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Choosing a Wedding Venue: Buyer’s Guide to Picking the Perfect Place to say ‘I do’

So, you are a newly engaged couple… Congratulations!!! Let the planning begin! Before you start comparing apples-to-apples when looking at wedding and event space, here are a few important things to consider before saying I do and choosing your wedding venue.

Formality matters, hotels may provide the full-service element, with comfort and the amenities you are looking for but with the glitz and glam, comes with a pretty price tag and may be limiting to your taste and wants for your big day.

Informality matters too, maybe your Pinterest board dreams can come true! You found a beautiful empty barn and the ‘price is just right’! You start planning that rustic chic wedding you’ve been pinning for all these years. Well, ladies and gentlemen here’s a list of things to think about, to save you some pennies and ‘wedding planning tears’. As a ‘farm’ wedding may look cost effective, there are a bunch of hidden costs that add up once the planning begins.

Of course, the BEST thing possible would be to find a venue that has the best of both worlds and price tag that doesn’t give you sticker shock! Well, congratulations, you just found one! Imagine, picture perfect farmlands, rolling hills, glowing sunsets, and gorgeous Appalachian mountain views and so much more! At Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables you get the farm experience you desire and the comfort and elegance you deserve.

For the purpose of this piece, let’s focus on farm and barn weddings and compare having a DIY wedding at our farm, versus others….

Inside or Out – Does the season or the venue matter? Answer: Both
‘Is your wedding venue climate controlled? Insulated? If it is cold outside, is there heating? If it is hot outside, is there air conditioning? Is the ceremony space inside or out? For outside ceremonies does the venue provide a weather contingency space? As we all know, Virginia weather can be a bit unpredictable. We like to say, if you don’t like the weather, just wait 30 minutes. As we can have 3 seasons of weather in one day. You may think to yourself, how does one plan for these unexpected seasonal changes? Well, we got you covered (literally). In addition to our beautiful Grand Stand Ceremony Field (pictured above) we have a beautiful alternative that is becoming increasing more popular for the unique setting (pictured below) and there is no additional cost to you AND we set up the service.

Indoor ceremony space at Virginia's premier wedding estate venue.

Unexpected ‘weather’ costs that most couples may not think about.
$3,000 + Tent Rentals = (backup) ceremony tents, reception tents, catering tents and worst part is some rental companies will charge a deposit even if the tent was never used.
$2,000 + Heating / AC rental units
$2,500 + Generators for storms and other ‘acts of nature’ if the electricity goes out

Tables and chairs – are they included?
Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables includes furniture rentals and set up as most other farm/barns simply do not. We provide a set of chairs for your ceremony and a set of chairs for your reception. Renting chairs becomes costly and no one ever thinks about the ‘how’? How are these tables and chairs going to be set up? If you’re planning a DIY wedding and just said ‘I-do’ are you going to stop your recessional and help your guests break down the chairs to ensure you receive your full deposit back? Did you try to save a few bucks and only buy one set of chairs? Is your caterer now going to charge you move them? Are you going to ask your guests to pick up their chairs and move them over the reception, if they want to have a seat? Most couples want to have their guests comfortable on their wedding day and not have them work hard for their meal. You have a lot of other amazing things to think about, let the venue handle the ‘schlepping’ and heavy lifting, so you and yours guests can enjoy.

Unexpected chair and rental costs some couples may not think about.
$7-$8 – Chiavari chairs (per chair, per day) – may want to cut that guest list down, ay?
$3-$5 – Standard chairs (per chair, per day)
$300+ – For your caterer to move the chairs and set up
Don’t forget to times the amount by two unless you’re having a standing buffet
$2,500 + average for average guests count

Excuse me’ – Restrooms vs. Portable
You want me to do what?! In where?! So, you got that beautiful gown (or tux) and ask your family and friends to dress up to the tee’ and you provide them with an outhouse for a bathroom? Wait, what?
Bathrooms tend to be overlooked and a second thought, but it is VERY important. While a barn wedding is romantic, outdoor porta potties are NOT. Do yourself and your guests a favor by choosing a facility with indoor restrooms. Especially in the warmer months, porta potties are less than ideal considering the heat is rampant and icky smells are magnified. Needless to say, proper bathrooms are a must for the comfort of the guests. In addition, having multiple stalls can cut down the unavoidable bathroom lines (ladies, you can totally relate to this).

Hermitage Hill Farm & Stable, not only has a private bathroom for the bride in the Bridal Suite, we also have private men’s and women’s restrooms, with multiple stalls in each to ensure no lines for your guests. Our restrooms are climate controlled, centrally located, modern and best part…. Proper plumbing with running water!

Unexpected portapotties costs that some couples may not think about.
$1,500 – $3,000 – depending on the size and quality of the porta john rentals

Planning a wedding is all about balancing the costs and expectations of your wedding day, with etiquette and hospitality. Make sure you are comparing “apples to apples” when comparing and contrasting different wedding venues. What does one venue have to offer that its competitor does not? Hospitality and event experience is crucial when choosing the perfect venue. These two factors will, in turn, save you money down the road and alleviate stress for you and your family during this special milestone in your life.

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April Bennet Photography

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