In talking with some brides recently it came to our attention how frustrated some of them were. They had selected venues and were told that they couldn’t bring in certain outside vendors, or that if they did, there would be a significant additional charge.
I thought I’d take a moment and explain why some of this is out of necessity or regulatory requirements, and why sometimes it makes little to no sense whatsoever.
Let’s first look at why it might be a requirement out of legal or regulatory requirements.
Venues that have a kitchen and catering staff, often either refuse to allow outside catering, or have a significant fee for bringing someone in. A commercial kitchen costs money – even if it’s justs sitting unused. They’re required to maintain cleanliness standards, stay up to date on health codes, and much, much more – even if they’re not preparing food on that day. Outside caterers can cause significant issues since they’ll often want access to the kitchen, and items can go missing if the existing items get mixed into the outside catering equipment. Venues may require a staffed member to be in the kitchen with the outside catering – incurring a cost of labor and other overhead, even if not preparing food.
This is why there’s a corkage fee for bringing a bottle of wine to a restaurant, and why you can’t leave with an open bottle – even if you’re the one that brought it in. Liquor and other food safety requirements can be VERY tough on caterers and venues. This is but a small portion of the reasons that some venues require you to use the onsite caterer, or to pay an additional fee to allow an outside caterer to work their venue.
There are some other cases where things can be more difficult though. There are some cases where outside catering might be acceptable, as long as it’s not ‘that‘ outside caterer. Sometimes a location will have a bad experience with a vendor and ban them from the venue. It’s unfortunate if this happens, and it’s that much more unfortunate if they’re never given a chance to redeem themselves. I’ve heard of one situation involving a brand new kitchen being assaulted by a keg of beer that resulted in an enormous cleaning bill and a crying venue owner – and the caterer was asked to leave and never return. Again, it’s unfortunate if your favorite venue and favorite vendor can’t see eye to eye, but when this happens you may be forced to choose between the two of them.
That aside, there are some venues that simply sign exclusionary agreements or enforce an exclusionary policy for any number of reasons. Instead of defining standards to be met and giving vendors a chance to meet them, vendors are instead simply ‘locked out’ of the venue as long as the contract is in place. In short, these venues have given a virtual monopoly to their vendors of choice. While this might be great if their vendors are your wedding ‘dream team’ but if you don’t like the tent and chair rental, or DJ company they require you to use, there isn’t any other alternative.
Please understand, we’ve felt this ourselves. Playing at The Player’s Club Sawgrass in Jacksonville, Florida was incredible. It’s a multi-million dollar clubhouse that is home to the PGA tour and one of the top 10 golf resorts in the world. We played an incredible wedding there, and when we were booked, we simply contacted the venue and asked what the requirements were to play there. We provided the appropriate paperwork to document our insurance and other necessary requirements – and had a great experience along the way. We worked with the staff to give our clients a wonderful wedding ceremony on the awards lawn, cocktails on the main lawn, and then a great reception in one of the upstairs rooms.
But there are multiple venues in our area that don’t see things the same way. They opt to limit the vendors they allow on their property, simply refusing to allow anyone else to work there. While they are certainly allowed to do exactly this as a part of their business model, they don’t have any mechanism to review new potential vendors, nor give their clients a choice when they use their venue.
Please don’t misunderstand, we’re disappointed that they won’t let us play their venue. But we’re even more saddened that we’ve had multiple clients ask us for recommendations for a venue and we can’t refer to them either – no matter how perfect the venue is for our client, they simply aren’t an option if they want to work with us.
When you’re planning your wedding be sure to ALWAYS check with your venue and other vendors to find out if you are limited on who you can hire. Know your limitations before you sign the contract(s)…. and you never know…
You might just find your own wedding dream team along the way!
First Day Entertainment is a wedding entertainment company providing a DJ and Master of Ceremonies for weddings throughout Pensacola, Mobile, Destin, and the Emerald Coast. They specialize in creative entertainment for discerning couples – coupling cultural, religious, and personal taste into your wedding entertainment.