Differences Between Full-Service Wedding Venues and à La Carte

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When planning your wedding, the biggest decision you’ll make is the wedding venue. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to find a venue that checks all of your boxes. If you are having trouble narrowing down your list, a major factor that might help is whether you want a full-service wedding venue, or to plan a wedding “a la carte”. Here we explain the differences between the two to help you decide which setup works best for your needs.

What is a Full-Service Wedding Venue?

Also known as all-inclusive wedding venues, as the name implies a full-service wedding venue handles everything for you in-house. Almost all full-service venues include an on-site wedding planner and chef during the planning stage and then a full team of servers, staff and bartenders at the wedding. Many complete wedding packages even include a DJ and officiant if required. As you can imagine, the full-service wedding venue makes planning a lot easier, providing a checklist of options so all you need to do is make your selections. The pros of a full-service wedding venue include:

  • Stress-Free Wedding Planning: Although you might still face stress with things like creating a guest list or finding a wedding gown, overall the wedding preparations themselves are a breeze. Since the wedding planner will handle everything for you, your only worry is choosing what you want from their long list of options.
  • Budget: It’s not to say an all-inclusive wedding venue is always more affordable, but they do make budgeting easier. They design complete wedding packages so you can choose the package or features that suit your budget. You are far less likely to go over budget. Generally speaking, the all-inclusive wedding package tends to offer better value.
  • Time-Saving: Wedding planning takes up weeks of time when you have to go it alone. An all-inclusive venue provides a wedding planner who handles all the work. This makes it the ideal choice for busy couples who don’t have time to spare.
  • Just One Vendor: Instead of dealing with a DJ, a caterer, a venue, an officiant, a ceremony coordinator, etc. you just have one point of contact at the venue.

There are a few cons to consider as well:

  • Less Flexibility: Be careful if you go the all-inclusive route, as many venues place restrictions on what you can and can’t do. For example, a venue like Southern Exposure allows you to bring in things like your own cake and centerpieces if you prefer.
  • Less Customization: As with above, a lack of flexibility means no customization. If you have certain things in mind for your wedding, be sure to ask your venue if you can add your own special touches. If you are okay with a cookie-cutter wedding, then this is not as challenging.

As you can see the all-inclusive wedding venue is all about convenience, value and exceptional service. All your bases are covered.

What is an à La Carte Wedding?

À La Carte weddings are perfect for couples looking for a truly unique experience. If you have quirky tastes or have something very specific in mind, this type of venue often only offers the space itself and leaves the rest up to you. Some will offer things like catering, or other services, but overall you are planning and paying for each option individually. Some pros of the à La Carte wedding include:

  • Completely Personalized: With this type of wedding everything is completely personalized so you are choosing every element of the wedding individually.
  • Venue Choices: The à La Carte wedding allows you to choose any venue you want as you are bringing in everything on your own. This might be a museum or art gallery, a vineyard or a historical building willing to rent out their space.
  • Flexibility: Nothing is more flexible than making every single choice on your own. You can mix things up and create a very eclectic wedding to suit your taste and budget.

There are also cons to the à La Carte wedding including:

  • Cost: If you aren’t careful this type of wedding can really add up. Because you are not paying a blanket fee for the entire day, each individual vendor will be handing you a bill on your wedding day.
  • Time: You’ll be doing everything on your own which means weeks of planning and time.
  • No Assistance: The à La Carte wedding means you’re performing without a net. You don’t have a professional wedding planner who has your back unless you decide to spend money on one.
  • Multiple Vendors: You’ll be overwhelmed by all the vendors you’ll have to call, visit, get quotes and samples from, coordinate availability with, etc. This can be a daunting task, and you might find your top picks have conflicting schedules which makes choosing a date difficult. Something will have to be sacrificed.

So while the à La Carte wedding provides more freedom it can also end up costing you more money and certainly will require a larger time commitment.

Southern Exposure is a full-service wedding venue that still offers some flexibility. For more information or to schedule a tour please contact our wedding coordinator at (269) 300-8324.