Steal away! That's what this site if for - that's how I got all my ideas! I think we put our deposit down with Luciano's about 6-8 months out - it was about $500 and it just secured the date. This part was done through our wedding planner. But then we worked directly with Luciano's from there on. We contacted Luciano's about a month before the wedding to finalize the space, layout and menu. As long as they have the date, they don't need much time to go through the details. They just need final count 48 hours before the event. There was no extra charge for using that area - we just paid per person. In fact, it was Sue at Luciano's that recommended that area to me. We also chose to do open bar for our guests but instead of paying a flat rate per head, we just let the bar tab run up and paid it at the end of the night. We also prepaid for a bottle of red wine and bottle of white (+champagne bottles for toasting) for each table. We figured this would cut back the alcohol bill. 18% gratuity and a 4.5% setup fee is included in your quote so you only need to tip on top of that if you want.
A few things I learned though:
1. If you are doing escort cards and table numbers, make sure you specify which table is which (if you are going to have different amounts of people at each table). For example, I told them to set up four tables - 2 tables of 9, one table of 8 and one table of 10. I provided Luciano's the table numbers in frames and the starfish escort cards. They set it all up, but my dad ended up at a table with one less seat and he thought they forgot his seat! Even though there was another table with an extra seat at it. They fixed it right away, but it was totally my goof!
2. If you have any supplies to drop off they day before, or just have an opportunity to stop by, make sure there are no big boats anchored in front of the back patio. This happened to me. When I arrived the day before, there was a big rusty barge that blocked the whole view of the Atlantis. I was of course upset, but my pregnant sister was even more upset. The view and atmosphere was the whole reason we picked Lucianos! They said it wasn't their boat so they were unsure if they could move it but Nadia bent over backwards to track down the portmaster and requested them to move it. So in the end it turned out fine, but if I hadn't stopped by to see it, it may have been there for our reception!
Despite any hiccups, all the staff at Luciano's were so gracious and accommodating. They really were awesome and I think your wedding will be awesome there! Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions :-)