The road to confirming your wedding venue is a process. From asking the right wedding venue questions to touring the site, there are a lot of moments along the way that signify that this is the perfect site for your wedding day. On the flip side, there can also be a few red flags that should set off warning bells before you sign on the dotted line.
To be clear, there are usually many costs associated with renting a wedding venue, such as table and chair rental fees. This is fairly standard. What’s not common is additional costs, such as over time fees if your wedding reception runs over a certain length of time. When you first contact the venue, and in subsequent visits, ask for a full list of expenses and how long the rental fee covers.
Unreliable staff contacts
Booking a wedding venue is about more than just using the facility. It’s an experience with the wedding venue and venue staff. Most likely, you are going to have to contact the venue multiple times during the wedding planning process. If they don’t return your calls, respond to your messages, or promptly meet with you, listen to your inner voice. Don’t let your wedding planning process (or your wedding day!) be soured because the staff isn’t conscientious of your time.
Overwhelming Fine Print
Most wedding venues provide couples with a multi-page contract. Don’t shy away from the contract; reading the fine print can save you from unpleasant surprises later. However, if the contract is overly complicated and hard to understand, heed the warning bells. Never sign on the dotted line of a contract if you don’t understand what you’re signing or are worried about any language in the contract.
Lack of wedding experience
Proceed with caution if you rent a venue that doesn’t typically host weddings; the staff may not have the experience to assist you with planning and facility may not have all the spaces you need for your wedding day. There is some value in working with a venue with a knowledgeable staff that’s “been there”—especially if you need wedding planning assistance (many venues offer wedding planning-just ask!). Don’t check off a venue from your wedding venue checklist just because the site hosts weddings; instead embrace their knowledge and use it to make your day uniquely you.
You’ve read all about how important a wedding venue is in wedding planning. You’re convinced. You’ve printed off the wedding venue checklist so you can find the right site for your wedding. Bring on the wedding venue tours.
But where do you start? How do you find the right wedding venue in your area?
Here’s where the wedding venue search doesn’t start
The search for the right wedding venue doesn’t start with calls to venues or getting out your calendar. Before you contact any venues, sit down with your fiancé, and any family or friends who are interested in investing in your big day. You’ll need to set these important points in stone for your wedding venue search:
- Budget. What is your overall wedding budget? What is your budget for your wedding venue? Who is paying for what expense?
- Date. You don’t have to the exact day and month to start your venue search, but you should have a general idea of the time of the year (use these tips to choose your perfect wedding date). For example, if you want a fall wedding, ask what dates are available for months of September and October.
- Location. Consider what area suits your guests and you as a couple. Then take your planning a step further. Consider not only the geographical setting of your ceremony and distance to your reception site, but also the geography of your guests. If you have guests coming from out of town, consider a venue close to a hotel. If you’re having your ceremony and reception at the same place, consider the location of each event. Is there enough room for each? Will your guests need to wait for break down and set up? Visit your ideal venue to get your questions answered and a tour of the reception hall, ceremony site and dressing rooms.
- Style. Do you want a rustic wedding? An elegant ball? A vintage wedding in a historic wedding venue with lot of architectural detail?
- Guest list. Again, you don’t have to have the final guest list set in stone on your first day of planning, but you should have a general idea of your guest count. You’ll need this number to weed out venues that are too small (both for the safety and comfort of your guests).
- Handicap accessibility. If you have a friend or family member that needs special accommodations, make sure you know this up front. Ask every venue if they are accessible for all your guests.
How to find the right wedding venue
- Let your fingers do the walking. Use your favorite search engine to look for wedding venues that fit your criteria. Once you have a list, call or e-mail each wedding venue with this list of wedding venue questions. Ask the venue if they have your date available (or what dates are available during your chosen time of the year), how many guests they can accommodate, the cost (what is included and how long that covers), if there are any extra fees, and these other wedding venue questions. If you find your wedding venue on the internet, don’t skimp on your wedding venue tour. See the venue in person to make sure that the venue fits with what you saw on their website or social media.
- Ask friends and family. Have a friend whose entire social calendar is weddings? Do you have a family member who always is headed to the next wedding? Ask them about wedding venues they’ve visited that really stood out. From there, narrow down your options by contacting the venues and finding out which venues fit your criteria.
- Contact your favorite vendors. If you booked your videographer, DJ, band, or caterer already, ask them if they’ve worked at a venue (in your preferred style) that was really incredible. Remember, some venues require that you use a certain caterer. If you want to bring in your favorite caterer, ask the venue if they have an open vendor policy that allows you to bring in the caterer of your choice.