Everything You Need to Know About All-Inclusive Wedding Venues
From building your wedding website to planning your honeymoon, there are numerous decisions you'll have to make when going through your wedding planning checklist. One way to make your life easier from the start? Look into all-inclusive wedding venues that provide most (or all) of the vendors and items you'll need for your special day. These types of wedding venues come with a lot of perks, but as always, it's important to weigh your options before making a final decision. If you love the idea of taking some things off of your wedding planning plate, read on to learn if an all-inclusive wedding venue is the right choice for you. Once you've weighed the pros and cons, you can check out The Knot Vendor Marketplace to find all-inclusive wedding venues near you.
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What Is an All-Inclusive Wedding Venue?
So what does "all-inclusive" actually mean? An all-inclusive wedding venue, sometimes called a full-service wedding venue, is a venue that offers event packages that include (almost) everything you need for your special day, like catering, decorations, drinks, rentals and more. Some all-inclusive venues cover a DJ, flowers, and even a photographer. Depending on the venue, all-inclusive packages are priced at a flat rate or a per-person charge. Usually, banquet halls, hotels and country clubs tend to be all-in-one venues, but with more research, you can find other kinds of wedding venues that are all-inclusive as well.
All-inclusive wedding packages are especially popular for shorter engagement periods, destination weddings and couples who prefer to have more guidance during the planning process.
How to Find an All-Inclusive Wedding Venue
All-inclusive or not, one of the best ways to find your wedding venue is by reading reviews and comparing prices for potential spots in your area. Online searches can help you get a quick overview of what each venue offers, including photos of the property and the price of their event packages (if any). When you're browsing through The Knot Vendor Marketplace, you can filter venues by what they offer in-house, including food and drinks, planning services, equipment rentals and more. Once you're on the venue's vendor storefront or website, look for a compilation of their available packages, catering menus and starting price points (heads up, sometimes this is included in a PDF instead of directly on the website). If you're not able to get an exact idea of whether or not a property is a full-service wedding venue, send a quick email asking about what they offer in house and which vendors they partner with directly.
When to Book an All-Inclusive Venue
According to our wedding planning timeline, a good rule of thumb is to book your wedding venue anywhere from 12 to 18 months before your wedding date, or shortly after you determine a wedding budget and general guest list. This might seem like a lot of time in advance, but remember that your wedding date isn't completely "official" until you've locked in the location. Booking an all-inclusive wedding venue will help you save time later down the line, but it's best to get the actual venue finalized sooner rather than later (for your own peace of mind!).
Perks of an All-Inclusive Wedding Venue
So, what are the benefits of choosing a wedding venue with catering included or an all-in-one wedding venue that offers other perks? Here are the top reasons to go this route.
You'll streamline your wedding planning process.
The number one benefit of booking an all-inclusive wedding venue is convenience. When you're hiring and researching your own vendors, having unlimited options for your wedding cake, wedding entertainment, and catering can feel overwhelming, especially if you're unsure about what you want or don't feel comfortable vetting vendors on your own. All-inclusive venues provide all of your basic wedding services through an in-house team of event professionals who work there every day.
You'll know the total cost upfront.
Don't let the price tag of an all-inclusive wedding package scare you. Depending on your location and the package you choose, the price may seem expensive compared to a non-all-inclusive venue, but by bundling your linens, catering, tables and other services, you can potentially gain big savings overall. Bundling your wedding services into one price allows you to avoid the hassle of making deposits to multiple vendors. Also, with all of the vendors on-site, you don't have to worry about delivery fees, clean-up costs or covering expenses for out-of-town vendors.
You'll have a knowledgeable and dedicated staff.
By booking an all-inclusive wedding venue, you'll have the venue's trusted wedding vendors and on-site staff to assist with making your wedding day special. The wedding venue's staff will know the space in and out, which means they can offer helpful planning suggestions, like how to arrange the layout of the room, how to best plan out your wedding day timeline or ways to upgrade your decor using their rentals. Also, they'll be able to easily communicate with one another to finalize your wedding details, which can be challenging when you're working with numerous different vendors.
Basics That All-Inclusive Wedding Packages Include
Full-service wedding venues and all-inclusive venues offer a lot of the same things, but no two are exactly alike. In general, you can expect to find most of these basic services included in the event packages.
Most all-inclusive venues will provide an event coordinator to ensure everything is going according to plan before and during your wedding day. Keep in mind: An event coordinator is not synonymous with a wedding planner, so discuss with your wedding venue what aspects of the wedding the event coordinator will assist with. For example, an event coordinator is responsible for handling basic logistics, like arranging vendor deliveries and overseeing the wedding day schedule, while a wedding planner can do those tasks in addition to helping you with decorative aspects, like choosing a color palette or flower arrangements. If you hire your own wedding planner, make sure they work closely with your event coordinator—this way, everyone knows their role and there's no confusion.
Decorations and furniture
While some venues offer a limited selection of decor, you're typically responsible for finding chair, dinnerware, linen and table rentals after you book a wedding venue. All-inclusive wedding venues take care of those responsibilities for you by providing basic furniture and decorative accents as part of your wedding package, often with optional upgrades. This is a huge perk if you want to streamline the process of choosing your decor and don't want to worry about contacting numerous rental vendors or arranging venue setup. Note: If you're deciding between all-inclusive wedding venue packages, a per person charge for food and rentals is often a budget-friendly option if you have a small wedding guest list, while a flat rate price can be more cost-effective for larger guest lists.
According to The Knot Real Weddings Study, 57% of newlywed couples say that food and beverages are the two most important priorities during the planning process, so it's no surprise that food is a memorable part of the wedding reception. Thankfully, all-inclusive weddings venues always have in-house caterers to create a menu you'll love (yay!). Consider these important wedding menu related decisions before booking an all-inclusive wedding venue:
Check the types of food they specialize in.
See if they can accommodate any dietary restrictions (like gluten-free or pescatarian).
Ask what serving styles (buffet, plated meals, etc.) they offer.
Wine and beer service
The wedding package determines what type of alcohol is served. A basic all-inclusive wedding package may only have house wine and beer, while an upgraded package could include top-shelf liquor, an open bar or custom cocktails. Discuss with your venue to see what they offer and decide if their options meet your needs.
Extras That All-Inclusive Wedding Packages Could Include
Aside from the basics like catering and event coordination, some wedding venues really do provide everything you need, right down to the flowers and tableware. Check out some other "extras" that you might find at an all-inclusive venue.
Usually, couples have to hire their own DJ, but some all-inclusive wedding packages offer a DJ as an add-on service or can provide a list of preferred vendors they've worked with before. Don't be afraid to ask the DJ questions to ensure they're the best fit for your wedding. Your venue's event coordinator might have suggestions for other local entertainment as well, such as a jazz band or string quartet.
Many all-inclusive venues have a standard or custom wedding cake as an add-on. Depending on your wedding package, cake cutting, plating and serving are included with the wedding cake add-on.
Custom floral centerpieces are an extra charge at some all-inclusive venues. If your venue offers in-house floral design or works exclusively with an external florist, check your venue's contract to see the types of flowers and the number of arrangements that are included, and if they have a substitution plan just in case your first flower choice isn't available.
The Knot Real Weddings Study found that 79% of couples choose an open bar, but not all wedding beverage packages include an open bar, so ask about your venue's options and how you can upgrade. If you're interested in creating a wedding signature cocktail, ask if the venue's bartenders can help you and your partner pick one before the wedding.
Photographer or photo booth
Some all-inclusive wedding venues have in-house photographers or offer discounted packages if you hire one of their exclusive photography partners. Using the wedding venue's photographer gives you an advantage because the photographer is familiar with the venue and knows the best locations to take beautiful photos of you and your guests. It can also save you time when trying to find a photographer who's available on your wedding date since many of them book up a year or more in advance. Some all-inclusive venues also offer entertainment add-ons, like a photo booth, which is a fun addition to any event and a creative way to give keepsakes to your guests to remember your special day.
How Much to Tip All-Inclusive Wedding Venues
In most cases, you would give tips to each individual wedding vendor, like your DJ, bartender and delivery staff. But for services and vendors that are part of your all-inclusive package, the gratuity may already be built-in to the total cost, so double-check your contract to make sure. The venue might tack on an additional percentage of the total bill to cover gratuity, or the contract might outline specifically what is owed for each service. So, how much do you tip an all-inclusive venue? If nothing is outlined in the contract, you can tip the vendors the same as you would for a venue that isn't all-inclusive, which roughly ranges from 10% to 20% per vendor, depending on the service. Hint: This wedding vendor tipping guide outlines how much to allocate for each vendor.
6 Questions to Ask During Your All-Inclusive Venue Tour
Touring a potential full-service wedding venue in person will help you visualize your own event in the space, and it will also clarify exactly what's included in your wedding package. Be sure to ask these important questions when you meet with the venue coordinator for a walk-through.
1. Does the venue provide space for the ceremony, reception or both?
Why you should ask this question: Lots of all-inclusive wedding venues offer space for your ceremony and reception, but some venues are only available for receptions. Alternatively, some all-inclusive venues require both the ceremony and reception to be held on-site. Whether you're having a ceremony in a separate location or would like to host your ceremony and reception in-house, think about which option works best for you.
2. How many people can the space accommodate?
Why you should ask this question: Your guest list has a big impact on your wedding budget. The more guests you have means a higher cost for your selected all-inclusive wedding package, so figure out if you're willing to decrease your guest list or increase your budget. If there are multiple event spaces throughout the venue, you might be limited to specific ones depending on the size of your guest list.
3. Are the packages customizable?
Why you should ask this question: Some all-inclusive wedding packages have limited options for customization, while others are fully customizable. Before choosing your wedding package, look over what's included, and from there you can decide what upgrades you'll need to fit your vision. Any add-ons or external vendors you hire will be an additional charge, so remember to factor that in when making your wedding budget. Even if you decide to personalize your wedding package, you'll still have less planning to do overall, resulting in less stress for you and your partner.
4. What additional fees should I know about?
Why you should ask this question: There is a base price for all-inclusive wedding packages, but upgrades such as an open bar with top-shelf spirits, a custom wedding cake or floral centerpieces can quickly increase the price. Be sure to review your venue contract thoroughly and inquire about any possible additional fees (damage or overtime fees, for example) so you aren't surprised by any charges down the line.
5. Do we have exclusive use of the venue for the entire day?
Why you should ask this question: Hotels, banquet halls and country clubs are the most common all-inclusive wedding venues, so it's not unusual for these venues to have multiple weddings in one day (shout-out to Bride Wars). If you want to avoid seeing staff cleaning up from the previous wedding or mingling in the hallway with guests from another event, ask if it's possible to pay more for exclusive use of the venue for the day.
6. Is full-service set up and clean-up included?
Why you should ask this question: Full-service set up and clean-up are typically included in the initial all-inclusive wedding package price, since you're using their in-house staff. If you decide to hire some external vendors, check with your venue if there are any extra fees for set up and clean-up for those specific vendors. Your wedding package may also include a specific number of event hours, such as the required ceremony start and reception end times, which could be impacted by set up and clean-up. If those times don't work for you, ask if it's possible to extend the hours for an added cost.
How to Coordinate With Your All-Inclusive Venue After Booking
One major benefit of booking an all-inclusive wedding venue is that you'll be working with an event coordinator who knows the venue inside and out. Once the contract is signed, they'll be your go-to person when it comes to the next steps, such as scheduling catering tastings, choosing rental items and finalizing the timeline of the wedding day. Your venue coordinator will also be a liaison between you and the rest of the in-house staff and vendors, so you won't have to worry about individually reaching out to the rest of your vendor team.