Lets talk about venues shall we? When shopping for the perfect place to get married there are some things you need to take into consideration before making a choice.
What time of year do you want to get married? The most popular time for wedding season is typically April – October. The most popular day? You guessed it, Saturday. That is approximately 28 Saturdays out of the year for potential weddings. I hope you know where I am going with this, that means you need to shop your venues early and decide quickly. Venues tend to book about a year in advance.
One of the first questions you will be asked by the venue, aside from when will the wedding take place, but how many people are you expecting. You do not need to know the exact amount when you go for your first site visit, but you should have a pretty good idea what the range is. Your numbers will dictate which rooms to look at if you’re going to a multi-function venue, also it will heavily determine the cost of the rental if they do not have a set price list.
Figuring out where you want to have your wedding can be tricky. Do you want your ceremony and reception in two different locations? If so, how far apart are those two locations? Do you want a formal banquet or a modern event center? Do you want an at home or destination wedding? Do you want to go out of town?
Once you’ve answered those questions these should be your next steps.
There is so much information on the internet all you have to do is search for it. Look for venues in your area and slightly just outside your area. A comfortable travel time for guests without overnight accommodations is an hour and a half. Keep in mind though you should always be aware if hotels or overnight accommodations are in close vicinity to a venue.
2. Book site visits
Venues love having you come in so you can physically see and experience the venue. Pictures are great, but if you can get to the location, do it! Things could change for the better or worse. Ask questions, take notes, take pictures, go home and compare notes. Many venues have their own open house that you can attend for free. This is a perfect opportunity to see your potential venue decorated and set up for an event. Check out our blog on open house date happening this year.
3. Take your time in making this decision
If you absolutely need a specific date and you have fallen in love with a venue and know that’s it, then book it. The disappointment you will feel afterwards if you lose that date will hurt. However, if you are a bit more flexible take the time. Venues are known for saying that they book quickly. They are not lying. Most do. However, you can take one or two days to decide. I wouldn’t spend more than 2 weeks thinking because then you’ve lost those two weeks as an advance. The month you wanted may now no longer be available.
4. Read the contract
Venues are notorious for having hidden or additional fees that may be added in. SOCAN music fee, room rental fee, plug in fee, upgrades, regular/additional fees, and taxes could all be in that quote or contract, but unless you are looking for them you will just bypass them as standard.
5. Ask for measurements of the room
Your décor vendor will appreciate this later. If you go in saying you want the room fully draped from floor to ceiling they are going to need those numbers. This will also help you visualize how much space you’ll have once tables chairs and people are in the space (If it is not set up already)
6. How am I supposed to know if the food is going to taste good?
Most venues do not offer a tasting prior to being booked. If they offer one it would be after and much closer to the wedding date. This can be stressful for some and to be honest this is where blind faith comes in. A chef is employed at this venue for a reason, they are open and have good business. So for your wedding if you work with the chef to come up with a satisfactory menu prior to your event you should trust that they will accomplish what you are asking for. This is also the reason why most venues have set menu for selection.
If this is still unnerving for you there are ways to work around this. Most venues have open houses. This is when you can go into the venue, see it decorated, sample the chef’s food and taste the bartender’s skills with drinks. This is a great way to further envision your big day. Another option is to see if there is a restaurant offsite where the same chef cooks. You can order off the menu and see if it is something you enjoy. If you work with the venue as well, most can be persuaded to set up a meeting with their head chef. Personalities meshing well go along way and if you think the chef is up to your standards then go through with the booking.
Unfortunately, venues used to do tastings prior to booking. It became too expensive and wasteful. Online reviews will help. If there is one thing people love to do after attending a wedding is to talk about the good the bad and the ugly. You will find everything you need to know through the reviews.
All in all, do not be afraid to ask questions. This is when you need to get the accurate information necessary for continuing the planning process. You do not want any surprises later or on the day of your event.
Lead Event Coordinator