May 4, 2016

Picking the Perfect Party Spot

Are you in the early stages of planning a major celebration, such as a wedding or graduation party? There are seemingly endless options when it comes to picking a venue, from church halls to rustic barns, beaches, exotic destinations or even your own home.

Deciding on where to host your party can feel overwhelming, but assessing the pros and cons of some of the most popular options can help make that decision easier. Read on for a few helpful tips on what to consider when picking a party spot.

A Hall, Hotel or Event Space

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The Pros: These venues host all sorts of parties all the time, which means that they’re likely to have the experience and expertise to help you handle every aspect of your event. Many locales have a wide variety of spaces available for rent, so whether you want a site that’s classic, quirky, in the city or in the suburbs, you’ll probably be able to find one. Many event spaces are all-inclusive, but even if they’re not, they’ll typically have relationships with other event service providers, such as caterers, florists, DJs and other professionals.

Many event spaces are all-inclusive, but even if they’re not, they’ll typically have relationships with other event service providers, such as caterers, florists, DJs and other professionals.

The Cons: Renting a space can be pricey, though the cost can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including the location you choose, the type of party you’re having and its date and time. Popular venues can be difficult to book on your preferred date, especially on weekends and during the busy season. Additionally, these venues may have restrictions on the number of guests you can invite, how much you can personalize the space and which caterers or photographers you can work with.

Additionally, these venues may have restrictions on the number of guests you can invite, how much you can personalize the space and which caterers or photographers you can work with.

Your Favorite Restaurant

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The Pros: A celebration at a favorite restaurant can feel simple and intimate (whether it’s casual or fancy), and the style and inherent limitations of this type of venue can help define your event’s theme for you. (Think French bistro vs. waterfront seafood shack.) Assuming that you’ve eaten at this place before, you probably already know that the food will be great. And since you’re not cooking or cleaning up, the restaurant option will involve very little labor on your part.

Assuming that you’ve eaten at this place before, you probably already know that the food will be great. And since you’re not cooking or cleaning up, the restaurant option will involve very little labor on your part.

The Cons: Price and availability may be a concern. Can you reserve a private room or even a large table, or will you be required to rent out the entire restaurant? And the food, while a big draw, can also be a drawback. Are there options available for guests with dietary restrictions? Is there a children’s menu? Another possible downside is that your party may feel like just another dinner out. So, if you want an especially festive atmosphere, you might want to consider another location.

Another possible downside is that your party may feel like just another dinner out. So, if you want an especially festive atmosphere, you might want to consider another location.

A Park, Beach or Other Outdoor Space

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The Pros: You can’t beat an outdoor space when it comes to natural beauty. For the most part, the decorating is done for you, and gathering your guests on a breezy beach, at a pleasant park or in a fecund forest will go a long way toward creating a joyous atmosphere.

In addition, an open-air venue can be revisited for years to come; unlike a boutique hotel, your favorite lake is probably not going to be bought out by a national chain anytime soon. And throwing a party in a state park or at a town beach is often quite inexpensive compared to a traditional venue.

The Cons: Weather is the obvious red flag when planning anything outdoors, but some locations offer an indoor option as well. Planning logistics – such as hiring a caterer – can be tricky with remote locations, and there could be concerns with accessibility if the location is rugged or off the beaten path. And although you can usually reserve a section of a public space, you likely won’t be able to prevent other people from doing their own thing nearby. If privacy is a priority, the great outdoors might not be the best option.

And although you can usually reserve a section of a public space, you likely won’t be able to prevent other people from doing their own thing nearby. If privacy is a priority, the great outdoors might not be the best option.

Your Home

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The Pros: This is the most familiar and personal choice—and for many people, the most comfortable and relaxing. After all, in your own home, you have total control. There are no rental fees (at least, not for

There are no rental fees (at least, not for the space; you may still need to rent extra chairs or other equipment) and no time limits—you pick when the event starts and ends, and any date is open to you. A party at home also eliminates worries about getting yourself and your family to and from the venue.

The Cons: With great control comes great responsibility. You’ll have to do (or personally supervise) a lot of the cooking, cleaning, bartending and other services. Because most homes aren’t built to accommodate dozens of visitors at once, parking and noise levels could be an issue.

And although accidents can happen anywhere, you could be liable if they happen in your home. Homeowners insurance alone might not be enough to cover the accident, but if you have umbrella insurance, you’ll have extra coverage beyond your homeowner’s policy limits to protect you if you are found legally responsible for someone’s injury on your property.

You may also want to consider event insurance, which can cover losses associated with canceling or postponing the event, having to hire a new vendor at the last minute and more.

A Far-Off Destination

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The Pros: A destination wedding or other celebration can be a rare, unforgettable experience. It’s a chance for you to gather your family and friends together in a way that might not happen otherwise. And having your event at a distant locale could be the perfect excuse to return to a place you love or to explore somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit.

The Cons: Party planning plus travelling is expensive, even if you’re not going for luxury. Any party that requires a long journey and an overnight hotel stay, especially overseas, will curtail the number of people who can attend. (This may be a pro in your book, but keep in mind that you may end up inadvertently excluding some of your favorite people, as well as your annoying third cousin.)

The potential for problems is doubled with a distant venue since there are so many moving parts that you can’t personally supervise. And you’re not just dealing with a combined trip and event for your immediate family—you’ll probably have to act as a travel agent and guide for your guests as well.

No matter where you choose to hold your celebration, there are two universal rules: One, thoroughly research your options, and two, seek input from everyone involved, especially the person whose life event you’re celebrating. Taking the time to prepare plus clear and open communication early on, will help you relax and truly enjoy your family’s special event, no matter where you host it.

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