As discussed in our previous blogs choosing the perfect wedding venue is one of the first (and most important) decisions you will make when planning your wedding. Your venue can make a huge difference to your theme, your other vendors, your decor, the time of year you are having your wedding and of course your budget. The number of guests you are hoping to invite will also play a part in determining your venue OR you can use a small venue to help you limit the number of guests you invite. Take the time you need to select the venue that is perfect for you and be prepared to spend a large percentage of your budget in this area. If you take the time and do your homework it will be money well spent.
The bridalguide.com (http://bridalguide.com/planning/the-details/reception/wedding-venues) has given us some steps to follow in finding the perfect venue. The comments are my own.
- Estimate the number of guests that will be attending – of course you will always invite more than can attend. Expect between 10% – 20% of your guests to decline
- How much do you want to spend –This is a very good question and I would like to take some time to talk about this. If you are thinking you would like to save money by having a “backyard bar-b-que” you might be quite surprised at how much it actually costs. You will need to rent a tent (more decor might be necessary in a tent than a venue), tables, chairs, outdoor lighting, caterer (who may or may not supply linens, plates & cutlery), alcohol, a liquor license or other types of licenses depending on your area, possibly an outdoor heater and a number of other items which are all included in the rental of a venue. However, if this is your style then go for it just don’t select it because you think it will save you money. It really won’t. So having said that you can expect to pay between 11% (venue only) – 65% (venue, food and beverages)
- Choose your date – if you have a particular venue in mind you might want to be a little flexible on your dates, unless the date is of particular importance to you
- Determine your style – here is where you decide if you would like a ballroom, a tent, a barn or something completely “out of the box” like the planetarium or the zoo. Do you love a tent draping with a twinkle light ceiling or something in the forest among nature?
- Choose 3 venues – choose 3 venues that suite your style and your price range. Make an initial contact via email or phone to determine if the dates your want are available. If they are then make an appointment to see the venue.
- Visit the venues – when you visit the venue see if you can set a time when it is already set up for a wedding. Take pictures, ask questions, ask for referrals, pay attention to lighting, and how much space is available for all the activities you have in mind. Eg photo booth, dance area, kids area. DON’T FORGET TO SEND A THANK YOU CARD FOLLOWING THE VISIT WHETHER YOU CHOOSE THEM OR NOT
- Transportation – consider how your guests will get to the venue from the ceremony. Could the ceremony take place at the venue, perhaps saving you the cost of booking an additional venue or renting transportation?
- Weather – if you have chosen an outdoor venue for either the ceremony or the reception make sure you have a “Plan B” in case of rain or extreme heat
- On Site coordinator – does your venue supply an on-site coordinator and how will she assist you in your “day of” coordination. Are there certain rules regarding bringing in your own wedding planner.
- Vendor restrictions – does your venue have any “off site vendor” restrictions? For example, are you allowed to bring in your own wedding cake, candy table or drinks?
- Menu tasting – if your venue supplies food make sure you schedule a menu tasting. A few red flags to watch for would be: if they don’t offer a menu tasting OR if they invite you to another person’s event to taste the menu. If they invite you to someone else’s event there is a chance they will invite a stranger to yours.
- Exclusive use of the venue – ask if you will have exclusive use of the venue or rooms within the venue.
- What is included – make sure you clearly understand what is included and what is not. Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you are clear on all the details. If you have hired a wedding planner she would do this for you as part of her job HOWEVER if you haven’t hired a planner and aren’t sure of the contracts you could consider hiring a planner for Month of Wedding Planning or on an hourly consultation basis to help you understand what you are getting.
- Sign a Contract – your date and booking is NOT official until you have signed the contract and paid your deposit. Be cautious of venues that don’t have a contract and be sure you know their cancellation policy.
Next time we will talk about booking your photographer, the next most important vendor.