Photo by Brinton Studios via Style Me Pretty
Oh Lord, how mountain weddings are different!!! I know you've been reading top wedding blogs, national bridal magazines and well-reviewed wedding planning books in preparation for your mountain wedding, and they have excellent general advice, to be sure! But there are certain things that only a mountain girl can tell you. So today I have the inside skinny on 5 things additional you should ask your mountain wedding venue.
1. When is your off season or your off period?
Whether you're looking for a quiet mountain retreat and would prefer to avoid the crowds, or you're looking for ways to maximize your budget, you need to ask a question that gets to the heart of the ebb and flow of a mountain tourist destination. And that is: in the mountains, we have peak seasons and shoulder seasons.
Many Bridal Magazines, planning books and blogs suggest you book your wedding on a Friday or Sunday to avoid peak times, but the truth is, during the height of ski season in Colorado, or leaf season in New England, you may pay a premium every day of the week.
This is where priorities come in to play. Do you want your guests to see New England in all of it's autumnal glory or do you want peace and quiet from the crowds? Would you rather save money, or provide the best guest experience? Only you can answer these questions for yourself, but knowing when mountain twins experience peak visitation and rates can help you make the best decision for your particular priorities.
2. What it's Like During Your Off Season?
So maybe you're opting for tranquillity, or you need to save a few dollars. Make sure you know what you're getting into with an offseason wedding. In The Berkshires (where I grew up) we have four seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter, and Mud. Colorado also has a mud season. So if you can't wait to have a messy, muddy wedding, consider New England or Colorado in the early spring.
Maybe you'd like your guests to rough it without basic amenities like open restaurants. Check out Mammoth Lakes in the Fall! You can make a scavenger hunt out of trying to find an open restaurant in October.
In addition to asking your venue, ask around. Restaurants in particular are great places to conduct intel. Your waitress is not vested in getting you to book your wedding, so she'll give you straight talk about shoulder seasons.
3. Are there any festivals or events scheduled during my wedding?
Many brides worry about booking a venue that has scheduled multiple weddings. I mean who wants to see another bride when you are having your own very special moment on your very special day?
But in small mountain towns, a week-long festival can pose problems too. Mountain destinations tend to be small towns that quickly get over run and congested during major events. Think the Aspen Food and Wine Festival, or when Sejei Ozawa played his last performance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in the Berkshires before going on to the great Vienna Philharmonic. Talk about a mad house! There were crowds everywhere!
Again, this is a personal decision that only you can make. There are pros and cons associated with having your wedding during a major event or festival in a mountain town:
- Built-in entertainment for guests;
- Can build a wedding theme around the event;
- Gives guests a fast of local flavor.
- More expensive lodging and services;
- Limited services (because everyone is focused on the event);
- Crowded. May impact the experience of nature and scenic beauty).
4. What is and what is not included in the rental fee?
This is a general question, but it's important no matter where you are, so I'm repeating it here to underscore the importance of asking this question!
I remember I got an email from an irate bride about a final vendor bill. To be fair, the bride didn't have a planner, and she didn't have all of the details in order. On her wedding day, she realized that she didn't have a cake knife, or linens for her dessert table. And though she had a cake stand, she loved the wooden rounds that the venue had and thought they would be perfect for her pies.
The venue coordinator was right by the brides side saying, “oh, we have that right on site,” and you can use our linens.
What the site coordinator failed to mention was each add-on would be itemized rental. The bride was slapped with thousands of dollars in additional fees which included add on items, but also included coat check fees, setup fees, and a cake cutting fee.
The bride could have avoided this if she had asked for a list of what was included and what was not included in the rental fees.
5. Can the venue handle guests with mobility issues?
This is a big issue in many mountain towns, especially in the west. The disabled population in mountain towns can be small, and mobility issues rarely register on the radar of able-bodied mountain folk. But if your elderly grandmother uses a walker, or your disabled veteran, best man is in a wheel chair, every small step and curb is a barrier for a person in a wheel chair. Even those facilities with “accessible” ramps and facilities may have them build so far away that the additional time it takes to go around is a barrier in itself. Don't just take peoples word for it during a walk through, do your own walk through to see how well the accommodations will meet the needs of any of your guests.