we are in Southern California. However, take into consideration the time of year and time of day you plan to have your ceremony. For example, November weddings will reflect the earthy tones of Fall while temperatures remain calm to warm. However, once the sun goes down, we can see 20+ degree drops, howling winds, fog and more. Do you think your grandparents really want to sit in 45-degree or less temperatures waiting for the ceremony to begin?

If you are all about the pictures, you and your bridal party can always step outside into the cold weather for those great photos after the ceremony.

And what about the heart of Summer? Outside might Look great, but when seeing triple-digit temperatures, you don’t want your guests passing out from heat exhaustion. If you are considering and indoor wedding, how is the Heating and A/C in the facility? I can’t tell you how many events we have done in seemingly nice ballrooms that have virtually no ventilation. Or, it’s either Too Cold, or Too Hot – with nothing in between.

Also, consider the view – windows, talk to your photographer prior to designing your room design. Will the lighting and reflections pose problems for them? Remember, your lasting visual reminder of your wedding is solely in the hands of your photographer. Makes sure they are involved in this part of the panning. Look at other weddings from your venue on Pinterest and try to put yourself in those brides’ shoes. While the winter wedding looked fun, did everyone have rosy-red cheeks and faces from the cold weather, or beads of sweat rolling down their face?

Beware the Bride Grinder…

OK – So this is a term I made up - to describe those venues that literally crank the brides through their facility and have multiple weddings happening at the same time. In fact, it's not uncommon to see 2 or 3 brides bumping into each other in hotel lobbies – Awkward.

In short, a Bride Grinder is a venue that treats weddings like an Interstate 24-hour cafe: Bring em in, feed em, and get them out – turn the tables, and get ready for the next customer. There is virtually no passion for what they do – it is simply a wedding package with a few choices, often a high price tag, and every bride is assigned a time slot and staff. These venues will nearly always fall short of expectations and seldom prove to go above and beyond your needs.

When meeting with your venue coordinator, ask questions like: - “Do we get the room for the entire day – or what is the earliest we can setup?” - “Are there other events going on at the same time as ours, in particular, other weddings?” - “How is the guest room availability on our wedding day?” (You wouldn’t want to book your event at a hotel that nearly fully booked due to a convention or holiday). - “What can I expect from you the venue coordinator during my wedding?” - - “Should I consider hiring a professional day-of-event coordinator?” “Can we use professional vendors outside of your recommended vender list?” (Often, vendor lists are pay-to-play and the venue just wants their “piece” of the action).

And we can’t stress this enough – READ READ READ the full contract before handing over your hard-earned money. I just recently experienced a situation where within 3-months of the wedding day, the couple was told they couldn’t use an outside vendor for her entertainment because of city sound ordinances – they stated that it was in her contract which she signed several months before.

Finally, and most importantly, these “Bride Grinders” have no passion for weddings or their couples. They are usually under a strict monthly or quarterly commission or bonus structure that they must maintain. Weddings are just another way for the venue to make money. Employees often PUSH vendors and bartenders to end events early so they can flip the room for the next event and go home for the evening.

High-Pressure Sales You may or may not be familiar with basic pressure sales tactics. Usually a series of “yes” answers to a salesperson’s questions is quickly followed with, “You should put a deposit down today to HOLD the venue before someone else books it.”

Certainly, as a couple, you will eventually need to drop a deposit to hold many of your services, but don’t let the “fear of unavailability” alter your clear thinking. The fact is, there are always other awesome venues that would serve your needs the same, if not better, than the one you are currently visiting.

Planning a wedding 12-18 (or more) months in advance is the best possible way to get the dates, the venues, and the vendors you want. You can certainly plan a wedding in less time, however, you will need to be more flexible with your options.

A little shade made this ceremony very comfortable

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