Blissfully Engaged: The Venue

Happy Wednesday Bride to Be!

I'm so excited to continue sharing my process of helping brides source vendors, continuing this week with the Venue.  

The Venue is a MAJOR part of your planning process.  Your venue can determine your planning needs and it can determine your style and date.  It's also where you're going to spend the majority of your budget.  Usually the venue (for the ceremony and reception) plus your food and drink should total about 40% of your budget. Your venue often determines your caterer and what type of decor and rental times you need.  

When I work with my brides, we first sit down and discuss their style.  We discuss the colors that they want, the formality, the size, and their vision.  It's so important for the bride to determine their style first because it's so easy to get distracted by pretty venues even if they don't match their vision.  Right now barn weddings are very popular here, but I really push my bride to stay true to their style.  If she loves the outdoors, wants a more informal affair, and has a connection to the rustic look then, I'm all for looking at barn venues.  But if she's never worn cowboy boots in her life and suddenly loves the look because it's on trend, I'm going to talk to her about staying true to herself.  When you look back at your wedding in 10 years and barn weddings are no longer the hottest trend, are you going to be happy with your choice?  

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Once you've determined the style of venue that you're looking for, here are some questions to ask!

  • What is included in the fee?

How many hours? How much time for set up and clean up? Tables? Chairs? Linens? What is included in the venue fee is so incredibly different depending up the one that you're looking at.  A venue appears to fit in your budget but doesn't include the chairs, table, or anything other than the time, could become more expensive than one that is all inclusive.  

  • Do you have a list of approved vendors?

Some venues have strict guidelines on what vendors they work with, especially when it comes to caterers, so it's important to ask right away.  If you're 100% set on a vendor and they're not on the venue's approved list, it never hurts to ask.  If they say no and it's a deal breaker, you can cross one venue off your list.  

  • Do you provide the bar and a bartender? 

It's so important to know what is included in your package and usually the bar tab is a big chunk of your budget.  Most venues don't allow you to bring in your own alcohol for liability reasons, but it's good to know up front if you need to provide your own bartender.  

  • Do you have minimums that we have to meet? 

A lot of venues have a flat fee, plus if the do in house bar tending or catering, they have a minimum that they require you to spend on one or both.  

  • How many guests can you comfortable fit your space?

Sometimes venues over-exaggerate their guest count, (I've had it happen at a wedding before) so make sure you ask how many people comfortably fit.  You don't want your guests squished in corners or not able to hear or see during the ceremony or reception.  

  • Do you have any restrictions?

Venues usually have some restrictions.  Some don't let you hang things from the wall, bring in large furniture rental times because they can damage the floor, or allow open flames.  Usually you can work around these and figure out a way to alter your design plan to account for the restrictions, but it's always a good idea to know these up front.  

  • How early can I get into the venue to decorate? 

If you have a detailed design plan, allowing enough time to implement the design is so important.  Some venues allow all day while others have a very limited 2 hour period.  

  • Do you have a plan for inclement weather? 

If you have your heart set on an outdoor ceremony and reception, it's so important to think about worst case scenario.  If you don't love the indoor space that's provided, take that into consideration.  The venue won't refund your money if it's stormy on your big day and you don't want to use their indoor space.  It could be an option to bring in a tent if bad weather threatens, but make sure to ask if this is allowed during your first meeting.  

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Your wedding planner will help you compare all your potential venues and will often walk through each venue with you.  They can help you visualize all the details in each space and point out potential issues.  Reviewing the venue contract is SO important because it really outlines everything you can and can't do at the venue.  It outlines all the costs and what is included in those costs.  Again, don't count out a venue because their overall fee is higher than another venue at first glance.  

Your venue is one of the biggest parts of your wedding and you want to make sure that it fits your style and your needs.  This post is just a brief overview of what I think about when I'm working with my brides to find their perfect venue.  It's such a huge step in the process and one of the most exciting!  It sets your date in stone and starts your countdown!  

What do you look for in a venue?  What questions do you have?  I'd love to hear from you!

Cheers! Lindsay