Choosing a wedding venue can be an overwhelming experience. It seems there is a new venue opening in Harare every month. You may already have an idea of the venues you would like to consider, plus your friends and relatives may also have several suggestions for you. By the time you have visited 8 of these, you may start to feel confused.
Start your venue search at least 10 – 12 months before your wedding date. Before you start the venue search, decide what you are looking for in a venue. Decide what is fundamental – this will make your search less stressful. This week I had the pleasure of taking a lovely, vibrant young engaged couple on a venue search, and their fundamental requirements were:
• A garden venue where they can have their ceremony, reception and photo shoot, all on the same premises.
• A venue with a water feature, such as dam, a river, a swimming pool or a fountain.
• A venue that will permit them to work with a wedding planner of their choice, as well as a decorator and caterer of their choice.
When you visit a venue that you are considering, there are a several important questions that you need to ask. I have touched on a few today:
What is the maximum capacity of the venue?
It would help if you have done a provisional guest list for your wedding, because this will give you a realistic idea of the number of guests you are expecting, and this way you can be sure that you will choose a venue that can accommodate all your guests.
Is the venue available on the chosen date?
If the venue is not available on your preferred date, and you have decided that it is definitely the venue of your dreams, you can opt to change your date, especially if you have given yourself enough time to plan.
Is the venue registered and licensed?
Hiring a wedding planner in Zimbabwe is still a concept that many of us cannot get our heads around. Some of us believe it is less costly and much easier to do it ourselves, or we rely on “free labour” from family and friends. Some will form a "wedding committee" and allocate each committee member a duty or a “department” to manage. Sometimes it works out, but generally, let’s be real here – as a couple, you can’t put 10 of your family members in one room and expect them to agree with you or ever reach a consensus. This is the reason why most wedding committee meetings take longer than three hours.
I am not shooting down family involvement. But you as bride and groom, with the guidance of your wedding planner, should be the ones to decide how you would like to involve them. It’s your special day.
On your wedding day, as a bride, how much control do you have when your groom is getting ready at a different location and you are not sure if he has even woken up yet? How much control do you have when you're about to walk down the aisle - does the DJ know your song? What do you do if he plays the wrong song? Do you just stand there, or do you signal him, or tell Dad to go and fix it because this is your moment and it has to be right? Who has the rings? Did someone bring the cake knife? Did anyone check where the marriage officer is?
Have you heard about that wedding where the marriage officer said “may we please have the rings?” And in that moment, the best man remembered where the rings were. At home! It may be acceptable to delay the ceremony before it starts, but what do you do when you are right in the middle of exchanging vows? How upset would you be as a bride? You don’t get that moment back.
Your family and friends are all emotionally invested in your wedding day. They do want to help you, but they also want to celebrate with you. An independent professional – a wedding planner – is contractually obligated to ensure that you have the special day that you want. A wedding planner is all about details, because the “little” details can either make or break your special day. A wedding planner makes professional recommendations based on experience, and is always looking out for you and ensuring every little detail is in place.
Written by Ms Rufaro Mushonga, and originally published in The Standard Style Magazine