VETTING VENUES

Tips from the pros for finding the perfect space for your special day.

WRITTEN BY HEIDI BETHEL
PHOTOS BY GAGEWOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

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AT678AAshley and Travis Headen's wedding at Martis Camp, Truckee.
Stems by Diana. Hair and makeup by Hello Darling Riverside Reno.
Dress by Pronovias

A setting can dictate a guest’s first impression of the wedding. Sure, you can spruce up a place with beautiful flower arrangements and other decorative elements, but the bones of the venue play a big part in the general aesthetic and flow of the day. Here are several suggestions to keep in mind when considering locations, from those who represent local event spaces:

A trusting touch

When Jack and Diana Jacobs, co-owners of Jacobs Family Berry Farm in Gardnerville, meet with couples, their priority is to build a personal relationship.

“We consider each bride and groom family,” Jack says. “When folks are booking a year out, we are making a promise that our place will take care of them and that we’ll do all that we can to make the day perfect.”

Styled setting

Options abound for venues in the Sierra.

“Couples need to know what type of wedding they want. Is it more intimate or grandiose? Outdoor or indoor?” says Amy Harrison, director of marketing for Tahoe Vistana Inn in Tahoe Vista.

Harrison encourages the bride and groom to narrow their vision before considering venues.

A personal touch

When thinking about a venue, Judit Jambor, wedding event coordinator at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, suggests considering a place that has a special connection with your past.

“We’ve had weddings where family members helped cut trees on the trails when we were first opening,” Jambor says. “People have grown up at Mt. Rose; it’s where they went to ski school and spent vacations. It’s really neat to have that history intertwined during a wedding.”

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Define the budget

At Incline Village’s Hyatt Regency, marketing manager Kressa Olguin is about the numbers.

“When searching out venues and locations, be sure to have a clear idea of what your overall budget is in advance. It will ultimately help to compare apples to apples,” she notes.

Deciding on the destination

When planning a wedding in Reno-Tahoe, there’s a good chance loved ones will be coming from out of town. Lacey Behrens Dibble, general manager at Greenhorn Ranch in Quincy, urges the bride and groom to consider that this may be the only vacation attendees will have for a while.

“Finding a place where you can bring people together and help them have an incredible experience worth traveling for makes it a highly anticipated getaway rather than an inconvenience,” she adds.

Going the distance

Some couples will pick a ceremony area that is away from the reception space without considering traffic and travel times, which can throw the whole timeline off for the day. Lyndsey Bunn, Peppermill Reno’s catering manager, urges couples to be aware of the stress that splitting venues can have on guests.

“Following a ceremony, it can take a long time before settling into a reception, which makes for a tired, hungry, and grumpy crowd,” Bunn says.

Inclusivity factor

“There are a lot of details that go into your special day, and the last thing you want to worry about is setting tables and getting the venue ready,” says Dana Brooks, director of special events for Truckee’s Tahoe Mountain Club.

Brooks urges folks to consider elements of the venue that can or cannot be included, such as the bar, catering, tables, chairs, glassware, dance floor, servers, bartenders, and staff who help set up and tear down.

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Time crunch

At the Graeagle Corner Barn in Blairsden, vice president Harvey West III explains that it’s important for a couple to understand the duration of time for which they will have access to the venue.

“In every standard contract, we give a day to set up, the day of the wedding, and the following day for cleanup,” West says. “You get it for three days, and it’s your property to do with what you want.”

Storm a-brewin’

When Mother Nature strikes, she can have devastating effects on outdoor venues.

“It’s important you have a plan B, even if your wedding is in the middle of summer,” says Nisha Hallert, director of special events and sales at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno. “Talk to the folks on site to ensure there are alternate locations for the ceremony and reception if the weather is bad.”

Modern menus

Ryan Goldhammer, co-owner of Reno’s Pignic Pub & Patio, sees a trend toward small plates and snack receptions, rather than grandiose banquet dinner settings.

“Today’s young couples generally are paying for more wedding expenses and not looking for their guests to be pop-open-the-shirt-buttons full from a big dinner,” he says. “They want free-flowing receptions and spaces that can accommodate that.”

Bar bottleneck

For every 40 guests, Chris Shanks, co-founder of The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery in Reno, says there should be one bartender and adequate space at the bar.

“Always consider the size of the bar in relation to the number of guests,” Shanks says. “And look for a place that has the best cocktail reception facilities because that’s usually the part of the reception everyone remembers most.”

Sound off

While Kristine Rowland, events manager at Toiyabe Golf Club in Washoe Valley, stresses the importance of booking a venue first, she also recommends getting a deejay who understands the space.

“A good deejay really runs the show. They are the ones guiding people to the next thing happening and where it is,” she says.

Picture perfect

At The Elm Estate in Reno, food and beverage director Casey Hall stresses the importance of the visual appeal.

“Our property is designed to wow in every photo,” she says.

Hall encourages couples to pick a place where they have a lot of options for photos so they don’t have to go far to get gorgeous shots.

With all of these considerations, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed … this is where on-site managers and wedding planners excel. Whether it’s a lakeside dream or something quaint and simple, weddings in the Sierra are as memorable as they are beautiful. Above all else, enjoy your special day!

Heidi Bethel is a freelance writer who also specializes in event planning. While her focus is mainly business events, she recognizes the importance a venue has on the overall takeaway and encourages folks to explore many options.

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