Picking a wedding venue is a big deal and will be one of the most expensive decisions you’ll make. Your wedding venue set’s the tone of your wedding day. It’s also an incredibly overwhelming process. How can you possibly find a venue that you can afford, that you both love, that’s convenient for your guests, and isn’t already booked?
Before you start looking for your venue you need to discuss a few things with your other half (and who’s paying for the wedding too).
- You need to discuss the wedding budget. You need some kind of rough draft of what you can afford. Not just per category but the entire wedding.
- Do you have a date in mind or at least the month chosen? Is that date flexible for you? Knowing the date or month is extremely important because this will help narrow your choices based on their availability and yours…
- Your guest count. How many people are you expecting? 100, 200, 500+. Having an idea of the number of guests attending will help you determine which venue can accommodate your group.
Determine Who to call
Once you have an idea of your Budget, Date & Guest count, it’s time to make a spreadsheet. Some say I’m a queen of spreadsheets, so feel free to use this if you want. Otherwise, break your sheet into the following columns:
- Venue Name
- Location (Raleigh, Bear Creek, etc.)
- Capacity: Make sure the capacity fits your event. If you are doing a cocktail party rather than a sit-down meal, space can likely fit more people.
- Availability: If you have a specific date in mind
- Type: Such as hotel, outdoor, historical, restaurant, barn, etc.
- Layout: Note if it has space for all aspects of your wedding (ceremony, cocktails, reception). Sometimes this isn’t clear till a site visit.
- Rates: Enter the rough info available online.
- My Cost: This will be filled in after you meet with them.
- Website: We want you to easily go back and remind yourself with photos of the venue.
- Restrictions: Are there any major restrictions, such as a definite end time, that would affect your decision?
- Parking/Transportation: Make any notes regarding free parking, public transit access, or other transportation considerations.
- Facility Extras: List here any items included with the venue: A/V equipment, chairs, tables, linens, etc.
- Caterer: Are there any restrictions, do you have to use their preferred vendors, etc.
After you’ve spent time researching online, it’s time to narrow your search into your top 3 or 4. Now it’s time to call each of your top choices and fill in the missing information. This should only take about an hour or so of your time. Before making any decisions, make sure you know this:
Venue Packages, Services, & Restrictions
Are they inclusive venue i.e. catering, bartending, rentals, all included. If so great because you get more bang for your buck. But if not, you have to outsource these items which can drive your finances up. Know the value in your venue to know if it’s right for your event. Here are a few questions to think about…
Does this venue offer good parking options or valet?
Does this venue offer security?
Does this venue offer additional services like catering, floral arrangements, linen and table rentals, etc.?
Does this venue have a setup and clean-up crew?
Does this venue restrictions on vendors?
Does this venue have food and beverage minimums?
Here’s a full list of Questions to ask your Venue before signing the contract.
Have you found the Perfect Venue
- Can I afford this venue?
- Is this venue available on the date or the month I want to get married in?
- Does this venue’s capacity fit my estimated guest list? Like, really? Make sure to add a buffer of more just in case your list grows.
- Does this venue’s layout fit my vision?
- The distance from hotels. Are you okay with needing to provide transportation for guests from a hotel to your remote venue?
- Does this venue have any catering restrictions? This is a big one so make sure you’re ok with their answers.
- And finally, if you’re going the all-inclusive route, what does that really mean for you and your budget? What does it include? Will you need to hire additional vendors?
If you’ve said yes to all the above (that is applicable), by golly you’ve found your venue. It’s time to secure it by signing a contract and paying the deposit. Pro Tip: Most venues require 50% down so be prepared to pay a lump sum to secure it.