With DIY wedding venues, however, there is a lot to think about. This is generally because 1) they aren't primarily wedding venues, and 2) they don't come with a wedding planner or wedding coordinator to figure out all the details for you. And trust me, there are A LOT of details.
But that doesn't mean you're out of luck. It just means you have to think through the things a venue wedding coordinator would - and that's what I love helping couples do. Every DIY wedding venue is like a puzzle to be figured out, and when all the pieces come together, the result is often beautiful and exceeds everyone's expectations!
So today, I'm sharing three really important questions to ask your DIY venue BEFORE your wedding day, and actually, the earlier the better so that you have plenty of time to plan ahead. And if you're having a backyard wedding, you'll just want to think through these in advance.
1. Parking, Drop-Off Areas, + Unloading Areas
It's important to know if the parking areas are going to be easily identifiable for guests when they pull up (I'd say about 50% of the time at DIY weddings they are not super clear).
If it's not clear, you want to think about signage and/or having or a person to direct guests where to park. It's a pretty short job as most guests arrive within 45 minutes of the ceremony start time, but it can help get everything off to a smooth start.
Also, ask or think about where it's easy for people who have limited mobility to be dropped off and for vendors to unload. Ideally, it's best to communicate this information to those guests and vendors BEFORE the wedding day, so they know exactly where to go when they arrive.
2. Electrical Outlets
The layout of a DIY venue is pretty important in the whole planning process because it influences the entire flow of the event. So being able to determine that sooner rather than later is always a huge help. Plus, with the floor plan finalized, you get to see your vision start to come to life, which is a whole lot of fun :)
Knowing where the electrical outlets are is an essential part of figuring out your layout, and planning in advance for things like extra-long extension cords. It's good to position DJs, bands, caterers, and any vendors that require power and electricity where it can be easily accessed.
If you're using a mic for your ceremony (other than wireless), electricity will also be something to consider there. So it helps to know what you're dealing with right off the bat, and well BEFORE the wedding.
For backyard weddings and some DIY venues, you will also want to know if there is enough juice to support all your vendors, or if you'll need to bring in a generator. Power does go out at weddings - so it is a real thing to take into account.
3. Reception Hall Lighting
There are times during the reception that you'll want the lights on (think during dinner, speeches, etc.), and times that you'll wanted them dimmed (think during your first dance, general dancing, etc.).
So figuring out the lighting situation BEFORE your wedding day is a good way to make sure the lights are on or dimmed when you want them to be.
And if lights can't be dimmed, then you'll want to think about whether you want them on or off during times when lights would typically be dimmed.
I highly recommend assigning one person who knows what you want to do for lighting to be on "lighting duty." Sometimes guests have a way of making these types of judgement calls on their own, and just turning them on and off as they see fit.
And if you definitely want them on or off (say, during dancing), you may even want to put tape over the switch to make sure the lights stay that way.
Hopefully these three things have given you some pointers in your DIY venue planning. If you want more, I'll be discussing my Top 10 Important Items to Consider for DIY Wedding Venues on this Sunday's FREE webinar, The Essential Things to Know If You're Having a Wedding at a DIY Venue. So if you'd like to learn more, come join in the fun!
Caitlin Frauton, the Founder of DIY Wedding Mentor, works personally with DIY couples from all over the United States to help bring their wedding vision to life. For couples in New England, she's available for wedding day coordination. For those around the country, she provides them with the DIY wedding planning knowledge she's learned through working solely with DIY and budget couples. She's a lover of weddings, nature, and keeping it real.