Booking the right event space for your ceremony and reception can be half the battle


J. DENTON BRICKER  | Contibuting Writer
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Weddings used to be done “a certain way:” You had to have a big cake, fine china and serve a full dinner in the grand ballroom of a hotel.
But gays have always broken the rules — and straights have followed suit. It just isn’t done that way any longer — at least it isn’t according to Reg Land of [email protected], who walked us through his chic industrial loft space.

Full of diverse, eclectic furniture arranged in clever seating areas and thought-provoking art that adorns the walls, Land’s space has a capacity of 700. It is customizable for any event need and ignites the seven senses that Land prescribes to. And everything inside is purchasable.

“The people that come here don’t want the normal,” says Land. He encourages guests to shed their inhibitions and just have fun. “It’s the perfect place for queens to come dance and a cool spot to share,” he says.

So just what should you look for when booking a space for your ceremony? The jovial, artistic Land walked us through his advice on finding the ideal venue for your wedding.

It’s your day and no one else’s. “Do what you want and have fun because it is your day and it should be about you. Break the rules. Do not go by what people tell you or what has to be done because it isn’t that way anymore,” Land says.

Work your space. Don’t reinvent the wheel — find a space already adorned or which has something to work with. Work the flow of furniture based on the expected crowd. If it needs to look fuller, adjust the furnishings accordingly. Make actual traffic patterns to direct the flow of your guests.

Drop dinner. Consider not doing a sit-down meal — tables take up a lot of space. And most people don’t sit down the entire time. “Guests want room to dance and visit,” Land notes. Also consider the costs of wait staff, tables, place settings, etc., in addition to a full meal. Instead, serve heavy hors d’oeuvres like sliders or Chinese lunchboxes and offer ice cream cupcakes or pies instead of a wedding cake.

Think about your timetable. If the ceremony is at 5 p.m., then the reception should normally begin around 6:30 p.m. — and guests won’t have eaten anything since lunch. Starving attendees will eat you out of house and home. Push the reception back to allot time for guests to stop and grab a bite and it will make all the difference in the world on your wallet.

Stock up on supplies. Make sure you have enough food and booze. “You may think it is enough but it probably isn’t and many places will allow the return of unopened bottles so don’t be afraid to stock up,” Land says. If the event is on a Sunday and booze is gone after the first hour, there is no opportunity to purchase more.

Let the music flow. Without knocking live music, tunes are important in setting the tone for how the night progresses. Music helps to control the event with a constant flow of rhythm. With a band, you get songs then a break, songs, then a break … it can end up choppy. A natural flow comes with a DJ.

There are highs in the event that need to be built up into peaks just as there are appropriate times for mellowing it out.

It’s all in the details. The things that do not seem important are probably the most important things, because if they aren’t in place, they can upset the rest; unglamorous considerations like trashcans can turn a swank event into a messy one. Include a venue representative in any planning meetings so they can think about the things you won’t.

Schedule, schmedule. For many weddings, the brides and grooms are on a schedule. They have to be here for pictures and they have to be there to greet guests and they end up being exhausted and not being able to enjoy the day. Let it loose, go with the flow and make your own itinerary.

Go with the pros. Your grandma or aunt might want to help by offering their catering or photography services, but hire professionals. That ensures full accountability if something goes awry without hurt feelings. Family should get to attend the event stress-free.

Manage the event planners. There are tons of great wedding planners, but for a small wedding it isn’t necessary to hire an event planner — not doing so can be a good way to keep a tight budget. If using one, make sure you do not lose your voice along the way. Have the planner sit down for a minute and experience the event so that they can know what guests are experiencing.

Go gay. Gay weddings and receptions are new territory for a lot of people and it is something that needs to be shared. Be honest and open with the venue representative. Pick a setting that provides a friendly environment comfortable for all.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 3, 2013.