Category Archives: wedding venue milwaukee wi

Your COVID-19 and 1451 Renaissance Place Event FAQ’s Answered

This blog was originally posted on March 31, and is now updated with the latest information as of May 22, 2020.

At 1451 Renaissance Place, we understand that these are stressful, uncertain times. However, we are certain that if we take care of each other, the day will come when everyone can safely celebrate together!

While we wait for that day, we wanted to answer some of your most pressing questions about how the threat of COVID-19 has affected events at 1451 Renaissance Place. Hopefully, these answers can alleviate some stress and reassure you for the future. (Please feel free to contact us with any other questions.)

Is 1451 Renaissance Place temporarily closed?

May 22 Update: Though we are still not able to host large events, we are available to answer your questions, schedule socially responsible in-person tours and hold and reserve future dates.

Yes. For the safety of our staff and guests, 1451 Renaissance Place is temporarily closed. At this time, we are contacting couples with upcoming events to assist them with setting a new date and coordinating details for their big day.

How can we reach 1451 Renaissance Place?

May 22 Update: The best way to reach us is by emailing us.  We will do our best to get back to you during the next business day, but please note our response time might be a bit delayed as we guide our couples and clients through the rescheduling process. Your celebration is just as important to us and we will respond within 48 hours!

If you require immediate assistance, please mark “urgent” in the subject line. If you prefer that we respond with a phone call, please provide your phone number and an Event Specialist will call you back. 

Can I reschedule my event date if it has been cancelled due to the Safer at Home restrictions?

May 22 Update: Absolutely!  We are currently rescheduling affected celebrations to alternate available dates within 12 months of the original date. 

Is there a fee for rescheduling?

May 22 Update: We are transferring 100% of deposits from affected dates to any available dates within 12 months of the original date.

When do you anticipate holding events again at 1451 Renaissance Place?

As soon as it is safe to do so! We know this is vague, but, like everyone else, we are also waiting until it is safe to do so. In the meantime, inquire about your dates and follow these CDC guidelines. Stay tuned for further updates on our Facebook page and website.

Will vendors let us transfer my deposit and date?

We cannot speak to arrangements with outside vendors. However, most local Milwaukee vendors have been working to accommodate clients, and get back to doing what they do best – giving every couple the service they deserve! 

Is 1451 Renaissance Place still taking new event reservations?

May 22 Update: Yes! Now is a great time to gather information, make plans, and nail down your dates! As an added bonus, if you reserve your date before we re-open, we will take $500 off your required deposit and reflect that same discount in your overall guaranteed minimum! Contact us for available dates and more information.

We understand that couples and businesses are taking this time to plan their events and confirm their venue. It is a great time to gather information (especially on our blog and website), make plans and nail down dates! We encourage any couples or organizations interested in 1451 Renaissance Place to contact us for available dates and information.

When is your next open house?

May 22 Update: We are hoping for a June 3, 2020 Open House. Please contact us to confirm and reserve your spot.

How do we get updates on 1451 Renaissance Place?

Please check our Facebook page and website for more information about future Open Houses and events.

What event planning can be done during my quarantine?

This is a great time to do some research (especially on our blog!), gather information and contact vendors.  Our experienced event planners are happy to help you in any way we can, including holding or reserving a date, scheduling tours (including live virtual tours!), contacting outside vendors and coordinating the details on your behalf. 

Do I still have enough time to plan my 2020 event?

Definitely!  And we can help!  Our advice to any couple is, “don’t put off your dreams!”

Stay healthy and thank you for your interest and support. We look forward to being in touch soon, and to a time when social distancing is a thing of the past.

wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planning

10 Questions to Ask BEFORE Planning Your Milwaukee Wedding

Planning a Milwaukee wedding involves a lot of conversations, but the most important conversation is the first with your fiancé. This conversation is your chance to discuss what you want and don’t want on your big day, plus a few other details that get your new marriage started in synch.

What is our favorite wedding style?

This may be one of the most important questions wedding couples ask because it’s a crucial part of searching for a Milwaukee wedding venue. The wedding venue sets the foundation for all other wedding details, and creates a powerful first impression on guests.

Are you a couple who would prefer an elegant wedding with an upscale wedding atmosphere? A celebration in a wedding reception venue with historical details and a story? Or an outdoor wedding with natural elements? Fortunately, there are quite a few Milwaukee venues that fit almost every couple’s style.

Do we have a favorite wedding date? What season works best for our wedding?

For some couples, their wedding date is obvious. It’s the day they met, the date of their first date, or a special family date.

For others, the wedding date isn’t as clear. In these cases, couples don’t have to be as specific about their date. If you fall into this category, you and your fiancé should look at the season or month you would most prefer. Once you have decided on a month or months, ask the Milwaukee wedding venue what dates they have available during that period. In addition to the date, you should also ask potential Milwaukee venues these other wedding venue questions. Once you have the date set, you can select and contact other wedding vendors (if the Milwaukee wedding venue has an open vendor policy).

What is our wedding budget? How are we going to pay for it? Has anyone offered to help us with expenses?

A wedding budget is a vital part of planning a Milwaukee wedding, and your chance to get your marriage off on the right foot. When setting a budget, use a wedding app or wedding budget checklist to decide on a total amount and allocate funds to high-priority wedding details (i.e. Milwaukee wedding venue, food, etc.)

The next step is to break down the budget a step further. This is your chance to discuss your finances and get on the same page about how you are going to pay for the wedding. If any friends or family have offered to help with wedding expenses, discuss who they are and who is going to contact them to see if they are still willing to help. In addition to setting a wedding budget, this conversation eliminates any hard feelings later from surprise credit card balances or overspending.

Do we want a big wedding or smaller affair?

For some couples, your budget or family size dictates the guest list. For others, this topic warrants an in-depth conversation about how many people you want at your ceremony and wedding reception. Have you always pictured a smaller wedding or a huge let’s-invite-everyone affair? Is there room for compromise so you can have a wedding with a somewhere in-between guest list?

The size of the wedding is also a criteria on the wedding venue checklist. Milwaukee wedding venues typically come with a capacity for guest safety and comfort. Once you have decided on an estimated wedding size (it doesn’t have to be exact!), ask each Milwaukee wedding venue for the amount of guests they can accommodate.

Do we have time for wedding planning? Do we need some help?

While wedding planning may sound like an all-or-none proposition, the answer for many couples is somewhere in between. Some couples want to manage every detail, others want to put their vision into the hands of a local Milwaukee wedding planner, while others need help with some of the details so they don’t feel overwhelmed.

This is your chance to decide which category you fall into and who you want to plan your wedding (or help plan parts of your wedding). Wedding planners are either independent contractors or are associated with a venue. The perk of the latter is that they are familiar with the venue and local vendors.

If you decide that you need wedding planning services (either full- or part-time), ask the wedding venue if they offer it as part of their services. If you prefer an independent wedding planner, ask the Milwaukee wedding venue for recommendations.

Is there one thing we really want at our wedding?

Even if you and your fiancé have been together for a long time, their answer might surprise you! This is your chance to discuss what details are really important to you and what you really, really want on your big day—besides your fiancé, of course.

bride and groom dancing at summer wedding reception in beautiful wedding venue

25+ Questions to Ask a Milwaukee Wedding Venue

The best Milwaukee wedding venues offer wow factor and check off all the boxes on your wedding venue checklist. While that sounds simple, finding the best wedding venue in Milwaukee for your big day can feel overwhelming—especially when it’s so important to find the “one!”

These wedding venue questions can help you get through the process, and help you find a wedding venue that fits off all the boxes on your wedding venue checklist: location, style, convenient parking, and any other items that are top priority.

Wedding Planning Questions

Determining what items are at the top of your checklist is step one, and can be determined by asking a few simple questions with your fiancé:

  • Where do we want to get married?
  • When do we want to get married? (Pro tip: use these hacks for choosing a wedding date if you don’t have a date in mind.)
  • What is our wedding style (i.e. elegant, rustic, vintage, etc.)?
  • Do we have any wedding vendors we want to use? (Pro tip: if you really want a vendor, look for a wedding venue with an open vendor policy that allows you to bring in vendors.)
  • Do we want to plan our entire wedding or do we need help? (Pro tip: even if you want to plan the entire wedding, look for a venue with a knowledgeable staff that can answer your questions…and answers the phone.)
  • How many guests do we want to invite? (Pro tip: you don’t need to have an exact number in mind, just an estimate will do.)
  • What is our budget?

Once you’ve answered these questions, the fun of finding the right wedding venue can begin! When researching and contacting wedding venues, use this list of “must-ask” wedding questions to narrow down your option to the wedding venue that is the perfect setting for your big day.

Milwaukee Wedding Venue Questions

Wedding Venue Availability

  • Is the wedding venue available on this day? OR Are there any open dates during this month/season? (Pro tip: If you have a tight wedding budget, ask the wedding venue about off-season dates or days of the week.)
  • Does your wedding venue hold more than one event on the same date? Will our wedding be the only event at the venue?
  • How many guests does your venue accommodate?
  • For couples needing a ceremony site: Can your wedding venue accommodate our ceremony and reception? If so, will my guests have to wait for set-up before the reception? (Pro tips: use these tips to find the best ceremony and reception wedding venue.)

Wedding Venue Cost

  • What is your venue rate? How many hours are included in that rate? Is there an overtime fee? Does that fee allow for time for set-up and take-down?
  • Does your wedding venue have a curfew when our reception needs to be over?
  • Do you offer wedding planning services? What is the cost of wedding planning?
  • What staff and services are included in the venue rate (i.e. coat check, venue manager, etc.)?

Wedding Venue Contract Details

  • Does your wedding venue have liability insurance? (Pro tip: while this question may not be the most glamorous, insurance can be important in case of an emergency.)
  • What is the wedding venue cancellation policy?
  • Does your wedding venue allow couples to bring in vendors? What vendors do you require us to use?
  • What is the venue alcohol policy? Do I need to hire a vendor that brings in the alcohol? Are bartenders included in the venue rate?

Wedding Venue Guest Accommodations

  • Is there parking at the wedding venue? Or is there parking near the venue? What is the cost of parking?
  • Is there an entrance for wedding guests with mobility issues? Is the wedding venue handicap accessible?
  • Are there local hotels and accommodations for my out-of-town guests? How far away are these businesses?
  • When can I tour the wedding venue? (Pro tip: always request a wedding venue tour because websites may not show every area of the wedding venue.)
bride and groom dancing at summer wedding reception in beautiful wedding venue

How to Find THE Milwaukee Wedding Venue of Your Dreams

The Brew City is full of beautiful wedding venues. How are you supposed to find the right Milwaukee wedding venue that fits your vision and pocketbook? One of the first lessons of wedding planning is that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. Some of the most beautiful wedding venues can provide the perfect backdrop without breaking your wedding budget. The second lesson is that you should expect to allocate 40% of your budget for the wedding reception (i.e. wedding venue, caterer, etc.)

All these wedding planning lessons can make finding the right Milwaukee wedding venue seem like an overwhelming puzzle. Fortunately, this guide can help you through the process and help you find the right wedding venue that is the perfect setting for your wedding day.

Set a budget.

Before you start looking for a wedding venue, it’s important to set criteria for your search. You can do so with a conversation with your fiancé. This is the time to state anything you really want at the wedding, and discuss important details like the location, date, and how you’re going to pay for it. (Use this list of wedding planning questions to guide your discussion.)

Research, research, research.

The next step is to research local Milwaukee wedding venues. Fortunately, this step can mostly be done online, on websites and social media. However, there is a note of caution that comes with this step. Though pictures on the website and social media look great, never book a wedding venue without seeing it in-person. This is your time to ask questions and schedule a showing.

Interview your potential wedding venues.

If you want to narrow down your prospects, contact each Milwaukee wedding venue with these questions:

  • Is the venue available on this date/during this month/in this season? (If you don’t have a set date, it can be easier to find a wedding venue with available dates during your desired season or month.)
  • Will my wedding be the only event at the venue?
  • How many guests does your venue accommodate? Is there space for a ceremony and reception? If so, will my guests have to wait before the reception?
  • What is the venue rate? What does the venue rate include (i.e. equipment, staffing, etc.)? Is there an overtime fee if the reception goes beyond a certain number of hours?
  • What services are covered by the venue rate?
  • Does your venue offer wedding planning services?
  • Does your venue carry liability insurance? (This can be important in case a guest is injured.)
  • What is the wedding venue cancellation policy?
  • Can I bring in a wedding caterer or photographer? Or does your venue require us to use certain vendors?
  • What is the venue alcohol policy?
  • Is there convenient parking near the wedding venue?
  • Is the wedding venue handicap accessible?
  • Are there local accommodations for my guests (i.e. hotels, inns, etc.)? How far away are these businesses?

Review the contract.

After interviewing your potential wedding venues, it’s time to tour your wedding venue (with this list of wedding venue tour questions) and review the contract. Once you’ve signed the contract for your favorite Milwaukee wedding venue, the fun next step can begin: envisioning and planning the day of your dreams.

The Ultimate Wedding Venue Checklist

Once the glow of popping the question wears off (and the “yes!”), the next logical question is “where?” The good news is that there are quite a few wedding venues in the Milwaukee area that make a beautiful backdrop for any couple’s big day.

Narrowing down those options to the perfect wedding venue can feel overwhelming, because choosing the right wedding venue is a big choice. This is the site of your wedding, after all, and it’s incredibly important.

The right wedding venue is the foundation of all your other wedding details. It can be the perfect backdrop with a staff that makes wedding planning less stressful—-or the complete opposite. That’s why we put together a wedding venue checklist. This guide can help you choose the best wedding venue that fits all your criteria and makes you and your guests say “wow!”

Of course, before you start venue hunting, don’t skip the crucial steps of setting a budget and asking your fiancé some crucial wedding planning questions. From there, use this wedding venue checklist to narrow down your options to a list of venues worthy of a venue tour.

Venue Availability

___ Available on wedding date (If you don’t have a wedding date, ask the wedding venue for available dates during your desired season or month.)

___ Exclusive use of wedding venue (This is important if you don’t want other events held at the wedding venue at the same time.)

___ Guest accommodation (Use these tips to set a wedding guest list. Always ask the wedding venue for the number of guests they can accommodate for comfort and safety.)

___ Ceremony space (Applicable if you want to hold your wedding ceremony and reception at the venue. Also ask if guests need to wait for breakdown and set-up after the ceremony.)  

Venue Cost

___ Budget-friendly (Don’t forget to ask how many hours are included in the rate, if there are any overtime fees, and what equipment is included in the cost.)

___ Wedding planning services (This is important for couples who want help with some or all of the wedding planning.)

___ Venue staffing (Ask if there is any staff included in the rate, such as an on-site manager, coat check, and bar staff.)

Venue Policies

___ Liability insurance (Very important! Be careful about booking a wedding venue without insurance.)

___ Cancellation policy (Be sure to ask just in case of an issue. If you are in the military, ask if the date can be moved without penalty.)

___ Vendors included (This can include the caterer, décor, equipment, and even the photographer.)

OR

___ Open-vendor policy (An open vendor policy allows you to select and bring in your vendor of choice, such as your favorite caterer.)

___ No limitations on volume and alcohol

Wedding Venue Accommodations

___ Guest Parking (Ask to see the parking lot to make sure it is close and affordable.)

___ Handicap Accessibility

___ Close to local accommodations for out-of-town guests (i.e. hotels, inns, etc.)

30 Wedding Venue Tour Questions You Need to Ask

wedding couple dancing at wedding venueDuring a wedding venue tour, it’s easy to get caught up in the beauty—so much so that you forget to ask about all those pesky practical details! However, those practical details are incredibly important to planning and pulling off the day of your dreams. (Just as important as actually seeing the venue. Never book a wedding venue without scheduling a tour. Sometimes online photos can be deceiving.)

While you’re absorbing and taking in all those beautiful details on your wedding tour, make sure you ask these questions and discuss the details that can make or break your wedding day.

Parking/Location
  • Is there nearby parking? How many guests can park in the lot/structure?
  • How far do my guests need to walk? Is there a shuttle?
  • What is the cost? (Tip: include parking costs in communications sent to your guests prior to your wedding day.)
  • Are there any hotels in the area?
  • Is there a public transit stop nearby? How far?
Spaces & Staff
  • How many guests can your wedding venue accommodate? (Tip: have an estimated guest count before touring venues to ensure the venues are not too big and not too small.)
  • Is your venue handicap-accessible? Are there any stairs my guests need to climb?
  • Is there a dressing area for me and my attendants?
  • Is the dressing room secure so we can store valuable items?
  • Will there be a staff member on-site during my wedding? Who can I contact if I have any questions or problems?
  • Can I see the restrooms? Who is in charge of monitoring and restocking the restrooms on our wedding day?
Ceremony site
  • Is there space for my ceremony?
  • If so, do my guests have to wait while the ceremony site is taken down?
  • If the site is outside, what is plan B in case of bad weather?
Entertainment Needs
  • Have other DJs/bands played here?
  • Is there anything I need to pass on to my entertainer about your system?
Planning
  • Can I bring in my own caterer or do I have to choose from a list or preferred vendors?
  • Who do I contact about planning details? What is the best way to contact you?
  • When does the contract need to be signed?
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • Are there any deadlines I need to meet?
  • Do you offer event planning services? Can you assist me with some or all of the planning?

14 Perfectly Elegant Wedding Themes

floral bouquet on table with sparkling back drop: outdoor touch for summer weddingIf you’re a couple that wants a wedding theme as upscale as your beautiful wedding venue, these wedding ideas are for you. They are also the start of a one-of-a-kind wedding day, because no two themed weddings are alike. Every detail of these wedding themes can be as unique and as extraordinary as the couple being celebrated.

cake with floral arrangement from an elegant vintage wedding

Vintage

A vintage wedding day is a step back in time with all the details of a favorite era. Couples can celebrate the Roaring 20’s, 30’s, or 40’s (especially with the right historic wedding venue ask a backdrop). For a Hollywood spin, you can even indulge in every detail of a Great Gatsby party. The choice is up to you, but be ready to enjoy all the little touches of a vintage wedding: floral, lace, lanterns…the vintage possibilities are endless.

couple cutting cake on wedding date

Romantic

A romantic-themed wedding is all about the love in the air. This wedding theme is all about creating a formal atmosphere with the sweetest touches. Most couples use formal, floral touches but the interpretation of this wedding theme is entirely up to you.

birch containers with elegant wedding centerpiece

Outdoors (Inside)

Many couples associate events that bring the feel of the outdoors in as casual or rustic, but the truth is that this wedding theme can be the perfect fit for an elegant affair. A formal event with this wedding theme should include all the elements of a beautiful garden, such as flowers, topiaries, and greens.

red carpet in lobby at 1451 Renaissance Place

Red Carpet

A red carpet wedding reception can be a grand theatrical event or an event fit for a movie star (with a stunning background suitable for this incredibly formal wedding theme). Either way, this is your chance to roll out the red carpet (literally) for your guests and create a night with all the drama of the stage and big screen.

wedding venue with centerpiece lights and guests at wedding reception

Holiday Theme

The winter holiday is a wonderful time to celebrate a couple who loves this time of year. A winter holiday wedding theme also comes with numerous opportunities for unique décor. A holiday themed event can be a cozy event filled with touches of cranberry and velvet or a striking affair with a neutral background and beautiful holiday poinsettias.

winter wedding venue feature wall with beads and uplighting

Winter

A winter wonderland includes all the touches of the season, which is different for every couple. For some couples, this wedding is a bright and shining event with crystals and lights. For others, a winter wedding is more of a muted affair with subtle touches of the season. The possibilities don’t end with décor; a winter wedding is a fantastic opportunity to include a hot cocoa bar (with all the fixings) or another seasonal favorite.

welcoming wedding venue foyer with warm fireplace

Autumn

This season is a beautiful time of the year, and a wedding themed around the season should be nothing less. An autumn wedding is the perfect occasion to include all the scents, tastes, and touches of the season. The exact nature of those touches is different for every couple: apple cider, seasonal wines and ales, rich colors, pumpkins, leaves, and other classic seasonal touches.

floral centerpiece with tall gold vase and lilies

Spring

A spring wedding is a fresh event with all the touches that make guests glad winter is over. The menu and décor can be just as energetic and bright as the season. A spring wedding menu includes fresh flavors and décor that embodies the beauty of the season: flowers, greens, fresh produce, and delectable spring cuisine.

elegant wedding centerpieces with simple rose arrangement

Summer

This seasonal wedding theme is a chance to bring the essence of summer alive; though those themed details are different for everyone. A summer wedding is a chance to incorporate bright colors, fans, umbrellas, and all the freshest tastes of summer (personalized summer cocktails, anyone?).

masquerade ball decor

Masquerade Ball

A masquerade ball is a wedding theme that is uniquely different, but incredibly fun. This theme also lends itself to bright and coordinated décor set against a stunning wedding venue. For a theatrical twist, couples can consider a Phantom of the Opera event. For a whimsical wedding reception, couples can incorporate the colors and feel of Mardi Gras (plus the entertainment!).

holiday wedding with babys breath centerpieces and cranberry napkins

Traditional

A traditional wedding theme is a nod to favorite wedding traditions of the past or to your ethnic heritage. As such, there are a million different ways couples can create the perfect traditional wedding day. With a formal traditional wedding theme, every detail should be black-tie worthy and dressed to the nines.

beautiful wedding day after couple organizes wedding planning

Garden Wedding

Everything about a garden wedding should be dreamy, from the invitations to the décor. The venue can be a beautiful outdoor garden or an indoor venue with garden décor (this option is perfect for an off-season wedding).

mandap with floral garland

International

An international wedding can be full of ethnic and cultural details that make guests feel like they just arrived. As with other wedding themes, an international wedding reception is a chance for couples to pick-and-choose their favorite details. Modern couples can select their favorite details while hosting a wedding reception with all the amenities.

wisconsin wedding venue with beautiful love sign and local flavors

Local Flavor

One of the freshest and trendiest wedding themes is a wedding reception with a wonderful local flavor. The effort is creating a bit of a destination wedding. Think tasting stations with brews and wines from local businesses, a menu with local, fresh dishes, and a surprise visit from a local celebrity or band.

20 Elegantly Fun Wedding Reception Games

bride and groom dancing at summer wedding reception in beautiful wedding venueJust because you want a formal wedding reception, doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun at your wedding reception. In fact, we’ve put together a list of fun wedding reception games that suit your elegant occasion—and your guests’ expectations for fun!

These wedding reception games can keep your wedding guests entertained from the moment they enter your wedding venue until the moment they head for the door. (Many of these games are also suitable for a long cocktail hour if you choose to hold your ceremony and reception at the same venue.) We’ve also included games that your youngest and more experienced guests can enjoy, all without breaking from the formal occasion you’ve been working so hard to plan. (After all, that’s why you chose that elegant wedding venue with beautiful architectural details.)

Table Games

  • Table trivia
  • Mad Libs
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Wedding advice cards
  • Scavenger Hunt (to find items)
  • Scavenger Hunt (to find another guest with…)

Wedding Dance Games

Kid Wedding Games

  • Coloring pages
  • Game books
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Pinata (in a kids room with a babysitter)
  • Bubbles (let them blow them when the wedding party enters!)
  • Kids-level Mad Libs
  • Fortune Teller Making Sheets

How do I book a wedding venue?

wedding couple dancing at wedding venueFinding a wedding venue may be as simple as typing in “wedding venues near me,” touring the venue, and signing on the bottom line. But booking the right wedding venue isn’t that easy for everyone!

There are so many beautiful wedding venues (especially true in the Milwaukee area). It’s hard not to feel torn between wedding venues—especially when the choice is so important. Your wedding venue is more than just a backdrop. It’s the foundation of every wedding planning detail, the first thing your guests see, and the place you constantly contact as you set other details in stone.

Fortunately, the process of choosing a wedding venue doesn’t have to be excruciating—especially if you follow these steps for finding and booking the “one” wedding venue that’s right for your big day.

Decide on a location for your big day.

The first step of finding and booking a wedding venue is a simple conversation. Talk to your fiancé and discuss key details of your wedding, such as whether you want a big wedding or a smaller occasion with close friends and family. Come up with a general number of guests you want to invite; your guest number doesn’t have to be exact, but you should have an estimate when contacting wedding venues.

Talk about your time; do you have time to plan your wedding? If not, add “wedding venue with a planner” to your list of wedding venue criteria. This is also your chance to find out if there are any “musts” either of you has to have. (Use this list of wedding questions to steer your discussion and get answers that guide your wedding planning.)

Most importantly, discuss where you want to hold your wedding ceremony and reception. What country/state/city do you want to get married in? Talk about whether you want a destination wedding or to get married in your hometown, the city you met in, or your current “adopted” city. If you have a favorite part of town, narrow down your location criteria even further.

Next, discuss the criteria for your venue (or venues) in your chosen location.  What do you want in a ceremony site?  Do you want a religious ceremony?  Or would you rather hold your ceremony and wedding reception at the same venue?  Do you need a venue near hotels for your out-of-town guests?

Set a budget.

Once you’ve narrowed down your location criteria for a wedding venue, set a wedding budget for the venue and vendors; this wedding checklist from Real Simple or a wedding budget app can be invaluable during wedding planning. In addition to setting numbers, have an honest conversation with your fiancé about where funds for the wedding is coming from.

Your wedding budget conversation may need to go beyond the two of you. If any friends or family has offered to help with the wedding financially, ask them for specific details and an exact gift amount. To avoid any misunderstandings, try to avoid general statements. “I can pay for the venue” or “I can help with the wedding dinner” is a generous offer, but also one that can lead to drama later; the gift amount they are picturing may be very different than the actual cost.

Decide on style and season.

The location and budget are the first of several criteria for your wedding venue search. Next, decide on the style of venue that fits you as a couple. What kind of big day do you both picture? Decide whether a rustic barn, urban loft, or an elegant wedding venue fits your wedding day vision.

Now it’s time to ask the big question: what is the right day for our wedding? If you’re completely blank on where to start, use this list of ways to set a wedding date (i.e. favorite season, special day, etc.) You don’t have to come up with an exact date. In many cases, a month or season is enough to start a wedding venue search.

Use your answers (and this wedding venue checklist) to create a short list of venues in your chosen location. If you have a set date, contact the venues and ask if they are available on the day. For couples not sure about the date, ask venues what dates are available during your favorite month or season.

Use interviews to narrow down the list of venues.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to set up a million wedding venue tours (pro tip: never book a wedding venue without a tour). Narrow down your list of wedding venues further by contacting venues and asking these questions:

  • Will my wedding be the only event held at the venue?
  • What is the guest capacity of your venue? Can your venue hold a ceremony and reception?
  • How much is your venue rate? How many hours are covered by that rate? What is the overtime fee if my wedding goes beyond that length of time?
  • Does your venue rate include any services and staffing? Is wedding planning services offered?
  • Does your venue carry liability insurance? (This can be important in case a guest is injured.)
  • Is there a cancellation policy?
  • Does your venue have a list of required vendors? Can we use our favorite vendor (i.e. caterer, photographer, etc.)?
  • Does your venue have a policy pertaining to alcohol? Do we need to bring in alcohol or hire bartenders?
  • Is there parking available? How far do guests have to walk to the parking lot?
  • Is the wedding venue handicap accessible?
  • Can I tour the wedding venue?

Set up venue tours.

A wedding venue tour is your chance to see the space guests see and the spaces you use. Ask the wedding venue staff to see the main spaces where guests circulate, as well as the restrooms, changing spaces for you and your attendants, and parking lot. Use this checklist for touring the wedding venue.

As you tour and contact the wedding venue staff, make sure you include your impression of their customer service into your final decision. Do they respond promptly? Do you feel comfortable interacting with the staff? As you plan, you are going to have to interact with staff quite a bit; make sure you are comfortable with the staff and their level of customer service.

Review and confirm.

Before you sign on the dotted line, review the contract for any red flags. Carefully look over the overtime fees and cancellation policy. Feel free to ask venue staff members any questions and don’t feel obligated to sign. Once you have your wedding venue booked, it’s time to move on to the next step of wedding planning and enjoy every step of the process.

Engaged? Use these 10 Essential Wedding Planning Tips

bride and groom dancing at summer wedding reception in beautiful wedding venueFrom the moment couples announce their engagement, the advice starts coming in (and never seems to stop). Suddenly, everyone has an idea for your wedding—and there are a million ways to use all that advice. When it comes down to it, though, you don’t need all that wedding advice (good news!), just a few basic tips that can guide planning the special day of your dreams.

Don’t procrastinate.

Wedding planning can be a lot less stressful by checking off a few of the wedding planning tasks now (here are the first few wedding planning tasks to get you started). As an extra bonus, booking the right wedding venue and vendors guarantees that you get the site, caterer, and photographer that you want. As you start planning, don’t feel that you need to have an exact wedding date. It can be easier to get the venue and vendors you want if you are flexible about dates (“what dates are you available?”) and only have a month or season in mind (use these tips to choose the right wedding date).

Stay organized.

We’re not going to lie: there are a lot of steps to wedding planning. It can be overwhelming—and completely doable if you stay organized. Use this wedding planning checklist and these tips to stay on top of your wedding planning. If family or friends ask to help, give them a deadline to ensure that the task is done and checked off the list.

If hiring a wedding planner, choose the right level of wedding planning.

Most couples assume that a wedding planner is a one-size-fits-all service that completely takes over. In reality, there are full-service wedding planners that can attend to every detail and part-time planners that can assist throughout the process. Decide which type of planning fits your wedding and your lifestyle early in the process and add it to your to-do list (or criteria for your wedding venue). This can help you decide between two planners or venues (some venues offer on-staff wedding planners that are intimately familiar with the venue and local vendors).

Select your venue carefully.

There are a lot of big wedding planning decisions; one of the biggest is the wedding venue because it dictates all the other wedding day details. The best piece of wedding planning advice: consider your options for a wedding venue carefully. Use this wedding venue checklist and these questions to select the best wedding venue for your special day. Don’t choose a wedding venue until you’ve seen it; online photos can be misleading. Schedule a tour (or ask a family member or planner if you can’t) to ensure that the wedding venue is the right one.

Let everyone know that you have a favorite vendor.

Assumptions are the enemy during wedding planning; don’t assume you can bring in your favorite caterer or décor caterer you would love to use. Make sure you ask the venue if they have an open vendor policy, which allows couples to bring in their preferred vendors. If hiring a wedding planner, let them know right away that you have a vendor in mind so they can factor that into the planning process.

Draft a guest list early in the process.

As you go through the wedding planning process, you’ll find that two key points keep coming up: date and amount of guests. While you don’t have to get a final guest list nailed down, it does make cents (pun intended) to set an estimated guest list. As you plan, decide whether you want an adults-only wedding or a kids included guest list. This simple step can help you as you make key wedding planning decisions—and save you from heartache. You don’t want to fall in love with a wedding venue that doesn’t have enough room for your guests.

Make guest comfort a priority.

Your big day is all about you, but the people you want to join you celebrating should be a focus too. Keep your guests in mind as you plan. Choose a venue with enough space and all the amenities that your guests appreciate. Little things matter, like a venue with convenient parking and transportation so guests don’t have to tramp for miles to your big day. An open-bar policy can also be a touchy subject for guests; decide early what your preference is and communicate the specifics on your wedding website. You’d be surprised too how those little things can stick with you; the smallest details, like a late-night food course, can be the detail that guests talk about for years.

Decide on a budget ASAP.

A wedding budget should not be an afterthought. Have a conversation with your significant other and anyone else that has expressed an interest in contributing to your big day. (As long as you are opening the lines of communication, discuss these key points before you delve into wedding planning.) Decide on a wedding budget (this wedding budget checklist can help) and be open about issues that may arise, such as credit problems or credit card limits.

Pack an emergency wedding kit for your big day.

An emergency wedding kit may seem like a small detail, but one with big implications. Make sure you pack these wedding essentials for those “just in case” situations, such as bad weather, a rip or tear, or any other unpleasant problems that come up. In your wedding kit, too, plan on putting payments for vendors and any last-minute items you need for the day (use this list of wedding kit essentials).

Enjoy yourself.

A wedding is a celebration. Enjoy it—and the process to get to your big day! When you feel overwhelmed, use these tips for de-stressing or spend some time relaxing with these de-stressing ideas. Once all the planning is over, take a deep breath and use these last-minute preps to ensure that you are enjoying every moment of the biggest day of your life.