The Open House/Vendor Night-What to expect

As a bride, you might have venues inviting you to attend their "Open House" events, which might be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or at various intervals, usually during the week, and at night.

Does an open house at a venue intimidate you?  I have some insights that might help you not shy from these opportunities.

A venue invites you to come to their open house, by means only you might have implied interest in their establishment somehow.  Jump at all opportunities to attend.  These are fun events to attend.  You are in no way bound to sign paper work, except to possibly sign their guest book, pick up a brochure and collect business cards. 

What happens at an "open house" at wedding venues?  A lot!  More than likely the open houses will have their preferred vendors in attendance, i.e. vendors whom solely provide their services at the venue, or on the venue's list of vendors they use in the city of the location.  This means a chance to meet with the DJ, florist, caterer, bar tender, etc.  Plus, the venues are set up with mock decorations, to give you an idea of their set up options, such as dressed up tables and chairs, twinkling lights, etc.  If you find out who will be at the open house, such as the caterer or bar tender, this might trigger a jump of joy from your fiance or a friend to go along with you, free food and/or drinks usually sparks most peoples interests.

Of course you should chat up the venue's main contact, the owner, whom owns the establishment, and wants your business, but they should not be intimidating, just glad you have decided to visit their venue. 

You might already be in love with the surroundings of certain venues, you are all about the vision of your day, you want it to look beautiful.  But, what it comes down to is the service that you and your guests will be provided.  A beautiful venue with less than par service doesn't sit well with anyone.   

Most important is the DJ!  I know food and drinks is what people want when going to weddings, but the ambiance of your night lies in the hands of the DJ.  If he/she is a good DJ, they will ask you what you don't want at your reception, including music genre, wedding games, etc.  If you don't like country or rap, he will not play any of this, it will be written on your contract.  As well whether or not to have games like the "chicken dance" or the "hokey pokey"-yes, these take place still, and people do enjoy them, most dread that being at weddings, so make it clear if you don't want any of it.  This also includes the electric slide, or any sort of line dances. 

At the open house ask the DJ what his/her style is, does he play whatever, or will he curtail your interests, and not his own.  Speak up, if he says he plays mostly country, and you want contemporary, he might not be the best DJ, and you don't want this to stress you out.  Take his info, and go back to the owner to see if they have other DJ's that do weddings at their venue, get their info, learn what their method is, and go from there.  Its not enough for the DJ to ask what you want for your first dance, your father-daughter dance, if he's a good DJ, he'll ask you what you want throughout the whole night to set the theme you want, i.e. cocktail reception music, dining music, cake cutting, etc.

Meeting with the caterer, they are more than likely to have nibbles on hand to display their talents.  This is the fun part!  A good open house will have the caterer showing off their most popular appetizers and possibly an entree to taste, and will have vegetarian options available as well.  If what you see is appealing,  you should be able to schedule a taste test later once you've picked your menu, based on what they provide you with.  Yet another moment to bring your fiance with you to a food tasting!

Likewise concerning the cake vendor and bartender.  The cake tasting at open houses has the baker's most popular cakes, with the yummy layers, for you to try to figure out your pallet, and you might have a few to try.  Plus they will have their album of cakes they have created so you can see their artistry.  The bar tender may or may not have their beverages on hand, but will share with you their preferred wines/beers/liquor.  If it is the old standby, you know your guests will enjoy.  If their beverages are of a certain vineyard they are sponsors of, or their own, they will have their wines on hand for you to sample.  Not only do bartenders want you to taste their beverages, they want you to enjoy your time in coming out to the venue.  If they are lively and chatty, they will be with your guests, proving added value in their service.  You will gain a sense of their professionalism, how they are dressed, present themselves, etc. As well, more often, its free to drink a glass of their wine, so cheers!

The florist may or may not be on hand, and this is an important meeting.  If they are not on hand, and you do want to book the venue, ask to see their photo album of weddings they've had their arrangements on display.  Request to meet with them, in any case, to see if they can match your bridal party's bouquets for your ceremony, especially if your ceremony was held elsewhere.  They might not welcome the same florist that provided your ceremony arrangements at an outside location, which is fine, but if they can match the theme, you're in good hands. 

versa, as they might be able to take you all back to the point of ceremony, or even to your after party, if you will have this.

You might also meet the day of coordinator, which is the runner of the show at the venue.  She is to make sure all is set up and ready to go as you want it, and should remain in the background making sure all is running smoothly throughout the course of the event.  A good team will be the coordinator and the DJ.  DJ's are also MC's, announcing the entrance of the bride and groom, announcing the call to dinner, the dances, etc.  He gets people to the next phase, and the coordinator makes sure all is working like a well oiled machine.

The open houses are for you to check out the venue, meet with the vendors, and see for yourself if the place is for you and your fiance.  Also when you attend, you will be surrounded by other to-be married couples in the same boat as you.  Mingle with them, its always fun to chat about the upcoming big day.  Enjoy this part of your wedding planning!  You might not pick the venues, but you will remember going to them, and might attend someones wedding there at some point.

Happy planning savvy brides!

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