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May 1, 2021

The Refinery Spotlight - Tips & Tricks for Choosing Your Venue

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In this episode, co-hosts Kristina, Mike & Sharon talk with Alex Hunnicutt, owner of The Refinery Venue in Jeffersonville, Indiana, about tips & tricks for choosing your venue.

Stay tuned to this episode! Kristina, Mike & Sharon talk with a venue owner to get all the details of what to ask and what to look for when choosing your wedding venue.

Listen in to this episode where Kristina, Mike & Sharon talk with Alex Hunnicutt from The Refinery Events in Jeffersonville, Indiana. They discuss the Covid Crunch most venues are experiencing now due to the pandemic and the creative ways & days brides have chosen to have their wedding. Thursday is the new Friday!

Did you know that you should find your venue first, then set your wedding date? Learn all about the why of that question, venue capacity, food and beverage minimums, open vendor policies and more in this episode!

BY THE TIME YOU FINISH LISTENING, YOU’LL UNDERSTAND why you should have a date range or season in mind vs. a firm date when planning your wedding.

Tell us about the venue you chose for your wedding and why! Share your responses with us and tag us on Facebook or Instagram @theringtheblingandallthethings 

While you’re there, make sure you follow us @theringtheblingandallthethings so you can see behind the scenes where me, Mike & Sharon will take you from engagement to your wedding day and beyond with The Ring, The Bling & All The Things

Alex Hunnicutt, Owner of The Refinery Events


Michael Gaddie  0:00  

Choosing a venue is one of the most important decisions that you will make for your wedding.


Sharon Rumsey  0:04  

What questions should you ask what all is included? What exactly are the vendor guidelines?


Kristina Stubblefield  0:11  

Join us as we spotlight local venue owner, Alex Hunnicutt of the Refinery. You got engaged. Congratulations. Happy. Yes. joyful time. Of course. Now what timelines to do lists and checklists. 100% Don't worry, you're in the right place. Welcome to the ring, the bling, and all the things. Hi, I'm Kristina Stubblefield, one of your hosts, along with my two good friends, Michael Gaddie and Sharon Rumsey. We have over 50 years of wedding industry experience between us. We have seen it, heard it, done it and found a way around it. We are here to get you from down on one knee to down the aisle. Our podcast will cover everything from you saying yes to the I do's and all that happens in between. So buckle up and enjoy the journey. Now let's get started with this episode.


Now before we dive into this episode, I want to give a shout out to our listener of the week. And this is from Erin, and thank you so much for taking time to write a review for us. She says entertaining and so much great information, getting married, already married, know someone who is getting married. so full of great information coming from vendors who have been in the wedding industry for many years time well spent listening to Mike, Sharon, Christina and their vendors who know their businesses. Well, thank you so much. And we would also love to hear from you just take a few minutes, hit the subscribe button. And if you like what you hear, write us a review and we may feature it on one of our upcoming episodes. Now let's get started with this episode.


Sharon Rumsey  2:09  

I've been looking so forward to this episode. Today is our guests. We have one of my absolute favorite people in the local wedding business, Alex Hunnicutt. Alex is the owner of the Refinery, a business here in Southern Indiana. And honestly one of the people that when I look back on starting my career reached out to me and was one of the most welcoming and kind people that I met when I started my business. And he also is one of the most knowledgeable people that I have met in the wedding business. So I'm going to let him tell a little bit about himself. And we are going to dive into all of his information and pick his brain a little bit.


Alex Hunnicutt  2:48  

Oh, thank you very much. That was very flattering. My name is Alex Hunnicutt. And I do own the Refinery. I have been in the wedding business. Since January 2008. Our business has evolved greatly. I have a business partner named Paul. And Paul is I call him a creative genius. He is pretty spectacular in a lot of aspects. But we became friends when we were doing events in college. And we decided when the college told us No, we couldn't spend money on something we wanted to spend it on, we decide to spend our own money, and we put our money together and we created a business. And that business, like I said has evolved over time, we started out doing consultations for coordination, and event decor. In 2008. There was no such thing as day of coordination. So it was all full service coordination. If I could go back in time, I'd change that. But we worked our butts off. And we decided that the best way to get ahead and to kind of diversify or our portfolio was to open a venue. And so the hunt began, and it lasted nearly three years of dealing with Wow. Well, we were in our young 20s, young 20s. We were in our early 20s. And there were a lot of people who didn't take us seriously. And so we got I don't know, steamrolled by several landlords. And we but we finally got our hands on a space. And that worked out for about five years. And we opened another one. And that one once again, four or five years, and there was they overlap a little bit and we did decor there. And it was great. I discovered that my least favorite thing in the world is loading and unloading a truck. And if you own the venue, you don't have to do that. And so that was something that we could offer our guests or guests. That is something we could offer our clients was decor services on site and that we discovered was something we were really good at. So we've decorated all over the country but focusing on the decorating our home, per se, was really where we found our niche. So fast forward to a few years ago, a couple years ago, actually. And we found the refinery. So we sold and closed our other venues. And we focused on the refinery, which was double the size is double the size of any venue that we'd had previously. And it is a place where we can be creative. And so we have we host a lot of events there. But we also decorate a lot of events there. But we definitely believe in an open vendor policy. So we can people like Mike, I mean, Mike, in the last year, you've been though probably a dozen or more time, it's not more Yeah, right. And we like to work with a lot of different vendors. In fact, when people ask for recommendations, I don't just have a list. I don't want to just give out recommendations blindly. Because I preach that not every client is right for every vendor, and not every vendor is right for every clients. And so I want to ask some questions from the client, even on my tours, so that I can properly direct them where they should go. That's how we really push our open vendor policy. And we've discovered that having an open vendor policy is the key to succeeding in this market. And I know there are a lot of vendors, a lot of venues that like to use a lot of the same vendors over and over again, because it's safe and easy. But it's not very easy to convince somebody to use a vendor they've never heard of, or that wasn't recommended to them. It's a lot easier for somebody to come in and say, Well, I had a friend who had a great experience with this vendor. Do you can we work with them here? And to say yes, is the best. I love saying yes. I hate saying no. And a close second is yes. But


Michael Gaddie  7:02  

yeah. Well, you know, Alex, too. I mean, especially with it being your venue. I mean, you know what clients want not clients, but what vendors are good to work with? I mean, you don't want to have vendors in there that comes in and doesn't follow rules and so on. So I mean, that's, I mean, I understand where you, you don't have to pick and choose your vendors. But when you have to say no. Right? So hate to say no, but you've maybe worked with them before, or he had not worked with them before or whatever it may be.


Alex Hunnicutt  7:34  

So what I like to do is I like to give vendor guidelines. So there are some certain things that a lot of vendors have in common. A lot of great vendors have in common, one of those very simple, but it could be a red flag. We asked for insured vendors. And the vendor doesn't care enough about their business to have insurance. Do they care enough about your event to do a good job? Sure. And so I think that's really important. So I want insured vendors. And then of course, I love experienced vendors. But I remember being the new kid on the block. I remember 13 years ago, and a father being he asked us, so we had a father of the bride. And he said, so what you're like 21 Why am I gonna give you $20,000 to decorate my daughter's wedding. And the only thing I could come up with was, well, I'm an Eagle Scout. And he said, Okay, that's all I needed to hear. I found out later he was on the board anyway. But but that, but I learned that it's, it's not. It's not always easy to get started in an industry where experience is king. Because how do you get experience when you don't have any experience? It's the age old dilemma that a lot of people run into.


Sharon Rumsey  8:57  

I think sometimes too. It's it's the attitude of those vendors as they come in. Because I remember when I was new, I remember meeting with you and touring your previous venue. And I said, there are things I don't know, if I do anything wrong, please tell me if I forget to do something, please tell me. But I'll work really hard and I really want to do this wedding. And I think that's important too, that if you are a new vendor that you're willing to listen and learn from those people that do have more experience, and I'm still I learned something every wedding at least one thing, sometimes multiple things that every wedding.


Alex Hunnicutt  9:31  

Yes, there is an old proverb that says a wise man knows that he doesn't know everything. 100%


Michael Gaddie  9:40  

Well, I know your reputation is top notch. Well, thank you because I mean, you know we do anywhere from 150 to 200 weddings a year and I mean, I know I'll talk to at least 15 to 20 brides a week. And you're always always one of the vendors you know always the venue of one of my brides and all I always love working with you all. I mean, you let people know when to come in when the beat out and all that in between. And I know some people get upset with that. But I mean, I understand where you have to have guidelines since you're working with so many week after week.


Alex Hunnicutt  10:16  

Right to to that point, let's talk about that real quick. Because there's a principle that we founded the refinery on, we found our venue, and I think that most venues should have and that principle is transparency. Like there's, there's no shroud as to what rules and regulations there are. Not only is it all on our website, we also send emails to those certain vendors so that if perhaps the guidelines don't fit them, they can let us know. Because we can only help somebody with a problem if we know about the problem. Right?


Kristina Stubblefield  10:53  

Well, and Alex, I know that you've been talking about guidelines, and all of that, which is great information. But one thing I don't want to pass over is let's really talk about the refinery, and everything that your venue has to offer. It's a beautiful space, for those listening that may not recognize or may not be local to us. The refinery was once known as cars for many, many years. I know Chi personally, and was a very well known part of the community. And you all came in and transformed it. It took it to a whole nother level. And I'd love for you to share with the listeners what all you have to offer, because I know you have two different buildings, right. And bridal suites me and Sharon got to take a tour recently. And I was so blown away about everything that's there.


Alex Hunnicutt  11:51  

So I would like to give Kai her dues.


Kristina Stubblefield  11:55  

Please do. She is a fabulous person and love her to death. So


Alex Hunnicutt  11:59  

she opened an event venue at a time when event venues weren't a thing. And she got a lot of flack for that. But she persevered. And she laid the groundwork for a lot of other great venues in the city. Whether she knows it or not, I have a feeling she knows that. I hope she knows it. She did. And so we Yes, we did a lot of we did a lot of works in place. But we had a good foundation good bones to build upon. And I have to give credit where credit's due


Kristina Stubblefield  12:26  

and a great reputation in the community.


Michael Gaddie  12:29  



Kristina Stubblefield  12:30  

absolutely for the events and her sidekick Herbie, who known him for many years, I can't say enough about Herbie. And I just think that you just you really with no disrespect at all, you really leveled up what the venue was, you know, I really think it's great what you have done?


Alex Hunnicutt  12:51  

Well, thank you. Thank you. So part of the trans formation was cosmetic. Another part of the transformation was in the policies, procedures and guidelines. So we, we definitely believe he said in that freedom to choose your own vendors. And that is kind of rare in not just the area, but in the industry. It's hard to find. And so we had to make accommodations for that. And that means that our price, our price point is actually a little higher than our competitors. Because of that freedom to choose. One of the reasons, a lot of vendors, I keep saying vendors, I mean venues, one of the reason a lot of venues don't let you choose your vendors is because those vendors have an agreement with the venue. And they may just sign an agreement that says I will collect 15%. And I will give it to you. It's not shady, but it is something that the vendors need to do for the venue. And that's one of the revenue streams that venue counts on. So we don't like that uncertainty, we don't like to hope that our clients are going to have a fancy meal and spend a lot of money on food. And hopefully we can collect 15% of it. So what we did with our pricing is we made it standard across the board. So it only changes based on the day. Saturday is the most expensive because they're the most in demand, followed by Fridays. And then Sunday's are the least expensive of the weekend days. And then of course weekdays are half or less.


Sharon Rumsey  14:24  

Let's talk about that a little bit I with with all the reschedules from COVID and all of those kinds of things. I've had some clients that they really want this certain venue, but it's booked on a Saturday. It's booked on a Friday. Are you seeing more and more people choose a week day? Absolutely.


Alex Hunnicutt  14:45  

I call it the COVID crunch. So our cat like our calendar has become crunched. So I would say it's hard for us to really gauge because we opened less than a year before. COVID hit. Ok. So we opened the refinery in May of 2019. And less than a year later, everything was flipped upside down, right. But we still had to reschedule at weddings from 2020 to 2021. So that created the COVID crunch. So every Friday, every Saturday, nearly every Sunday is booked. But I mean, absolutely booked. I can accommodate two weddings at a time. So I have weekends that have seven, eight weddings here like Alex, but there's only three days in a weekend. Well, Thursday is the new Friday. And so we have weddings that are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and we have several weeks back to back where we have seven or eight weddings in a weekend to accommodate all of those moved weddings. And where I said earlier, gotta give credit where credit's due I have to give credit to the brides. They've been through a lot. And I know I mean, I I help play in my own wedding. I know it's stressful, and to have to pick up everything and move it. And we've had so many wonderful clients, they don't even it's like they're trying to help us and we appreciate it very much. It's a lot to juggle. But really great clients make it easier.


Sharon Rumsey  16:19  

What are some of the advantages that you see to having a weekday or a non Friday, Saturday wedding?


Alex Hunnicutt  16:26  

Oh, I love this because Thursday's are totally underrated. So well, a Thursday wedding first. Well, first of all, let's talk first of all, when a bride she's trying to pick an unorthodox day she says will people have to work? Yeah, all those adults that are coming to your wedding have to work all those adults that can plan ahead and ask for a day off work or two days if they like to drink a lot. They that somebody who cares about that couple will be there. You're giving them six months to a year notice they're going to make the accommodations to be there. Even if they have to travel from out of town. Maybe they'll make a whole weekend of it.


Michael Gaddie  17:07  

I got a long weekend, right?


Alex Hunnicutt  17:08  

You come to town on a Thursday. And then on a Friday, you hang out with your relatives and family. And Saturday goes see the town and then you have all day Sunday to travel back home and you're all refreshed for Monday back at work, you know the job that was so kind to let you have a couple days off.


Michael Gaddie  17:24  

I think that's amazing. I think that's amazing. I'm really like you said it could be the new Friday.


Alex Hunnicutt  17:29  

Well, so your guests. So number one, your guests will be there. Okay, they will be there and the people who won't be there. Well thank your lucky stars. You just saved a couple $100. To decorate for him. That's important. This, if somebody is willing to do that, that they definitely care about you. They're making accommodations to be at your wedding. That's that's great number to all of us wedding vendors, a Thursday wedding. That is that is icing on the cake. Okay, we when we planned out our fiscal year, we didn't plan on making money on Thursdays. But now that we get to make money making money on Thursdays number one, we don't have to make as much because we weren't planning on working that Thursday. Anyway. I know we give a discount for Thursdays. I don't want to put words in anybody's mouth. But I would be willing to bet that some other wedding vendors would also give a discount to it.


Sharon Rumsey  18:22  

I actually have a wedding this year on a Thursday at your venue. And she got quite a hefty discount because I'm able to do her wedding on Thursday and still do my wedding that weekend as well. So it's like a bonus prize for me.


Alex Hunnicutt  18:35  

Right? Well, and a Thursday wedding is probably a little lower key to right. So it might be a little less work. Not to mention a bride that's going to have a Thursday wedding may be a little more flexible. And flexibility is the name of the game. If you can be flexible when you're planning your wedding you can do it with about any budget. Well,


Michael Gaddie  18:57  

I think that's why you all are so busy for one thing is because you're You are so flexible. And, you know, you're talking about your prices being a little higher. I mean, I know what your prices are. And I tell you what, I think your prices are great for what you get at your location. I mean, the the you know the courtyard and the we call it the south side or


Alex Hunnicutt  19:24  

Oh yeah, so yeah, we have we have the the north of the refinery North refinery south, the courtyard in the middle and then Yes, we did. We do have spaces for each of those the north and the south side for a bride to get ready.


Michael Gaddie  19:38  

I mean, what you get for with the money that you pay for at your venue is amazing. And I think I can't say anything. I mean, it's above and beyond.


Alex Hunnicutt  19:47  

Thank you as you get there. I have to say we got a little bit lucky when Kai retired, like it was I mean it was it truly fits like a glove. I mean, the space everything was it's a great design


Sharon Rumsey  19:59  

time. It's


Alex Hunnicutt  19:59  

About all me Sorry


Sharon Rumsey  20:01  

talking about flexibility to when I take a bride. You know, when I first get hired and I take a bride for venue tours, one of the things they always love about the refinery. First of all, they love the open vendor policy. They don't want to be told who they can hire to do their wedding. But secondly, the venue itself offers slow, so much flexibility. If you guys can check it out on refinery events,


Alex Hunnicutt  20:24  

calm the refinery, refinery


Sharon Rumsey  20:26  

events, calm, you'll see the spaces and if a bride needs the whole thing, she's able to rent the north side, the courtyard and the South, I just did a wedding this past weekend that did that. But if you're not having as big a guest count, or you just want to keep everything in one space, you have the option to just rent one side or the other, you have an option to do an outdoor ceremony in the courtyard. And I know as a local wedding planner, I'm super excited because you guys are opening up a third space


Alex Hunnicutt  20:56  

we are okay, so the COVID. The COVID crunch Totally filled up our calendar, I have as many weddings in seven months this year as I would in 12 in a normal year. And so we didn't have any space, people are calling people or emailing and we don't have anything to offer them. So while we were twiddling our thumbs being closed for COVID, we decided that we needed to expand. And so we are it's a smaller space, we saw a trend towards smaller weddings. So this this new space, we've we're calling it the reserve, and it does only see 120 people. And when I I give a maximum for a venue, I always take into account, a DJ, a dance floor, a bar and a buffet. I feel like you're not going to have a wedding without least at least three of those four items. And so we plan to have all of those in a space. So are our spaces. And this is something when you're shopping around for a venue. And they tell you the maximum guest count that you can have. Ask them does that include those four primary things? Can I have a dance floor? Can I have a DJ, can I have a buffet and a bar. And if you can't have all of those in the room, then what's the maximum number of people I can have all those in the room. Furthermore, in all of our floor plans, and our comfortable guest counts, we maintain five feet between tables. This is a pre COVID thing. Yeah, with COVID, we added an extra foot, we made it six, you know, be nice and safe. But five feet, so five feet. So what that does is that gives you the table, a chair, a walkway, walkway, another chair, another table, and you can push a cart through there, that gives you like 30 inches of walkway. And if you no matter how many people you have sitting in a table, if you don't maintain a distance like that, it's gonna feel crowded.


Michael Gaddie  22:55  

Very smart, very smart.


Alex Hunnicutt  22:57  

Especially when you're decorating the table to table.


Sharon Rumsey  23:02  

Well, and I'm certainly not a floral designer, but I am a fluffy girl. And I do not like to be put at one of those tables with 10 chairs and around because I don't want to feel crowded, I want to stretch my elbows and enjoy my food. So I'm with Alex, you don't want to crowd those guests in those tables.


Alex Hunnicutt  23:19  

Now Now let's talk about 10 people to a table. Okay, so I don't like it. Now, but but a lot of venues and their maximum guest count. In fact, in the maximum guest count I just gave you for the reserve I said 120 people that's 10 rounds, or that's 12 rounds of 10. So that's 10 people I know she's getting


Michael Gaddie  23:35  

72 inch round tables and not 60 inch round tables.


Alex Hunnicutt  23:39  

That is not correct. That's not 60 That's okay, this is this is what I tell my clients. So I have a wedding schpeel I give every client before their tour. I tell this as I tell them that the wedding is 60% about them 40% about their guests. So it's important that yes, they are the most important, but their guests are a big part of this. I always tell them that weddings are steeped in tradition. But just because it's always been done. It doesn't mean it has to be done. And on that same note, just because it's never been done before doesn't mean you can't do it.


Michael Gaddie  24:11  

Well, we've had an episode about that kind of stuff. So that's that's exactly right.


Kristina Stubblefield  24:15  

Well, and Alex, I'm going to tell you something, Sharon, I can't believe she's still sitting in her chair over here. Because I don't know about you, but her philosophy is all about the girl in the white dress. Right? 100 but I really love how you explain that to someone that comes to the venue because yes, it's all about them. But there's also people coming to support you be there and cherish that day with you. So I love how you explain that.


Alex Hunnicutt  24:42  

I will thank you. Thank you. Well I follow that up with there are no stupid questions. I that's the last the last statement of my wedding speeches are no stupid questions when a bride or groom or both, or two brides and grooms whoever it may be walks through the door. I don't expect them to know anything. Some people have read every word on our website. And that's a lot of words. Our website is very thorough. And then there are some people who don't know anything. Not at all. Oh, you can have weddings here. Well, yeah. Isn't that why you're here?


Kristina Stubblefield  25:16  

Well, a quick plug real quick. I know we're talking about weddings, but you also allow other events there, right?


Alex Hunnicutt  25:22  

Yes. Yeah. I mean, honestly, if, if you're right, the pay per view, whatever you want, you could have a roller derby Go for it.


Kristina Stubblefield  25:30  

Well, speaking of that, when we took the tour, and I walked in, and again, I've known Kai and Herbie for many years, when I walked in that floor, I honestly don't even know what words I'm not a decorator. And my husband would say, I don't have any eye for design. But that floor just really makes the whole space pop. And I the market lights. When we took a tour, you had market light. And I've seen some of the chandelier tours.


Alex Hunnicutt  26:00  

Yeah, we've got chandelier. So


Kristina Stubblefield  26:02  

I'm just going to be your salesperson right now.


Alex Hunnicutt  26:04  

I'm hiring. It's just,


Kristina Stubblefield  26:06  

it's just, it's just a way to level up their event based on their budget. Not every person has to get chained layers from you, or market lights or this. But you have those options for people with however they want to customize their event.


Michael Gaddie  26:22  

Right? Well, one thing that you were very smart about back, you know, two or three years ago, all you saw was barn weddings, barn weddings, barn weddings. And now that barn wedding trend is still there, but they're taking it and adding a crystal chandelier. They're adding draping they're adding, you're making that barn venue look more romantic. And that is what you all have done. And I love that. Not that it's a barn at all. But they give you that rustic feel where you've got that wood floor, you got those fabulous wood beams, and then you go in there and hang those crystal chandelier is I mean, I think that is one of the most amazing places I've seen for a while. Thanks, Mike.


Kristina Stubblefield  27:04  

That's the words I didn't have so that I told you I didn't know. And Alex didn't sound so much better the way he said it. He said a really great thing.


Alex Hunnicutt  27:12  

Now I don't want to think that we're knocking on the like the barn like there's no wrong No, not at all. Not at all. That being said, there's a lot to be said about having heat air conditioning.


Michael Gaddie  27:26  

Definitely. Definitely.


Sharon Rumsey  27:28  

Again, for the fluffy wedding planner, we did appreciate the AC.


Alex Hunnicutt  27:33  

I tell you what that is I would say leave. That is something when you're shopping around for a venue. It's not a stupid question. Do you have air conditioning? Do you have heat? What's the room setup? What's the temperature? We found personally in this area? 68 degrees is the absolute optimal temperature, whether it's summer or winter, if it needs to be heated to 68 we heat it to 68 it needs to be cooled to 68 it's cool to 68 but that is something to ask your venue when you go on that tour.


Sharon Rumsey  28:03  

I know another thing I always ask and Alex is probably gonna laugh at me. But when I go on a venue tour, I always say that I have to use the restroom. Because I want to see the restroom because you're going to show me this beautiful ballroom or, or whatever I'm looking at. And then if I go in and it's an icky bathroom, I don't want any part of that. I don't like the bathroom. I think the bathroom should reflect the venue. I think they should be nice for your guests as well.


Alex Hunnicutt  28:28  

Right let's let's address the bathrooms very quickly because in the renovation process. The restrooms are kind of on the lower items on the list because they don't make you any money. The restroom doesn't show up in a magazine is flushing. Well, that's the thing if the restroom works if the restroom is functional, that's really the primary restrooms are nice. They're nice, they're not icky. But you might also feel like you're in a different decade. And I I would love to update them. But I feel that my money is better spent in other areas because they do work great. They do. I've seen them work great.


Sharon Rumsey  29:12  

I've been to some venues that don't have a restroom, you have to like bring your own restroom. So I'm happy if there's a bathroom and it's clean and it functions I'm happy girl. Well, we


Alex Hunnicutt  29:22  

can talk about outdoor outdoor events. There's


Kristina Stubblefield  29:25  

Can you ask her about the time that she had to work on the restroom trailer? I think that would be great. Alex, if you ask her about that, please.


Alex Hunnicutt  29:33  

If I'm not mistaken, if you guys are all longtime listeners. I think Sharon has told this story before right? I


Sharon Rumsey  29:38  

have and let's just say it was less than pleasant and I will not do it again. It was the experience. Yes.


Kristina Stubblefield  29:46  

All right. But I'm gonna say Alex though, when we took the tour, I think your money was much better spent on I don't want to say it incorrectly. I believe you call them the bridal suites.


Alex Hunnicutt  29:57  

Oh yeah. Yeah. So it's


Kristina Stubblefield  30:00  

Hold on. Well, we


Alex Hunnicutt  30:00  

only we call them lounges for one purpose. And that is because it's inclusivity we want to be inclusive of any gathering. It could be. I'm not talking about just same sex weddings. I'm talking about a quinceanera. Or it might even be a green room for a band. It could be we have one couple that's using it just for a a nursing area for for new mothers. That's awesome. You can't you mean you can't leave a newborn home no matter what I mean, if the baby's your three weeks old, you got to feed the baby and mom might need to see real pizza you


Michael Gaddie  30:39  

know all about that don't


Alex Hunnicutt  30:40  

show I do I do my son. Yes. He's going on eight months old now. And a doll well, things things. I can only take half the credit.


Sharon Rumsey  30:53  

No, that does come up a lot. I've had like, like listeners have heard us say before wedding days usually start eight o'clock in the morning, nine o'clock in the morning with hair and makeup. And they go to midnight. And I actually just this past weekend had a bridesmaid who was nursing her baby. And I had to allow her time in the timeline and a place to go pump. So that it is very important.


Alex Hunnicutt  31:18  

Yeah. I did want to circle back around. We were talking about parties, which is now my vocabulary. Actually, I mean, it's mostly because of my dog, though. You should ask if your venues pet friendly. I like a good pet friendly venue.


Michael Gaddie  31:33  

Good idea.


Alex Hunnicutt  31:33  

But let's talk about outdoor venues for a second because indoor venues aren't the only ones around, right. There's a lot of outdoor weddings that happen no matter how stressful they might be. Mother Nature doesn't care about your wedding. But when you're shopping for an outdoor venue, they're the three P's. I learned this from a planner A long time ago. She said power parking potties. And I always remember that. So when we were young and naive, really planning weddings, for clients who dare trust us with their money, and I do appreciate all of them did. We did a great job was awesome. But that was something that we would always look for whenever we were trying to find the right venue for our client, because it's when you have these things, and if they don't, how much is it going to cost for us to get them because all of those you can buy you can buy every single one of those. So recap that power. Park parking and pies. Yep, three, six, that's


Michael Gaddie  32:33  



Sharon Rumsey  32:34  

I actually love that tip, because I'm doing an event right now. And it's on private property, which you would think would save you a ton of money. But we have rented a fancy fancy restroom trailer,


Alex Hunnicutt  32:47  

does it have St. Louis, it does boom.


Sharon Rumsey  32:50  

And it has a person that comes with it. So I don't have to climb under it, or malfunction of the person.


Alex Hunnicutt  32:59  

I'm joking, I'm sorry.


Sharon Rumsey  33:01  

They also have installed had an electrician come out and had to install two new electrical panels to support this event. And they are getting gravel poured for parking. So whoever that wedding, well,


Michael Gaddie  33:14  

you see that cuz I know what you're talking about.


Sharon Rumsey  33:16  

Yeah, that's good, whoever that wedding planner was kudos to her cuz she's very smart. So it ends up it doesn't always save you a ton of money.


Alex Hunnicutt  33:26  

No, actually a building your own venue outside. Basically what you're doing could cost you more than that. I mean, even if it's on private property, or if you pay $400 to get a permit at the park. There are a lot of different types of venues. And when it comes down to it a venue that specializes in the type of event that you want to hold will be the better value. Even if on the front end, you think it sounds more expensive, or it looks more expensive. Because I'm having a wedding, it's the wedding pricing, it's more than the regular? Well as the wedding, you're expecting higher level service, you're expecting certain amenities. And that venue has been tailor made to provide those amenities to you that you are expecting. There are certain venues that may not be for weddings, and they sound much less expensive on the front end, until you realize that you have to add in all of these extras to get the things that you need to make the event the way you always thought it would be.


Michael Gaddie  34:26  

That's very good advice right there.


Sharon Rumsey  34:28  

Nobody in the basement, nobody


Michael Gaddie  34:29  

in the basement. Exactly. I mean, you know, shoot for the stars and don't try to pull it out of your butt by yourself.


Sharon Rumsey  34:38  

So Alex, if I'm a brand if I'm newly engaged, and I'm looking for my venue, what are some of the questions that I should ask on my venue tour.


Alex Hunnicutt  34:48  

The first thing you should be looking for, for a venue is availability. Okay? Don't call a venue or email a venue and say my wedding Is this date in September? I'd like to come for a tour. Do you have a venue for it? Are you sure it's that day. And sometimes it's just a matter of wording. But there are a lot of people who think that if they call a year out that day is gonna be available. And there are a lot of venues. That book well over a year out. Now we limit it to two years. Because once you start booking further out than that, if you're playing a really, really weird game with the future, and if you have a lot of unknowns that can happen between now and three, four years in the future, I don't even know what price things are going to be there. Right. So the first thing would be have a date range in mind, know what season you want to get married in? Do I want to have a summer wedding? Do I want to have a fall wedding spring? That's what you need to know. So then you're looking at a three or four month range. And a venue can work with that.


Michael Gaddie  35:55  

So it's best if the venue picks the date for you. Well give them a month. I want to get married in September, what are you available? Right?


Alex Hunnicutt  36:02  

or want to say I want to get a Yeah, I want to get married in July, July, August, September, what Saturdays do available in July, August, September? And the answer might not be it might be zero. But then you can look at other days. I said, usually Saturdays, look first, and then Fridays, and then Sundays, and then a weekday, and back to the weekday. If you want a particular day, let's say you want to get married on your your grandmother's birthday, and it happens to fall on a Wednesday. Go for it. Why not? The day that that day means more to you. And like I said, your guests will be there.


Michael Gaddie  36:41  

I agree. Good. Good tip. That's excellent.


Sharon Rumsey  36:46  

What else should I ask?


Alex Hunnicutt  36:48  

You should capacity, you want to have a good idea of your guest list before you go. So when a client walks in to the refinery for tour they have already at they've already told us when they want to get married, we've already given them availability, and they've already kind of give us a preliminary guest count. I go over those things again. So how many people are expecting that this wedding? Oh, you know, 250? My follow up question. Are you inviting 250 people? Or do you want 250 people to be here? Because about 80% of the guests you invite will show up 75 to 80. And if you're not a very nice person, maybe only 50. I've seen it happen before I have so many times. And there's some people that are just overplay. It's not that they're not nice people. They're just too nice. They're planning on more people like they plan on like the whole church coming. Right? Yeah. So there's that I would also have, I would hope that you would know how much the venue cost before you even schedule your tour. That should be in your inquiry, you should if you don't know from the website, you should ask that venue before scheduling the tour. About how much am I looking to spend at your venue? Like how much is it going to cost me. And if they have a food and beverage minimum of $20,000 and your whole budgets $25,000, you should probably look somewhere else. And that doesn't mean that you don't, you're not gonna have a great wedding, there are lots of weddings playing for lots of different budgets, it just means it's not a good fit for you.


Kristina Stubblefield  38:18  

I was just gonna say this, the information that you're sharing with people, if you're planning your event, and just getting started, you've supplied great tips and things that how you've worded them, I really think people are it's going to be able to resonate with people. And they really going to be able to take away quite a bit of that. Because, you know, you get so caught up in the planning and the this and that, but there's some really basic things. And most of the time everyone suggest you've got to find a place first.


Michael Gaddie  38:51  

That's the first thing on the list.


Alex Hunnicutt  38:53  

Yes. And that. That is why we actually don't have to spend very much money marketing these days. Because people seek out a venue and they seek it out. feverish Lee they, it doesn't matter if you're on the first page of Google. If you're on the fifth page of Google that bride will find you because brides especially today and my generation, the generation after, we are researchers, we will search and search and search until we get the information that we want. We will search for the answer we want to find


Sharon Rumsey  39:32  

some other things that I always look at when I'm with a client on a venue tour is what's included. Our tables and chairs included are Am I going to have to rent those are linens included. Is that something that you always go over on a tour? Absolutely. Absolutely.


Alex Hunnicutt  39:47  

I always point out that the chair so there are there are three big items that you need to consider in a room for the way the room is going to look whether it is a gymnasium, or a bar The chairs, okay, there are just as many chairs in that room as there will be people. That's a big thing. Okay? So make sure the chairs are nice. They're going to be in every picture, whether you like them or not. So you better like them.


Michael Gaddie  40:16  

good tip.


Alex Hunnicutt  40:17  

All right, that tables, the tables are the biggest items in the room? How are you going to decorate them? What shape are they? What color linen goes on them? That color better be a color in your wedding because it's going to be in every picture do


Sharon Rumsey  40:30  

enough tables come with to accommodate your guest count. I just had that happen a couple of weeks ago, I had to rent tables because of venue only supplied to six foot tables, and I needed 11.


Alex Hunnicutt  40:41  

Well, I will say that that has been one of my pet peeves in the past, because we were event designers before we were a venue owner. So there were certain things that went into opening the venue one of those, we wanted to provide enough equipment for the room for you to absolutely max it out. If we can see 350 people I want 350 chairs. Yeah, if they can hold 35 tables, I want 35 tables. And I may not use them, but I want them available to me. And so that's that's important. The third item that is very important for the look and feel of a venue like that, whether it's a gymnasium, or a ballroom is lighting. Okay, does light dim? Is there enough lighting? Am I going to have to hire a DJ to bring it up lighting? What are we going to do for lighting because lighting? That is exactly how the room is perceived? I have had a bride come to me. And she said I don't like the color of the walls in this room. I said no problem. Because I can control what color light and bounces off of that wall. And I can control what color you perceive it as


Michael Gaddie  41:41  

you know something else that that you all do that I love. Because like I said, since I do so many weddings over there, I'll have brides come to me and say, oh, Mike, I saw this picture. And they've got these beautiful hanging arrangements and these crystal chandelier chairs. And can you do that? And automatically go right back to him and says anything that's hanging in the roof or Henry? They have to do and and i think that's perfect. I think that's amazing. Because I don't want to even have to work with that. But I know that's in your own skin then in your contract that while you're


Alex Hunnicutt  42:14  

paying everything right. So you'll run into a lot of venues. So when you hang things at a venue, you're getting into a situation of liability. Yeah. So and it's happened. It's even happened locally, where somebody has hung something large from the ceiling. And during dinner, it falls right over the dancefloor. Yeah, I won't scare the hell out of me. Oh, well, that company doesn't do that anymore. I know they don't work there anymore. And but I'm not gonna mention any names or locations or anything. But it's important that something hanging over your guests head is secure. And so yes, we have to hang anything in our venue. That doesn't mean we have to create what's hung. I'll give a price to hang anything.


Michael Gaddie  43:01  

So, so I just learned something. So if I created something not that I will do this, because I'm not into that. But if I created something and then I would work with you to have it hung,


Alex Hunnicutt  43:12  

right right. And a lot of hotel ballrooms are like this too. You have to work with a certain union organization that usually a lighting or AV company and there are certain ways to hang things in in ballrooms and you have to work with them to do it. And it's not cheap. None of none of that is ever cheap because


Michael Gaddie  43:32  

what you're paying for well if you want the look you've got to pay for it


Alex Hunnicutt  43:35  

right and you're taking into account the equipment required to hang it the skill required to hand


Sharon Rumsey  43:40  

training of those people to make it safe.


Alex Hunnicutt  43:43  

Yeah, the the price of the liability insurance that that they're covered. I mean, I've got great insurance I will never be under insured. That's that insurance is very important. That's what I that's one of the first things I talked about.


Michael Gaddie  43:57  

That's a whole nother episode.


Sharon Rumsey  43:59  

Yeah. I actually was at your venue this past Saturday night and those market lights in the south. I had those on just about every setting there was we had them up for dinner, we dimmed them to dance We turned them a little bit higher for toast we so I appreciate being able to to control that lighting a little bit. You've given us some amazing amazing information like we appreciate it so much. I'm gonna tell you what,


Kristina Stubblefield  44:26  

you will not want to miss this episode on YouTube. So for those of you that are listening, don't forget you can head over to our YouTube channel and watch this Alex was really excited when he came in to know that we were video recording this weren't you?


Alex Hunnicutt  44:45  

I tell you what, that's Yeah, I was so excited. I almost prompted me to dress up but but another important thing about venue shopping appearances. Okay, I'm I don't want to I don't want to Don't want the bait and switch, okay, I, I don't dress up for my tours. I don't I wear I wear blue jeans and a polo for almost everyone, I'll testify


Sharon Rumsey  45:10  

to that it is not


Alex Hunnicutt  45:12  

this. It's my unofficial uniform. And it's not that I don't want my clients to think that I'm serious about it. But I don't want them to get the idea that I'm selling something that's grander or fancier than it is. We are in a brick building with exposed breaks exposed beams. I don't want to show up in a three piece suit. So it's not that I don't care about your event. And it's not that I'm not taking you seriously. It's just, I want it all to feel natural. Now if I went to a hotel, and I was shopping for a ballroom, and the sales rep came to me in jeans and Apolo, I would ask them if they worked their butt. And so I feel that that that is that is important that that transparency I talked about, super important. And look, I'm continuing the interview even after.


Sharon Rumsey  46:11  

Go ahead and tell everybody where they can find you on social media, how they can get a hold of the refinery if they do want to book a tour.


Alex Hunnicutt  46:19  

Okay, so like a lot of vendors or venues, especially when things are very busy. We appreciate email the most. Absolutely. And our website is www dot the refiner, let us say at info at. Yeah, Our email address is info inf o at the refinery.


Kristina Stubblefield  46:46  

Alex, I'm going to speak on behalf of Mike and Sharon. I know we've already said this multiple times. But this was fabulous. And I hope that somewhere down the line, you will come back and join us for another episode, because I think there's even more things that we can touch on.


Alex Hunnicutt  47:01  

Oh, it took me almost seven minutes to get here.


Kristina Stubblefield  47:04  

So sorry. I wish we were closer. Okay, for all of our listeners out there, please go and check out the refinery. I'm sure you can find them on social media, like Alex mentioned your Facebook,


Alex Hunnicutt  47:17  

Instagram, we are there,


Kristina Stubblefield  47:19  

their website. And don't forget, you can go to our YouTube to check out the video recording of this. But to all of our listeners, we greatly appreciate you. If you've liked what you've heard, you know someone getting married, please take a moment and share it with them. Also, you can always visit our website, the ring, the bling, and all the things calm for past episodes, or to listen to this one, as well as on your favorite podcasting platforms. So we hope that we will hear from you we can't wait to see your feedback on this episode. And just make sure you take a few minutes and write us a review. Until next time, everyone stay safe. Thank you so much, Alex, we really appreciate it. Thank you.


Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the ring, doubling and all the things. If you like what you heard, make sure to hit the subscribe button to get notified of upcoming episodes. You can also visit our website, the ring, the bling and all the for past episodes, and make sure to connect with us on social media. If you would like to help us get the word out about this podcast. Make sure to share with your family, your friends and anyone you know in the wedding business.


Transcribed by

Alex HunnicuttProfile Photo

Alex Hunnicutt


In May of 2019, The Refinery was founded on several principles that set it apart from the competition. At The Refinery, there are no restrictions on which insured vendors you can use and no fees to use those vendors. The Refinery Events team believes in transparency with clients, publishing all pricing, guidelines, and offerings on the website.