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Pre-Wedding Visits: How to Make the Best of Them

Posted on 28/04/2019 at 9:40 AM by in Guides

Weddings Abroad by Luvana

Real bride Sophie, who married in Crete

Neither of us had actually ever been to Crete but we had visited plenty of Greek islands between us and knew it would be a good choice.

Is a pre-wedding visit really necessary?

In a recent poll we ran, 81% said they would not make a pre wedding visit to their venue.

Booking a wedding abroad without visiting the venue first involves a lot of trust. You may have seen photos and videos of your wedding venue online, but if you can’t get rid of that niggling doubt or you’re consumed with worry, perhaps a pre-wedding visit is just what you need.

It depends on how relaxed you are and the type of wedding day you are planning. If you are obsessed with details, and are feeling out of control with the many different suppliers you‘ve booked, ideally you should visit the venue before your wedding, perhaps even before booking the date.

If you’re working with a wedding planner, this may not be absolutely necessary as the planner should have visited the venue – they can act as your eyes and ears.

If you’re planning your own wedding, a visit to the venue to understand the layout and see the setting and surroundings will be a great help; especially if there is more than one option for the ceremony, reception and cocktail hour. You can also choose where to have your group and couple photographs, and understanding the style of the venue will be incredibly useful when it comes to choosing your decorations and colour scheme.

Real bride Sophie, who married in Santorini

Visiting the venue was very helpful in creating our overall look. Sometimes pictures alone are not enough for finalising those little details. We loved the food tasting too.

Try to make your visit the same time of year as you are getting married. You can then get an idea of the temperature and the light at that time of year, and it will be easier to visualise the day exactly as it will be when you get married and before you start planning . People often misjudge the temperature when they get married abroad and don’t appreciate how hot it will be. We’ve had couples move the ceremony and dinner back following a visit. Us Brits are not accustomed to hot sunny weather and, although we love it, we don’t want to necessarily sit and eat in it.

Make sure you check with the venue before booking flights; if you are making a flying visit, you want to be sure you can access the venue. If you are visiting in high season, they may have other events planned so this is not always possible. In the case of private villas or exclusive venues, viewings can be hard to schedule as the premises may be occupied.

This also applies to colder climates. If you are getting married in low season, or if you are planning a snowy wedding, you need to understand the climate and the temperature so you can make the best decisions for your comfort and that of your guests.

Pre-wedding visits are not necessarily cheap once you’ve included flights, hotels, food and spending money, so you may as well make the most of your visit. Here is a list of things to do during your pre wedding visit:

Menu and wine tasting: Be prepared. Not all venues offer menu and wine tasting. Don’t panic if so. Simply have a meal in the restaurant and get a taste of the style and quality of the food and the service.

If your venue does offer tastings, ask if there is a charge. In most cases, a tasting is free if you have already booked your venue or if not the amount will be taken off your final bill if you do book following the tasting.

How many dishes can you taste? With buffet menus, a venue will normally ask you to choose several dishes to sample from the full menu, or they may offer to prepare a sample of some of their dishes.

Wine tasting: Can you arrange one and if so how does this work? Do you get to pre-choose the wines from a list or does the venue make recommendations based on the dishes you’re tasting?

Expert advice from  Alexander Menegas, banquet operation/food service at a venue in Santorini Greece

What better excuse is there for a short holiday than to have a pre-wedding visit and arrange a food tasting? You can review the quality and quantity and service all at the same time, and if you don’t like something, you have time to change it. Along with the food, we suggest sampling the wines that will accompany the dishes. This is also a great time to discuss any special culinary requirements on behalf of the guests such as allergies, intolerances or special diets.

Meet key suppliers: These could be your event manager or wedding planner, photographer, videographer or stylist. They don’t have to be long meetings, but an introduction may put your mind at ease. You can see if you have a good rapport, especially if you haven’t heard of your supplier before and have booked based on a website or previous work.

Don’t be alarmed if they can’t meet you; it could depend on when you visit and how busy they are. Many suppliers are freelance and will travel abroad during the season. However, they should at least agree to a Skype meeting or a phone call.

Expert advice from  Alexander Menegas, banquet operation/food service at a venue in Santorini Greece

The most important reason to consider visiting any potential wedding venue is to meet the event team who are going to be in charge on your wedding day. Chances are that you are familiar with the job description of an event manager, but you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the food and beverage manager. Their responsibilities extend further than just deciding on the food and drinks suppliers or the price list; they also lead the departments that will cater for your guests, making sure that everyone has a glass of champagne or a cold beer, that the salmon tartare is chilled and mushroom soup warm, that the wedding cake is properly sliced and correctly served. Just as importantly, by meeting the event team you can get a better understanding of how things work and decide if this venue is for you.

Hair and makeup trial: Not necessarily to finalise the style you want, but to get an idea of the person and their work. Make sure you’re happy with how they apply makeup and how they handle your hair. The style you can figure out later unless you’re very organised and already know what you want.

Explore: You need to allow enough time to walk around and get to know the island or resort. Try to get a feel for the different areas and who they will suit – younger guests, families or the elderly. You can find out what activities there are and about interesting places to visit. Eat in a few different restaurants, speak to the locals and tell them you’re getting married. You’ll be surprised how easily they will share information and recommendations with you. This is excellent if you are providing a guest guide or have a wedding website. You can upload photos, recommendations and even live feed to your Facebook group to your guests back home!

Accommodation: Visit the hotel you are considering booking for your honeymoon and see the room type you’ve booked, if you can. It’s a good way to ensure you’ve made the right choice, but also to make sure you’ll have enough space to get ready in. Be extra nice to the manager. It could get you an upgrade. You never know!

Expert advice from Katerina, florist and stylist, Wedding Wish 

Although I recommend a venue visit, when it comes to destination weddings, a visit is not always feasible. This is not a problem if your stylist has worked at your venue before as they can perfectly advise on what works and what doesn’t and will be happy to share with you photos of previous weddings they’ve arranged.

Consider before you visit if you’ll be happy to see another wedding being set up or not. Although visiting the venue is a great idea to find your way around and understand the layout, it isn’t necessarily a good idea to see another wedding being set up – it may take some of the excitement away from your day. Do what’s right for you; there is no right or wrong here.

Expert advice from Themis an event manager in Greece. 

During a pre-wedding visit the couple will have an opportunity to get a feel for the layout of the venue and decide which areas they will use and for what purpose; they can write down the most suitable photo-shooting points, the ideal location for a sweets’ table, where bridesmaids and groomsmen will be standing during the ceremony etc. Furthermore, seeing in vivo the wedding venue can help with other minor details such as understanding the space and acoustics so you can decide whether a four-person live band or a solo saxophonist will be more suitable.

Summary

Decide if a pre wedding visit is necessary. This can be a big financial outlay so you need to consider if your budget will support it.

Things to do during your visit:

  • Wine and menu tasting
  • Meetings with key suppliers
  • Hair and makeup trial
  • Time to explore the area, especially if this is your first time there
  • Check possible accommodation
  • Decide if a second visit is necessary (only normally recommended for large or multi day events, with lots of suppliers involved)

Team Luvana

Photo Credit Ben Wyatt