It’s more important than ever to be well-informed when choosing a venue. Hoteliers weigh in on what to consider—and why their adaptable, all-encompassing properties are a smart choice.
Safety precautions are key.
“Without a doubt, couples are concerned about how to host an event that maximizes your group’s time together while minimizing contact,” says Andrea Mercado, catering sales manager at Le Meridien Dallas, The Stoneleigh. Among other changes, The Stoneleigh has reconfigured each event room to ensure at least six feet of physical distance between attendees. In addition to distancing measures, you should also ask about cleaning procedures and venue staffers’ use of personal protective equipment. At DoubleTree by Hilton Dallas – Campbell Centre, for instance, event spaces are sanitized prior to and throughout the event, and all banquet staff is required to wear masks and gloves.
Flexibility is a must in these uncertain times.
If your guest list suddenly shrinks due to COVID, or ends up being bigger than expected, you need to know that your venue can accommodate the changes. “It is very important to choose a venue that offers flexibility,” says Julian Leaver of Julian Leaver Events. “Not only in room size but also in terms of adjusted food and beverage minimums.” At the Thompson Dallas, for example, the hotel’s 14,000-square-foot ballroom can be divided up for smaller guest counts, with the capability to socially distance a 300-plus-person dinner. “The dividers in our room also allow for a more intimate setting should a guest count shrink and they don’t want to look like they are drowning in a huge space,” says event sales manager Jennifer Page. The Beeman Hotel offers similar flexibility. “With over 11,000 square feet of event space, we have the ability to get quite creative,” says catering event manager Janice Hill. “For example, we can pull airwalls to allow for separation of dining and dancing. Additionally, if a particular event space has a maximum occupancy of 80, we can now host intimate events of 25 guests comfortably seated around round tables.”
Costs should be clear.
Venues might have various packages to choose from, often with the option for upgrades, so be sure you know what’s included in the price. At The Statler, for example, pricing is all-inclusive, including everything from setup to cleanup, tables and chairs, china, glass, silver, and service, but couples who book the venue can also choose to make upgrades. Other hotels offer similar packages. “At our hotel,” says Shannon Rutkowski, director of catering at the Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park, “we own the majority of the items that you are usually charged for if you are going with an outside catering venue. If you want a dance floor, stage, tables, chairs, linen, and silverware, it is all included.”
If you’re looking for convenience, you can’t go wrong with a hotel wedding.
Ryan Miyamoto, general manager of The Statler, points out that his hotel is a one-stop shop, able to accommodate the venue, the food, the sleeping rooms, and any audio/visual needs. “Our goal is to make a stressful time in people’s lives as easy and uncomplicated as possible,” he says. The benefits of a hotel wedding are especially evident these days. “Being in a pandemic has changed the way our couples are envisioning their wedding weekend,” says Aida Sharif, director of sales and marketing for the DoubleTree by Hilton Dallas – Campbell Centre. “Hosting their event at a hotel can give the guests an option of staying in one place and the comfort of knowing that we are following all protocols that are in place by the city of Dallas and the CDC.” While Jess Wegner of Jess Wegner Events agrees that hotel weddings offer many conveniences, including a dedicated staff and a plethora of amenities, she has some words of wisdom no matter where you choose to host your special day: “COVID has affected the way we do everything, including celebrate,” she says. “My advice for brides is: It may not look exactly like you imagined, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is you get to marry your best friend.”