Happy Wednesday, friends and welcome back! I hope you guys have had a wonderful start to your week; if it’s been rough, just remember, we’re halfway through and it’s a long weekend…at least for most of us! <3
As you can tell by the title, today we’re talking all things wedding venue! I don’t know how you feel, but picking a wedding venue isn’t easy; there are so many options to choose from and a variety of things to consider when trying to nail down the best place to say “I do.” I thought I would share some of the key things that went into my decision making process so that if you are a soon to be bride, you could use this as guideline of sorts (only if you need to of course – I’m not trying to be pushy).
1. KNOW YOUR VISION / THEME
When it comes to planning a wedding, most people have a picture in their mind of exactly what they’re hoping for. Whether it be a casual beach wedding, a formal black tie affair or a sweet simple ceremony in an idyllic chapel; you know what you want (most of the time). The first thing I did when beginning to sift through the (many) venues in my area was decide whether I wanted my ceremony and reception to be in the same location; I know it seems silly, but it’s definitely something to consider. For some people, they’ve always envisioned a beautiful ceremony in a chapel while dreaming of a more lively upbeat reception; in that instance, you will need to consider the types of venues that can accommodate that vision. For David and I, we decided that for the sake of simplicity, we would hold both our ceremony and reception in the same location; less driving, only 1 venue rental fee and for us, less stress. I knew I wanted a fall wedding with a southern rustic flare and thought an old Antebellum home would be just the way to go. Swoon.
2. KNOW YOUR GUESTLIST
Remember in my last post when I mentioned how important it was to have a loose guestlist when starting your venue search…this is why?! Unfortunately most venues have a cap space as well as a minimum guest count requirement, and sometimes that means letting go of a place you absolutely love. I started my search with a loose number so that I could automatically weed out venues that wouldn’t work for us; anything that had a max capacity of only 100 attendees was out. We knew we would settle somewhere between 110-130 people, so there was no need to look at options that couldn’t accommodate that number. Making that decision early on helped ensure that I didn’t fall in love with something that just physically wouldn’t work for us.
3. KNOW WHAT THEY OFFER
When starting the wedding planning process, I told David that there were certain things (venue, food, alcohol) I was hoping to get within a specific $$ amount. Some venues have all-inclusive or semi-all inclusive packages while others require you to provide all of your own vendors. I was willing to look at both options because I wanted to be conscious of the budget we had preciously set, but after looking around, we ended up going with the semi-all inclusive package that my venue offered. It ended up being around the same amount that I would have paid to get a similar look/feel with individual vendors but with much less stress. If you’re someone that doesn’t like the idea of coordinating 8-9 different vendors with your venue, I HIGHLY recommend looking at all-inclusive options in your price range; it really does make things a lot more easy and seamless.
4. KNOW WHAT THEY DON’T OFFER
As important as it is to know what a venue offers, it is equally important to know what they DON’T offer. For instance; if you are are having a bigger wedding (125+) and realize that there are only 2 bathrooms within the facility, you may want to look elsewhere. For me, a couple of the places we toured didn’t have a grooms suite / spacious bridal suite, and while some people might not mind, that was a no-go for me. It’s also important to know what kind of decor, if any at all, they offer. Are you allowed to use it free of charge? Will they allow you to bring in your own decor (super important question to ask)? Are your linens, tables, chairs and flatware included or will that be supplied by your caterer (if you’re using a separate vendor). Do they allow a sparkler send-off…or are you reserved to bubbles? I know some of those things seem small and insignificant but as the planning process rolls on and it’s time to nail down those little details, it’s better to know what to expect than be surprised and have to change your vision because they can’t accommodate what you were hoping for.
5. KNOW YOUR BUDGET
I cannot stress this enough, DO NOT LOOK AT VENUES OUTSIDE OF YOUR PRICE RANGE; it leads to heartbreak and stress…a lot of stress. I highly recommend sitting down with your fiancé early on to discuss a REALISTIC budget and what that looks like for the two of you. Knowing how much you can spend and how you’re going to pay for things is critical when starting this process. If you’re going to receive help from parents, I recommend getting everyone together so that it’s clear what everyone can and cannot afford; it’s not the most fun conversation, but trust me, it’s 1000% necessary. When looking at different venues, keep in mind that there are often services fees and taxes that are not included in the package price listed; that can add another couple of thousand dollars to your total. If you’re working with a hard budget of 10k and everything comes out to be $9000, you are likely going to go over your budget once the taxes and service fees are added. Always make sure to communicate your budget concerns to your venue/wedding coordinator; they are good at working with you and helping you achieve the look of your dreams at a price you can afford.
6. CHECK THE AVAILABILITY
If you are someone that has an idea of what season, or even what day you want to get married, make sure as you’re touring different venue options you ask about their availability. Oftentimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in the pretty little details of every venue that you forget to ask what their calendar looks like. If you are serious about your date, start your search EARLY. I can’t tell you how many venues were fully booked in the month of October for 2020…that’s over a year away. So I’ll say it again, if you want a specific time / date, start early; you won’t regret it!
7. CONSIDER YOUR GUESTS & THEIR EXPERIENCE
This is a bit of a controversial topic for some people; I know many folks feel like it should be all about the bride and groom, but for David and I, considering our guests was a non-negotiable. When choosing our venue I made sure to ask about parking, handicap accessibility, # of bathrooms (this is a BIG one) and nearby hotel accommodations. There’s nothing worse than picking a venue that has 1 bathrooms for 100+ people and is in the middle of nowhere where the closest hotel is 30-45 minutes away. I wanted to make sure that my guests had somewhere close (within 5-10 minutes) to stay to ensure that getting to and from the venue safely wouldn’t be an issue. Now don’t get me wrong, if I had REALLY fallen in love with something that was farther away, I would have booked it; I just wanted to stress the importance of thinking of the people that are there to celebrate with you and shower your marriage with love; they’re certainly worth considering.
8. MAKE SURE YOU ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT & THAT IT REPRESENTS YOU AND YOUR FIANCÉ
When choosing our venue, there were certain things that I HAD to have (southern home, grooms room, spacious bridal suite, numerous bathrooms); making a realistic list with your non-negotiables can help you weed out venue options and ensure that you are making the best decision for you and your fiancé. You want to make sure that whatever you choose, it hits the things you HAVE to have; regardless of how small/insignificant they may seem to others, all that matters is how YOU feel. Make sure you stick with your vision/theme so that when you look back on your photos you don’t have any regrets. If people don’t see your vision, that’s okay; do what you love and everything else will fall into place!
I hope you guys enjoyed this post and that some of you found it helpful! I know finding the right venue and planning a wedding in general can be stressful and extremely difficult. If you are in the planning process, just remember to stay true to yourself and ask for what you want/need. <3
* If wedding planning isn’t your cup of tea, I have a guide to ULTA’s 21 Days of Beauty coming on Friday, so stay tuned for that. I also have a Amazon fashion favorites set to go live next week – eeekkkkk!*
Until next time,