Choosing your wedding venue: What to know before you book
The venue is always one of the very first things that most couples book when it comes to planning their wedding. But sadly, we’ve heard a lot of heartbreaking stories about couples who book their venues and then are hit with extra fees, space issues, or just overall disappointment. So before you book your venue, you absolutely need to do your research so you’re prepared and knowledgeable about what to expect!
Hooray! You’re engaged and your mind is filled with all of the things you need to do to get the wedding planning started. Dress shopping, browsing wedding inspiration on Pinterest, setting a date, finding your perfect venue… but STOP right there!
Don't get lost in the venue hunt by being so enamored by the views or the fancy chandeliers! There is so much more to consider.
Before you settle on that mountain top venue or the reception space in the heart of the city everyone’s raving about, first and foremost....enlist the help of an experienced wedding planner!!! Then, take the time to consider these six things before signing on the dotted line:
1. BOOK YOUR VENUE SOON!
There is nothing more disappointing than having your heart set on a specific wedding venue and the date is not available! Yes, bask in the moments of your engagement, but set some time aside with your fiancé to choose a date for you wedding. Especially if you want a specific date and you do not want to consider other days. A good example of this would be if you want to get married on the anniversary of your first date or the first time you both said I love you. But whichever date you choose, lock it in so you can then start your search! Don't forget to be aware of any holidays around your date or any big local events going on near your venue that could impact available hotel accommodations and traffic
2. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Think about where you want to have your wedding. Have you dreamed of a chic, upscale, wedding in the heart of the city? A rustic, rural, farm wedding? Or a simple, but elegant wedding in the suburbs? Whichever you choose, when making your venue decision it’s important to think about the logistics. Will the distance to your venue cost you travel or hotel fees for your planner or your vendor? Will you and your wedding party require hotel accommodations the night before after the ceremony rehearsal & dinner and to be at the venue in the morning for set up or hair/makeup? How about the night of the wedding?
If you choose a ceremony space that is quite a distance away from the reception space, include detailed directions and a map for your guests, and allow plenty of time between the ceremony and the reception time for travel. Also, if you have a hotel room block, think about where the hotel is located in comparison to the ceremony and reception venues. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “It’s my wedding and I’ll have it where I want it!” And yes, it’s so true, however, those little details will be appreciated by your guests, you will have a better turnout and it will make for a more enjoyable experience for all!
3. SIZE MATTERS, IT REALLY DOES!
Trust us on this piece of advice- you are going to thank us later! If you have a confirmed list of 200 guests, a DJ, a photographer and videographer moving about the room, a photo booth, a buffet, cake tables and a dance floor, in a room that holds 200 people, you and your guests will feel like a pack of sardines stuffed in a tin can! You don't want to be that couple that booked a venue with space with a "capacity" of 200 people, however, when they added the guests, vendors and extras to the room, it becomes hot, crowded and very uncomfortable. As a result, neither you nor your guests will enjoy your reception.
We love the venues we work with but so many times we find they tell couples "Yes, this space can accommodate 250 guests!" but their job is to get the venue booked and they don't always share the reality with the couples about how many it will actually accommodate comfortably once all of the other elements like dance floor and food tables are added.
Friends, don’t let this happen to you!
So, when you are asking the venue manager questions, make sure to find out how many people can comfortably be seated in the room without tables being crammed together, including spaces for your extras (food tables, dance floor, cake tables etc). Also, share your thoughts on what you would like to have- if it’s a photo booth, you could ask if it would be best inside the room or outside the room for space sake. Is there space enough in the room for the elaborate sweets table or donut display you want to have? Being the expert, he/she should be able to answer these questions for you.
4. WHAT’S THE CONTINGENCY PLAN?
Whether your plan is to get married outside on the lush greens of a golf course or to have your reception in a courtyard of a romantic Italian villa, the one element we cannot control is the weather. Although rain on your wedding day is said to be good luck, it can certainly put a damper on your outdoor wedding dreams. Make sure the venue you choose has a contingency plan in place for yucky weather, such as a banquet space available inside in case of rain. However, if you are dead set on having your wedding outside rain or shine, be sure you are providing an adequate covered and enclosed contingency option such as an event tent with side walls. One or two beautiful chandeliers installed for overhead lighting, uplighting to add a touch of color to a white tent, and loads of lush florals and draping can give any plain white tent class and luxury. What you want to avoid is having to do what we call a room flip! Where you have to move your ceremony into your reception space and then convert it back to a reception space after the ceremony. This will not only cost you more money in labor but it is more time consuming and frankly, it doesn't look good to have to ask your guests to stand to the side (or worse, outside!) while they wait for the room to be moved around.
5. BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
We love amenities, especially when they add to the fabulosity of your wedding day! Honestly, who doesn’t?! When venue shopping, find out what’s included in the price. For example, you believe you have found the perfect venue. It has everything you want- the perfect crystal chandeliers, beautiful ceiling to floor windows, an outdoor patio overlooking a lake, and enough space for the entertainment you want and all of your guests. Then you find out once you get to the office that you have to pay $5 per chair for the ceremony and $8 per chair for the upgraded Chiavari chairs for your reception. You cannot have the cake you want from your favorite bakery because the venue has a preferred bakery to choose from, and it’s a $3 per plate up-charge to use the gold rimmed chinaware- or else you get the plastic wear. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of this, however, know and understand what you’re paying for so there are no surprises. Or our motto is, if you have an amazing planner, anything is negotiable.
6. DOES THE VENUE FULFILL YOUR VISION?
Every bride has had a vision of what she wants her wedding day to look like – the colors, the decor, the “in the moment” feelings, and so much more. You want your venue to scream perfection! When venue hopping, make sure things like the colors of the venue’s carpet, wall paint, or decor will not clash with what you have in mind. If you choose a theme of romance for your wedding and the colors are blush, rose gold, and ivory, a venue with green/tan colored carpets and aqua colored walls will not work! It’s your wedding day and everyone is going to take lots of pictures. You want to look back at your photos and have no regrets! (Maybe you should take a Snickers in case you get hangry and can’t think straight!)