By Katherine Stafford with The John Marshall Ballrooms

Your venue is usually one of the first items you and your fiancé will check off your wedding planning list. But even though you book it first, the venue is usually intertwined and involved throughout the whole planning process. Over the years, venue owners and staff have picked up some little details that are worth paying special attention to, and here are a few!

John Marshall Ballrooms Richmond Weddings
Sarah and Dave Photography

1. The Tasting
If your venue includes on-site catering, your tasting will be one of the most important meetings you have. Usually, you’ll sit down with a team and go over the entire day from start to finish. A timeline of the entire day’s events is discussed, from vendor drop-offs to sparkler send-offs. This meeting will also include room layouts, bar selections, signature drinks, to-go goodies for the end of the evening, seating chart, table numbers, card box, and guestbook. Don’t feel overwhelmed! Your venue will be there to offer logistical and creative advice and maybe even spark a few new ideas.

John Marshall Ballrooms Richmond Weddings
Sarah and Dave Photography


Here are some general tasting tips you should know:

  • Narrow down your ideal menu based on sample menus provided by the vendor. If there is something you had hoped for but don’t see it, just ask! Most can offer something similar to give your reception a personal touch. Ask your caterer for suggestions or their favorite items; they’re more than likely to have a few!
  • Consider the season of your wedding when picking items to taste. Remember to look at the harvest seasons! Don’t be afraid to try something different! Include an interesting dish that you and your fiancée love. Surprise your guests with a bite of deliciousness they weren’t expecting!
  • Don’t stress over each individual’s likes, dislikes, and dietary restrictions. Your caterer will be able to discuss options for allergies and dietary needs and help you compose a menu that is well balanced for everyone (including those picky eaters) to enjoy
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Virginia Ashley Photography

2. Wedding Day Prep
Too often day-of refreshments are overlooked. This is a great (and very important) task to give that aunt or friend who wants to help out and be a part of your day. Make sure to bring ice, water, snacks, breakfast/lunch, and maybe some light adult beverages for both the bridal party and the groomsmen. Pre-planning will ensure that you are not ordering pizza last minute or having a bridesmaid topple over during the ceremony! You may also need to remind the guys that some of the local brews have a higher alcohol content than your domestic light beer.

Many couples choose to get ready onsite whether the ceremony is at the venue or a local church. Many locations include spaces for both parties that are relaxing and picture-ready. Wedding party belongings can all be stored in one place and whether taking separate photos or a first look, you will have both parties in one location for your photographer.

John Marshall Ballrooms Richmond Weddings
Kathryn Ivy Photography

3. Transportation
This is one part of the timeline and logistics that is often forgotten and requires careful planning. A few things to consider, do you want a stylish ride, like a trolley? Where are both wedding parties getting ready? How are you getting to the ceremony and reception? Do you need to build in stops for pictures before or between? Who is driving grandma?

John Marshall Ballrooms Richmond Weddings
Sarah and Dave Photography

Lastly, and this is the most important detail to remember, have fun! The day will fly by quicker than you think, and you don’t want to waste a single second worrying or trying to handle anything yourself! Cherish the moments that make you laugh, smile, and even shed a tear. Don’t apologize for anything on this day of yours. Oh, and by the way—we heard a little champagne helps!

Katherine Stafford is an Event Coordinator with the historic John Marshall Ballrooms. To set up a tour of this gorgeously renovated, downtown location or receive further info, you can contact her at or visit the website for FAQs and picture galleries. Feature Image Courtesy of: Nicole Adele Photography.