indoor wedding reception

Photo: Bradley Images, Inc.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the decisions involved in planning a wedding, and can’t stand the idea of DIYing anything? Good news! There’s an option available that may ease your stress considerably—and it’s called an all-inclusive wedding venue. Common for destination weddings but available stateside, too, all-inclusive venues are just that: all. inclusive. That means not only is your wedding venue taken care of, in many cases your catering, décor, DJ, and everything in between are covered, too.

If this sounds ideal, read on for some key questions to ask an all-inclusive wedding venue before you sign on the dotted line.

Is there an on-site event manager or wedding planner?

When you first contact the venue, you’ll be connected with a coordinator of some sort. Find out if that person (or someone else from the venue) will be available to you throughout the planning process, and if they’ll be on-site the day of your wedding to ensure things go smoothly. Be sure to find out whether or not that person’s services are included in your wedding fee, too!

What kinds of rentals are included?

You’ve been given a base price—now it’s time to find out exactly what’s included, particularly when it comes to rentals: consider linens, decorations (including centerpieces), lighting, sound system, tables and chairs, silverware, dishes, dance floor (if your wedding will be outside), tents etc.

What about DJs, florists, caterers, wait staff, photographer, and officiant?

Now on to vendors: Your venue may offer in-house services or work with preferred vendors. Ask how much choice you have on each vendor, and find out the cost associated with different options (for example, carnation arrangements will cost far less than orchids on every table). Be sure to inquire, too, about liquor—some venues offer beer and wine only, and in a limited amount, while others offer a more expensive open bar option.

Also, not every venue will provide a photographer, officiant, or florist, for example, so make sure you’re clear on which services are included, and which you’ll have to source (and pay for) separately.

What about upgrades and extras?

Here’s where things get tricky. The base price may seem great and ideal for your budget, but once you start adding on better-quality chair covers, or premium liquor, or additional passed appetizers, your bill can quickly skyrocket. So be alert, and know what you’re agreeing to.

Once you’ve made all of your final choices (which you should keep a separate record of, by the way) carefully review your contract to see if everything you’ve chosen is included, and if the price matches up with your budget. When considering catering, for example, check to see if appetizers are included in your total price, or if they’re priced out separately.

Consider, too, questions like, how many hours will we have the photographer? Is there a backup plan in case of inclement weather, and does it cost extra? Is there somewhere to get ready on-site? Will we have exclusive use of the venue (other couples may be marrying in other parts of the hotel, for example)?

Ultimately, all-inclusive venues are great for couples that aren’t picky and just want to have a wedding that goes off without a hitch. And there’s nothing wrong with that!