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Your Take: Taking Two Down The Aisle

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Anime Wedding Cake TopA guest post on Techcrunch back in March talked about an idea I’ve never heard of – “taking two down the aisle.” In the guest post, Larry Chiang, founder of Duck9 and regular blogger for Business Week, is talking about organization events as a way to gain exposure and network. The article as a whole is great but the idea I wanted to discuss today was the idea that when you book venues.

Chiang talks about how venue locations and the people who manage them can be a little smarmy in that they will try to wring out every last dollar from you. There are only 52 Fridays and 52 Saturdays a year, so they want to get every last possible dime. In “taking two down the aisle,” you book two venues – one as your primary and the other as a back-up. The back-up acts as your insurance policy in case the first one tries to play games. By having a back-up, you aren’t forced to accept the changes your #1 choice gives you.

I was going to join the camp that said this wasn’t an honest approach, since you’re acting not in good faith with venue #2, until it happened to my friends for their wedding rehearsal dinner. I don’t know the exact details but the venue double booked the night and told my friends to take a hike. It was a large brand-name hotel, not some small outfit, and my friends really had no option. They were told a week before the rehearsal dinner that they no longer had the venue! (They lucked out in finding a second venue that we all had a great time at anyway!)

Two weeks ago, I would’ve said “taking two down the aisle” is shady, if not dishonest, but after seeing it happen to my friends (the venue took two down the aisle!), I don’t feel it’s bad at all.

What’s your take on this?

(Photo: toasty)

{ 13 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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13 Responses to “Your Take: Taking Two Down The Aisle”

  1. Money Beagle says:

    I think that this is dishonest and leads to more of the problems that your friends had. If venue number 2 is getting regular cancellations because they’re the ‘back-up’, it won’t be long before they start routinely double-booking with the expectation that one of their bookings will cancel. These places are depending on the bookings just as much as the people booking them are counting on them.

    The cancellation that happened to your friend is a rarity. I just don’t see tying up unnecessary bookings as a standard practice is the right solution to that problem. While this might have helped your friend the one time, what if 99 other people had done this and had no problems?

    Most places are going to live up to their commitments and not drop you. A reputable place will know that to drop someone for a bigger event might pay in the short term, but will end up catching up to them in the long term. The best way we found when doing our wedding was trying to find places that friends and family had worked with before and trusted.

  2. nickel says:

    Tough call. I’m sure it’s the second venue, and not the bride and groom, that typically get the shaft. In fact, if everyone started booking dual locations, then the practice of double-booking (from the venue side) would probably become even more common, as they’d have to have to have multiple customers on tap to cover the inevitable no-shows.

    • Jim says:

      And then we’re talking about a downward spiral of people constantly double booking and the % of people getting screwed only goes up…. but venues double book and airlines overbook without much complaint.

      • nickel says:

        It’s a little different with airlines since they have so many seats on a plane. Inevitably, someone won’t show up, or will change their ticket. If that doesn’t happen, then they can always entice one of the 200 or so passengers into taking an alternative flight. With a hotel or reception hall, there is really only one “seat”, so the odds of a conflict go up astronomically.

  3. Brandon says:

    I think it would be too costly. Don’t you have to put down a sizable deposit to book a large event at a venue typically?

    • Jim says:

      It would be too costly in the case of a wedding but what about a business event? The deposit might be a smaller percentage.

      What about for other contractors? Hire two guys and send one home? I don’t like the idea but it’s intriguing to think about at the very least.

  4. couponsaver says:

    It is just really sort of dishonest dealings but if you really want to make sure that the big day will be a success. It is better to reserve but just a reserve. Nothing more and nothing less a deal is a deal.

  5. MJ says:

    The way I see it, it’s deceptive.

    If everybody did this… let’s say you have 100 brides for the year, that’ 2 weddings a weekend. Instead of choosing your #2 venue (if #1 was booked), you could be looking at your 3rd or 4th choice.
    If this becomes a standard for people I can also see it costing significantly more, because there would be a 50% cancellation rate among these venues.

    This happened to our friends too, but they didn’t read the contract… people should clearly read the entire contract and ask questions. We used the Crowne Plaza and I took me 45 minutes to read it, and I didn’t care. They want my business then they should be able to explain & help me understand the necessity for the some of the clauses or how they would be applied. (We all understand acts of God/natural disasters.) If they aren’t helpful the day they take your deposit money, will they suddenly be on your big day?

    It’s crummy for all invovled. For me, honesty, understanding and developing a firm relationship with your vendors made everything 100% perfect. (Pictures went fast, so we even had the meal served 30 minutes early!)

  6. I would never do this. I haven’t had this happen to me, ever, and it goes against most of what I believe in. If the venue isn’t trustworthy, find another venue. This reminds me of people who make reservations at various restaurants for the same time, just because they don’t know what they’ll feel like eating.

  7. Caitlin says:

    First off, that is a fantastic cake topper in the photo!

    I think booking two venues “just in case” is sleazy. It’s preventing another couple from booking their wedding (what if your #2 was their #1 choice?) and it’s wasting the time of venue #2, as well as wasting your own money in the form of the deposit. It’s the same if you did it for business gatherings instead of weddings – someone suffers because you’re being greedy (and it might be you!).

    As other have said, if this became common practice, venue #2 would routinely start overbooking to make up for all the people playing this game.

    As to what happened to your friends, simply spread the word. If venue #1 gets a reputation for overbooking and dropping paying couples, fewer people will book with them, and their business will suffer as a direct result of their own sleazy actions.

    Hiring two contractors and turning one down at the last minute is even slimier. These are (for the most part) honest, hardworking men and women who do it for a living, and they may have turned down another job, only to find themselves as your “backup” and end up with no job at all.

  8. Celia says:

    Something similar to what happened to your friends happened to me a few years ago. And you will never believe what the “venue” was.

    It was a church fellowship hall! Plus they did not even bother to contact us! A close family friend who attended the church had planned on coming to the reunion. She just happened to overhear someone discussing the other event that was going to be there and called my grandmother 4 days before the date to ask if we had changed our plans and were holding the reunion elsewhere.

    What a disaster it would have been if we had shown up, covered dishes and casseroles in hand, to discover that another that another event was also being held there!

    An aunt and I called virtually every Church and community center in the area before we found one that had the day open. Then we had to contact the far-flung family to tell them of the change and give the driving directions. All in 4 days!

    But even after this near disastrous experience, I would not feel right about double booking.

    I try to live by The Golden Rule. If I would not want this done to me (and I don’t) then it would be wrong for me to do it to them.

  9. alanschram says:

    I am getting married in August. A couple of months ago we were faced with the prospect of booking the location. I think we even read about “double booking” in a wedding magazine or online somewhere.

    I feel relatively confident that we’re going to have our location. Its outside, we know the people that own the place, so we should be okay. Even still, there is a slight bit of hesitation – the “what if”.

    I feel like double booking is taking advantage of that fear. Its like,”Oh no! What are you going to do? You’d better double book JUST IN CASE!!” But really, it probably won’t happen. They’re just playing off your fear. My question is – who profits from double booking? The venue? The people who do the booking – just because they get peace of mind?

  10. Cap says:

    I can see how for major corporate events it may be a good idea (at least in the sense of your job being on the line) to have a back-up plan, but finding a reputable place in the first is probably more of a sound bet.

    I’ve never done it before, but you have to see it from the other people’s perspective in that there really isn’t an easy place to go to to find yourself a reputable venue – after all, how many online reviews of venues are there? Most venue referrals (at least for weddings?) are word-of-mouth references too, so you can see the dilemma some may have when booking a venue.


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