The first thing to cross off your wedding to-do list is come up with a budget. One you’ve got that squared away, you can focus on the actual planning! First comes budget, then comes venue! Keep in mind that your venue is going to be your most costly investment and therefore it is important to do some research before any decision making. You and your fiancé should read through this list before jumping ahead to venue visits.
What do you want from your venue?
You may have some places in mind that you’ve seen driving by or even have visited but before you make a decision, you’ll need to figure out what your priorities are for your venue. For example, you want both your ceremony and reception there. Surprisingly there are many smaller venues that only accommodate for the reception or are only big enough for the ceremony. You’ll need to write down what exactly are the deal breakers for you and your fiancé.
Do an online search and start with a long list of venues you like the look of in your chosen geographical area. Before diving in, create a list of questions you want answered from your venue.
– How many guests can it hold?
– Are there different capacities for different rooms?
– Can you have your ceremony and reception there?
-Inside space vs outside?
– Are there onsite accommodation for your out of town guests?
– How does the pricing structure work? Is it based on room hire, price per head, minimum spent or are there set packages?
-Is the catering in-house or is there an approved caterers list?
-Do they have a list of recommended vendors? Can you bring in your own?
-What do they supply? Chairs/tables?
-Alcohol license/supplier? Is there a corkage charge?
– Are there any particular restrictions?
-Parking? On site? Valet?
Venues that just aren’t meeting your needs can be crossed off your list. There’s nothing like wasting your time at a space that isn’t fit for your big day.
On Site Visits
Once you’ve got a good list, you can start the hunt! Be prepared for this part of your wedding planning to take the most time. It can be frustrating but once you find the one, it’ll be worth it (much like dating!). Pay close attention to the little details, like routes your guests will take, what the bathrooms are like, whether there’s ample heating/air conditioning and where the power sockets are. These may seem like mute points at first but on your wedding day, they’re crucial.
Discuss with the venue how they normally orchestrate their wedding days. Are they open to your ideas and flexible with timing or are they stuck in the way that things have always been done? This is important because it shows how the venue works and whether they are willing to be flexible or not. After all it is YOUR big day.
Once You’ve Found The One…
Don’t commit right away to your dream venue. Your fiancé didn’t propose after the first date did he? Before you sign anything, ask to see a full breakdown of all the costs in an itemised list that shows what is and isn’t included in the venue price. Find out how the entire process works. Do they need a deposit? (Most venues do) When is the remainder amount paid? Also ask what happens to your money in the case of cancellation. You don’t want any surprises later.
Lastly, find out who your point of contact will be throughout the planning process. IE: the planner. At this stage you may be dealing with just the sales team and only once booked will you work with the events team before your wedding day. It is important to find out who this person is and what their reputation is.
Do More Research.
Go home and do more research on your dream venue. Read reviews of former brides. Are they all positive? Is there anything negative that really stands out? If not, you are probably safe. Look up the event coordinator if you can. See what their experience is. Have they been with the company long? If not, where did they work before? If the venue lists preferred vendors, reach out to some of them and see what they have to say about the space.
Sleep On It
Lastly, get some sleep. If you are tossing and turning about the venue, it probably isn’t the one. If you sleep soundly and still want to go with that venue, then you should book it. Any negativity is a sign that you aren’t ready to commit and should keep looking.