7 Things you should do before you book a Wedding venue

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Are you recently engaged? Ah, I bet you are so excited. Your left-hand feels a bit heavier with that new ring on. Not just any ring, but one that you want to share with people and show them, but are nervous you might lose it or fall off. It reminds you of your partner and all of the amazing things you’ve been through together. Once the excitement settles, if you’re lucky, the first question you will be asked is “did you set a date?” The answer “Well no, we haven’t even looked at venues.” I’m going to stop you right there. Our first reaction is to just jump right in and find a venue, which is great and I love the excitement but I want to share 7 things you should do before you book a wedding venue. You don’t need to waste your time emailing 100 places and visiting 20 of them to not find the right fit. Let me help you get a few things in order first so you can spend more time engaged together and have more fun finding your wedding venue.


    Know your numbers! I can't stress how important it is to set a budget and stick to it! Set up a time to chat with everyone who is involved in the budget. It might be you and your fiance or both of your parents. Have an open conversation about what everyone is willing to contribute and set a total budget. While your chatting, I also recommend asking what is most important for your wedding day. You might be surprised that your mom has been dreaming of you having a brass band at your wedding. If you overspend on a venue, you will be left agonizing over how to plan the rest of your wedding in your budget. You don't want it all to go to one place! There is a lot you can do to transform a place if you get a space within budget.


    Before looking for any wedding venue you need to first start with a guest list. I recommend sitting down and creating a list of everyone you want to invite. Couples often underestimate how many people they will invite or their parents will want to add to the list. It is important to get an estimate of the number of people you will invite so you can limit your venue search by capacity. Knowing the guest list will also help you with your budget down the road. To start you will only need the list of names and later you can add all of the addresses.


    What is the style of your wedding? It might feel like an obvious question, but if you think of a venue like a picture frame it sets the tone for your design. When looking for a venue, look for a space that will enhance your overall feel and theme. For modern weddings look at art galleries or warehouses such as Hotel 21C, Hotel Covington, or Bridgeport Art Center. If you are looking for natural elements, look for outdoor spaces, botanical parks, and ranches, such as Laurel Court or a Country Club. An event designer is a great person to work with when selecting a venue, they can help you find something in your aesthetic and help you envision how it would all come together. Remember that you want it to be authentic to you as a couple and your personality.


    Determine ahead of time what type of wedding you want to have. Will you be getting married on-site? Are you having a cocktail hour?  You will want to ask the venue if they have the spaces to accommodate all of your event needs. If you want to get married on-site, ask if they have a ceremony space they usually use. You will want to fully understand the flexibility and restrictions of each venue. Do you want it to run late? Many places don't allow events to run past a certain time, because of local noise ordinances.


    It is important to also consider your guests' experience when selecting the location. Hotels and venues located in downtown areas are quick and easy to get to. Consider the number of guests you have that might be traveling and their needs. They will need room accommodations for the night or weekend. Guests who have to travel further to get back to their room for the night tend to leave earlier. If your venue isn't centrally located consider providing transportation to help guest navigate in a new city and encourage them to stay longer.


    First, it's your big day and you should enjoy it! We focus on making the experience enjoyable so you can attend your wedding as a guest and spend time with your friends and family. Consider the work and time commitment that you want to put in. If you want to keep it simple then a venue that includes additional services, such as catering, might be a good fit. If you have a particular design in mind, then you might want to consider a more flexible venue to bring in the vendors you need to create your atmosphere.


    When you think of your wedding, is there a time of year that comes to mind? Consider the season or even the month in which you want to get married. Are you flexible? Many venues book up over a year in advance. Knowing a season or even better, the month you want to get married will help to narrow down your choices. It will also be beneficial to talk to your partner about how long you want to be engaged. Some couples choose to have a longer engagement, to have the venue they desire. While others will select their 2nd or 3rd choice to have the date they want.

Regardless, of whether you pick a ballroom or warehouse for your wedding venue, these 7 things will help you create a plan before you look for a wedding venue. The engagement period is short and it should be enjoyable for you and your family.

I’d love to know if you did any of these things before picking your venue. If you did, I’d love to hear how it went and what venue you picked. Leave a comment below.

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