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Location, Location, Location

Choosing the Best Venue for Your Wedding and Reception

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photography Provided

People tend to remember a wedding as either a good experience or a bad one.

“We want to try to eliminate as manybad reasons as possible through our consultations,” says Tom Trine, owner of Elite Banquet & Conference Center.

Trine, who also owns Windmill Grill, recommends that brides secure a reception venue as soon as possible after their fiancé pops the question.

“Book it the night you get engaged,” Trine says with a chuckle. “Seriously, I’ve seen brides book two years out for a venue they have their heart set on.”

It makes sense to reserve the location first, as everything else falls in line after that.

“It doesn’t make any difference who the deejay or photographer is if you don’t have the location set,” Trine says.

When choosing a venue, make sure it offers quality food and inclusive packages so that you aren’t nickel-and-dimed for every little service. Decor is crucial, as ambiance matters. Nice lighting, a built-in bar and fresh circulation all top the list of must-haves.

It’s also smart to think about proximity to hotels if there will be out-of-town guests. The most important task for brides from the get-go is to create a list of items that are important to them.

Elite Banquet

“What is your vision for the event?” Trine says. “Do you have any special needs? Share any specifics you’re looking for, to be sure the venue can bring that to life for you.”

Between Elite Banquet and Windmill Grill, Trine and his team handle 120-plus weddings per year. When they meet with a bride and groom for a complimentary consultation, they walk the couple through the entire process, covering everything from the ceremony to the reception. One of the primary reminders Trine’s team offers to the bride is that although it’s her wedding day, there are other people to think about.

“A bride and groom may like salmon with hot sauce on it, but we’ll try to steer them away from that choice because their 200 guests won’t like salmon with hot sauce,” he says.

They also encourage brides to put themselves in their guests’ shoes. While the day may zip by for the happy couple, it can feel like time is standing still for everybody else.

“Have you ever been to a wedding where you pray to God it ends quickly?” Trine says.

A common complaint guests voice about weddings is the amount of time they spend waiting. They get to the ceremony and have to wait for it to start. After the ceremony, they have to wait to greet the newlyweds in the receiving line. They get to the venue and have to wait for the bride and groom to arrive – andon it goes. So much of the frustration can be avoided, however, with proper planning.

“What drives us crazy is if a bride and groom decide to go down the street to take pictures at a park and leave 200 hungry people here,” Trine says. “If you don’t feed the guests, tElite Banquethey’ll start to feed on each other and that can get ugly quickly. Some people will just leave if they get tired of waiting.”

If you anticipate a lull in the action between the ceremony and reception, Trine suggests serving a second appetizer. If children will be in attendance, he advises that brides set up a play area or activity table to keep kids occupied.

Trine has noticed that the favorite wedding season has shifted to fall.

“When we first started doing weddings, if you landed one or two weddings in October it was crazy,” Trine says. “Now it has become the busiest month of the year, even surpassing June.”

This makes sense when considering all of the activities that typically take place in the summer. There are vacations, graduations, barbecues, swim lessons, baseball games and more. With so many activities going on, it can be difficult for folks to attend a wedding.

“We will have a wedding booked in June that says they’ll have 200 people and another booked in November for 200, and the one in November will come closer to 200 than the June one,” says Trine, who claims that the worst wedding date to select is the Fourth of July. “We actually had a wedding booked for the Fourth with 150 invited guests, and nobody showed up. I’m not joking. It was terrible.”

On February 20 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Trine and his team will host the first annual Elite Bridal Gala. With 30-plus vendors, brides can chat with florists, deejays, photographers, bakers, florists, hotel staff members, jewelers, makeup artists, tuxedo company representatives and more.

Elite Banquet & Conference Center is located at 2820 South Lafountain Street in Kokomo. For more information, call 765-453-2500 or visit elitebanquet.com.

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