Finding the Perfect Venue…

August 11 2010, Posted by Melissa + Elsa

As simple as this may seem, it is actually one of the most difficult decisions that a bride and groom will have to face.  Having a few options without going overboard is highly recommended.  There is a good chance that you will fall in love with the first or second venue you visit and there is also a chance that you will visit 10 locations before finding the perfect one.  No matter what, peace of mind in knowing that you’ve made the right decision is priceless.  Although looking at multiple venues can be draining and time consuming, it is usually the first thing you will book and it plays a huge role in setting the tone.

Your venue will determine..

a. your budget. For the most part, your food and beverage will end up being about 50% of your total budget

b. the overall look and feel of your wedding. Although decor does wonders, each venue will have a style that it lends itself to best

c. the flow of your wedding day. All venues have their own rules and regulations with available times

With that being said here are a few things to consider while researching before scheduling appointments..

1. What is your overall budget and guest count?
Research different venues online and request their packages before visiting them.  This will end up saving you time because each venue will have either a food and beverage or guest count minimum with a package price range.  There really is no point in visiting a venue if you are absolutely sure that it is out of your budget.

2. What type of wedding do you envision amd what is the preference for geographic location?
Although not all couples are set on either a garden, beach or French Victorian wedding, this can limit your options so remember to take this into consideration.  Another factor to take into consideration is the geographic location.  This may be a simple decision for a couple who has both grown up in the same metropolitan area, but can be much more challenging when families are located on opposite sides of the country.  It is definitely okay to look in more than one general area, but be sure to do your research.

3. What is your prospective date and is this date flexible?
Not only does the date and season effect the look, feel and location, but it can play a role in price flexibility as well.  Unless you have a sentimental attachment to your prospective date, it is always a good idea to have at least one or two other dates in mind.  Finding the perfect location only to find that it is not available is definitely disheartening.  Also keep in mind that some venues will offer discounted rates and flexibility on prices during their non-peak seasons.

4. Do you prefer to have the ceremony and reception at the same location?  Does your ceremony have to take place at a specific locations such as a church?
It is quite possible that you find the perfect ballroom at one location and the perfect ceremony site at a different location.  Remember that although convenience does play a huge factor, it is acceptable to have the ceremony and reception at two different locations.  When situations require the ceremony and reception to be at different locations, just be sure to keep logistics and your guests in mind.  With good pre-planning, this can be a seamless transition.

Now that you have narrowed down your possible venues, take the time to schedule appointments with the various locations.  Set aside at least 1 hour with each venue and account for travel time.  Try to be on time and be sure to bring a camera and a pen with a note pad.

Here are a few basic things to ask..

1. Is your prospective date available

2. What is the ceremony site fee and is there a room rental fee for the reception

3. What is included in the package (alcohol, hors d’oeuvres, tables, chairs, types of linen, cake, dressing room, etc..)?

4. Is there complimentary parking?  If not, what are the costs?

5. What are the event time frames (setup, ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, tear down, etc..)?

6. Are there restrictions for outside vendors and do they require a coordinator?

7. What are the payment, deposit and cancellation policies?

8. Can packages be customized?

9. Ask for a preliminary proposal or cost estimate?

10. Request a courtesy pencil hold if you are seriously considering the venue

Many of the other questions will depend on specific details of the wedding and venue such as whether alcohol will be served or if the venue has accommodations.  Remember that there will always be pro and cons for each venue, so take your time to discuss what is most important before booking your wedding venue.

As always, remember the value of hiring a wedding coordinator. Coordinators are usually already familiar with many venues and can assist by making suggestions.  They understand the contracts, know what questions to ask and also what can possibly be negotiated.  So in a nutshell, not only can hiring a coordinator help you save a lot of time and stress, but it can also help you save money while finding the perfect venue.

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