So I’ve been engaged for over 4 months now…wow…that’s crazy to write down! It’s been a whirlwind of emotions and planning. First we decided on the date to get married. The date has sentimental meaning to us since it happens to be both of our parents’ wedding anniversaries. The next very important step was having the budget talk. After that was squared away, we moved on to find our perfect wedding venue.
There are a lot of factors to consider when looking at wedding venues – budget, style of the space, time of year, inclusions, etc. Here’s how we tackled this very crucial step in the planning process.
Type of Venue:
You will quickly realize that there are a plethora of venues to choose from. Dominating the market are the traditional venues such as hotels and country clubs. They are great because of their pre-set packages and experience in executing weddings. However, there are just as many non-traditional venues to check out if the hotel/country club isn’t your thing. Some great examples are museums, gardens, theatres, restaurants, boats, art galleries and (my personal favorite) zoos. These quirkier venues can often be a hidden gem and allow for more flexibility. Also, consider locations that have sentimental value to you as a couple and research if they have the space to host events. Use Google to help you create a list of potential venues based on location and appeal to you as a couple.
Questions to Ask:
After your list is complete, you need to create a list of priorities you require from the venue space. Do you need a venue that holds 300? That’s definitely a top priority. Excel is a great tool of keeping track of these requirements and if the various fulfill them. To begin narrowing down the search, contact each venue and ask these types of questions:
What is the guest capacity?
Can both the ceremony and reception take place there?
What are the rental fees?
What do those fees include? Tables? Chairs? Linens? Bar? Stage?
What are the time limits? Are there fees for going overtime?
What is the fee for having a rehearsal?
Will there be simultaneous events happening?
What is the cancellation policy?
Is the catering in-house? If so, what does the china look like?
Are there package deals? What is the break down of inclusions in the package?
Must we use specific vendors (caterers, florists, etc)?
What is your alcohol policy? Can you supply your own? Is there a corkage fee?
What do guests do for parking? Self vs valet and what are the associated costs?
Is the space handicap accessible?
How many restrooms are on site?
Is there an indoor option in case of rain or bad weather?
Will there be a staff member present during the event?
Are children welcome?
Do you have on-site accommodations or hotel affiliates?
Are there any required permits to use the space?
How’s the lighting? Are lights able to be dimmed?
When can load-in begin?
Are there restrictions on décor, such as candles, confetti, sparklers?
The answers should help you narrow down that long list of venues to a nice short-list of top 5 contenders. Anything longer and you will go crazy visiting venues.
With the list of top venues in hand, it’s time to start scheduling venue visits. When visiting venues make sure to pay attention to the little details, like how the guests will get from point a to point b, what the bathrooms look like and how well the AC is working. Also, talk to the venue manager about how they structure wedding days. Are they flexible with load-in times or is there a rigid schedule from which they will not deviate? Lastly, it’s about how you feel in the space and if you can envision having your day there!
Saying Yes to the Venue:
It’s a crucial piece of the wedding puzzle. Once you’ve analyzed the costs, researched vendors you can work with, examined what’s included with the associated fees, you have to make a decision. Be certain that you have done your due diligence, but allow your heart into the mix.
For us, the decision was easy. One of our first dates was at the zoo and every time we visit a new city, we stop by the local zoo. The Palm Beach Zoo fulfilled all our priorities. Plus, we get to have animals roaming around our cocktail hour. Who doesn’t love that?!?
Good luck on your search! If you need help finding your dream venue, please feel free to contact us! We’d love to help!