Category Archives: choosing wedding reception halls

What should I look for in my wedding venue tour?

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wedding venue Milwaukee WI

There are a lot of emotions that wash over you when you visit a wedding venue. Awe. Satisfied. That sweet feeling of finding the “one.” This is the backdrop for your wedding day, after all. This is also a decision that shouldn’t be dictated solely by emotion.

Your wedding venue is more than a beautiful backdrop. It’s also a logistical and practical investment that both you and your guests appreciate. No one wants to be trekking for miles because there’s no nearby parking in their best shoes. Or cramped because the venue isn’t big enough to hold all the guests that were invited. Your attendants certainly don’t want to be locking their valuables in the trunk or changing in their car. The list of wedding venue faux pas can go on and on…which is why it makes cents (literally) to pay attention to more than just aesthetics during your wedding venue tour.

Space

Like the old fairy tale, the right wedding venue is not too big and not too small. For that reason, come up with a tentative guest list count (use these wedding guest list tips) before you contact a wedding venue. Ask every wedding venue how many guests they can accommodate and make sure that every space in the venue (i.e. bar, dance floor, foyer) looks like just the right size.

Rooms

Just as important as adequate wedding venue square footage is the right wedding spaces. Ask your wedding venue about rooms you need for your big day, such as a dance floor, (large) room for changing, a secure area for your belongings, catering space, and restrooms (yes, for your guests’ sake, you even have to visit the restrooms).

Ceremony site

If you need a wedding ceremony site, look for the perfect location for that as well. Use one note of caution, however; if the wedding ceremony site is outside, look for a indoor Plan B site just in case there is inclement weather (or extreme temperatures) on your big day (this is Wisconsin, our temps can be unpredictable!).

Photo opportunities

bride and groom on steps of elegant historic wedding venueYou don’t have to be a pro to look for unique wedding photo opportunities. Keep an eye out for areas that would look terrific in your wedding album—but still give your wedding photographer the liberty to find (and take!) great photos. Look around for unique architectural details, such as stained glass windows, beautiful doorways, and a unique entrance.

Parking (please!)

While you can get dropped off on your big day, not all your guests have that same option. Ask to see the venue’s options for parking—and make sure that it is as close as the staff member says. “Yes, it’s just around the corner” just won’t cut it. Once you have verified parking, make sure that it’s not going to cost your guests an arm and a leg. If there is a small fee, let your guests know by adding the information to your wedding invite and website.

Entertainment Needs

If you want your wedding entertainment to be a big hit, make sure the venue has the electrical system that fits your band or DJ’s needs (and any uplighting they offer). You might feel like you don’t have the expertise even if you did see the outlets or electrical panel; in that case, ask the venue staff if they have had bands, DJs, and lighting at the venue in the past.

Access (for everyone)

Many wedding venues were built in a time or for a function (such as barns) that didn’t suit the needs of people with mobility issues. Ask if the wedding venue is handicap accessible (especially if there are a lot of stairs) and if you can see the alternative entrances. This simple step ensures that all of your guests can attend and enjoy themselves or if you need to make arrangements that can assist those guests. ALL of your guests’ll appreciate your due diligence.

7 Things to Know BEFORE You Contact a Wedding Venue

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wedding venue with dramatic backlighting and candlesTime is of the essence when you’re searching for the right wedding venue for a lot of reasons. Obviously, you want to book the right wedding venue (before it’s reserved!). Choosing your wedding venue is also the first of a series of wedding planning decisions—and one that you don’t want to spend a lot of time on (after all, you have a lot more to do on your wedding planning checklist!).

To get started (and finished) with this important first step of wedding planning(without touring a million different venues), sit down with your fiancé and make these major decisions BEFORE you start browsing websites and sending social media messages.

Location

To be clear, you don’t have to nail down exact location and numbers (i.e. date, guest count, etc.), but you should have an idea of where you want to hold your big day (a general idea of a city or town). If you have already reserved a ceremony site, find a wedding reception venue nearby; your guests don’t want to have to make a several hour (or even hour) drive to get from your ceremony to reception.

Your style

Every part of your wedding should reflect who you are as a couple, including your wedding venue. Once you’ve decided on the area you want to have your wedding in, think about what style wedding venue screams you. If you want to have a vintage wedding, a wedding venue with historic details can be the perfect backdrop for your wedding décor. For a couple who loves the country, look for a rustic barn. Want an elegant wedding? Search for venues with the architectural details that’ll make an impression on your guests.

Date (or month)

Again, you don’t have to nail down an exact date, but it would be helpful to have an idea of the time of year or month of your wedding. If you have your heart set on a particular wedding venue, ask for a list of dates available during the time of year or month of your wedding. But if you’re completely clueless about a wedding date, use these tips to choose the date of your wedding day.

Approximate guest count

There’ll be time later to make an exact guest list later, but almost every wedding vendor is going to ask for an estimated guest count. Don’t tackle crafting your wedding guest list alone, instead use these guest list tips to avoid hurt feelings from your fiancé and family.

Budget

A wedding budget is like a marathon. You don’t want to run out of energy at the end. When it comes to your wedding, you don’t want to have to skimp on important details because you ran out of funds. Use this template to create a wedding budget that you can stick to—and that gives you the amount you can spend on a wedding venue.

Once you have that amount, make sure you don’t go over the amount you have specified for the wedding venue. Don’t just ask for the rental fee; some venues charge overtime fees if the reception runs over a certain length of time and have additional costs that can push you over budget. Ask for the amount of the rental fee, how much time it covers, and what is included (i.e. tables, coat check staff, linens, etc.)

Wedding needs

If you have any special requests, ask them on your first phone call or message. You don’t want to cancel your reservation on a wedding venue and have to pay a cancellation fee. Add your special request to this list of wedding venue questions when you call or message them. Be wary of wedding venues that don’t respond promptly to your inquiries; if they don’t now, they may not get back to you later when you need information.

Any favorite vendors

An awesome caterer. A fantastic photographer. An over-the-top fabulous videographer. It’s normal to have a favorite wedding vendor that you want to include in your wedding day. Not every wedding venue allows any vendor into their facility; some venues only allow vendors from an approved list. If you have a favorite vendor that you absolutely want to include in your special day, don’t delay. Ask the wedding venue when you contact them, so you don’t spend your time touring a venue that you won’t consider later. When you do tour, ask questions from this list so you can make sure that wedding venue is the right one—and so you can move on to the next wedding planning step.

9 Reasons to Choose Your Wedding Venue

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1451 Rennaissance Place in Milwaukee with dramatic uplighting and crystal candlesChoosing a wedding venue is simple, right?  You just walk in, fall in love, and sign on the dotted line.  In reality, choosing the right venue for your wedding is a bit more complex—but well worth the effort.  Your wedding venue dictates so many other details: décor, style, even the wedding vendors you use.  You’d be crazy not to think through one of the most important details of your big day.  Here are some factors to help you make the big decision about the right wedding venue for your wedding.

Location

Where do you want to be married?  Think beyond just the city.  Consider your options carefully.  Choose a wedding venue in a prime location with nearby hotels for out-of-town guests (and guests that don’t want to drive home).

Date

There are two ways to use your date to find the right wedding venue. First, have a list of several dates and contact wedding venues to see what dates are available. The second option is to set your date and contact halls about the availability of that date.

Size

bride and groom dancing at summer wedding reception in beautiful wedding venueNo matter how beautiful the venue is, it’s not the right venue if it is too large or small for your guest list.  Put together a guest list with your fiance and any important family members.  You may find out that your mother wants to include every one of her sewing club pals or that your father-in-law has a list of business associates that may significantly increase your guest list.  Use the final guest list count to compile a list of potentially perfect wedding venues.

Your needs

Do you need a ceremony and reception site?  Or do you need assistance with wedding planning? Do you have a special idea that only some venues can accommodate?  Sit down and think about all of your needs before you contact wedding venues for potential visit dates.

Style

wedding reception hall with uplighting with bride and groom namesWhen you picture your wedding day, are you dreaming of an elegant, traditional wedding? Are you planning a vintage day with historic details?  Your wedding venue is the backdrop for all the other important details, so make sure you choose a venue that fits with your style.  Talk with your fiancé about what kind of wedding he or she envisions to make sure you are contacting and visiting venues that match your tastes and style.

Budget

Ah yes, we said the ‘b’ word: budget.  Your budget is a key part of your decision process, but you need to be careful to make sure you choose a venue that fits your budget.  Ask each venue for a full list of fees that could be incurred so you have a full idea of cost.  You don’t want to book a venue that you think is within your budget, and end up with fees you didn’t anticipate on what is supposed to be the best day of your life.

Parking

wedding venue with dramatic backlighting and candlesWhen you wedding plan, you need to think about what you want and also what’s best for your guests.  As much as you want that venue with absolutely no parking, think about what is best for those joining you for your big day.  Ultimately, that means parking for them (who wants to walk block after block in heels?).  Ask each venue for parking options, and if your guests need to pay for it so you can include the information on your invitations or wedding website.

Vendors

If you have a specific caterer in mind, add “do you allow outside caterers to come in?” to your list of questions.  Some wedding venues only allow you use a specific vendor, while other venues have an open door policy that allows you to bring in the vendor you want to use.  Ask the question up front so you don’t waste your time visiting venues that won’t let you use your preferred vendor.

Your visit

Don’t book a wedding venue without seeing it first.  As great as a venue’s Facebook page or website looks, make sure you contact them to schedule a date to see the venue (and location) in person.