What with February being the month of lurrrve, I thought it would be a good time for me to write my first wedding blog!
After getting through some of the more “boring” aspects of wedding planning like setting a budget, having a rough headcount, and picking a date, the next thing to do is to find a place to get hitched. This part is very important because the venue can set the whole tone of the wedding. Venues typically get booked up quickly, so it’s best to start looking as soon as possible, especially if your wedding is on a Saturday in the summer, the busiest time for weddings.
As with everything, one of the best ways to look for wedding venues is to do research online. I found that this gave me a good starting point, but it was difficult to find a full list of venues in my city – there are some really nice but lesser-known places that may get lost on the internet amongst all the popular places with more prominent websites. For a more complete list of venue names, I turned to bridal magazines that were specific to my city, and then did my research online from there. The preliminary research is the hardest part because there’s so much information out there, and every venue provides different information on their website. However, it gets easier as you go through crossing places off until you have three of four top contenders. I found these to be helpful questions to consider while researching venues:
- Does the venue fit your budget? This should include facility rental, food, and alcohol costs, as some venues have higher food costs than others.
- Does this venue have the capacity to fit your guests? This is why it’s good to have a rough headcount before starting to look for venues. You can easily cross off places that are too small or big for your wedding.
- If you’re looking to have your ceremony and reception in the same place, does this venue give you that option?
- Is this place easy for guests to travel to? If not, is there lodging nearby?
- Does the venue fit you and your fiance’s personality or with the overall “style” you are going for? Are you looking for something more casual or formal? This is another easy way to cross venues off your list.
#5 is important to consider in order to have a cohesive wedding. For example, I think the whole rustic/barnyard wedding trend that’s been going around the past few years is absolutely beautiful, and there are TONS of venues in our city that would be perfect for that look. However, our style as a couple and as individuals is more modern/traditional, and modern decor with a rustic setting would look off. Right off the bat we were able to take rustic venues off our list.
For easy reference during the research phase, it’s a good idea to keep all of your venue information in a spreadsheet with columns for fields to allow you to fill out the name of the venue, address, contact information, capacity, costs, facility info, restrictions, and any other miscellaneous information. This way, you have a quick go-to list of pros and cons of each place to make your decision easier, as well as a way to contact them.
Once you have narrowed down your venue list, email the venue for more information. Most places do not provide full pricing on their websites for competitive reasons, but the event coordinators at each venue are more than happy to provide additional info upon request. If the venue is available on the date you had in mind and you’re still interested after reading all the additional information, then it’s time to book an appointment to do a tour of the venue!
Go to your appointment armed with as many questions as you can think of. The last thing you want to do is to be surprised on your wedding day by costs or rules that you weren’t aware of! Here are 10 possible questions to ask, but there are many, many more:
- What is the payment schedule like?
- Do you include rentals (for equipment, linens, etc.), or do we need to find outside vendors for this?
- Are there hidden fees (cake cutting costs, uncorking fee, overtime costs, etc.) that we need to be aware of? When it comes to weddings, there are so many additional fees – make sure you know about all of them in advance, or your wedding may cost you more than anticipated.
- If the ceremony is outdoors, is there a contingency plan if it rains the day of the wedding?
- Will there be someone in charge the day of the wedding?
- Are there limitations on décor or noise (etc. no candles/confetti, etc. allowed)?
- Will our guests have to pay for parking?
- At what time do I get the room for the day, and at what time do my guests have to vacate the premises? Something to think about so you or your vendors can go in and start decorating.
- Will you be taking care of the setting up/tear down? You don’t want to be scrambling the day of your wedding trying to find family and friends to help set up and take down décor).
- Is a menu tasting available, and if so, is there an additional cost for this? We were surprised to find that some venues we checked out didn’t have menu tastings.
After seeing all of the places on your list, you can reassess and decide which venue will be your final choice – or maybe you’ll decide to go back to the drawing board.
Picking a venue isn’t a science; if anything, I feel like wedding planning is a lot about your gut feeling. If a place just feels right for the two of you, then it’s probably the right one for you.
Featured Image photography credit – The Wedding Pavillion. http://www.weddingpavillion.com/