Saturday, January 28, 2012

Interview Questions for your Rehearsal Dinner Venue

Let the wedding activities begin! Usually the day before the wedding, many couples participate in a wedding rehearsal practice, so at the wedding everyone participating knows what to do. American tradition stipulates that after the wedding practice, many families will have a coming together of the two families and have a rehearsal dinner.

Tradition also states, the groom's family handles the costs associated with the rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal dinner gets the wedding period started and sets the tone. It is not a requirement though, for the groom's family to fund the rehearsal dinner, if money is tight, families may opt to split the costs, sometimes the wedding couple will cover the event, or a wealthy member of the family can sponsor it, sometimes a boss of a small business even offers to cover expenses.

Who is invited to the rehearsal dinner? The bride and groom and the wedding party, the parent's of the bride and groom, and the parent's of the flower girl and the ring bearer. Also siblings of the bride and groom that are not too distant in age are invited and very close friends of the bride and groom that aren't part of the bridal party are invited plus children of the bride and groom from a previous marriage should be there.

Optional choices to the rehearsal dinner, are the spouses and girlfriends and boyfriends of the bridal party, other brothers and sisters of the bride and groom, the flower girl and the ring bearer. Grandparents on both sides of the family of both the bride and groom are optional invites. The officiant and their spouse if they have one are also an optional invite. Any out-of-town guests that travel a long distance to attend the wedding are optional choices to the rehearsal dinner also.

Where can you have a rehearsal dinner? You can have a rehearsal dinner almost anywhere that has a private area that fits the amount of guests needed, on average about 50 guests attend a rehearsal dinner, but could be more or less. Rehearsal dinners can be held at many different types of venues, many are held in nice restaurants that feature a private area and are decorated in a similar fashion as the wedding. The rehearsal dinner though should not be as elaborate as the wedding reception and not upstage the wedding. Also, the type of meal served is suppose to be a different entree than what is being served at the wedding reception. If beef is one of the main entrees at the wedding reception, something else should be served such as a seafood dish, Asian dish, Mexican dish or any meal that is quite different.

Besides having a rehearsal dinner at a restaurant, you can also have it at a banquet hall, on a yacht or yacht club, a golf club, a country club, a unique space, or it could be a barbecue, a backyard picnic with a tent, a pool party or you can even have a fun outing such as going bowling, golfing or others arrange for a private location at a stadium or arena.

Usually the rehearsal dinner is set up this way, there may or may not be a cocktail hour. If there is drinking, it should be social drinking with no one having more than two drinks, you want all to be in good shape for the wedding. Hors d'ouevres and appetizers might be served but doesn't have to be. The food can be served in many different fashions, sit down dinner with three choices, anything off the menu just like a restaurant, or served buffet style. If the event is held out of someone's home, the meal could be barbecue, could be picnic style, it could be potluck, or if it's a poor man's wedding everybody could bring along their potluck recipe.

After the main course is over, some families might have a groomsman cake. The cake might be made by the bride, the groom's mother, or made by the venue or bakery. The groomsman cake is usually a cake decorated according to the groomsman hobby and a favorite flavor of the groom, often it is chocolate or chocolate fudge. The only rule, the cake can't look like a regular white wedding cake.

Often at rehearsal dinners, after the dinner, speeches and toasts are given. Usually the toastmaster of the rehearsal dinner is the best man, who gives a speech about the wedding couple, a speech that is no more than five minutes. The toastmaster then lets other guests to offer advice, how special the couple was to them, each person that gives a speech should talk for no more than two minutes. The toastmaster could also be the groom's dad or can be the maid of honor, someone who is comfortable acting as an emcee.

Some wedding couples offer bridesmaid and groomsmen offering special favors to their bridal party, these are special gifts for participating in their wedding, gifts aren't required though. Also an option is having music entertainment or decorating the room for the rehearsal dinner, it's not important though, depends on one's financial situation. Some rehearsal dinners might include a game, such as the bride's likes and dislikes or a quiz on how the couple met. The important thing though, you don't want the couple obliged to make it too late of an evening, the next day is the big wedding day, social drinking is fine but you want all in attendance to be feeling well for the wedding.

Before meeting with managers of rehearsal dinner venues, the groom or his family should be handling the interview if they are the ones paying, know the date you need the venue, know about your budget, know about how many guests you plan to invite, and you should try to have it no more than 15 minutes in distance from the rehearsal practice location, absolutely no more than 30 minutes in distance. Also you should know other particulars such as a want or not for alcohol, music, and decorations.

Interview Questions for a Rehearsal Dinner Venue
1-Is there a brochure about the venue, what is the name of the venue, the address of the venue, and the phone number of the venue? does the venue have a website address?
2-Can we get a business card of the manager, what is the name of the manager who we are speaking to, their phone number, their email or other contact information?
3-Is the manager the same person that would coordinate our rehearsal dinner event? if it's another person what is the name, phone number and contact information such as their email address?
4-Will the venue be available, the date of our wedding rehearsal? (if no, can you recommend any venues that will be available for the date of our rehearsal dinner, interview over?)
5-What private areas are available in the venue for our rehearsal dinner? how many guests can fit in that space? is the space cut off totally by other patrons or can be viewed by other patrons?
6-How long has the venue been in operation?
7-At what time can the rehearsal dinner begin and what time must the event be over?
8-What type of foods does the venue offer? what are the chefs specialties? are we allowed to bring an outside caterer?
9-How should the food be distributed? guests pick a choice of 3 entrees? operates like a restaurant, guests have a choice of anything on the menu? the food is prepared on buffet tables and the guests help themselves?
10-How many years of experience do cooks have?
11-How many rehearsal dinners has the venue done? done in the past year? done in the past month?
12-How does the manager or coordinator like to communicate? (email, texting, or other)
13-Might other events be happening at the same time or around the time and day of our rehearsal dinner?
14-How many people that work in the kitchen that would be devoted to the rehearsal dinner?
15-Is there a bar? can alcohol be served? does it supply it's own alcohol? does the venue have their own liquor license?
16-Does the venue have their own bartenders? if so how many bartenders? does the venue supply it's own liquor? can we bring our own bartenders? can we bring our own liquor? can we bring beer, wine, and champagne? is there a corkage fee? is there a minimum alcohol charge? how much experience do the bartenders have? (general rule is one bartender for every 50-60 guests)
17-How many wait staff does the venue have for our wedding rehearsal dinner? how many wait staff would be needed for our dinner? are any more wait staff needed? are any busboys needed? is there a cake cutting or dessert serving fee? (general rule is one waitress for every 10-15 guests)
18-What choices do we have in choosing the entrees for the rehearsal dinner?
19-Is there a menu we can look at to determine our choices?
20-At what date do we need to provide a final headcount and make food choices?
21-What desserts and coffee choices are available to be served at the rehearsal dinner?
22-Is it possible to offer a cocktail hour for our rehearsal dinner? if yes where would be the cocktail hour? what time before the rehearsal dinner can it be? can hors d'oeuvres or appetizers be served for the cocktail hour? what choices would there be?
23-Can we view the locations that would be available for the rehearsal dinner?
24-What tables, chairs, serving tables, serving equipment, dishes, flatware, glasses, cups and saucers, any other equipment are available for the rehearsal dinner? is any extra or other equipment needed for the rehearsal dinner?
25-Does the venue offer a groomsman cake? if so, can the groomsman cake be designed to a theme? can we bring our own groomsman cake? where would the groomsman cake be situated?
26-Does the venue offer a food testing? for entrees? for appetizers? for desserts?
27-How might the seating area be arranged for the rehearsal dinner? where would the bride be located? groom be located? best man be located? maid of honor be located? bride's parents be located? groom's parents be located?
28-Are there pictures of prior events we can look at?
29-Is there any problems giving speeches and toasts? does the venue have any microphone and speakers for speeches? if so, where would be outlets for this equipment?
30-Would there be any problems presenting bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts to our bridal party?
31-Would there be any problems having rehearsal games or activities? (forward any information you hear to your maid of honor and best man)
32-Does the venue offer cleanup or do we? is there any additional cost for cleanup?
33-Are there any music or DJ restrictions at the venue? does the venue provide musicians or DJs? can we bring in wedding musicians or DJs? are there any noise restrictions at the venue?
34-Are there restrictions the venue has that we need to know about? (no open flames from votive candles, smoking, other)
35-Would there be any problems if we brought in our own photographer or videographer?
36-Does the venue decorate the venue themselves for the rehearsal dinner? are there decoration restrictions?are we allowed to decorate the venue ourselves? are we allowed choice of dishes? are we allowed choice of linens? are we allowed to have centerpieces? are we allowed to decorate the place settings? are we allowed to have decorated lighting? are we allowed hanging fabrics? are we allowed to decorate any other areas such as the entrance? are we allowed to do anything to the outside? is a patio area available?
37-Are there any private areas where guests can talk in private conversation?
38-Is there a coat rack at the venue? is there an attendant for the coat rack?
39-Where are bathrooms located? what condition are the bathrooms?
40-What is the parking situation at the venue? how many guests can park? are there secured parking spots? are valets needed? are security people needed? is public transportation available? how far away are stops?
41-What would be the final cost for the rehearsal dinner?
42-What would be the cost per person for the rehearsal dinner?
43-Are there any hidden costs? what are the taxes? what are the gratuity costs? (all gratuity costs are suppose to be covered by the groom's family)
44-What happens if overtime is needed?
45-Does the venue have liability insurance?
46-What is the refund and cancellation policy?
47-At what date do we need to sign a contract or book the venue?
48-When would first deposit be needed?
49-When would final payment be due?
50-Is there any special packages or discounts offered for the rehearsal dinner location?
51-Can we review the contract and take it with us to review before signing?
52-Are there any accommodations nearby that the venue recommends for our guests? are any discounts available for our guests?
53-Is there anything that was missed that needs to be addressed?
54-Can we get 3 referrals from brides from other rehearsal dinners over the past year? (contact at least 2)

Make sure in the evaluation of the venue, take into consideration the professionalism of the staff, how they are dressed, how nice the place is, how well the manager and coordinator communicates and how easy they are to deal with and are available to communicate with. Always check out a minimum of 3 venues before deciding on which one to go with. If the groom's family is from out of town, help the groom's family out giving them a number of choices of nice places in which they might consider holding the rehearsal dinner, and don't dictate where it must be.

See you on the other side!

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