If you’re recently engaged, congratulations! You are probably excited, but you may also not know where to start when it comes to wedding planning. If you haven’t read this post, be sure to read it now and come back to this one. You’ll notice that one of the first 10 steps you should take after getting engaged is to set a date and/or choose a wedding venue. If there is a very specific date that you want to get married on, then go ahead and set that date in stone, and then start searching for a venue that is available on your date. If the date is flexible, then go ahead and start visiting venues you are most interested in, see when they are available, and choose a date based on the venue’s availability. But if you don’t know how to start in narrowing down your wedding venue options, we’ve got you covered today.
Talk to a Wedding Planner
I’m not just being biased. Wedding planners work at many different venues all year long. We know the ins and outs of so many venues, what their capabilities are, what layouts work and don’t work, timing specifics for each venue, as well as the presence or non-presence of a venue staff. We can probably help you think of other questions and logistical-based things to consider when it comes to choosing the venue that will fit your vision you have of your wedding.
Know Your Vision Well
Every bride has some sort of vision for her wedding day. It may be a big, specific vision, or it may be an overall vision, but every bride at some level has thought of what she wants her wedding day to look like and feel like. If you envision a modern wedding, then you may want to look at urban venues, art galleries, and museums. If you envision a classic indoor wedding, then you may gravitate towards hotels, ballrooms, clubhouses, and country clubs. If you have always pictured an outdoor, laid-back wedding, then you are probably going to look for outdoor venues like barns, plantations, and estates.
Know Your Budget
So much of your wedding hinges on your overall wedding budget. The last thing you want to do is spend a ton of money on reserving your venue only to find out later that you don’t have enough money left to hire a DJ or a band. Also, remember that so much of your budget depends on your guest count. If you have a higher guest count, many aspects are going to cost more (more people = more food; more people = more rentals, etc.). You first need to break down your overall wedding budget into categories (i.e., Wedding Planner, Catering, Bar & Beverage, Entertainment, Rentals, Attire, Accommodations, Florals, etc.). Give an amount to each category to see what you should be aiming for when it comes to booking a venue in your price range. If you’re stuck and don’t know how much to allocate based on your region’s average wedding costs, then this is another great reason to hire a wedding planner.
Know Your Guest List
Another aspect of wedding planning that will play a role in your budget as well as your venue is your total guest count. Prior to touring any venue, you need to know how many people you will need to accommodate because each venue has a different capacity. You don’t want to book a venue that is too small for your guest count. Most people tend to underestimate the number of guests they will invite. There are always those scenarios where you realize you forgot to add someone to your list. My biggest tip in setting a number: Decide what is your ideal total number of guests you want to attend your wedding, and then add 10-20% of that number to it. That’s how many people you need to invite. That’s it. No more. If you want more guest list tips, read this and this.
Consider Your Guest Experience
If you’re inviting a lot of out-of-town guests, consider looking for venues with nearby hotels. Another thing to consider is having your ceremony and reception at two separate venues. Do you want your guests to have to drive from one venue to another? If not, are you willing to provide transportation for them (that’s an additional cost)? I realize that it’s your wedding and most guests will travel regardless, but oftentimes it’s an inconvenience. So you may want to consider having your ceremony and reception at the same venue, and if not, at least within the same vicinity.
Know the Packages and What is Included
Arm yourself with information before you go visit a venue. You want to be able to ask exactly what is included in each package. Are rentals (chairs, tables, tents, linens, etc.) included? If so, what size, color, and how many? What if you want to upgrade rentals? How many hours will you have access to the venue? Is there power, water, and parking available? Are there specific vendors you have to hire, or do you have free reign on who you bring in to help pull your wedding together? Does the venue require a wedding planner or coordinator? Is there a noise ordinance and curfew? What is the contingency plan in case of bad weather? (Yet another reason to hire a wedding planner…he/she may handle emergencies…but if there’s a hurricane or other natural disaster, you’ll want to know what the venue’s cancellation policy is.) Just be sure you’re asking the right questions and gathering all necessary information. Again, hiring a full-service wedding planner or a wedding planner who will help with the venue search is a great idea so you don’t forget to ask specific questions.
Consider the Venue Staff
When you tour each venue, pay attention to the venue staff. Are they friendly? Are they accommodating and flexible? Are they confidently able to answer your questions? If you don’t have a good feeling when you visit a venue, mark it off your list.
Trust Your Gut
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the above tip, but when all is said and done, trust your gut. If you don’t have a good feeling at a venue, if it doesn’t seem like you two, then trust your gut and move on. Many times we know couples know which venue is “the one” when they are physically visiting it. Trust your gut.
Finding the perfect wedding venue doesn’t have to be difficult. Prioritize your most important desires first. Budget well. Know your guest count. Ask the right questions. Trust your gut.
Need help venue searching? Let us know, and we may be able to help!