Choosing your wedding venue doesn't have the same intensity or fulfillment as say purchasing a home, but believe it or not, you and your fiancé should approach venue touring with a similar level of intention.
As you do your walkthroughs, don't be afraid to ask questions! Ask as many as you need. You don't want to deal with the frustration that comes with unexpected costs late in the game or the awkwardness of uncomfortable conversations because you misunderstood your contract. I'm sharing 5 major subtopics associated with venues and a handful of key questions to go over that will make you better equipped to go out and find the best location for your wedding. So how do you start?
Create a list of 4 or 5 venues that you want to tour. Your goal will ultimately be to find a location that a) resonates with you and your partner and b) aligns with your budget.
- Do you like the atmosphere? For example, the landscaping (if any), the natural lighting, the neighborhood the venue is located in.
-Is the date you want unavailable? Is there a difference in price for the weekdays vs the weekend or a dip in price based on the season?
-Don't lock in your wedding style or make any large wedding purchases until after your venue is booked. For example, let's say you love the Cottage-core aesthetic, don't book a super contemporary venue. Your venue majorly informs your wedding design. The outcome would end up being that you'll have to spend more to transform the space into something else. Personally, as your Wedding Planner, I am up to the task, but we can work smarter not harder!
Each venue has it's own quirks, personality and rules. You and your Wedding Planner will need to find out:
-What's the parking like? Some venues have limited parking. Will your wedding party or primary vendors be able to park on site?
-Do you have to work with the venue's Preferred Vendors? Are there fees associated with bringing in your own Vendor team? What are the rules for set up and tear down?
-Does the venue have a "Bridal + Groom" suite where the wedding couple can get ready before the ceremony?
-Some venues have their own coordinator -- is this the same as a Wedding Planner/Day of Coordinator? No it isn't. You are their client and they are happy to make your wedding as successful as it can be, but their priority is to maintain the interests of the venue.
-Will the venue require you to have your own liability insurance?
Personally, after finding the wedding venue of my dreams, I immediately thought about how the people attending my wedding would experience the space. The more details you can get, the easier it will be when putting together your wedding website or just distributing information in general.
-What amenities are included with the venue? Are there any add-on/upgrade costs?
*If you're getting married at a private estate -- are there bathrooms on site? Will they require a porta-potty rental? Will there be a required shuttle service for guests?
-Will the venue be available for any pre/post wedding activites? For example, Welcome Dinner, Rehearsal Dinner, Farewell Brunch.
-Does your venue provide room blocks or recommend any local hotels for your guests to stay -- is there transportation assistance?
-Is your venue handi-capable accessible?
A typical wedding ceremony can last about 10 t0 30 minutes max, but the set-up can take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours.
-Does the venue provide chairs?
-What are the rules for decorating? For example, if you had your heart set on a hanging installation, is that even allowed?
-Will there be staff to help set up or will you need to defer to your rental company or Wedding Planner's team?
*For Outdoor venues or combo spaces -- what is the plan for inclement weather?
This is the last leg of the wedding and most of the action packed. You'll have to think about how long it may take to switch over/repurpose items from the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner. + toasts, and dancing.
-Are tables and linens included with with venue?
-Will my caterer be dealing with an Off-Site or On-Site kitchen?
-What is the policy on open flame?
-Will my DJ be limited by any equipment set up rules? Is there a noise ordinance in the area; how long will be able to have our party?
-How does the venue prefer we dispose of trash?
Now you may be thinking, "wow, she just gave away the store..." believe it or not, these plot points are just the tip of the iceberg when planning a wedding. If you're looking at the list and feeling overwhelmed -- there's nothing to fear. Having a Wedding Planner definitely makes navigating all of this a lot easier. Did you know if you book Partial, Full, or Intimate (launching soon) Wedding Packages with Jasper & Lane Events accompanied venue tours are included in your service? We'll tour venues together and I'll ask these questions and more to watch your back! If a Wedding Planner is not in your budget, no worries friends, my best advice is to take it one step at a time. While you plan:
-For every question, get your answers in writing. That way you'll always have something to refer back to.
-Make sure you understand the venue's Force Majeure + Cancellation + Postponement Policies. If for whatever reason you can not have your wedding, you'll want to know what the next steps are to either reschedule or see if it's possible to recover any of your payments.
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