So you're engaged, yay! Now comes the fun (and stress!) of finding the perfect venue. Here are some things to consider when beginning your search.
Sit down and work out a budget...not in your head, on paper. A WPIC-Certified Wedding Planner can provide the tools and assistance you need to put together a realistic budget that will allow you to stretch your money as far as possible. Not sure where to start? There are many free worksheets available online should you choose to create your own budget. It's important that you have a budget in place before looking at venues so you don't get your heart set on one that is too expensive.
2. Guest Count
Work out a draft guest list with your fiance. You don't want to end up booking a venue that has a maximum occupancy of 100 when you have a guest list of 215.
3. Type of Wedding
Determine the type of ceremony you will have. Will it be religious or civil? Do you want a summer wedding or a winter wonderland? How about the reception venue; do you want it to take place in a barn or a ballroom? Will the ceremony and reception be at the same venue?
4. Wedding Date
Wanna know a secret? You never set a date until you've secured your venue! Doing so is a common mistake and a recipe for heartache when your ideal venue isn't available. Remember that cute little church you want to get hitched in on Labour Day? Well a dozen other brides love that place too and that weekend works great for all of them too. When (and only when) you have a firm reservation on a venue do you start booking vendors (other then your wedding planner) and telling your friends and family.
Photo Credit: Hera Films
What if it rains? Does your venue have a bad weather contingency plan like a tent or ballroom? What if the weather is really hot? Is there somewhere with shade or A/C where your guests can cool off?
Is the venue wheelchair accessible and easy for your guests to move around in? Are they child-friendly for your friends and family with kids?
Does the venue have an in-house caterer, a list of 'preferred' caterers, or can you bring in your own?
8. Pay Attention
Pay attention to the venue as a whole and check everything out including the restrooms, foyer, dressing rooms, the outdoor and indoor lighting. You want to ensure your wedding vision can be a reality at the location you're considering.
9. Get Everything in Writing
Your date is not officially reserved until you have signed a contract and, in most cases, paid a deposit. Once you have found the perfect venue, make sure you ask what is required to get your booking locked down. Follow through with these requirements within their time frame. Waiting too long could cost you your dream venue. Always read the fine print. Your WPIC Certified Wedding Planner is always happy to look at this with you. While we aren't lawyers, we've read many contracts before and know what to look for. It's also good to document all your conversations with the venue coordinator through email so you have something to fall back on in the event of disagreement or communication.
10. Enjoy the Process!
Selecting your venue is an exciting process and one of the most important elements of a well-planned wedding. Follow these tips and enjoy the process!