From making the guest list to finding the perfect apparel, plus anticipating your guests’ needs, planning a wedding is an enormous endeavor. While some couples have the energy to iron out these details and DIY all their decorations, others would prefer a slightly less labor-intensive solution.
Enter: all-inclusive wedding venues.
Country clubs, banquet halls, hotels, and other all-inclusives offer packages that provide a venue, place settings, and catering—all in one place. Some go the extra mile to provide flowers, DJs, photo booths, and the other elements that you need to make your wedding memorable.
So, is an all-inclusive venue right for you? In this short guide we’ll cover:
All-inclusive wedding venues provide essential services, thus reducing your need to vet and book vendors. But, they don’t necessarily provide every single thing that you’ll need to make sure that the big day goes off without a hitch. That depends on the specific venue and its offerings.
Most all-inclusive wedding sites can provide:
Of course, there are dozens of other services that you need for your wedding reception. Luckily, some all-inclusive venues come with other perks.
Besides the above list of basics, check with potential venues to see if they can supply services such as the following:
Some of these services may be included in the base rate, while others will come at an extra charge.
If there’s something you need that’s not on your venue’s price sheet, talk to management (or your wedding coordinator) to make sure that you can bring it to the premises.
All-inclusive venues usually structure their prices in one of the following ways:
If rates depend on party size, the venue will quote you a price on your anticipated headcount and then provide a final bill based on the actual number of attendees.
In most cases, this reflects the basic pricing before any add-ons. However, the cost can stack up if you say “yes” to more of the venues’ rentals and services.
Keep in mind that most venues offer several base packages along with different add-ons.
To stay within your budget, go over what’s included in each offered package, and then factor in the venue’s add-ons, as well as any services you’ll need to secure off-site.
Some readers are already breathing a sigh of relief once they realize they can rent a venue that provides catering and cocktails. Now, they can cross days of vendor meetings and deliberations off of their calendar.
But, besides the obvious convenience of all-inclusive weddings, what are the other perks?
Let’s take a look.
If your all-inclusive venue is a hotel, resort, or estate, you might be able to stay on-site and reserve a block of rooms for your guests.
This can have several advantages.
If you’re planning a wedding in your hometown, you’ll know exactly which restaurant should cater your dinner, which bakery should bake your cake, and which affordable wedding florist provides the freshest flowers.
But, when planning your destination wedding, you may have limited contacts and limited time to make decisions. Some couples plan destination weddings without ever visiting the venue, while others make short trips while figuring out the details from afar.
An all-inclusive wedding venue can significantly reduce the stress and time involved in planning a destination wedding.
The upfront price tag for an all-inclusive venue can initially look higher than it would for a standalone venue. But you might find out that the value of included catering, table settings, and other add-on items results in overall savings.
Of course, it’s still prudent to price out the optional services. That way, you can make an informed decision about whether the venue’s DJ, photographer, or florist is really the right choice for you.
If you need a quick comparison, Zola’s pre-screened wedding vendors can be sorted by location and budget—that way, you can find your ideal vendor match quickly.
Another potential cost-saving advantage? The free services of a wedding coordinator or planner.
If you’re customizing significant elements of your wedding, you may want to hire an external planner. But, if you want to save money and work with someone who already knows the ins and outs of your all-inclusive site, go with the provided choice.
Some people want unlimited options. The world is their oyster, and they’re willing to try two dozen different caterers, twenty potential wedding rings, a handful of bands and DJs, and Pinterest boards full of designs for DIY decor until they find the pearl. Other couples would rather figure out the broad strokes of their wedding plan in one fell swoop.
When you book with an all-inclusive wedding venue, the choices are straightforward. You can plan your menu, select your decor, and even book accommodations in a single afternoon. Use that extra time to let go of stress and bond with your future spouse. After all, your wedding is supposed to be fun.
Are there any downsides to all-inclusive venues? Well, it all depends on your vision and goals.
Let’s review a few potential negatives to keep in mind.
Do you want your wedding catered by the restaurant where you had your first date?
Maybe you’re not picky about food, but you’re adamant that the decorations match the Old Hollywood wedding theme you’ve been dreaming about since high school.
In these cases, an all-inclusive wedding venue might not provide the right options. Consider your vision in the following areas:
Along with more limited options comes the potential concern that your wedding is slightly generic. Sure, most weddings fall into common patterns, from calligraphed place settings to floral displays and beyond. But you still want yours to reflect your specific love story.
If you’ve always dreamed of a super-unique theme, DIY decorations, and a menu that will leave guests talking for years to come, an all-inclusive wedding venue may not feel like “you.”
However, there are usually ample opportunities to customize your all-inclusive reception. If you’re looking for a strong foundation that allows you to get creative with the details, this could still be the perfect fit.
Once you’ve reviewed the pros and cons and said “I do” to all-inclusive, how can you make the most of your venue? Let’s run through it step-by-step.
Some all-inclusive venues require a minimum party size, while others charge per head. Therefore, it’s important to know the size of your potential guest list before you start looking at venues.
How many people will actually say yes?
Don’t forget to consult all parents and in-laws. Otherwise, you risk last-minute additions.
From there, allow Zola’s guest list manager to take care of the rest. The guest list manager will collect guests’ mailing addresses, track RSVPs, and coordinate meal choices. You can even create seating arrangements to ensure that Aunt Lois stays as far away from Aunt Bonnie as possible. Phew.
Set Your Budget and Review Pricing Options Once you know the size of your wedding, browse venues of the right size and compare prices. This will help you get a better sense of your ballpark budget. As you narrow down your list of all-inclusive venues, take a careful look at their options, including:
Once you have a clear sense of your potential expenses with the venue, it’s time to decide whether you’d like to use their add-on services or go your own way to book some vendors.
Then, secure your wedding suite and a block of rooms for your guests, and start planning in earnest.
After you’ve booked your venue, plan the details of your reception.
If the venue provides a free wedding coordinator (or you’ve hired a wedding planner), he or she will lead you through the ropes. Otherwise, ask a trusted friend to weigh in on decisions such as the following.
Unfortunately, your all-inclusive venue can’t do everything for you. In most cases, you’ll need to order your own invitations and create your wedding website.
But this doesn’t have to be a hassle, either:
No one said that all-inclusive weddings have to be generic.
In fact, taking out the guesswork of catering and table settings can actually free up precious time and energy for adding fun custom details.
Dreaming of DIY floral crowns or boutonnieres? Now’s the time to go crazy. Want to add specific decor touches related to your culture or beliefs? A few well-planned details can complement any decor supplied by the venue. Consider customizing in the following areas:
Don’t quite have the energy after shopping for apparel and wrangling your guests? You can always ask a member of your wedding party.
Wedding planning takes time, energy, and money. But an all-inclusive package can help you save in all three categories, freeing up more hours in the day to enjoy with your soon-to-be and loved ones in the days leading up to the big event.
While it’s important to understand the details of your all-inclusive package, the convenience and ease make it that much easier to tackle the rest of your to-do list.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an all-inclusive package for planning the following?
Actually, there is. Here at Zola, we’ve crafted free wedding planning tools that make it easy to map out the rest of your wedding logistics and tackle your checklists with confidence.
Are you ready to say “I do” to free wedding planning tips and tools?