Carolina Bride

A Time and a Place

The TimelineSoon after the proposal: Begin searching for a venue with a flexible date in mind. Consider how many guests you will want and the atmosphere you want for your big day.

1 year to 9 months: Book your wedding venue. If you want to have your wedding during the more popular summer and fall months, it’s important to book early to ensure the date you want is available.

6 to 9 months: Book a caterer, unless catering is included in the cost of the venue. Make sure that the venue will give them access to the kitchen! Book a DJ or band that fits the mood of the venue.

4 to 5 months: Pay first down payment.

1-2 weeks: Give venue the final guest count and pay the remaining balance.

Don’t Forget to AskWill I be able to use vendors of my choosing? Is there a fee for bringing in certain vendors?

Is there a fee for staying late? What time do guests have to leave?

Is there suitable parking for all of my guests?

Can I bring my own alcohol? If so, what is the corkage fee?

How many weddings will be booked on my day?

Do you have a facility director? Will she be there on the day of my wedding?

Are there additional costs for bar/wait staff?

What time will I have access to the site to set up?

Does the venue have a sound system? Or will that need to be rented?

Is the bridal suite included in the price?

Is the venue child-friendly?

Is there a payment schedule?

When are payments required?

Make An ExitEvery couple wants to make an unforgettable exit. Below are some ideas for memorable (and picture-perfect) farewells.

Sparklers (make sure that the venue allows this)

Colorful streamers or ribbons


Flower Petals

Paper cones with confetti (or poppers)

Paper Lanterns

Balloon Release

TipKeep a copy of your venue’s policies on hand! As you begin coming up with great ideas during the planning process, it’s helpful to refer back to be sure your vision is attainable. Dreaming of a sparkler exit or candlelight? A venue’s fire prevention policy might not always accommodate these additions. -Gail Allen, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

True Story: “When selecting a venue it’s important to know what the venue manager’s role is on the day of the event. One bride arrived not realizing that our venue staff does not serve as a wedding director. Fortunately the venue manager and event vendors were all willing to step in guide the bridal party. Also, as you hire your wedding vendors, don’t forget to communicate to them your contracted set-up and breakdown time for your venue. One vendor arrived a few of hours prior to the client’s contracted set-up time. The vendor was unable to set-up anything due to another event on-site. The vendor had to wait until the event area was cleared before setting up.”--Gail Allen, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden