One-Stop Weekend at All-Inclusive Venues

Jillian Span Hofbauer
Columbus Monthly
The Westin was the perfect site for Lauren and Brent Robbins' ceremony, reception and guest accommodations.

Choosing your venue is one of the biggest—and first—decisions you will face when planning your wedding, and it often comes down to atmosphere and price. But when weighing your options, don't let convenience fall by the wayside. Some venues, such as hotels or inns, give you the opportunity to centralize the entire weekend's festivities in one location, saving you time, hassle and stress.

These all-inclusive event spaces can accommodate guest lodging, rehearsal dinners, welcome gatherings, ceremonies and receptions, after parties, Sunday morning brunches and just about any other special gatherings you'd like to hold the weekend of your wedding. If a one-stop-shop approach is appealing to you, consider these additional selling points.

There's less chance for chaos the weekend of the wedding, says Linda Turk, director of sales at the recently renovated Granville Inn, located 30 minutes from Downtown Columbus in the quaint New England-style suburb. “You're only dealing with one set of planning staff and one set of preparation staff, versus having many different venues and many different components,” she notes.

Often, all-inclusive reception venues have a variety of event spaces available and staff in place to facilitate the flow of the weekend, giving couples a chance to enjoy a slower-paced experience and more time with guests.

“We don't want our brides and grooms or their families to do any work the weekend of their wedding,” says Turk. At the Granville Inn, couples initially work closely with the sales and catering manager to establish a vision and feel for how the weekend will be laid out; once plans are in place, couples can be more hands-off. There's also ease in working with an in-house chef and caterer and having access to tables, chairs, linens and other materials that might otherwise have to be rented, often from multiple sources.

It's convenient to go the all-inclusive venue route, says Andrea Cullinan, a catering sales manager at The Westin hotel Downtown. Because everything is on-site, the event is automatically more organized and couples have fewer things to worry about, including last-minute add-ons, she notes.

While couples typically are required to facilitate the relationship and planning with vendors not affiliated with the venue, such as the florist or DJ, The Westin helps coordinate vendors and ensure that everyone is on the same page for the big day, adds Penny Drumm, The Westin's senior catering manager.

“We do work with all of the vendors a couple days prior, just to discuss the logistics of the actual day,” Drumm says. “That way, the bride and groom don't have to worry about the setup and teardown.”

While couples can rest assured knowing they have a team of help to get them through the weekend, guests also can relax, knowing that there is not as much shuffling around from one event to the next. “Everybody's already here,” says Cullinan. “You don't have to worry about transportation; you don't have to worry about people driving after the event.”

Full-service hotels offer plenty of guest amenities, like restaurants, bars, pools and hot tubs, giving guests even more incentive to stay on-site.

Discounts also may factor in. “We definitely give more of a break to our in-house weddings, rather than those who are just doing a [guest-]rooms-only block with us,” Cullinan says. Because couples pay for the wedding in advance, there are no unknown costs to worry about, she adds.

With fewer vendors to account for, a mix of different event spaces and a centralized operating house to facilitate each step, all-inclusive venues can give couples more time to enjoy their weekend.

“We just really want our destination to be a one-stop shop, so to speak,” says Turk. “Then [couples] have the chance to sit back and relax a little more and not focus on where they need to be and when their entire weekend.”