5 Essential Step-by-Step Tips to Picking Your Wedding Venue
Picking the right wedding venue is not as simple as you may think. There's so much that you have to consider with our without the help of a Wedding Planner.
I remember last year, a couple hired us to serve as a Day of Coordinator for their wedding. Typically when we serve in this capacity, the couple has already agreed to do the majority of the work including picking the right venue.
We sat down with them to go over their wedding details. Things such as day of expectations, decor, and timeline was essential. We also set aside time to go look at the venue and that's when I knew the couple made several bad decisions regarding their venue.
If you've never hosted an event, no one expects you to know the ins and outs in selecting a wedding ceremony or wedding reception venue.
And that's OK!
However, we do want to give you a few tips to picking out your wedding venue before you sign any contract.
The most important thing you must understand when going through these tips is to see venue selection similar to purchasing a home. Unless you have an unlimited budget or are customizing a home, you must remain open to compromise. Same goes for your wedding venue.
Tip #1 - Stalk your potential venue's social media pages.
This may seem odd for some, but when you think about it, seeing things online will really help you avoid wasting your time. The couple that hired us failed to do this. The venue they selected had no natural sunlight because there were no windows.
Seeing photos also let's you know if your theme and wedding style will work at this venue.
Another thing pictures may help you determine is the size of the venue. Although you may not know dimensions and measurements for tables and chairs, it's best to get a rough idea. Unfortunately, the venue for our clients was too small for the amount of guests they had.
If the venue looks like it's ideal, you should confirm your findings without having to get a proposal or contract. Ask the following:
1 - What's your maximum capacity for a dinner reception?
2 - Is your venue suitable for both a cocktail hour and reception in two different spaces? **Not all venues are capable of this**
3 - Does your venue come with a wedding suite for bride and groom? (If you are having everything at one location)
Tip #2 - Determine what the food and beverage minimum is at your venue?
Let's first identify what this is. Food and beverage minimums are a common practice for most hotels and catering companies. This states in order for you to use this space, you must pay the minimum fee.
Example: If I want to have my wedding at the Hilton, they may say the food and beverage minimum is $10,000. This number may vary based on hotel or venue policy.
The food and beverage minimum is worth knowing before you visit a venue. If you have a budget that is not flexible, you can quickly eliminate what venues may not work if they are far past your budget.
Yes venue can work with your budget to a certain extent. Also pay close attention to the surprise catering costs you need to budget for.
Tip #3 - Figure out what the venue amenities are.
Venues have come along way in amenities. However, there are still many venues that offer nothing more than the bare minimum. Here are some amenities you need to ensure your venue has:
- More than one bathroom for each sex
- A dressing or break area for the wedding party, not just the bride and bridesmaids.
- WiFi capability for multiple spaces and multiple devices (free WiFi quality is often compromised when there is a lot of people using it).
- Audio Visual Capabilities
- Parking or valet service
- A Flexible menu
- Divisible ballrooms (perfect for smaller weddings who want their ceremony and reception inside)
- Natural Sunlight or a outdoor view
- Column free ballrooms
- Complimentary tables and chairs - yes many venues do not come with this included
- Reward systems for regular users
Tip #4 - Select a wedding venue that compliments your style and theme.
It is essential to determine what your theme and style of wedding is before you pick out a venue.
Here's a 12 question blue print to determine your wedding theme and style.
Imagine having a modern jewel toned wedding and you host it in a venue that looks like it fits perfectly into a medieval times movie set. That simply doesn't work.
The best venues are those with little to know customization to it such as very noticeable orange carpet when your colors are black and white. Neutral tones can be easily manipulated with lighting saving you tons on pipe and draping or replacing floors all-together.
Tip #5 - Read Venue Reviews
The same reason you read reviews for Wedding Planners and Wedding Vendors, should be the reason you check out venue reviews.
Here are a few reasons we recommend this.
As you can see there are many benefits in looking at good and bad review. The good reviews show you just how easy and seamless the venue can be for guests. The bad ones tells you that although a venue may look great, what you and your guests experience may not be as great.
Yes these are actual Google reviews.
BONUS TIP - In 2016 it was reported by Event Industry Outlook that 18 million events take place each year. That means you are not only fighting other couples looking for a venue space, but you are competing with non weddings. The more time you give yourselves, the better chance you have in booking your venue space.
There are many non weddings that have locks on particular dates years in advance. These are high paying clients so it helps to pick the right wedding date and give yourself plenty of time.
Selecting the perfect venue isn't as hard as you think. It's making sure you go about selecting your venue in the right order that matters. You have to know what you want first before you venture out to start checking out venues that may not meet your needs.
What strategies have you used for picking out the best venue for you?