by Michael Kabel
Country clubs offer plenty of advantages to entice the new couple planning their wedding events. In many ways, a private club is coincidentally perfect for weddings, rehearsal dinners, and receptions, as they're beautiful and convenient at the same time.
A country club, almost by definition, has to offer attractive grounds and landscaping as an incentive to membership. These translate amazingly well to providing backdrops and settings for both indoor and outdoor weddings. Many country clubs also include ballrooms for guest functions such as dances and dinners. Often, these include patios, verandas, or other areas that make natural backdrops for ceremonies and wedding photographs.
Some country clubs go an extra distance in providing wedding packages especially for the ceremony, such as a gazebo and chairs on the club lawn or on one of the golf course fairways. Once the ceremony is complete, guests can move into the club's ballroom or other event area to celebrate the reception.
The principal disadvantage to such an event is privacy. Country clubs probably won't shut down entirely for the sake of one party. As a result, you'll have people not connected to the wedding celebration close at hand when the rehearsal dinner and reception take place. If you're planning on some discreet solitude and exclusivity for your wedding guests, a country club may not offer the best solution. It's best to check with the country club staff and see what steps will be taken to keep other guests separate from your guests.
Most country clubs have restaurants on their grounds, and some have taverns and snack bars as well. With so much food service resources already on-site, many of them also offer catering services for their guests' private functions.
Perhaps the greatest advantage to holding your ceremony at a country club is the convenience of "one stop shopping." Because country clubs have catering and ballroom space available, it's sometimes possible to have all three parts of the wedding celebration at the same location. The same chef and kitchen staff can help you prepare both menus, coordinating each for theme or balance. This can in some cases save you money, as well, as you may only have to pay for one deposit instead of two. The arrival of beverages and desserts (if ordered from off site) also has the convenience and security of making delivery to a single location.
Many country clubs around the country have become so aggressive in recruiting wedding business that some employ wedding planners and booking agents to assist potential bridal customers. These agents will work with brides and with the club to arrange all the special details leading up to the main event.
As with any type of wedding venue, however, early planning and secure deposits are a must-have prerequisite for making finalized plans. A minimum six month advance reservation is recommended, along with all deposits paid around that same time.
Finally, in some cases country club facilities may only be available to registered club members. Membership may be available for the occasion, or there may be special exemptions available - for example, a relative who is a family member can "vouch" for the new couple and allow eligibility. Some clubs may insist upon extra fees as a waiver for non-membership.