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    This article appears in the Spring/Summer issue of Bride, a publication of Louisville Magazine.  

    Erica Schnell, Director, Ice House and Crushed Ice Events, talks wedding venues.  

    What should couples consider when choosing a venue?

    “Finding out your guest list would probably be first because some venues won’t accommodate that many guests. Well, getting engaged first, then the guest list.”

    Talk about venue styles.

    “You have the blank slates. The Ice House is a blank slate; the Frazier is very much a blank slate. Then you have your historical ballroom sort of venues like the Brown and the Seelbach. Last but not least, you have the outdoor garden-y feel, like Gardencourt, Yew Dell Botanical Gardens and Locust Grove. Typically, when someone comes to the Ice House, they’re not also looking at Yew Dell because of the stylistic differences. People who are looking at the Brown aren’t looking at the Ice House. They want that old charm. We’re way more contemporary. It comes down to the bride’s style and saying, ‘What can you change about the venue?’”

    And along with the venue?

    “We tell the brides that once they secure the venue, they can kind of breathe and relax. The date is the most important thing. You don’t have to charge right through the rest of the planning.”

    What about day-of duties?

    “How involved do they want to be? Are they the do-it-yourself bride? Or are they the hire-everyone-and-not-lift-a-finger bride? We see a really good mix of both. Some people want their friends and family to be involved in helping set up tables and chairs; some people say, ‘I want to be in a hotel suite drinking mimosas and letting other people handle this.’”

    What should brides know about hidden costs?

    “Almost everything is additional with every venue. They’ll give you a tour and the lights will all be uplit — but there’s a charge for that. So ask, what does your package include and what are the extra fees associated with that? A venue could say we charge $1,800 flat rate for a four-hour time period, but if you want a dance floor, that’s extra. You have to find a place that is very upfront about costs.”

    And flexibility?

    “Can you bring in your own lighting if a DJ can provide it for cheaper? What are their terms with outside vendors? And how vendor-accessible is the venue. Some vendors don’t go to certain venues because of rules and restrictions. There are venues that are easier for us to load in and out with and let us use their kitchens, and there are ones where we have to work out of . . . basically, the back of the van. The vendor relationships that a venue has are important.”

    An important plan B area?

    “Do you have that indoor-outdoor option? My friend went to an outdoor wedding recently, and it was under a tent, but they didn’t have any sides on the tent and she said, ‘I was freezing!’

    Any other planning concerns you’d like to bring up?

    “Yes, guest comfort. Consider the flow of the room. If the guests are uncomfortable in any way, whether it’s temperature or space, they’re not going to enjoy themselves. And do you have a lot of guests who are traveling from out of town? Where are they staying? Do you want them to be within walking distance of where the wedding is? Do you want your venue to be close to places where they can entertain themselves?”

    Oh, and then there’s parking.

    “Especially downtown. And some venues are so old, or there’s a garden walk involved — something to keep in mind with elderly parents or grandparents. Also, are there any ordinances or noise restrictions? It’s overwhelming sometimes, but that’s how we don’t want our clients to feel. They’re going to feel that way sometimes. But our job is to put their minds at ease.”

    Photo Credit Jolea Brown 

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