How To Choose A Wedding Venue

phoenix wedding ministerBefore meeting with the first reception site manager, consider these important factors in determining the venue that is right for your wedding reception.  The reception site is undeniably the most important and most expensive piece of the wedding planning puzzle, so you’ll want to put some careful thought into this essential planning task.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Venue:
Theme and Style of Your Wedding Reception
Beyond the basic banquet hall, an overwhelming array of reception site options exists. From country clubs to mansions to museums, each set the stage for a specific style of event. Before deciding, determine the type of wedding you would like to host.
We cannot overemphasize—today’s wedding receptions are about personality and creativity. Your wedding is not your mother’s or your grandmother’s. It’s not your best friend’s wedding either. This is your once in a lifetime event.  Take advantage of your time in the spotlight to put together a wedding reception event that really shines. Consider your personal style. Do you want your wedding to be a reflection or a departure from that? Just because you tend to be more city-chic does not mean you can’t throw a country-style foot stomping hoe down of a wedding.
Put some thought into this, and envision your perfect wedding reception. The theme and style you wish to reflect will help dictate the type of reception site you choose. Remember that options abound beyond hotel ballrooms, banquet halls and country clubs. Also consider mansions and historic sites, museums or parks. The sky is the limit!
Geographic Location of Your Wedding
Where do you want to get married? In your hometown? In your fiance’s home town? In the town where you currently live? Or even on a Caribbean island? With today’s jet set couples, the possibilities really are endless. Don’t be afraid to consider something different or unexpected. Perhaps the style or theme of your event will dictate the location—a tiki-style hut by the beach, a rustic farmhouse in the country, a posh ballroom overlooking a metropolitan cityscape, a dinner cruise on the lake or bay. You get the idea…
Wedding Size
OK—so you have decided to get married in a historic mansion near your hometown. Great—you’re almost there! But before you get in your car and start touring reception sites, there is one major factor to consider. Capacity—one of the most important criteria in finding the perfect wedding venue. No matter how beautiful a place may be, if you anticipate a guest list of 300, cramming them into a facility that seats 150 will quickly turn an elegant affair into a mob of angry guests.  Most reception sites make setting capacity information readily available. If not, give a quick call to the general phone number and find out. Make sure to differentiate the capacities for the type of reception you envision (seated dinner, buffet, cocktail reception etc.) There may also be different capacity based on the setting with or without a dance floor.
Find a Venue that Meets Your Wedding Reception Needs
Find as many reception sites that meet these initial criteria as you can. Search our local wedding venue directory to find reception sites in your area, and narrow down your list. Then, schedule appointments to tour each wedding venue and meet with the manager. After that, it’s decision making time!

Do Not Skimp on Your Minister or Your DJ…

You want to save money. You want to get as much as you can for each dollar you spend. But there are some things you don’t EVER want to skimp and they both are the people with the microphone.

wedding dj, phoenix wedding pastor, Arizona wedding minister, wedding officiant, pastor, wedding priest
You want to save money.  You want to get as much as you can for each dollar you spend. But there are some things you don’t EVER want to skimp and they both are the people with the microphone.
Two people have a mic and two people can make or break your big day.  The minister and the DJ.  So what do you look for in choosing one?  Consider the following:
1 – Do they have several years of experience?
2 – Do you have chemistry with them?
3 – Are they open to ALL your ideas?
4 – Who referred them to you?
5 – Have they seen him/her in action? (live on on video)

Save Your Money!

Getting engaged to the love of your life is the most amazing feeling! The excitement and giddy feelings for planning the big day immediately kick in and this is when things can financially spiral out of control! Forget the fairytale as weddings can prove to be a nightmare with the average cost being around $25,000!

Long gone are the days where less is more when you have to consider flowers, dresses, venues, food and the DJ to name but a few! Wedding planning is big business and that usually means big money! However with a little know-how and a clear head, you do not have to get caught up in the drama as you plan the perfect day on a budget that suits yourself and your partner. So here are a few ways to help keep your finances grounded instead of crying ever so slightly when your parents have to re-mortgage their home to pay for the horse and carriage!

Tie the knot mid-week. Booking venues for the weekend can almost double in price, so why not go for a week day where it will be a lot less! Granted it may be less convenient for others, but those who you want there… will be there on the day!

Get creative and make your own invites! I have seen this done many times before by friends and the individual touch adds so much more to it all. It’s cheaper than have the invitations professionally printed, and with so many different softwares and online companies encouraging you to do it yourself… you could save a few pennies here!

Think about a buffet style for the food instead of a gourmet sit down 3 course meal. Yes these look posh and can appear to be more civilized, but per person this can be one of the most expensive pay outs for the day.

Look at taking advantage of a family member or friend’s flash car for the day! Maybe your father in-law to be has a fancy vintage Mercedes or a Harley motorcycle (because he’s clearly going through a mid-life crisis!) then ask nicely and you could use that with no cost!

Try to DIY your own cake! A bit of sponge apparently can cost hundreds of pounds which is crazy talk! Again try and use all your contacts to see if you can have this made much cheaper than a wedding cake pro. Or for those who just want the cake to look good in the pictures,  ask the baker to give you fake layers of cake! These can be dressed up to look amazing and the guests and yourself only have to eat the one real cake you paid for! Genius!

Recycle your flowers on the day. After shelling out a small fortune on flowers to decorate the church, you want to squeeze every last use out of them before they die on you! So after the ceremony have someone take the flowers to the reception to make it look gorgeous all over again! That way you’re not having to buy two lots of flowers for the church and the reception.

Get your interior designer on! We’ve all seen the home makeover programmes, so why not channel your flamboyant creative self and decorate the venue of your wedding yourself instead of paying someone for the pleasure. This way it’s not only easier on your finances, but you get to create a look to your exact liking.

So the bottom line is this, with a little creativity and extra work, you can save on spending but not lose much in quality!

How to Choose a Wedding Minister

When choosing a minister or officiant for your wedding, you need to show up to the first meeting with a few questions for him or her. In fact, you may want some of those questions answered before you even take time to chat face to face. Of my many years of meeting with couples as an Arizona ordained minister, the following questions, I think, were some of the best…

When choosing a minister or officiant for your wedding, you need to show up to the first meeting with a few questions for him or her. In fact, you may want some of those questions answered before you even take time to chat face to face. Of my many years of meeting with couples as an Arizona ordained minister, the following questions, I think, were some of the best:

  1. Are you a “real pastor” at a church? If so, which one?
  2. How long have you been a wedding minister? How long have you been a minister in a church?
  3. Do you require premarital counseling?
  4. Do you offer premarital counseling? If so, what kinds of things should we expect in our meetings with you? How much do those meetings cost?
  5. How many times would you like to meet with us before the wedding day?
  6. Is it a problem that our faith is different than yours?
  7. Are you open to our ideas with the wedding ceremony?
  8. How long will the entire ceremony be?
  9. What can we expect if you get sick and cannot be at our wedding? What is your back up plan?
  10. What will you wear at our ceremony? A robe or a suit?

Those are a few of the better questions asked. Because you don’t get married often, it’s good to arrive at your meeting with your own questions so you can make a good decision about who you are going to invite to marry you both.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is chemistry. In other words, do you feel comfortable with him or her? Do you like him or her? Did he or she make you feel good and positive? The answers to those questions come from your heart. All the other questions are important, but when it comes down to it, you must be happy with the man or woman officiating your wedding.

– Rev. Randy Williams

Writing Your Own Vows

So many couples sit down with me as their Arizona wedding pastor and one of them wants to write their own vows and the other does not (more often the bride does, not the groom). Then I sit as the tension in the room rises, because both are strong in their feelings about the idea of writing their own wedding vows. I listen, trying not to side with one or the other. Until a couple years ago, I thought it was all or nothing when it comes to wedding vows. Now, I offer them an idea that, more often than not, makes each happy. It’s what I call, “Freestyle Vows” or “Love Letter Vows.” Allow me to explain.

At the beginning of the ceremony, before the promises, the vows or the rings, I take out a letter from each, to each, and read them publicly for the first time. They do not need to match in length, content or style. Both are written from the heart with that magical moment in mind. The following are the reasons why I think freestyle vows have caught on and been embraced by so many of my couples:

  • One can be long; the other short
  • One can include humor; the other can be more serious and romantic
  • One can be poetic and structured formally; the other can be simple bullet points about how wonderful the other person is.
  • One can include “inside jokes” that only the couple gets; the other can be a favorite love poem.

As one can see, the ideas are endless. Writing your own vows has become a great way for a bride to bring creativity to the ceremony as well as an extra dose of romance.

So good luck writing, and remember to have fun with it. Your guests will LOVE it and so will you!

– Rev. Randy Williams