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All-inclusive venues: Are they worth it?

Every year around this time, we all get bombarded with advertisements about package deals for wedding venues that include décor, linens, food, bar, and more. The price tag looks enticing, and we see the appeal of not having to worry about getting all the vendors. But is it worth it? Before committing to an all-inclusive venue, here are our recommendations as event planners.

First, make sure that when you get the list of services, you ask if this only covers the basic services for each section. For example, many venues that say they include linens only really include white, ivory, or black. Or the range of colors they include are limited and only in the polyester material. If you want a lace or satin material in winter green for example, it might be considered an upgrade and will be an increase in price. If décor is included, it will be from a selection of centerpieces in specific colors, same with banquet chairs vs Chiavari chairs, all considered upgrades that aren’t part of that all-inclusive deal.

Some venues come with a minimum of guests that are required to meet the all-inclusive package deal. The most common is 100 guests and if your guest count is less than that, you will not get your money back for the number of placings that you don’t fill. Meaning, if you only have 83 guests show up, you still must pay for 100.

Let’s talk food. Many of the all-inclusive packages are standard 3 appetizers, 2 entrees, 1 vegetable, 1 starch, and bread. The menu tends to be limited and sometimes the contracts don’t allow for dietary restrictions unless the client pays extra. The setup is normally buffet and to have it plated would be considered an upgrade.

Some venues do an excellent job at working with clients to make the all-inclusive packages work. They really listen to the client’s needs and are upfront about what they offer. However, if you are a bride who wants specific details and wants the freedom to bring your own caterer, a bartender that you love, you might want to first do your research. Many times, finding a venue that allows you to bring your own vendors ends up being more financially feasible.

Bottom line, read the fine print, thoroughly go through the contract before you sign it, make sure you are 100% aware of what is truly included in that all-included package so that there are no surprises and no unexpected invoices headed your way.

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