Wedding Planning Guide

This guide is filled with opinions and facts.  You may disagree with some things, and that’s okay. We aren’t giving you our best if we don’t give it all to you. And truthfully, our opinions aren’t just our opinions after one wedding, they’re based on lots and lots of experiences where we have seen some things go very right, and others not so much. 

This section is designed for use by The James couples exclusively. Please do not share with friends, vendors, etc. Think of this as insider information just for you and planner! 

Contents

Click a topic below to learn more.

We recommend reading every topic so you are familiar with as much information as possible.  This will help you make informed decisions and less likely to have "uh-oh" moments down the road.

 

MUST READ INFO

  • Parking:   The James does not have designated parking however you can find plenty of parking spaces downtown and on the square.  Make sure your family and friends that are helping you know where to park.

  • Please make sure your DJ knows that all must-play music must be downloaded before they arrive onsite. The James does have Wifi to stream music but we would hate for anything to go wrong and you end up without your favorite songs or nothing to walk down the aisle to. In our opinion, if the DJ expects to stream music, it is a “red flag” that they are not of the quality we would expect on your wedding day. 

  • We very highly recommend that you do “first look” photos.  The most impactful decision you can make about your wedding day timeline is whether or not you will see each other before the wedding. Approximately 50% of our couples don’t want to do a first look, but once they learn all the reasons to do one, about 80% of our couples choose to do a first look. More details later in this document. 

  • If you are getting married between October and March your schedule is trickier.  We cannot control the time of sunset but we have beautiful romantic overhead patio lights in the Garden that will provide plenty of light for your evening ceremony. 

  • The James does not decorate for you. We are actually not any more “DIY” than the vast majority of venues in the Springfield area on this topic. You are welcome to hire a planner, a florist, or decorator. Your friends and family are also welcome to decorate for you. We recommend assigning the task of being in charge of decorating to a few people you trust who know your exact plan.  

  • Please consider designating TWO people or your ushers to open the black entrance doors to the Garden for your ceremony entrance.

  • Hiring “cheaper” vendors might really cost you in the end. We are all for savvy decision making, but guys, a “cheaper” photographer or DJ is most often not the best decision. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “You get what you pay for…” and this absolutely applies to your wedding day. A million times over I would cut out the favors, the smores bar, printed programs, koozies, or 100 other things before I would hire an amateur DJ or photographer. If a DJ does a terrible job, your party is NOT fun. If a photographer does a terrible job, you’ll be disappointed for a long time after the wedding. You do NOT have to use our recommended vendors, but honestly I would at least encourage you to include them in your consideration. Quality photographers start at about $2,000 (and have 25+ weddings under their belts) and DJ’s in the $700+ range. Caterers start at about $7-$10 per person. You can find vendors we have had great experiences with here: Vendors We Love

  • Consider hiring small business owners with extensive wedding experience as vendors. Here’s why - when you read a review about a photographer, DJ, or videographer that owns the company they probably did the work. That means that their portfolio should actually be representative of their work. It also means that they naturally should care more because if they want to work more, they need to do a great job for you so you will tell your friends. No matter who you hire - READ REVIEWS on Google, The Knot, Facebook, etc. 

  • The James does not organize or coordinate your ceremony. That is the role of your planner or your DJ/officiant. You should have someone who is not in the ceremony in charge of getting your bridal party to line up in order.

  • Reread your contracts  - Not just when you sign them, but in the planning process. It will answer so many questions and save you a lot of headaches! 

  • Linens are not included at The James but ARE available to rent to make your day less stressful.  We require a protective covering of some kind on our tables and you are absolutely welcome to bring in your own. DO NOT PLAN TO IRON OR STEAM LINENS ONSITE. If you need to steam or iron linens please do so BEFORE you arrive onsite. 

  • We get nervous when we see that you have chosen friends & family to be your vendors. The choice of vendors is yours. However, we want your day to be a huge success. While it might sound like a great idea to accept offers from friends & family to be your photographer, DJ, videographer, etc., it might also be the riskiest decision you make. Here’s why: When you hire friends & family you are also putting your relationship on the line. What if you don’t like their work on your wedding day? What if that work is something like photography that you will have with you for the rest of your life? Your wedding is not where you want folks who WANT to become wedding professionals to practice. You don’t get a second chance. Maybe that friend could be with you earlier in the day (before the professionals arrive) and get extra “getting ready” photos or video, or they could be helpful to you decorating? There are definitely ways that they can add to your big day without taking the place of a professional who knows how to do the job. :)  If you have already “hired” a friend or family member, I DO think it is a good idea to put a contract in place. There are so many assumptions in the wedding process, and contracts help clarify the important points. They also lessen the opportunity for misunderstandings between friends and family. 

  • If The James is not providing your linens, don’t forget the following tables: food, drinks, DJ, sweets, gift/guest book/memorial (If you are not using the entry dresser), appetizers, vendors, head table and guest tables. Please consider ordering an extra guest table linen and 6 foot linen as a backup. 

 
 

PLANNING OVERVIEW

Here is my first personal opinion for you. Decide now whether you are planning to make yourselves (the couple) happy, or to make everyone else (parents, bridal party members, guests) happy. Both are good paths, but they are separate paths. 


If you decide now which path you are taking, every single decision will be easier. Neither is a bad choice, but both aren't really possible. There is not a lack of opinions in the planning process. You have to decide whether you want them or not, including mine. :)

 

Planning a wedding at first may seem a little overwhelming. The good news is, I don’t think it has to be. 

I firmly believe you can plan a beautiful wedding in two months or two years. (We have seen both- and both work great!) For this reason you won't find a specific monthly timeline, just a suggested order of operations. 

 

[Disclaimer: We are NOT wedding planners. The advice below is based on our own personal knowledge as wedding industry pros, knowledge passed down from previous owners and mentors, and experience at The James.  If you’re looking for an all-encompassing-planning-a-wedding-outline, we’ll leave that to the pro’s.] 

 

SAMPLE TO DO LIST

  1. Determine Guest Count (Must invite less than 200 - Max capacity is 150 at venue).

  2. Set Your Budget (Please make sure you have a finalized budget before booking vendors. It will be extremely helpful to you later in the planning process and should reduce stress. Include a 10% buffer in your budget for misc. items.)

  3. Book The James

  4. Book Hotels, B&B, etc- Nearby hotels book quickly in some months of the year.

  5. Book Vendors - Planner, Photographer, Videographer, Florist, Officiant, DJ, Caterer, etc. 

    1. If you plan on using a planner, they are typically booked before booking a venue or immediately after.

    2. Generally after booking a venue, photographers are booked next.  

    3. Next, I would book the remaining vendors in order of importance to you. 

    4. I would have the caterer and bar service booked at least 6 months prior to your wedding date unless you have a short engagement period. 

  6. Purchase Wedding Attire - Many dress shops have long lead times. 

  7. Work With The James / Photographer / Videographer or DJ on a SCHEDULE that WORKS

  8. Finalize Guest List 

  9. Take Engagement Photos 

  10. Schedule Tastings & Vendor Meetings 

  11. Send Save The Dates [Optional]

  12. Attend The James Houses to Select Decor 

  13. Order Invitations

  14. Schedule Hair & Makeup Trials 

  15. Register for Gifts

  16. Arrange for Transportation [Optional]

  17. Create a Family Photo Must-Have List For Photographer 

    1. If you don’t do this you are very likely to miss important photos you wish you had with family. 

  18. Set Shower and Party Dates 

  19. Send Invitations 

  20. Obtain Marriage License (Details at the end of this document)

  21. Organize Tips / Gratuity 

  22. Send Shower & Party Thank You Cards 

  23. Finalize Music Selections  

  24. Write Vows [Optional]

  25. Determine & Communicate Wedding Day Responsibilities 

    • The James will ask that you select a “Decision Maker for the Day.” 

    • Determine who will be helping your bridal party line up to walk down the aisle. If you don’t have a planner, we suggest a friend or family member that is not in the wedding.

  26. Complete 'Required Information' Tab and ‘Venue Layout’ tab on The James Online Planner by Due Date!

  27. Confirm Timeline With All Vendors / Family / Bridal Party

  28. Contact Those Who Didn’t RSVP

  29. Finalize Seating Chart [Optional] 

  30. Get Nails Done - Hair Trim, etc

  31. Clean Rings 

  32. Pack All “Details” Into One Box for Photographer (Jewelry, shoes, invite, etc.)

  33. Rehearse Your Ceremony - Make sure parents/grandparents practice too 

  34. Get a Good Night's Sleep 

  35. Enjoy Your Wedding Day - Take a moment to stop and soak in your event during the day 

  36. Send Thank You Cards & Write Vendor Reviews

OVERALL THOUGHTS ON BUDGET

It is extremely important to set an overall budget, and budget for specific services within that amount before you start booking vendors, including The James. (So hopefully this is already covered.) 

The average budget of a couple at The James is often somewhere between $7,000 - $12,000. We have had thrifty couples or smaller guest counts spend closer to $5,000 and we have had couples in the $20,000+ range. If you are hosting an event of more than 100 guests with food and alcohol on a Saturday, it is extremely challenging to be under $5,000. If you are reading this early in the planning process and it’s giving you heartburn (maybe you booked The James before creating a budget), please call me ASAP.

I wanted to share a few general guidelines that may be helpful:

 

  • Quality photographers generally start at $1,500. That’s not “top of the line” photographers, that represents semi-professional photos as a starting point in terms of budget. Most of the photographers showcased on the The James website range from $2,000 - $4,000. 

  • Quality DJs usually start at $700.  I would caution hiring a DJ for less than this, unless they have a lot of great reviews or come highly recommended from another vendor you trust. I would expect a quality DJ at this level NOT to include too much in terms of specialty lighting or MC services. (In case that is important to you.) 

  • I would budget $300-$500 for linens, more if you’re including napkins or travel fees. If you choose to rent linens from us ($10 per linen), you could come in under budget here ($120-$250 depending on guest count). If you want sequin linens, crushed velvet linens, overlays, etc. you will need to budget more and acquire them from a rental company. 

  • Catering for 150 guests starts around $1,000 with our most affordable caterers and ranges to approximately $5,000+ with our higher-end caterers. You could absolutely spend more than this if you include china or higher end options. This is representative of what most of our couples select, not the complete range. 

  • The total bar bill is often between $600 - $1,200. Please note, that is because many of our couples choose to host a beer and wine bar or supply their own. We recommend hiring a third party bartending company to serve your guests alcohol.  You will most likely spend the same amount on the bartending service as you would buying it yourself and you don’t have to worry about storing, transporting, refilling, monitoring, underage drinking, etc. so it’s a win- win for you..

  • If you hire a planner you have two (common) options - full planning OR day-of coordination. Full planning is often $1,000+ and day-of coordination (really starting 1 - 3 months before the wedding) is usually $600+. There IS SO MUCH VALUE in hiring a coordinator. They often do things like help you review and negotiate vendor and hotel contracts, take the reins at your rehearsal, organize the chaos of the ceremony on your wedding day, and often help with many other wedding day activities. Some activities that a planner or coordinator often do are things we lend a hand with, but the ones specifically listed here are not covered by the The James team. 

  • Quality videographers generally start at $700, - we highly recommend budgeting for this service.

  • The average small floral budget when using real flowers is around $500. Some of the more floral heavy weddings you’ve seen pictured ranged up to $4,500. 

  • Photo Booth generally starts around $500. 

  • Officiants generally start at around $150.

  • Hair and makeup generally ranges around $125 - $300 for the bride including trials. For additional bridesmaids, moms, etc. I would expect $50 - $100 per person for professional hair and makeup.

  • Invitations - This can be wildly different based on your provider and preferences. 

  • Postage - Generally this item is forgotten! Typically $1 per invite for the outgoing and RSVP envelope.

  • Cake and sweets - This can also be wildly different based on your provider and preferences. Cake can pretty easily be $500. Often folks purchase too much cake and a ton goes in the trash. Donuts can be less expensive. If you do something fun like ice cream, be careful not to under-buy by too much. Specialty sweets go faster than cake. 

  • Hotel/ B&B’s  - Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts in the area can range in the $100 - $150 per night range. Airbnbs typically give you more options and can house more people.

  • Gratuity - Some vendors have a required gratuity amount and for some it is discretionary. 

  • You know your investment with The James. Don’t forget it in your total budget too. 

  • Wedding attire is a wildcard. You could buy a beautiful white bridesmaid dress and wear it as a wedding dress for a few hundred dollars. You could also easily spend $2,000+ on a dress. Guys suit rental I would expect to be in the $150 - $200 range.

  • Misc - I would put 10% of your budget in a miscellaneous category. Things come up. 

 

 

 

VENDORS

A Few Helpful [Overarching] Vendor Notes

 

  • Wedding pros pricing CAN change, so if you get a quote from a vendor, make sure you ask how long the quote is valid for. (It's likely not indefinitely.) Once you book a vendor, their pricing should not change.

  • Wedding pros are more likely to take a vacation in the winter or the middle of summer, when weddings slow down just a bit. If you have booked your wedding during that time of year, don't wait too long to reach out to your favorite vendors to see if they will be available.

  • Some popular wedding pros have minimum spending amounts to book them for your big day. (This is very common with florists and some rental companies.) Ask about minimums before you spend a ton of time and energy working with them to get a quote.

  • Many of our favorite wedding vendors are small businesses and can't be at more than one or two weddings in a day, so if there is someone you are really interested in, reach out and book early. This includes Curly Que BBQ and Catering, Holland House Photography and Shannon's Custom Florals. Others can book fast too, but these are the ones we see consistently book early. 

  • If you contact wedding pros on weekends, they might be helping another couple on their big day! Please be patient with their response time on weekends and know that on YOUR wedding day, you'll want their full attention on you.

  • If it has ever been more than 2 business days since you've sent ME (Tara) an email, feel free to email me again! You should hear from me in two business days at max.

 

Photography - Read Before Hiring a Photographer

  • Generally couples book The James and quickly book their photographer. Photographers generally only shoot one wedding per day and book quickly in the planning process. 

  • When choosing a photographer you should be looking for:

    • FIRST someone who has your date available

    • Preferably a small business owner, not a package deal through a company

    • Someone who fits your budget (many photographers DO list pricing on their website so I would look for pricing before submitting a form on their site.)

    • Someone who is a fit for your style (light & airy, dark and moody, or bright colors.) 

    • Someone who has shot many weddings (preferably 25+)

    • Someone who you actually LIKE as a person! (This is important. You will be spending LOTS of time with them on your wedding day.)

  • There are LOTS of traits of a professional photographer, other than the fact that they “shoot lots of weddings” or “take pretty pictures.” 

    • They are competent in designing a wedding day schedule that actually works. (We are happy to help with this too, but we can usually tell when a photographer isn’t a professional by the way they layout your schedule. Guys - THIS MATTERS. If your schedule isn’t realistic you are either not going to get all the photos you want, or something else will suffer. (Like your guests waiting for food for a million hours while you are taking pictures.)

    • They actively and audibly organize family photos. This is the photographer’s job. If this doesn’t happen you miss important photos (like that one with grandma - ugh important!) There should be a checklist, and your photographer should be actively marking it off to make sure they get it all. It is likely your responsibility to make this checklist. If you don’t do it, you are going to miss photos you wish you had. 

    • They bring adequate backup equipment, and often a second shooter. One camera + one photographer, camera breaks at your wedding. Yep, we’ve had that happen. It is not a situation you want to happen at YOUR wedding. 

    • Wedding photography is their primary business (or at least primary focus for photography.)  A photographer who primarily shoots families or landscapes (in our experience) is really not ready for the stress of a wedding day, doesn’t know how to wrangle two sides of the family for photos, doesn’t know how long things take, etc. Wedding photography is a completely different animal than other types of photography. Hiring a wedding photographer is about so much more than taking good photos. Often when couples hire a photographer and aren’t completely happy after the wedding, they are unhappy because of who they hired. Now, I will tell you that’s not what you will HEAR. You’ll hear “I didn’t get this photo with XYZ” “We ran really far behind on schedule” “I didn’t get as many photo spots as I had hoped.” These statements are most often indicative of hiring a less than professional photographer, EVEN IF the photos that were taken turned out pretty good.  

  • Photographers that have shot at The James that we were impressed with: https://www.jamesweddingvenue.com/photographers-videographers. These range from a starting investment of about $1,100 - $3,600. Holland House Photography is considered our In-House Photographer.  She is local, knows our venue extremely well and offers our couples 20% off all pricing.  She also included engagement photos in most of her packages.  You will see a ton of her photos on our website.  

  • Be aware that if you choose a COMPANY instead of a SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, the portfolio you see is very likely NOT from the person who will actually shoot your wedding. THIS IS IMPORTANT. 

  • Hiring a photographer that includes a “second shooter” is usually not much more expensive and often SO WORTH IT. A second shooter isn’t a luxury in our opinion. It’s a wise choice. A second shooter means the potential for many more photos, for photos from two different angles, to get the shot of both faces of a couple when walking down the aisle, etc. It also has a bit of built in security. If the first photographer gets sick, gets a flat tire, or their camera malfunctions in the middle of the ceremony, you already have built in backup.  

  • Don’t forget to look at a photographer’s entire portfolio before hiring someone. You need to see FULL wedding day collections, not just what they put on social media or their blog. You need to see indoor photos, photos at night, photos with crappy weather, etc. Don’t just look at someone’s BEST work and make your decision. 

  • You need to make a WRITTEN list of the INDIVIDUAL photos you want to make sure you don’t miss for family. I’m not saying take away a photographer’s creative freedom and give them a list of Pinterest poses to copy. I’m saying you need a list of bride + mom, bride + mom + grandma if you want to make sure you don’t miss something important. 

  • Ask your photographer if they want a friend or family member to help make sure people are ready for photos when it’s time. There is not much that stinks more than being on a tight timeline and uncle Joe or the mother of the bride (or whomever) is nowhere to be found for photos.  

  • Consider starting with family photos immediately following the ceremony. Start with the side of the family that is the hardest to wrangle. Tell them to NOT LEAVE THE CEREMONY AREA after the ceremony so you can get right to it before they scatter.

 

  • First Look Photos - Here is why you should highly consider doing them:

    • You will get more photos (seriously, you will)

    • A significant amount of pressure is taken off the couple and the ceremony seems more enjoyable

    • Couples can get the crying out of the way before the ceremony (so no one sees it if you don’t want them to!) 

    • Your guests will not have to wait as long during your “cocktail hour” while you take photos

    • It’s easier to skip spending money on appetizers because the cocktail hour isn’t so long (and maybe use that money on a better photographer OR on more time with them!) 

    • If you are also having a videographer - you will have more time for dedicated video shots that are the shots you probably love when you watch wedding videos now

    • It’s staged - and that’s a GREAT thing. It means the lighting is good. It means that your photographer and video team are standing in the right spot to capture your amazing reactions (and not in each other's shots). It means they are READY to get that great photo, not hoping that your aunt Suzy with a smart phone doesn’t stand up in your ceremony in the way and they miss the reaction shot…. 

    • It’s an AMAZING private moment between the couple on a crazy day

    • It will be one of your favorite parts of the day!

    • There will be less pressure on your schedule and you’ll get to relax more

 

  • Who Edits Your Photos? Some very professional photographers outsource editing because it takes forever and they are very busy photographers. They have trained someone to edit JUST LIKE THEM and I think that is okay. That is completely different than someone shooting your wedding and then sending it to corporate or another company to edit. That is a decision that in my opinion compromises the creative process. It also has the potential to create a situation of less responsibility on the photographer’s part, because “they did their part” just shooting the wedding and don’t have to worry about the final product. 

  • One last truth  - We have some strong opinions about photography. It’s true. It’s not just a personal opinion. Here’s why we feel strongly:

    • We have seen multiple brides be unhappy with their photos. We want you to LOVE your photos. They are what you will have after the wedding. They are also something you can’t recreate. If photos are important, you have to choose a photographer with deep experience in weddings. It makes all the difference. 

    • There often is NOT a big difference in pricing between amateurs and semi-pro photographers. Sometimes it’s hard to tell how much experience a photographer has and when they have made that transition from amateur to semi-pro, but on a wedding day, we can certainly tell the difference, and there is no doubt it has an impact on your wedding day.

    • We’ve seen several situations where brides were SO HAPPY with their photographers after the wedding, BUT we saw how the photographer got lucky and got it “right.” That is not the same thing as being prepared and qualified for your wedding day. It went right on their wedding day, but honestly we saw where it could have gone SO WRONG. You don’t want to be in the latter scenario. There are a few examples of vendors in our Facebook group that a bride loved and we would not recommend, because we watched them luck into “getting it right.” Please make sure you do your own due diligence even on recommended vendors by other couples in our group.

 

Photography Wedding Day Reminders:

  • Bring your list of individual family formal shots (bride + grandma, bride & groom + grandma)

  • Have all of your cute details in one box ready for the photographer to shoot as soon as they arrive onsite (jewelry, invitations, shoes, etc.) 

  • Bring a few cute umbrellas in case of rain.  These can be great photography props.  Solid colors or neutral colors work best.

  • Bring an additional pair of shoes to walk around the property in and hide them for the photos with your dress if possible.  That way your nice shoes stay nice!

 
 

Videography - Read Before Hiring a Videographer

  • We fully understand that videography of your wedding day may or may not be important to you, but it is one of the services some couples do sometimes regret not having after the wedding is over. The day goes by SO FAST and videographers are able to catch moments, words, and music that is hard to capture in photos. If you are on the fence, search “video” in the The James Facebook group and you can get some good opinions from our couples.

  • When selecting a videographer make sure to ask questions like:

    • How many cameras do you bring? Are you using more than one at a time? (Meaning they are getting multiple angles of your ceremony, etc.) More than one camera shooting simultaneously is (almost) a must in our opinion if you are paying for videography. I would not want to trust my ceremony video to just one camera in case of malfunction. 

    • Do you shoot using a tripod? Okay, this IS a personal opinion of mine, but it drives me nuts when I watch a wedding video and literally everything is in motion ALL THE TIME. Watch some videos from different videographers and you will see what I mean. In my opinion, SOME of the video for the day should be captured using a tripod so you get some stable shots.

    • Does the person who captured the video edit it? GUYS THIS IS HUGE. I would 100% recommend a small business owner that does their own editing and who exhibits pride in their work. Sending to corporate for editing is a disconnect in the creative process. It means that the person who captured your video is not the same person piecing it together. 

  • When comparing vendors, try to compare them “apples to apples.” That is really tough to do, but make sure you are considering the questions above and NOT just that XYZ offers a 4 minute highlights and so does ABC vendor. 

 

A Few Thoughts Before Buying a Dress/Suit

  • How important is the dress/suit? Only you can decide! It’s pretty easy to spend more than $1,000 on a dress at a bridal store or $500 on a suit.

  • Don’t forget to budget for alterations! Alterations on any dress/suit can cost as much as the dress/suit! The more layers, lace, and detail, the more expensive alterations will be. Also, if you choose a fitted dress, alterations will likely be more extensive and therefore more expensive. 

  • Dresses/suits can easily take 6 - 12 months to arrive. Yep - really! Dress/suit shopping should be an early priority on your list. However, you WILL find a dress/suit in less time than that if you have to. Don’t let the shop stress you out on timeline. 

  • If THE DRESS isn’t of high importance on your day consider a beautiful white bridesmaid dress or a white dress that isn’t marketed as a bridal gown. There are lots of options that usually cost hundreds of dollars, not thousands and no one else will know! Plus, everyone will think you are beautiful even if you wear a paper sack. Additionally, consider shopping take-home-with-you sales. If you love a dress, you take it with you that day and these can often be at deep discounts on sample dresses. 

  • What do you plan to do with the dress after the wedding? Consider asking your dress shop if they offer cleaning or preservation services.

  • See a list of our favorite dress and suite shops here -> https://www.jamesweddingvenue.com/dresses-suits-beauty

 

MUSIC

 

DJ- Read before hiring a DJ

 

  • A DJ is ABSOLUTELY one of the most critical elements of your day. It’s easy to think “they just play my playlist - right?” NOPE! A DJ is the master of your party. They play an absolutely critical role in your ceremony. If a DJ is doing a terrible job, it’s obvious and there is nothing anyone can do to fix it. We have seen this happen several times. 

  • On that note - PLEASE DO NOT hire a $200 Craigslist DJ. There are places to save money in the planning process, but I can almost guarantee hiring a super cheap DJ is not one of them for the reasons above. Quality DJ’s generally start around $700. I would cut out guest favors, koozies, a smores bar, too much cake, etc. long before I would hire an unqualified DJ.

  • The James has several DJ’s we have been impressed with over the years. You can find them here: https://www.jamesweddingvenue.com/music-officiants

  • Please make sure your DJ knows that all must-play music must be downloaded before they arrive onsite. The James does not have Wifi to stream music. In our book, if your DJ expects to stream music, it is a “red flag” that they are not of the quality we would expect on your wedding day. 

  • If there is a specific VERSION of a song that is important to you make sure you are clear about that with your DJ.  There are a lot of popular songs with more than one version. 

  • If you KNOW your guests will not be a dancing crowd, let your DJ know ahead of time. I would do this for two reasons. 1. So the DJ isn’t desperately trying to get them on the dance floor all night with announcements. 2. So your DJ doesn’t feel like they are doing a bad job if no one is dancing. (Vendors want to do a great job for you!)

  • We’ve seen several situations where brides were SO HAPPY with their DJs after the wedding, BUT it was not small business owner, but a company. That means that their DJ may have been awesome, but you may not be assigned the same DJ. You may have the same awesome experience, or not. There are a few examples of vendors in our Facebook group that a couple loved, but was not a small business owner, so you may not have the same experience. Please make sure you do your own due diligence even on recommended vendors by other couples in our group. 

  • If renting uplighting from your DJ, please make sure it is wireless.

 

The James Sound System

  • Our sound system includes 1 portable speaker with bluetooth capabilities, 1 microphone, 1 microphone stand and all of the cords to connect everything. 

  • An auxiliary cord that is compatible with any head phone jack input is provided.  If using an iPhone, double check to make sure if you have a head phone jack or not.  You might need a lightning adapter.  

  • The sound system can be used inside or outside but you are responsible for making sure it does not sustain any damage while in your care.

  • While we provide the sound system WE DO NOT SET IT UP OR MOVE IT DURING THE DAY.  Please make sure to designate someone to set up, move and run the sound system for you. 

  • If you hire a DJ we put our sound system up and do not allow it out.  Equipment and cords get mixed up and sometimes damaged.

  •  The sound system is available during the rehearsal so that your designated sound person can practice  how to use it.  

 

Officiants

  • Many couples have chosen their personal pastor, or a friend/family member to marry them.  Which is lovely, as long as they are prepared and take their role seriously! 

  • For that reason, we don’t have a long list of officiants to recommend. We might have thought Uncle Joe was great, but he lives out of state! Here is the link to our Vendor recommendation page for local professionals: https://www.jamesweddingvenue.com/music-officiants

  • Please make sure your officiant knows that The James does NOT coordinate the ceremony. That is a role fulfilled by your officiant or your chosen coordinator. 

For a list of other “professional” officiants, please check out Theknot.com or Weddingwire.com.

 

Catering - Read Before Hiring a Caterer

  • Before you hire a FOOD TRUCK, please check what kind of setup at the venue they require.  We do not have exterior power plug ins to accomodate food trucks therefore they will need to supply their own form of power. They are welcome to park in the gravel area directly in front of the venu.  Keep in mind this will effect your photos and sound levels in the Garden space.

  • The James does not have exclusive catering.  You are welcome to hire any third party vendor of your choosing but we do reserve the right to refuse outside vendors from entering or providing products or services at the Venue. This is why we provide a Vendor list with our preferred caterers. 

  • If you are supplying your own food- OUR KITCHEN IS NOT SET UP FOR COOKING.  Food should arrive at the venue pre cooked and kept warm in either chafing dishes or aluminum warming pans.  We have several wire racks for warming pans but you will need to supply your own pans and sterno fuel.  

  • We suggest attending  VENDOR open house and having a free tasting from some of the most used vendors (unless you know you already have one!) Then we suggest scheduling tastings or further discussions with those caterers.

  • Do Caterers include disposable dinnerware? Most include clear plastic (some use heavy duty paper). If you want upgraded disposables that look like china in photos (without the cost), we would suggest YOU purchase these from Sams Club: https://www.samsclub.com/p/members-mark-premium-plastic-plates-classic-design/prod22310619?xid=plp_product_1_6 

They generally go on sale for $3 - $4 off per package several times a year. These are NOT what is typically provided by caterers.

  • Some caterers offer linen and china packages, but it is usually not included in their base pricing.

  • Caterers do NOT provide cake plates and forks unless they are providing the dessert. Most CAN.

  • Caterers do NOT bus tables at the end of the night.  This is expected of you and your helpers for cleanup.

  • Caterers do have various pricing models. Some have a delivery charge, some don’t. Some charge for staff time separately from food, some don’t. Consider looking at their sample quotes to get an idea of the differences. 

  • Some caterers provide containers for taking home extra food, some do not. Please don’t assume and make sure you ask! 

  • Plan on ONE tasting with a caterer. On occasion couples want to go back for 2 or 3 tastings with a caterer. Because our caterers are some of the small and more affordable caterers, that is really hard on them. If we want to help them keep their costs down for our couples over time, we need to educate on points like this one. Plan to go to one tasting and take your mom and dad to the first one if they need to taste the food too. 

  • Check out a list of our favorite caterer's here->  https://www.jamesweddingvenue.com/cateres-cake-bar

 

Bar/Alcohol

If you are serving your guests alcohol at your wedding there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • We have a $200 fee regardless of how you choose to serve alcohol to your guests. Once your online planner is complete we will invoice you for the cleaning fee along with your linen rental (if applicable) and the invoice is due 1 week prior to your event date.  We do not charge the alcohol fee if you are not serving guests alcohol.

  • NO HARD LIQUOR, LIQUEURS or MIXED DRINKS OF ANY KIND. We only allow beer, wine, mead, champagne, seltzers, wine coolers, and kegs.

  • Guests are not allowed to bring their own alcoholic beverages under any circumstances. No guest coolers or containers are allowed on the property including a guests vehicle.

 

Option 1: Purchasing/providing and serving your own alcohol to guests

  • Load up at Sam’s Club, etc and set up your own bar area.  There is bar next to the lkitchen area that you may use to serve and store drinks.

  • Kegs are allowed but must be kept in a plastic container of some kind to prevent leaking ( 30 gallon trash cans work well for this).

  • It’s up to you whether or not you want a person to serve and hand out the alcoholic drinks to prevent underage drinking, over drinking.  We don’t require it but it helps keep the liability down and the drinks will stay stocked all night. 

  • We recommend (but don’t require) alcohol liability event insurance to cover anything that could result from drinking at your event. Here are some links to get a policy from:https: Wedsafe, Eventsured, Wedsure

  • At the end of the evening, please dump ice in the empty lot on the WEST side of the main entrance.

 

Option 2: Hiring a vendor to serve alcohol to your guests

  • This is the stress free way and not much more expensive than option 1.

  • Avoid liability issues with someone else handling everything for you. They make sure to keep the drinks stocked, prevent underage drinking or over serving and are licensed and insured.

  • Check out a list of our favorite bar service providers here -> https://www.jamesweddingvenue.com/cateres-cake-bar

 

Floral- Read before hiring a Florist

  • We love beautiful real flowers at The James! Ok, just putting that out there :)

  • Many florists have minimums. Before you spend your time or theirs, make sure you ask if they do. 

  • To get the most bang for your buck, consider using The James decor on ⅓ or ⅔ of tables and doing floral arrangements on the others. This means your budget will be split over less tables and each arrangement could be bigger. 

  • For statement pieces, consider which areas will be photographed most. Consider a floral arrangement for the courtyard arbor in the ceremony area. It would be in lots of photos! That arrangement may even be able to be moved (by your friends and family) from the archway to the head table or your sweetheart table to get more use from that beautiful piece. 

  • If hiring a professional wedding florist simply isn’t in the budget, several of our couples have had good luck with ordering fresh flowers from Sam’s Club. Now, they arranged them themselves the week of the wedding (and it turned out beautiful), but I wouldn’t recommend it unless DIY flowers both sound fun and getting professional help is not in the budget. 

  • If using real flowers and you’re trying to stretch your budget, use flowers in season around your wedding date. Most flowers are seasonal, and getting them out of season can become expensive quickly. 

  • Check out a few of our favorite florists here -> https://www.jamesweddingvenue.com/florists-rentals

 

Hair and Makeup- read before hiring a stylist.

  • For a list of professionals we have had good experiences with visit: https://www.jamesweddingvenue.com/dresses-suits-beauty
     

  • Suggestions: 

    • You think your makeup + hair will look JUST like the inspiration photo.  Unfortunately it will not. 
      Not because your hairstylist/makeup artist is lacking talent, but simply because… you are not that person – your hair type/texture/color is not the same, nor are your facial features. Every year it seems that we are all given the SAME inspiration photos by EVERY single client… Those styles are GREAT, but have trust and confidence in your makeup/hair artist. Allow them to customize that look to suit you.

    • The more organized/detailed you can be, the better. This is NOT always true. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite when it comes to your makeup + hair services. It’s not that we don’t LOVE organization (because, believe me, we do!), but some services take longer than others (depending on the desired style and hair type/texture). Sometimes a spreadsheet that puts services in order, or at specific times, actually causes makeup + hair services to run behind.

    • You believe that you can do your own makeup + hair. Sure, your everyday makeup and hair looks amazing! That doesn’t mean you should do your own for your big day. Your wedding day will be one of the MOST photographed days of your life. You’ve likely spent THOUSANDS on your photographer. Make that investment count and hire a pro for your beauty services. The pros know how to make your hair + makeup look great and last ALL day. We can all remember seeing celebrities in magazines with VERY OBVIOUS flash black (when your makeup reflects the flash from professional cameras), you do NOT want that in photos. The last thing we would want is for you to spend thousands on your photography, and regret not spending a LITTLE bit more to include professional makeup + hair.

Linens

  • Linens may be rented through The James or through the linen provider of your choice. Our tables DO need a protective covering of some kind on each table.

  • The James offers an inexpensive linen rental for your convenience.  You most likely can save a few dollars ordering and renting your own linens but there is so much more that goes into supplying your own linens and most couples choose to not deal with those headaches.  However, we only offer WHITE round & straight  linens as well as black straight linens for food/drink tables. 

  • Linen Invoices are sent AFTER your online planner is completed so that we have an accurate count of tables based on your venue layout. The invoice is due 1 week prior to your event date. 

  • If you have rented linens from The James, they will be on the tables when you arrive. 

  • DO NOT PLAN TO IRON OR STEAM LINENS ONSITE. If you need to steam or iron linens please do so BEFORE you arrive onsite. -This is true EVEN ON TWO DAY RENTALS. 

    • If you have purchased linens online they will come folded and likely extremely wrinkled. 

    • If you have a centerpiece, chargers, and a runner the wrinkles aren’t too noticeable. If your table design is more simple, the wrinkles will be very noticeable. 

    • In our experience if you rent linens (from most providers, not just us), they don’t need to be ironed. Please don’t plan to take them out of the package onsite at the venue. You’ll wish you had done it in advance!

  • If you bring in your own linens you are responsible for figuring out what linens to order. We highly recommend ordering one or two extra straight table linens. Regularly when bringing in linens, families miscount tables and are short. 

  • Table linen sizes:

    • Round Guest Tables: 120" round drops to the floor. 90" and 108" inches is considered mid length. 

    • 6 Foot Straight Tables: 90" x 132" drops to the floor. 60" x 120" is mid-length.

    • The James provides 90" x 132"white, floor length straight linens & 90" white, round linens for guest tables; and black, floor length, straight linens for food/drink tables.

  • If The James is not providing linens, don’t forget the following tables: buffet, DJ, sweets, gift, guest book, memorial, appetizers, vendor, and guest tables. Please consider ordering an extra guest table linen for backup. 

  • If you do buy online we have had the best luck with:  https://www.efavormart.com/collections/tablecloths

  • If you would prefer to rent locally here in the Springfield area we have provided a few options (usually ironing isn’t required!): 

    • Your caterer  - Some caterers offer linen rental. That does not mean they arrive early to put them on the tables. You may need to pick them up and set on tables. 

    • Events by Amie: Amie Fisher- Very affordable linens starting at $10 per linen and delivery fee/pick up fee is only $80.  

    • Elegant Linens and Rentals: Rochelle McBrayer- Showroom is located in Nixa, MO. Linens, napkins, chargers, etc.  $150 for delivery, set up and pick up or they offer a 5% discount if you pick them up yourself. 

    • Eventful Rentals: Amanda Hemphill- They offer several different types of linens. Delivery is expensive ($368 for drop off and pick up) but they offer pickup on Friday and return by Monday if you would like to avoid the delivery/pick up fees.

    • Shannon”s Custom Florals: Shannon Johnson- She seriously has everything you could ever dream of renting.  Linens are $20 per linen but she literally has everything under the sun. Delivery is $100 and set up fee is $100 but that includes anything that is rented from them.

    • Check out the above vendors here -> https://www.jamesweddingvenue.com/florists-rentals

 

PLANNING ADVICE

The James Online Planner

  • The James will provide you with access to your own online planning document several months prior to your wedding. It will help answer SO MANY QUESTIONS you don’t know that you have and will be a great resource for you in preparing for your wedding day.

  • In general this document consists of questions about your schedule, your vendors, your ceremony choices, your table placement, the decor you want to borrow, and much more. 

  • It is critical that any special requests that you have made and have been approved by Tara (ie - something you asked Tara and team at an open house and Tara then approved in writing) be captured in this document. It is THE DOCUMENT that we use on your wedding day, so please make sure it is complete and correct. 

  • Your completed online planner will be due three weeks prior to the wedding.

  • We will be asking for a “decision maker for the day.” This person should not be the bride, groom, or a member of the bridal party. Ideally your chosen person will be onsite all day and have a general idea of your plans. This will be the person we go to first to discuss a decision to move inside due to rain, a question from your vendors, etc. They DO NOT have to make every decision for you, but they should know you well enough to know when to come ask you a question, and when to just make the decision themselves. 

  • In addition to your online planner, you can find several resources contained in the Wedding Guide (this). Utilize the menu of contents to help find the answers you need.

 
 

Planning Your Schedule

This is NOT a straightforward section. Day of the week, time of sunset, and whether or not you are doing a first look, all directly impact your schedule. 

 

The following pages show SAMPLE schedules applicable for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with and without a first look.

 

Please note it is CRITICAL to pay attention to the time of sunset and if you are getting married in the winter. Please make sure you talk with us about the details. There is only so much daylight to work with, and it’s absolutely critical to have a realistic timeline. If you don’t, or if you don’t have a professional photographer, you are making it really difficult on yourself to be happy with the photos your photographer is able to capture. 

 

Visit this website to look up what time the sun will set on your wedding day: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/usa/springfield-mo

WITH a First Look  [ Mid March - Mid October ]

 

9:30am - Doors Unlock, Arrive Onsite, Unload, Decorate

10:00 - Bridal Party starts Hair and Makeup

2:30 - Put on your dress

3:00 - First look photos

3:15 - Photos with the bridal party

3:45 - Family photos - YOUR FAMILY HAS TO BE READY ON TIME

*Please make sure you have a WRITTEN list of family photos needed

4:45 - Return to dressing rooms to relax

5:15 - Ceremony

5:45 - Bar Opens

5:45 - Couples Portraits 

6:30 - Announcement into Reception 

6:35 - Cut the Cake

6:40 - Blessing

6:45 - Buffet Opens 

7:30 - Toasts

7:45 - First Dances

9:30 - Pack Gifts Into Car

9:45 - Last call at the Bar

10:00 - Final Song & Bar Closes

10:15 - Say Goodbyes, remove items from suites, etc

10:45 - Clean up- gather and place all trash in dumpsters (located across the street from the venue entrance), return items from the decor closet and kitchen area, fold and place chairs on tables, etc.

11:30 PM - Doors Lock.

 

WITHOUT a First Look  [ Mid March - Mid October ]

 

**Please note this is the time of year where we have more light to work with. If you are getting married late October - Early March refer to one of the timeline documents below.

 

9:30am - Doors Unlock, Arrive Onsite, Unload, Decorate

10:00 - Bridal Party starts Hair and Makeup

2:30 - Put on your dress

3:00 - Photos separately 

4:00 - Return to dressing rooms to relax

4:30 - Ceremony

5:00 - Bar Opens

5:00 - Family photos - Family MUST be ready and stay close

*Please make sure you have a WRITTEN list of family photos needed

5:45 - Bridal Party Photos 

6:15 - Couples Portraits 

6:45 - Announcement into Reception 

6:50 - Cut the Cake

6:55 - Blessing

7:00 - Buffet Opens 

7:45 - Toasts

8:00 - First Dances

9:30 - Pack Gifts Into Car

9:45 - Last call at the Bar

10:00 - Final Song & Bar Closes

10:15 - Say Goodbyes, remove items from suites, etc

10:45 - Clean up- gather and place all trash in dumpsters (located across the street from the venue entrance), return items from the decor closet and kitchen area, fold and place chairs on tables, etc.

11:30 PM - Doors Lock.

 

WITH a First Look  [ Late October - Early March ]

 

9:30am - Doors Unlock, Arrive Onsite, Unload, Decorate

10:00 - Bridal Party starts Hair and Makeup

1:30 - Put on your dress

2:00 - First look photos

2:15 - Photos with the bridal party

2:45 - Couple Portraits

3:30 - Family photos - YOUR FAMILY HAS TO BE READY ON TIME

*Please make sure you have a WRITTEN list of family photos needed

4:30 - Return to dressing rooms to relax

5:00 - Ceremony (sometimes earlier depending on sunset!!)

5:30 - Bar Opens

5:45 - Announcement into Reception 

5:50 - Cut the Cake

5:55 - Blessing

6:00 - Buffet Opens 

6:45 - Toasts

7:00  - First Dances

9:30 - Pack Gifts Into Car

9:45 - Last call at the Bar

10:00 - Final Song & Bar Closes

10:15 - Say Goodbyes, remove items from suites, etc

10:45 - Clean up- gather and place all trash in dumpsters (located across the street from the venue entrance), return items from the decor closet and kitchen area, fold and place chairs on tables, etc.

11:30 PM - Doors Lock.

 

WITHOUT a First Look  [ Late October - Early March ]

 

9:30am - Doors Unlock, Arrive Onsite, Decorate

1:00 - Put on your dress

1:30 - Photos separately 

2:30 - Return to dressing rooms to relax

3:00 - Ceremony

3:30 - Bar Opens

3:30 - Family photos - Family MUST be ready and stay close

*Please make sure you have a WRITTEN list of family photos needed

4:15 - Couple Portraits 

4:45 - Bridal Party Photos (It may be getting dark - FYI)

5:15  - Announcement into Reception 

5:20 - Cut the Cake

5:25 - Blessing

5:30 - Buffet Opens 

6:15 - Toasts

6:30 - First Dances

9:30 - Pack Gifts Into Car

9:45 - Last call at the Bar

10:00 - Final Song & Bar Closes

10:15 - Say Goodbyes, remove items from suites, etc

10:45 - Clean up- gather and place all trash in dumpsters (located across the street from the venue entrance), return items from the decor closet and kitchen area, fold and place chairs on tables, etc.

11:30 PM - Doors Lock.

 
 

The James Open Houses

  • The James hosts 10-12 planning open houses per year. 

  • Open houses are held the second Tuesday of every month from 5:00pm - 8:00pm. 

  • For upcoming Open house dates or to RSVP, head on on over to the OPEN HOUSE page.

  • There are two formats for open houses:

    • Planning open houses:

      • These are generally offered 11 times per year. Often not in January. Please plan accordingly.

      • The Decor Closet is unlocked and tables are empty for decor planning.

      • We do provide linens so you can see what we offer, but have limited supply.

      • Get ideas from walking around and seeing what other couples are doing.

      • We do ask that you wait to plan decor at open houses until 6-9 months or less until your wedding date. This gives priority to couples getting married in the six to nine months. Additionally, trends change, items break, we buy new things - it’s worth it to wait. 

    • Public/Vendor open houses:

      • These are offered 1-2 times per year (generally winter & summer)

      • Caterers and the bar service will provide samples.

      • We generally have 3 photographers, a DJ, a videographer, a florist, etc. in attendance. 

      • The Decor Closet IS OPEN at public/vendor open houses. 

      • These DO NOT feel like bridal shows. (You don’t need to bring “stickers” of your contract info for giveaways and we don’t give out your contact information.) It’s just a chance for our couples to meet our vendor - friends. If it’s a match, great! It’s also a great chance to narrow down your catering options to decide who you want to do a full tasting with. 

      • Your vendors are welcome at open houses. If they need to see the venue before your big day, open houses are their chance to do it. Please let your Vendors know that while we would be happy to see them at the venue and answer any questions they might have, we cannot accommodate drop ins or a “Stop by and see things” visit. In addition to the possibility of being on a tour with a prospective couple, it can be extremely disruptive and will definitely give us reason to not promote them in the future. This also goes for guests, the wedding party, family, helpers, etc.

  • You are welcome to take engagement photos at an open house. Just bring your photographer and wear your walking shoes! 

  • There will be one-two team members from The James at most open houses to answer your questions. Often this will be Tara and/or Allen. 

Rehearsal & Rehearsal Dinner

  • Having a great ceremony is SO MUCH MORE about having a qualified officiant and qualified DJ/sound person than it is where you practice. In our opinion, it doesn’t matter where you practice. It is important that you DO practice and that you have a competent sound person and officiant. 

    • Two day rentals (this includes Fridays w/Thursday added on): You are welcome to do your rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and decorate the night before your wedding. 

    • One day rentals: you may either schedule a 1 hour rehearsal sometime during the week of your wedding (based on availability) or your rehearsal may take place at an scheduled open house or offsite at the location of your choosing.

    • We schedule rehearsals 6 weeks in advance and will reach out to you via email when it is time to schedule.

  • Knowing when to walk is pretty simple. 

    • If you are getting married in the open air Garden, the bridal party will line up at the black double doors.  When the first person reaches half way down the row of seated benches, the next person starts walking. 

    • If you are getting married inside the venue, the bridal party will stay lined up in the suites until you make way down the staircase.  Once someone reaches the bottom of the staircase, the next person/s can start walking.

  • Make sure EVERYONE in your ceremony knows when to walk and in what order. This is most critical with parents and grandparents. They seem to get more nervous than the bridal party! 

  • It is the responsibility of your officiant to organize the ceremony and bridal party. If you ask a friend to officiate (we love that!), please make sure it’s a friend or family member who will take the job seriously. We aren’t ceremony experts and can’t tell you “how to do it.” That is a responsibility of your officiant and planner. We would also suggest if you do not have a planner to ask a friend or family member not in the wedding party to lead the lining up of the bridal party.

  • We suggest rehearsing before dinner. By doing so it seems easier to get and keep everyone’s attention for the rehearsal. 

  • Reserve about 10 minutes of your rehearsal time to gather your decision-makers and decorating helpers for a group chat . Please go over the few decorating and CLEANUP guidelines listed in the Host Manual so everyone is on the same page.  

 

VERY IMPORTANT:

  • Please be respectful of other groups rehearsing the same day by arriving and leaving ON TIME.  

  • DO NOT ARRIVE EARLY OR LEAVE LATE.

  • We typically have back to back rehearsals on the same day and the group before you will need time to leave and vacate nearby parking spaces. Traffic can get very backed up if your group arrives early. Please notify everyone in your group of this.

  • Read through your contract, the FAQ page or our HOST Manual for clarity on what is expected and allowed for your big day especially concerning decorating and set up. This will help you feel more at ease and answer a lot of lingering questions (hopefully we have covered most of them by now but we want you to feel reassured and prepared so please reach out with any concerns).

  • We keep the Host Manual on site in the barn but here is the link if you would like to send it to your helpers: HOST MANUAL (password: couple@thejames). Once you open the PDF feel free to send the PDF link to anyone who needs it.

 
 

Planning Your Ceremony

  • Make sure you look at the time of sunset and talk to Tara and your photographer prior to confirming your ceremony start time.

    • You need AT MINIMUM 2.5 hours onsite before your ceremony - So the doors unlock time + 2.5 or more hours should be your ceremony start time (typically no earlier than 12:00pm). 

  • We do not have any kind of outdoor heating (nor would any be effective outdoors) in our open air Garden ceremony space. If you elect to have an outdoor ceremony, it will be at the temperature outdoors. 

  • We suggest moving your ceremony indoors at less than 50 degrees. If you want to be outdoors between 32 and 50 degrees, PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU TELL YOUR GUESTS REPEATEDLY TO DRESS FOR THE WEATHER. 

    • We want to make the indoor/outdoor inclement weather decision at least 2 hours prior to your ceremony. If you want to make the decision closer than 2 hours prior to the ceremony, we will need the assistance of your helpers and wedding party setting up chairs. Check out our 5 Steps to Rainy Day Wedding Success.

  • Consider taking 5 - 10 minutes immediately after the ceremony together alone. We’ve seen this work well when the couple exited the ceremony area and literally walked straight into the brides room. If you don’t do it right away (and want to) a SEA of people will be greeting you and for some couples that can be a little overwhelming. Also, unless you make the effort you will not have 5 minutes alone all day. If this idea is important to you, plan for it. :)

  • Your ceremony rain plan: 

    • We need to make a decision on indoor or outdoor ceremony by 10:00am the morning of your wedding. Make sure that your venue layout supports an indoor ceremony with guest seating facing the East wall and an aisle that flows from the staircase.

    • We do not flip the venue from ceremony to reception. Please make sure you designate a few helpers to move your head table into position after the ceremony.

 

Obtaining a Marriage License

  • Visit the Official Missouri State Website for information on Marriage Laws and Licensing (or see below). YOU MAY OBTAIN A MARRIAGE LICENSE FROM ANY COUNTY IN THE STATE OF MISSOURI, it does not have to be from the county that the ceremony is performed in.

  • A marriage license is issued by the Recorder of Deeds in each Missouri county and is valid only in Missouri. Marriage license applicants are not required to be Missouri residents.

  • Both must appear in person before the recorder of deeds or a deputy recorder and present valid identification containing date of birth, along with a Social Security card, to apply for a marriage license.

  • Fees for a marriage license and copies may vary by county.

  • Local Dallas County Recorder of Deeds info:

Stacy Satterfield

Recorder of Deeds

108 South Maple, Room 10 / PO BOX 406

Buffalo, MO 65622

Ph: (417) 345-2242 

F: (417) 345-2230

E: stacy@dallascountyrecorder.net

  • Marriage Laws(Revised Statutes of Missouri 451):

    • Applicants for a marriage license must be at least 18 years old.

    • Applicants who are younger than 18 must have consent from a custodial parent or guardian.

    • Applicants wishing to apply who are younger than 15 must obtain a circuit court order.

    • Applicants cannot be married already and may not be related by blood, through and including first cousins.

    • The license must be picked up prior to the marriage ceremony. The person performing the ceremony must have the license prior to the ceremony.

    • The person performing the marriage ceremony shall return the license to the issuing Recorder of Deeds within 15 days.Who can perform a marriage ceremony in Missouri? According to Section 451.100.1 of the Missouri Revised Statutes…“Marriages may be solemnized by any clergyman, either active or retired, who is in good standing with any church or synagogue in this state. Marriages may also be solemnized, without compensation, by any judge, including a municipal judge. Marriages may also be solemnized by a religious society, religious institution, or religious organization of this state, according to the regulations and customs of the society, institution or organization, when either party to the marriage to be solemnized is a member of such society, institution or organization.

    • If a marriage ceremony does not occur, the license shall be void after thirty days from the date of issuance.

 

Decorating

  • Decorating is NOT stressful unless you choose an easily stressed out person to lead the decorating process.  Please don't do that :)

  • Decorating happens quickly and easily when you set up one or two sample tables completely. Then, everyone helping knows what to do without asking lots of questions. 

  • Less really is more. Because we have so many goodies in the closet, folks often feel the need to decorate every corner of the venue. In our eyes, that often adds to the stress and isn't necessary. The venue truly is transformed just simply by putting linens on the tables. You don't really need much more, so don't stress!

  • If you have rented two days, we welcome you to decorate on day 1, but please don't leave items of value (like your dress) overnight at the venue.

  • If you are bringing in your own linens, make sure they are NOT packed at the bottom of the car and are coming with someone who will arrive on time. You can't do much without linens! 

  • On average, it seems it works best if approximately 5 friends/family members help decorate unless a wedding planner or florist is heavily involved. We have had some instances of 2 or 3 people decorating with a simple setup, and instances of 30+ friends and family helping with a big setup.  Anymore than 10 people helping gets confusing and stressful.

  • On average, decorating takes a little more than an hour if using linens provided by The James, and about an hour and a half if outside linens are used.

  • If you are providing your own linens, DO NOT plan to iron them onsite. Even if you have rented two days, it’s a huge pain that we really recommend you do in the months leading up to your wedding. In our experience if you rent linens (from most providers, not just us), they don’t need to be ironed. If you BUY THEM ONLINE they come EXTREMELY WRINKLED. Please don’t plan to take them out of the package onsite at the venue. You’ll wish you had done it in advance!

  • If you have rented linens from The James, they will be on the tables when you arrive. 

 

Very important: Please follow these guidelines for decorating- guidelines are also posted in the Host Manual so your helpers know what is allowed and what isn't. 

Decor Guidlines.png

The Decor Closet

  • Items in the decor closet are available to borrow for free. I know - awesome right? 

  • Sometimes that means people go overboard. Less is more! Make your wedding day about you as a couple and not all the “stuff.” Just because we have a sign for every corner of the venue, doesn’t mean there needs to be a sign in every corner.

  • It helps you stretch your floral budget. Instead of doing small arrangements on every table, use our decor on ⅓ or ⅔ of the tables and consider bigger floral arrangements on the other tables. This will have a bigger visual impact! 

  •  Your florist, wedding planner, and/or friends and family will have access to decorate at the time listed on your contract, not before. 

  • Plan your decor at open houses. We give you plenty of chances to do this :) RSVP is required. See dates and RSVP here: https://www.jamesweddingvenue.com/open-house 

  • If you don’t want your decor vision changed, don’t agree to let “creative aunt Suzy” help decorate. Seriously, “Aunt Suzy” can be totally awesome… or they can totally wreck your plan. They see the decor closet and go crazy. You know best. If she is helping, please remind her that “less is more.” This is when we really feel like the place gets over-decorated. 

  • Items in the decor closet are NOT guaranteed. Things accidentally get packed and go home with another family, things break, trends change and we get rid of items over time.

 

Keeping the Decor Closet organized for the next day's wedding is EXTREMELY  IMPORTANT.  Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Please return all decor items in a neat and orderly fashion to their EXACT location (shelf or bin the item came from) at the end of the night.  Make sure your helpers know to do this!  We know everyone is tired and it’s easy to just set things on the floor but this adds at least 1 hour to our already very late cleaning time frame and could result in an extra cleaning charge outlined in your contract.  

  • DECOR CLOSET ITEMS CANNOT BE ALTERED IN ANY WAY. Do not cut fabric, remove items from jars/boards/etc, use only real chalk on boards (NO PAINT PENS), no fabric or Florals on food, cake, buffet or drink tables.

  • We appreciate your help in keeping the DECOR CLOSET a free amenity to all our couples!

  • To see photos of the DECOR CLOSET click HERE.

 

Reception Planning

  • We generally don’t think assigned seating is necessary (or worth the effort) if you have 150 confirmed attendees or less. Assigning seats is something you can’t do until right before the wedding, and honestly it’s a lot of added stress when you will already have plenty of stress. If it’s important to you, please do it, but honestly the cons outweigh the pros in our opinion. Instead of doing assigned seating, we would recommend that you request one or even two extra guest tables and let your guests choose their own seats. If you are not doing assigned seating, we also recommend that you set aside a few reserved tables near wherever you will be sitting for immediate family, and in some cases the bridal party. Make sure that your family members know to sit at the reserved tables. 

  • If you do have assigned seating, please make sure you don’t use individual name cards for each guest. Instead have one card for everyone at table 8 (for example). Here’s why - individual cards are going to blow all over the venue when someone opens the door...yep, that is no fun. 

  • Plan to have the bar open/drinks available immediately following the ceremony. Your guests will expect it.

  • If you plan to rent linens through The James it is very important to get the headcount correct and your planner turned in on time.  We always recommend ordering at least 2 extra linens just in case you decide you need an extra table or two.

  • If using uplighting, please make sure it is wireless. Most of the outlets in the venue are next to guest tables and you don’t want the liability of guests tripping and falling over extension cords or wires. 

 

THE JAMES Information

Communication with Tara

 

  • We work with over 100 couples at a time and we don't want to miss your message!

  • Be resourceful!  Most likely the answer to your question is on the website. Check out the contents of the Wedding guide page, couples resource page or your online planner.

  • Email is always best!  If you would like to reach out via direct message please download the Voxer app.  This helps me keep all of our business messages organized and seen.

  • If you text me your message could get lost, please make sure to email or send me a message on Voxer. I typically do not respond to text messages or messenger.

  • Answering Hours are typically from Tuesday - Friday.  Please allow up to 72 hours for a response.

 

Payments & Contract

Payment types accepted:

 

  • Online Payments:

    • We offer online payments by request only.  If you would like to make a payment online using a credit, debit or bank transfer please email us at jamesweddingvenue@gmail.com with the payment amount and frequency you would like to pay.

    • All online payments are subject to a 1-3% fee.  Avoid fees by making check or cash payments.

 

  • Personal Checks, Cashiers Checks, and Money Orders:

    • Payable to: The James Wedding Venue

    • Mailing address: 38 Rainbow Road, Buffalo MO, 65622.

    • Please list the WEDDING DATE or LAST NAMES OF COUPLES  in the memo section of the check!!!

 

  • Cash:

    • We only accept cash transactions at our monthly Open Houses.  For a list of Open House dates please visit the Open House page of our website.

Linen and Alcohol payments:

  • The Linen service rental and alcohol cleaning fee are invoiced 3 weeks prior to your event date AFTER your online planner is completed.  

  • Payment is not due until 1 week prior to your event.  We want you to have plenty of flexibility on those decisions.

 

The Decor Closet

  • Items in the decor closet are available to borrow for free. I know - awesome right? 

  • Sometimes that means people go overboard. Less is more! Make your wedding day about you as a couple and not all the “stuff.” Just because we have a sign for every corner of the venue, doesn’t mean there needs to be a sign in every corner.

  • It helps you stretch your floral budget. Instead of doing small arrangements on every table, use our decor on ⅓ or ⅔ of the tables and consider bigger floral arrangements on the other tables. This will have a bigger visual impact! 

  •  Your florist, wedding planner, and/or friends and family will have access to decorate at the time listed on your contract, not before. 

  • Plan your decor at open houses. We give you plenty of chances to do this :) RSVP is required. See dates and RSVP here: https://www.jamesweddingvenue.com/open-house 

  • If you don’t want your decor vision changed, don’t agree to let “creative aunt Suzy” help decorate. Seriously, “Aunt Suzy” can be totally awesome… or they can totally wreck your plan. They see the decor closet and go crazy. You know best. If she is helping, please remind her that “less is more.” This is when we really feel like the place gets over-decorated. 

  • Items in the decor closet are NOT guaranteed. Things accidentally get packed and go home with another family, things break, trends change and we get rid of items over time.

 

Keeping the Decor Closet organized for the next day's wedding is EXTREMELY  IMPORTANT.  Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Please return all decor items in a neat and orderly fashion to their EXACT location (shelf or bin the item came from) at the end of the night.  Make sure your helpers know to do this!  We know everyone is tired and it’s easy to just set things on the floor but this adds at least 1 hour to our already very late cleaning time frame and could result in an extra cleaning charge outlined in your contract.  

  • DECOR CLOSET ITEMS CANNOT BE ALTERED IN ANY WAY. Do not cut fabric, remove items from jars/boards/etc, use only real chalk on boards (NO PAINT PENS), no fabric or Florals on food, cake, buffet or drink tables.

  • We appreciate your help in keeping the DECOR CLOSET a free amenity to all our couples!

  • To see photos of the DECOR CLOSET click HERE.

Decorating

  • Decorating is NOT stressful unless you choose an easily stressed out person to lead the decorating process.  Please don't do that :)

  • Decorating happens quickly and easily when you set up one or two sample tables completely. Then, everyone helping knows what to do without asking lots of questions. 

  • Less really is more. Because we have so many goodies in the closet, folks often feel the need to decorate every corner of the venue. In our eyes, that often adds to the stress and isn't necessary. The venue truly is transformed just simply by putting linens on the tables. You don't really need much more, so don't stress!

  • If you have rented two days, we welcome you to decorate on day 1, but please don't leave items of value (like your dress) overnight at the venue.

  • If you are bringing in your own linens, make sure they are NOT packed at the bottom of the car and are coming with someone who will arrive on time. You can't do much without linens! 

  • On average, it seems it works best if approximately 5 friends/family members help decorate unless a wedding planner or florist is heavily involved. We have had some instances of 2 or 3 people decorating with a simple setup, and instances of 30+ friends and family helping with a big setup.  Anymore than 10 people helping gets confusing and stressful.

  • On average, decorating takes a little more than an hour if using linens provided by The James, and about an hour and a half if outside linens are used.

  • If you are providing your own linens, DO NOT plan to iron them onsite. Even if you have rented two days, it’s a huge pain that we really recommend you do in the months leading up to your wedding. In our experience if you rent linens (from most providers, not just us), they don’t need to be ironed. If you BUY THEM ONLINE they come EXTREMELY WRINKLED. Please don’t plan to take them out of the package onsite at the venue. You’ll wish you had done it in advance!

  • If you have rented linens from The James, they will be on the tables when you arrive. 

 

Very important: Please follow these guidelines for decorating- guidelines are also posted in the Host Manual so your helpers know what is allowed and what isn't. 

Decor Guidlines.png
 

Venue Layouts

After reading the notes below, check out some examples of commonly used venue layouts.​

Notes on Venue Layouts:

  • Each straight table will have 8 chairs placed for guest seats. If you double the tables up there will be room for 14 guest seats.

  • Round tables accomodate 8 chairs for guests.

  • Inclement Weather:

    • In the case of inclement weather, you might have to transition to an INDOOR CEREMONY. Please plan your reception layout based on an what your needs will be for an indoor ceremony. Leave room for an aisle from the staircase to the opposite wall. Make sure there is plenty of space to move your head table arrangement into place after the ceremony.

  • Head Table Arrangement: 

    • Typical Head table arrangements are either a sweetheart table for just the two of you, traditional head table with bridal party on each side of the couple, or family style where the family sits with the couple.

    • The 8' Metal/wood farm table is a popular choice for a sweetheart head table but you can downsize to a regular 6 foot straight table for a cozier feel that leaves plenty of space for decorations and your dinner/drinks. You can also bring your own furniture to use how you like.

  • Outdoor Ceremonies are held in the courtyard where we can seat up to 150 guests on our 10 rows of benches.

 

 

Items List and Measurements

  • Below is a list of the items included with your day rental.  We recommend you attend our monthly Open House to see and work with the items in person.

    • Tables:

      • 8 - 60" Round Tables

      • 28 - 6' Straight tables

      • 1 - 8' Metal/Wood Table 

      • 2 - 2'x5' straight "skinny" tables

      • 1 - Distressed Grey Entry Dresser

      • 1 - Distressed Grey Desk

      • 2 - Cocktail Tables on Wheels

    • Arbors:

      • 1  Natural Wood Triangle Arbor

      • 1  Dark Hexagon Arbor

      • 1  Dark Double Triangle Arbor

      • 1 Set of Natural Wood Ladder Arbor

      • 1 Black iron Arbor

    • Sound System- 1 portable speaker and 1 microphone with stand.  Aux cord included. Outdoor power available in the Garden area.

    • Seating:

      • 150 White Folding Chairs

      • 10 rows of outdoor benches with up to 150 guest seating capacity.

 

  • Distance from the Garden double doors to ceremony site is approximately 30 feet.

  • Distance from the staircase to the ceremony site is approximately 40 feet.

 
 

The James Day of Wedding Support

  • We will  check in several times throughout the day to make sure things are running smoothly, answer questions, solve problems, etc. Our approach is unique and helps you have the best outcome for your big day.  Instead of having a staff member or owner on site all day we feel that it’s best to give our couples, their family and helpers more privacy and a little room to breathe.  

    • 1st Check In:  In between 10:00am-11:00am.  Please make sure to fill out your arrival time (especially if it is different from the access time of 9:30am) in the  Online Planner so that we know when you (or your fiancé) will be arriving.  This check in is to make sure you are happy with the set up and to finalize any details or concerns.

    • 2nd Check In: 2 hours prior to ceremony time.  This check in allows us to make any necessary changes, set up inclement weather ceremony seating, fix any issues and check in with everyone to make sure things are still going smoothly. Generally, guests start showing up at least 1 hour before the ceremony and we like to have all tasks completed by then.  We also use this check in as a time to say hello to your vendors and assist them with any of their needs or wants.

    • 3rd Check In: After clean up has completed or at 11:30pm.  We ask that someone text or call us as soon as the clean up responsibilities are completed.  We tackle all of the deep cleaning and set up for the next day's wedding and need to start promptly at 11:30pm. As a reminder, All guests, hosts, personal items, and VENDORS need to be out of the building and off site by 11:30pm. 

  • We are on call during your entire rental time. Please call us if you have any questions or concerns.We keep our numbers posted in the kitchen for everyone to have access to:

    • Tara 417-299-3597

  • The HOST MANUAL is an on site quick reference guide for you and your helpers. It is also available for download here: HOST Manual

  • The James does NOT coordinate your ceremony. That is the role of your officiant, planner and DJ. We would also suggest if you do not have a planner to ask a friend or family member not in the wedding party to lead the lining up of the bridal party.

 

Clean up Responsibilities

  • Typically you will have a small army helping at the end of the night but- that army probably hasn't read your contract.  In order to help your helpers and make sure your contract is upheld, we keep a summary of the clean up responsibilities posted on the kitchen wall and they can also find a copy in the onsite Host Manual. Check out the visual below.

  • Please read your contract to familiarize yourself with our clean up policies. If you don't want to dig around for your contract, here are a few excerpts regarding clean up:

 

"Timing and Cleanup Policy

  • All items brought to Venue by Hosts or Guests, or rented by Host, must be removed from the Venue by the times set forth in the EVENT VENUE ACCESS AND TIME OF EVENT section of this Agreement.  Such Items include, but are not limited to, all vehicles, decorations, rented items, vendor equipment linens, and trash.

  • In the event that the Venue requires additional cleaning from remaining decor, debris or otherwise from the Event or other issues as seemed appropriate by The James, Host will be charged $100 per hour for additional cleaning services. The James shall have the right to chard such fees and costs to the credit card on file and shall send to Host an invoice or other documentation evidencing the charged amount.

  • Setup, breakdown, vendor drop off and pickup, must fall within the rental period times. Please advise your vendors of the timeframe stated in this Agreement.

  • ​Post-Event cleaning services are provided by The James as part of this Contract; however, Timber Line Barn does not provide cleaning staff during the Event.  Host is responsible for gathering up all trash and placing gathered trash in the on site dumpster (located across the street from the venue entrance), folding all chairs and placing eight (8) chairs on each table following the conclusion of the Event but not later than the conclusion of the Rental Period.  All rented linens should be taken off each table and placed on one central table.

  • Host shall be respectful to the Venue and keep the Venue in good condition during the entire Rental Period, and the Venue shall be returned by Host to its original condition at the conclusion of the Rental Period.

  • Host agrees that The James will not be liable for any items left, lost, misplaced, stolen, or damaged on or near the Venue at any time, and Host hereby waives any and all such claims. Host is responsible to confirm that there are no items left that do not belong to The James.  The James will make reasonable efforts to contact you concerning any items left at the Venue following the Event (as hereinafter defined); however, if you fail to respond to The James, or if you fail to have your items retrieved within a reasonable period of time as determined in The James discretion, any items at the Venue left by you will be deemed abandoned and will be disposed of by The James in accordance with applicable law.  Items may be retrieved during a monthly planning Open house.

Clean Up.png
 

ASSUMPTIONS & RULES

A few things you might have Assumed Incorrectly

  • Cake plates, forks, and napkins are generally NOT provided by your caterer. If they didn’t provide the dessert they are not expected to provide the plates/silverware for dessert. If you want them to, just ask and make sure it is in your contract with them. 

  • Cake take home items may NOT be provided by your baker or caterer. Several caterers do provide, but not all so please check to be sure. 

  • Taking pictures at all of the photo spots is NOT realistic. There are many sites to choose from but you most likely won’t have time for all.  Make sure your photographer knows your favorites and get pictures there first.

  • Please make sure your friends and family know we (and the vendors we recommend) are nice people. We don’t need someone to be mean to us to get what they want. In fact that strategy is usually not successful :) We want to make you and them happy in any way we can as long as it’s not breaking a rule that we don’t bend on.

  • Our staff members and owners are NOT wedding planners and do NOT organize your ceremony. That is the role of your officiant and DJ. 

  • DJ’s just play your playlist right? Ummm.. Nope! They are the master of your party. They get guests involved and having fun. They KNOW how to handle sticky situations like an equipment malfunction. They are ORGANIZED and know more about your wedding than we do in most cases! 

  • While we DO have Wifi, Please do NOT pick a DJ who requires wifi on your wedding day. things happen and sometimes the Wifi could not work right when you need to walk down the aisle. It could be a disaster and one that we have NO ABILITY to fix on your wedding day. PS - Quality DJ’s do NOT require wifi anyway. 

  • Decor and draping may NOT be hung from the chandelier or loft railings at the venue. It takes a forklift to reach them and therefore we do not allow anything to be hung unless you hire a professional.

  • We do NOT keep real candles in inventory. If you saw them at an open house, someone else left them behind. That does NOT mean they will still be here on your wedding day. If you plan to use real candles, please bring them. Also, please note enclosed decor pieces (like terrariums and lanterns) may not be used in conjunction with real candles, and candle wax in other pieces may not flow into the decor piece. (IE - Buy tea lights with the metal wrapper to catch the wax.)

 

 

Rules & Reminders

  • No alcohol may be served in glass containers including beer bottles.  

  • All alcohol must be supplied from the “Hosts” (You the couple) or a third party bar service.

  • Guests are not allowed to bring their own alcohol into the building or onto the property. This means no coolers or tailgating situations.  

  • There is absolutely no illegal drug use tolerated on the Premises.  Smoking tobacco is permitted only at designated smoking areas (both outdoor patios).

  • Setup, breakdown, vendor drop off and pickup, must fall within the rental period times. Please advise your vendors of the time frame stated in this contract.

  • Fireworks are not permitted onsite at any time.  We do allow sparklers and you must have a bucket of water present to put sparklers out with. Please gather sparklers and place in dumpster after use.

  • Confetti, glitter, birdseed, and rice are prohibited. 

  • Floating lanterns, balloons, etc. are not permitted for send offs in order to keep the environment safe and beautiful.

  • Fake loose flower petals could blow away and may not be utilized. Real petals for flower girls are permitted but must be picked up by the end of the rental period.

  • Candles must be in holders to prevent dripping of wax.  Flame must be contained.

  • Using nails or any similar object to hang décor is not permitted. We only allow command hooks/strips.

  • Cedar rounds provided by Venue are for table decor and may not be utilized under food, including cake.

  • Couple materials may not be stored in closets or the decor closet before, during, or after event.

  • Bubble and smoke machines are not permitted.

  • Shelled nuts are not permitted.

  • Unless the Venue is rented for two consecutive days, rehearsals must take place during the week of your wedding date, offsite location of your choosing, at an open house provided by The James, or on the day of the wedding during the stated venue access period.

  • Venue staff/owners do not serve as wedding day coordinators. Couples may choose to hire a wedding planner or coordinator.

  • Couple is aware that the Venue may make modifications and enhancements at any time to the Venue in order to further enhance the overall experience at its sole discretion. In some cases, these changes may impact seating arrangements, capacity, and location of ceremony and reception space.

 

FINAL WEDDING DAY REMINDERS

DON'T STRESS! You're Almost There!

  • Know and communicate the plan BEFORE you arrive. You can find a sample timeline for the day here above.  Sharing something like this with your bridal party and family may be very helpful. You have access to an editable schedule in your Online Planner.

  • Remember - walk slowly down the aisle (both times!!)  I have seen many brides walk so fast down the aisle that there weren't any photo opportunities or photos come out blurry.  Also try to smile and look happy!  You’re headed towards the love of your life on your wedding day! Also, you want photos of you looking blissful, not stressed with a  furrowed brow. 

  • Figure out vendor gratuity in advance. Wait to provide tips until the conclusion of the service when you know you are happy. Some vendors have specific policies about tips (for example some bar services will add a specific tip amount to your bill at the end of the night if you don’t allow them to put a tip jar out.) Other vendors do not have any type of policy. In our opinion, unless there is a policy, tips are at your discretion and should be earned not expected :)

  • Plan for clean up. We ask that if  you borrow from the James’ Decor closet or kitchen items (make sure kitchen items are cleaned before returning) that you return those items right where you grabbed them from at the end of the night. This usually takes about 10 minutes with lots of hands helping (and generally guests help without being asked.) If you brought something in with you it either needs to go home with you, be donated to the decor closet, or placed in the dumpster. 

  • Main Clean Up Responsibilities:

    • Gather and place trash in the dumpster located across the street from the venue entrance.​

    • Gather all rented linens and place on a central table

    • Fold and stack chairs against walls.

    • Return items to kitchen (wash and dry items) or decor closet.

  • Your bridal party is a major component in your wedding day, and in your wedding day running smoothly! We would suggest a quick chat with your bridal party on the following topics to make your day flow as smoothly as possible:

    • Please remind your bridal party that you’ll get better photos and be more likely to keep your schedule on time if they cooperate and listen to your photographer. Missing family members or drunk/disrespectful bridal party members (this does happen on occasion!) definitely make it more challenging for your photographer to do the job you paid them to do :) Please remind folks it will not take as long if they listen and are where they need to be, when they need to be.

    • Please let your bridal party know we absolutely want the best for you on your wedding day! That means all they need to do is ask nicely and we will quickly try to sort out any concerns they have. It also means that there are some rules we will be asking them to follow including smoking only in the smoking area (outdoor patios), no drinking from glass bottles, and absolutely no hard liquor to keep the venue clean and safe for your wedding day, and the property beautiful for years to come. 

    • Please also remind your bridal party to check for missing items at the end of the night. We regularly get calls about missing jackets, shoes, etc. Generally those are sent home with the couples family at the end of the night if they are found. It is rare that they are still at the venue the following day. 

  • Let your family members know when family formal photos will be taken and where. You may have to be a little flexible on location based on weather and sunlight, but it is still better to have a plan that has been communicated in advance! 

  • The bridal party will be hungry. There are plenty of local cafes and Supermarkets (Expresso Coffee Co on HWY 65, Subway, Jem's Steakhouse Maple and Main Cafe on the square!) that can provide a cute catered lunch for those decorating and the bridal party. You could also do something simple like sandwich party trays from Sam’s Club or Wood’s Supermarket. In either case, you don’t want everyone hungry and drinking on an empty stomach. Please don’t forget something to eat!

  • Don’t forget you need to have your ushers (or someone else) prepared to open the Garden doors for your Grand entrance.

  • Cannabis, any other drug usage and outside alcohol brought by your guests are strictly prohibited. Drug usage of any kind at The James will not be tolerated. We can shut down your event for drug usage onsite and that is not a conversation we want to have! 

  • Make sure you know who is cutting the cake. It is likely NOT your bakery. They usually drop and go. Your caterer CAN cut the cake if you prepare it with them in advance. 

  • It is the responsibility of parents to watch their own children and ensure that they are not causing damage to the venue or playing in an unsafe area. It’s an odd thing, but somehow parents tend to think wedding venues have a built-in babysitter. This means they often don’t watch their children and we find them playing in an unsafe manner (like jumping from one ceremony bench to another) or running through and ripping up our beautiful landscaping. If we notice this issue we will directly and nicely ask the children to stop. If behavior continues we will get the decision maker for the day involved. If that is not effective in controlling the situation, we will ask the DJ to make an announcement. If you have children ages 4 - 12 (especially a lot of them) attending the wedding, please make sure their parents know that they do need to be supervised. Thank you for helping us keep your guests safe and the property beautiful.

 

AFTER THE WEDDING

  • Please return any borrowed items that may have accidentally been packed in your car. Another couple is likely planning to use that item soon!

  • Contact us if you believe you left anything of importance behind.  We will look for it, and if found place it safely in our lost and found bin.  You are welcome to retrieve the items at an upcoming open house.  

  • We would SO APPRECIATE if you, your friends and family would consider writing The James reviews. Your experience at our venue is so much more valuable to future couples than our own. Seriously, writing us a review on Google makes our hearts soooooo happy!

  • If you had a great experience with other vendors, please consider taking a few minutes to write them reviews as well. 

  • Get working on that name change! Don’t forget to update your social security card, driver's license, bank accounts, employer records, and the post office.

  • Write thank you notes. Ideally, you’ll have them in the mail within a month of returning from your honeymoon. It can be a big task, so break it down and consider having a goal of a few each day.

  • Find a new hobby! You are going to have so much more free time!

  • Come back and see us at an open house. We will be missing you! Bring a camera, your family, take some photos and have some fun.