Why you should ALWAYS ask about other booked events at your wedding venue

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Ninja turtle wedding photo bombs are awesome… or are they? Photo by York Street Creative.
Ninja turtle wedding photo bombs are awesome… or are they? Photo by York Street Creative.

Did you hear the one about the Offbeat Bride who found out about the Fetish Con being hosted at her wedding venue? Yeah… add that to the list of “shit I would NEVER have thought about when planning a wedding.”

That's not to say that some of y'all wouldn't be THRILLED to stumble upon a con happening at your wedding venue. Think of the awesome photo ops! (I mean, just look at the adorableness that is the “lady Ninja Turtles wandering past the flower girl and ring bearer” photo from York Street Creative!) And the energy of certain conventions (especially of the nerdy ilk) can be an awesome wave to ride. Hell, I'd probably be stoked to find out my wedding butted up against a cosplay convention.

But I bet a lot of you would be horrified to unknowingly subject your conservative grandma to say… whips and bondage gear IN ACTION on your wedding day. Or perhaps you don't want a bunch of suited-up business men photo bombing your post-ceremony portrait sessions. Or drunk convention-goers crashing your reception. (Because if there are going to be S&M practitioners or cosplayers at your wedding, you want them to be your friends — not strangers.)

So here's a little tip from Rebecca, an Offbeat Bride and former hotel business lady…

Having worked in the hotel business for some time, I found one thing that I think every planning bride deserves to know…

I have learned through experience that sales managers are frequently a little more preoccupied with making commissions rather than helping orchestrate really quality events. Booking many events at once can be a perfect example of this… While it may not seem like a big deal at first, let's face it, some celebrations need a little more space or a specific atmosphere to work.

I saw this in action recently while I was attending an anime convention (working a booth in the vendor hall with a dear friend). We learned that the hotel hosting the event had also booked not one but two weddings for that same weekend. Now, with the wedding planning stress the poor couples had to deal with already, suddenly they had to cope with hundreds of individuals — in costume — surrounding their ceremony.

Further, the mood was soured as the attendees of the convention were treated rather badly by the hotel staff — trying to corral the huge crowd away from the various wedding ceremonies. And if that wasn't enough, I'm sure the poor employees caught flack from everyone — convention attendees AND both of the wedding parties.

All because the sales manager who booked the events saw dollar signs instead of seeing that each event should have the right atmosphere.

My advice is to ALWAYS double-check what other events might be going on at your venue on your wedding date. And then politely check back over time, as the calendar of events tend to change over time. Do NOT trust that the event managing staff is going to take care of you.

So how many of you are calling up your venue right NOW? Or how many of you actually dealt with this on your wedding day? Do you former brides or industry pros have more tips or advice for this admittedly-odd-but-totally-feasible scheduling issue?

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Comments on Why you should ALWAYS ask about other booked events at your wedding venue

  1. i have to state, this post amuses me to no end, because I’ve been on the other end of this; working security for a fetish con, in the same hotel they’re having a wedding at!! it’s a bit of a nightmare for con security too, trying to keep attendees away from wedding guests.

    and having to station someone in the elevators to make sure people wore clothes when not in playspaces stretched us a bit thin. 😉

    if it does happen to your wedding, please don’t freak at the con/other event staff or attendees just for being there; it’s not their fault either, and they’d probably MUCH rather you weren’t overlapping their event also!

  2. I was on the other end of a wedding-other event matchup a few years back. We have a very large (5,000+ attendees) Earth Day celebration in a local park every year in April. There is a grotto that the city rents out in the park for weddings. (You can see where I’m going here.)

    Long story short- neither group knew of the other rental so it made an interesting wedding background for that couple. Thankfully the Earth Day board was able to accommodate their guests as best we could. Hopefully they liked the open-air music we had playing that day…..

  3. Vendors should also be aware of everything going on at the venue. We had another wedding going on at our venue that no one had told us about. (In fact, we were told that they usually did not book more than one event in a night.)

    When my new husband and I arrived 10 minutes into our reception, we saw all our guests waiting in the lobby. We’d sent some friends over early to de corate for us and one of the told us, “We’re not allowed upstairs yet. Your florist was late.” “Uhh…we don’t have a florist.”(Evidently the paper flowers that I’d spend days making, along with the fact that a florist was never mentioned in my decoration instructions didn’t make an impression on my friends, but that’s another story) The florist for the OTHER wedding was late, didn’t bother to check in with anyone, and just went up to my reception and started setting up flowers that we didn’t ask for. So we had to wait while they cleared the flowers out before we could go up. And they actually left some by mistake, so I can only imagine what happened with the other couple’s reception.

  4. We were THRILLED to have dinosaur fossils at our wedding ceremony in 2012, but it would have been nice if we’d known that ahead of time! (And by ahead of time, I mean, when we booked the venue)

    Secondarily, as someone who attends burlesque conferences frequently, it’s always entertaining to me to see wedding guests wondering who these scantily clad people are wandering around the hotel. I had a tiny flower girl ask me why we were all dressed up too, once.

    So yes, finding out what is going on at your venue = smart!

  5. But really, what do you do when you find out that the location you carefully picked out is also holding a (fill-in-the-blank with something that is completely not what you were looking for) and they booked it AFTER you signed…?

    • I don’t know if this would be paranoid, but perhaps doing the occasional Google search for the venue throughout the months leading up to your wedding would help you spot upcoming events. Then if you see something on the same date, call the venue and ask for an explanation of how they’ll accommodate you both (and then get it in writing).

      I suppose you could also get something in writing in the contract about other events before signing so that you have some assurance.

      • This is good advice. I just want to add that when you ask how they plan to accommodate both events, you should make sure you understand the layout of the venue. Usually if they have space for two or more events, they have enough to space to keep you well away from the other event. But you *must* be clear that such a thing is possible, as well as understand that there will likely still be a small amount of crossover. If it’s a hotel with an attached convention center, you will almost certainly see cosplayers (or whatever sort of event attendees apply to your situation) in every part of the hotel.

        Whether you want to change venues should depend more on the event, though. The moment you see something is double-booked, do your research. If it’s a fetish con, most likely your guests would be uncomfortable (this applies to furry conventions as well). If it’s a music convention or festival, make sure there are no concerts near your space, and also that there will be no hallway jamming or impromptu concerts in the public spaces. If it’s a gaming convention, well… how much do you want a girl cross-playing as Link, playing Saria’s Song on an Ocarina in the hallway outside your ceremony? Because I’ve seen that recently, and while I thought it was awesome, the bride in question was a bit upset.

        This can go the other way too. If you’re having a costume/theme wedding, or maybe just something very non-traditional, you might want to check to make sure there are no religious gatherings or stodgy business events happening on your big day. Obviously if you’re doing a church wedding, you should expect some religious crossover, but for those who go out of their way to have a secular ceremony far from steeples and crosses, this can be a problem. And no matter what part of spectrum you fit onto, if groups from opposite ends of it are triple-booked with you, it’s likely to be a big problem. One of the conventions I worked this past winter had double-booked our anime convention (~15,000 attendees) with a very conservative Jewish young leaders conference. When one of the worst fights of the weekend started between the two groups, a poor bride and two guests were caught in the middle of it all.

        Oh, and don’t just check the date of your actual wedding, but at least 2 days before and after. Also, check *all* hotels, convention centers, and arenas in the immediate vicinity; big events can overflow a lot more than you’d expect.

        • “Oh, and don’t just check the date of your actual wedding, but at least 2 days before and after. Also, check *all* hotels, convention centers, and arenas in the immediate vicinity; big events can overflow a lot more than you’d expect. ”

          If you’re expecting a fair number of out of town guests, check hotel prices before you book you wedding venue, and then look into hotel blocks shortly thereafter. We changed the date of our wedding after realizing that a major event was happening in our city on date option 1, and that hotel rooms were much cheaper 2 weeks later on option 3, compared to option 2. I called around when we were selecting the date, and I should have arranged for the hotel block right then. It would have been cheaper and in a better location than what we ended up with 2 months later when I finally arranged it.

  6. There can be an upside too though! My wedding venue is an arts space, and they had an event the night before our wedding. It was stressful not to be able to get into the venue until a handful of hours before I had to start hair and make-up, BUT it turned out the party the night before had left a bunch of decorations, so we reworked them a touch and re-used them for our party. Which totally rocked!

  7. We got married on Earth Day, back in 1997. Our venue was on the same University campus, only a few blocks from where the park is located that would have hosted the Earth Day festivities. There wouldn’t have been much clash, but parking and traffic would have been a nightmare for my guests, especially since the reception was a mile away, downtown. So they would have had difficulties with parking and traffic TWICE. But, it ended up being a cool rainy day, and the Earth Day festivities were postponed. So parking ended up being easy-peasy. I doubt any bride was as thrilled to have rain on her wedding!

  8. When my son was about 12, he played Travel A ice hockey. One weekend we arrived at the hotel to discover that all of the other floors had been booked by a Swingers convention. Yep, 20 twelve-year-old boys lodged in the same hotel as several HUNDRED swingers swapping bodily fluids. My mind still explodes (pun intended) thinking about the pure idiocy of the hotel manager who thought this would be perfectly A-ok. A couple dads volunteered to spend the whole night guarding the exits in the hallway to make sure the curiosity/hormone Molotov cocktail didn’t overtake the tenuous good judgement of prepubescent boys who were scarily curious about what all the hoopla was about.

    • We had that happen once at a BDSM/fetish/Leather event I volunteered at. They booked a high school cheerleading convention for the same weekend. We, being the kinky crowd, were actually as freaked out as I imagine the parents were. We didn’t want a bunch of munchkins running into things they ought not see. Apparently after the kinky con was over, so many pervs e-mailed the organizers wanting to prevent this from happening again that they immediately moved our con date. So, that kind of experience can be traumatic for pervs, too. Lol

  9. Here’s a note no one has mentioned… If you expect exclusivity, you will need to PAY. I’m a former Catering Manager, and nothing made me crazier than demanding couples who thought they should have the entire hotel for their special day. Obviously the catering team does their best to keep certain groups apart, but at the end of the day a wedding is one piece of business.. Some of these other groups are monthly or annual bookings that bring in much more revenue than weddings do.

    Most hotels are willing to give you private space but if you want to make sure the space is 100% yours, you’ll be expected to compensate them for potential lost business.

    • Amen to that Trish! Exclusivity comes at a price! I am also in the business of wedding and conference planning. I have noticed an increase over the past 6 years of any group – wedding, conference, or otherwise – to behave as if they “own” the space they are “renting” from us. If they are not willing to pay to book out the entire facility (most are not willing), they are just another guest and should behave accordingly. I also try to inform my guests on both sides of what is going on (on and off-site) and all our staff attempt to guide guests around events as appropriate but unfortunately some folks are just in their own little bubble and don’t seem to notice or care! Some funny coincidences we have had: War of 1812 celebrations/reenactments taking place at an off site venue about 200 steps from a Canadian/US wedding; group of friends doing a themed costume party the same day as a wedding. Their theme: Tacky Brides! All groups were informed and quite happy in the end. The Canadian/US couple even incorporated the 1812 into their theme…

  10. We had a fet party booked on the same night as our wedding. In a venue that kinda really doesn’t have space for multiple simultaneous events. Heh. Good thing we’re on their email list, I tell you what.

    Like people said above- It’s worth googling your venue or following them on social media to see just what else might be going on. They likely can’t promise exclusivity without a massive hike in price, but they can likely help you mitigate exposure between the events.

    We emailed the folks hosting the fet night and let them know that we were double booked. And worked it out even before we had to get the venue involved. Whew!

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