Millennium Center Ballroom showcasing stage and dinner arrangement

3 Essential Steps for Planning Your Winston-Salem Wedding

‘Tis the season – engagement season! Before you dive too deeply into details, here are 3 essential steps for planning your Winston-Salem wedding. While guest counts, budgets, and adult conversations about money may not qualify as the fun side of wedding planning, they’re all key to a successful, stress-free day. And these early planning steps will help guide you in selecting the right venue and vendors for a perfect Triad area wedding reception.

Step 1: Get that tough conversation out of the way

Millennium Center grand ballroom in a wedding setup

MECs spacious grand ballroom offers style and flexibility.

There’s no getting around it – weddings can be expensive. They’re impacted by the guest list, venue, food and beverage, the entertainment, the list goes on and on. Establishing a budget is crucial since it helps define the scope of your wedding and aids in decision-making. 

A well-managed budget ensures a wedding that hits your priorities. According to The Wedding Report, the average cost of a Winston-Salem wedding with 150 to 200 guests is $29,000 – $35,000, with a little over half allocated to the venue, rentals, and catering.

With couples marrying a little later in life (late 20s/early 30s), many are choosing to foot the entire bill for their wedding day. They have a vision and the means to pay for it. 

But it’s not uncommon for families to help out. If that’s the case, you need to have a clear understanding of how much is being contributed – and if your family member(s) would like to see that money go towards a specific aspect of the wedding. Money is never an easy topic, but having an adult conversation about your wedding budget will give you clearer guidelines and keep you on track.

Step 2: Starting putting together some numbers

Since about half of your budget will go towards your wedding reception, the number of guests plays a crucial role. First of all, you need a venue that comfortably accommodates your head count. Then you need to factor food and beverage – from cocktail hour to those late night dance floor snacks.

Creating a guest list early on helps you make informed decisions about the size and type of venue you’ll need. While you don’t need an exact head count before venue hunting, you do need an idea of the range (i.e. 125-150 is a standard range for a wedding reception) to ensure a comfortable space. 

Bride and groom with wedding guests at Millennium E vent Center

It’s important to choose a space that is comfortable without being cavernous.

And remember, the type of reception impacts venue capacity. Cocktail party or seated dinner? Special food displays? Dancing? Any other entertainment that requires additional space? Keep these questions in mind when scouting venue capacity.

That guest range will also come in handy when looking at menus. Take the high end of your range and multiply it by cost per person to get a feel for food and beverage costs. You’ll also need to factor in taxes, service charges, and gratuities. 

Helpful planning tip: All-inclusive venues are your best bet when it comes to wedding receptions. In addition to spaces accommodating 200 to 350 guests, Millennium Center offers five-star cuisine and beverage service. Our seasoned event planners can work with you and your budget to create a menu that will have your guests raving.

Step 3: Time to get out the calendar

The most popular times to get married in Winston-Salem are April – June and September – November. And in the wedding world, Saturday evening receptions are prime time. But months and days aren’t the only things to consider when setting a wedding date. To help narrow things down, ask yourself these questions.

  • Are we allowing enough time to plan and pay for our wedding?
  • Is our guest list primarily local or do we have a lot of out of town guests?
  • If marrying over a holiday weekend, how will that affect the wedding’s schedule and guests’ plans?
  • Will the ceremony and reception be held in the same place or different locations?
  • Are there any major public events during the wedding weekend that could impact plans (i.e. availability for guest accommodations, traffic considerations)?

Helpful planning tips: The easiest way, at least on paper, to control wedding reception costs, is to tighten up the guest list. But there are other ways to save. If your guests are primarily local, consider hosting your wedding on a Friday evening or Sunday afternoon. And if your choice of venue takes priority over time of year, you may find savings in those “off” months.

Millennium Center’s experienced hospitality professionals can show you creative ways to work within your budget without sacrificing quality and style.

What about the rest of the wedding?

Attire, photography, videography, entertainment, florals and decor, cake, transportation, invitations. When it comes to wedding planning, you’re only limited by your imagination – and your bank account. So how do you stretch the rest of your budget?

Bride posing in the Maya Angelo gallery of Millennium Event Center

There’s a photo opp around every corner at Millennium Center.

It’s time to have another adult conversation – this one with your significant other. Start with identifying the top 3 things you each want (outside of the catering and venue) when it comes to your wedding experience. This will help you find common ground on the most important vendors – and it’s an opportunity to try out your communication and negotiation skills as a couple. This is also the time to confirm financial help from family members for specific vendors, like flowers or entertainment.

Key vendors such as a photographer, videographer, and florist often get booked well in advance, especially during those popular wedding months. Securing these vendors early ensures you get the ones you want and helps in planning other details around their availability.

Typically, couples take anywhere from a year to 18 months to plan a wedding. But you can also plan an amazing wedding on short notice. Once you have your venue and menu, use those top priorities as your checklist for booking the rest of your vendors. 

Helpful planning tip: Ask about other services your venue can provide, as well as referrals to other wedding vendors. Elevate your reception’s atmosphere with our in-house decor, design services, and state-of-the art sound and video systems. And as one of The Triad’s top wedding venues, our team has cultivated relationships with the best vendors in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point, NC.

By taking these 3 essential steps for planning your Winston-Salem wedding – making a budget, settling on a guest list range, and giving thoughtful consideration to your wedding date from a logistical perspective – you’ll be on firm footing for the best day of your life. And we’d love to be a part of it! Schedule your complimentary tour and consultation today.

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