Multicultural brides and grooms generally have very different needs for their wedding than other brides in the US. Some that are specific to Africans are
- Guest size: The average wedding size in the US in 2014 was 120 guests, and the average cost of a wedding in the DC metro area was about $34,000. African couples generally average about twice this size which drives up costs, and also requires the couple to find venues which are larger than average
- Catering: Food is a central part to any wedding or event, and is particularly important for African weddings. Weddings are one of the most popular cultural celebrations for family and friends to commune over, and few couples want to sacrifice African cuisine for American cuisine at their celebrations.
- Decor: Cultural weddings always feature very elaborate decor elements which are representative of the culture. Wedding blogs and social media pages continue to share images of very beautiful and customized pieces at African weddings, and these installations generally take some time to setup and breakdown.
We factor these unique needs for each of our clients that we plan weddings for before recommending a specific venue. Below are a few tips which address the needs above, and can guide you in your search for the perfect venue in the Washington DC metro area:
- Furniture & Upholstery: One of the common misconceptions that I’ve seen some our partial planning clients have is that it is always best to go with a less expensive venue, and rent the decor needed to make it “workable” later. This is only true of decor, not furniture, particularly when looking at larger guest counts. Renting chairs at $6-10 each for hundreds of guests adds up very quickly. Similarly, draping an entire room because you don’t like the walls costs a lot, especially in rooms with larger square footage due to larger guest counts. Before booking a venue, really consider the cost of the extra items that you’d need to make it “workable” before comparing with a venue which comes with the items that you like.
- Food: Catering is one of the most expensive line items in any budget. Before booking a per head catering hall, be sure to calculate the total cost, including the gratuities and taxes to get a full understanding of how much you will be paying. Also ensure that you can still afford the hall if the guest count increases by another 15% as this is very common with African weddings. Alternatively, there are many catering halls which allow you to bring in your own licensed caterer. This many times cuts costs, and also ensures that you are able to have cultural food at your wedding.
- Setup Time: This is another commonly overlooked area when it comes to weddings. The average catering hall allots just one hour of setup time for a wedding. The catering halls are used to hosting events where the hall takes center stage, and not elaborate color schemes and setup, and usually have short setup time windows due to selling both day and evening events. Alternatively, other rental halls generally allow more time for setup. Before finalizing a venue, make a realistic estimate on what it will take to setup your dream day, and pay for an extra hour of setup, or book a venue with enough setup time baked in.
You may be reading all of these guidelines, but still have some outstanding questions on what approach to take while planning your wedding.
Where do I find a licensed caterer?
What venue options besides catering halls are available to me?
How much of my budget should I really spend on the venue, food and other line items?
Is my budget enough to fit all of the things that I want?
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